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Texas: ‘Arab rejection of Israel led to Israeli-Palestinian conflict’

Ma’an – September 17, 2018

BETHLEHEM – The State Board of Education of Texas, in the United States, voted to require teachers to teach students that the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict,” The Dallas Morning News reported.

The Jerusalem Post news outlet said that “this change will be made in ‘the rise of independence movements in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and reasons for ongoing conflicts’ section in high school social studies curriculum.”

The board also voted, over the weekend, to remove certain historical figures from the teaching syllabus, such as former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton and author and political [anti-war] activist Helen Keller, as part of an effort to “streamline” the curriculum in public schools.

Reportedly, “the board also included Moses as an influence on the writing of the nation’s founding documents, while it removed political philosopher Thomas Hobbes from that section.”

The Dallas Morning News also reported that the voting was not final yet and could be amended by the board before the final vote in November.

This is not the first time all eyes focused on Texas’s education system. “In 2002 and 2014, the board adopted a new generation of social studies products. Moses was mentioned explicitly in learning standards in Texas, and publishers responded by including him in textbooks,” according to National Public Radio.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

The California – New Mexico Nuclear Connection

By James Heddle | CounterPunch | June 7, 2018

Target: ‘Nuclear Alley,’ New Mexico

In the past few weeks – un-reported in the scandal/crisis-pre-occupied American main stream media – New Mexico has become the epicenter of an on-going national controversy: how to responsibly manage the tons of radioactive waste accumulated at all the nuclear energy reactors around the country so far in the Nuclear Age.

Why, New Mexicans and others around the country are asking, has this region suddenly become the potential target destination for all of America’s radioactive waste?

Will the Shimkus Bill ‘Bring Death to New Mexico’?

New Mexico cattle rancher Ed Hughs is one of the many around that state and the country who think so.

Having, with his neighbors, just successfully fought off a proposed deep bore hole nuclear waste depository next to his ranch in Quey County, NM, Hughs told a recent Roswell, New Mexico NRC meeting to rousing applause,

“There are a lot of questions that have not been answered. One of the questions, how do you retrieve if there are accidents? How do you monitor? How do you repair? Those questions have not been answered. So I guess in summing up I want to say that the Holtec and Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, and I agree with an earlier statement that, you know, you aren’t bad people in the sense that you are trying to do us harm, but you are making a huge mistake…. You are in fact proposing to bring death to New Mexico.”

Yucca Redux and the ‘Fukushima Freeway’

The Congressional trigger to this rising national controversy is the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 2018, HR 3053, known as the Shimkus Bill, which recently passed the House on its way to the Senate.

It calls for restarting the failed Yucca Mountain Project in Nevada, and establishing a system of Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) sites for radioactive waste around the country until Yucca is operational.

First on the list of possible ‘temporary’ CIS nuke dumps is a site proposed by Holtec International and the local Eddy-Lea Alliance just outside Hobbs, New Mexico. It’s just over the border from Andrews, Co., Texas – where another high level nuke waste dump is also being proposed by Waste Control Specialists, which already operates a controversial toxic materials dump in the area.

In early may, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a series of five so-called ‘scoping’ meeting around New Mexico to take public comments on the Holtec/Eddy-Lea site proposal.

Proponents of the dump tout it as a regional economic boon and a patriotic service to the nation.

Opponents see it as a public health, environmental and economic disaster waiting to happen that could ruin the region’s thriving dairy ranching, pecan growing and oil drilling industries.

Planned to eventually hold more metric tons of waste than Yucca Mtn. itself will be designed for, the Hobbs site could well become – if the Yucca site never gets built – America’s de facto national dump site, and make the region a national ‘nuclear sacrifice area.’

The region targeted for the proposed ‘interim’ radioactive waste storage sites is already known to the region’s population as ‘nuclear alley.’

Welcome to Nuclear Alley

Nuclear Alley is on the edge of one of the world’s richest and – currently on pace to be – most productive petroleum patches: the Permian Basin, which straddles the New Mexico-Texas border.

We traveled there recently for our forthcoming documentary series on the shutdown and decommissioning of California’s last remaining nuclear energy plants at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. We also wanted to express our support of the groups resisting the ill-conceived consolidated interim storage agenda.

Along with the coming cascade of waste from other scheduled nuclear power reactor shutdowns around the country, California’s radioactive waste could well be headed for New Mexico… if the proposed Holtec and WCS ‘Consolidated Interim Storage’ sites are licensed by the industry-captured NRC.

Oil Patch Central

To get to this region we flew into Midland, Texas. The thriving city is a prime beneficiary of the area’s present oil- and gas-fueled economic boom. As we got off the plane, we entered a bustling airport space dominated by a battery of animated electronic screens showing glitzy ads – not for consumer goods – but for the region’s thriving, readily available, fracking and oil drilling services and products.

From Midland we headed to Eunice, New Mexico, an epicenter of New Mexico’s Nuclear Alley. To get there, we drove through endlessly flat countryside dotted every few yards stretching to the horizon with temporarily dormant or busily functioning oil pumps.

Rose Gardner is a feisty Hispanic grandmother and co-founder of the Alliance for Environmental Strategies organization in opposition to the Holtec dump.  In keeping with her name, she runs a flower shop on the Main Street of Eunice.

The little town’s local landscape is dominated by the presence, just five minutes up the highway, of Waste Control Specialists’ toxic waste materials site – where WCS is proposing adding a new CIS ‘parking lot’ nuclear dumpsite.

Just next-door to WCS is the Urenco uranium enrichment facility, which supplies much of the fuel for the country’s nuclear power reactors.  [A January, 2018 NRC Inspection Report noted both a security violation and the loss of criticality controls at this Urenco plant.]

Both proposed sites are about 40 miles from the now infamous Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), where more than 171,000 waste containers are stored in salt caverns 2,100 feet underground.

Touted as the demonstration ‘Flagship’ model for the feasibility of long-term deep geological radioactive storage facilities for nuclear weapons waste, and advertised to last for thousands of years, WIPP experienced underground fires and explosions on February 14, 2014, after only 15 years of operation.

The disaster caused a major radiation release of plutonium and americium that contaminated at least 22 workers. The release was tracked by monitors and acknowledged by DOE as far away as 26 miles.

Reports the LA Times “the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.”

But, says the Southwest Research and Information Center’s Dan Hancock, “There is no question the Energy Department has downplayed the significance of the accident.”

Diagnosed as being caused by the use of the use of ‘organic cat litter’ in the storage barrels, the WIPP disaster was dubbed a ‘comedy of errors’ by commentators around the world. Not to worry. Sustaining such huge potential costs (that are charged to the state of New Mexico) WIPP is now again accepting waste – presumably packed with the right brand of inorganic kitty litter.

Cui Bono?

Guiding us on a tour of the local Eunice roadside attractions, Rose showed us a sprawling, sun-baked trailer park, on land owned by a local politician. The bleak dusty field is home for many of the workers at the town’s two dominant facilities.

If WCS succeeds in getting an NRC license for a CIS site here, the workers’ ranks will expand, and so will the trailer park owner’s profits. That’s one of the ‘economic benefits,’ Rose noted to us wryly, that are loudly touted by the region’s CIS advocates.

“This crap that could kill us!”

Speaking at the NRC’s first regional meeting in Roswell, Gardner told the standing-room-only crowd,

This isn’t the right thing to do. It’s an injustice to this state, to this community…. Most of the people in this area are like me, Brown-skinned or darker. We’re already poor. We don’t have insurance. We speak another language and we’re at least 50 percent here. And that’s an environmental injustice because they’re basically saying it’s okay… because those people aren’t going to speak up, because they can get run over just like they’ve been run over for the last several hundred years.

I’m here to tell Holtec, ‘Hell No, we don’t want it!’ I am so sick and tired of all these big companies coming into New Mexico or close to my town in Eunice, wanting to give us all this crap. This crap that could kill us!

New Mexico as ‘National Sacrifice Area?’

Leona Morgan, a fiery young Diné [Navajo] community organizer and co-founder of  New Mexico’s Nuclear Issues Study Group, expands on Rose’s points.

“Starting with uranium mining and milling,” she says, “to modern weapons production, uranium enrichment, and storage of low-level and transuranic wastes, New Mexico has been targeted as a national sacrifice zone for too long,”

“New Mexico is the birthplace of nuclear colonialism,” Morgan points out. “We have been impacted by just about every step in the nuclear fuel chain! We did not generate this waste from nuclear reactors that is intended to come here. So why should we take it? As a state with many indigenous nations and people of color, and being at the tail end of several measures of quality of life, it is environmental racism at its core to keep dumping on New Mexico. And it’s time to stop!”

Speaking to the NRC meeting in Hobbs, New Mexico, Morgan gave a greeting in her native language and went on to remind the group that they were assembling on land originally stolen from the Mescalero Apache and Comanche tribes. “The things I want to talk about,” she said, “have to do with indigenous rights across the nation.“

“How many of you from the NRC or any of the regulating Agencies are aware,” she asked, “of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Or, for that matter, any of the elected officials here, how many of you know about this document called the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed in 2008?”

She scanned the crowd.

“Okay, let the record show no hands going up. How many of you are aware of the Organization of American States’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?“

She glanced around at the blank official faces.

“Okay, again, nobody’s hands went up. This was passed in 2016 and so I’d like to read directly from this Declaration.”

She went on to quote language from the Declarations’ Articles declaring that

Article 19: Indigenous peoples are entitled to be protected against the introduction of abandonment, dispersion, transit, indiscriminate use or deposit of any harmful substance that could negatively affect indigenous communities’ lands, territories, and resources.

And that

Article 22: The indigenous law and legal systems shall be recognized and respected by the national, regional, and international legal systems

“The reason I’m reading this,” she told the meeting, “is because it cites that the Federal Government needs to recognize tribal law.”

“Specifically with my tribe, the Navajo nation, we have a law against the transport of radioactive materials through our lands.

“So, if this transport should occur, it’s directly violating our tribe’s laws that were put in place because of all the history and the health impacts of the horrendous things that the United States did, not just going back to the genocide of our people but more recently, the exploitation of uranium on our lands.

“And so we have a law against uranium mining and we have a law against transport because we’ve already suffered the impacts from these industries for United States imperialism and capitalism. And so that did not benefit our people. We wrote these laws for the protection of our future generations, however, they are not being respected here.”

Based on indigenous historical experience, it would be a pleasant surprise if such legal provisions were ruled to be within the scope of the NRC’s consideration of the Eddy-Lea/Holtec license application for their proposed project.

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

The Eddy-Lea Alliance Project’s point man and lead salesman is John Heaton, a former member of the NM state legislature and current Chairman of the Alliance.

The Alliance is a limited liability corporation made up of 8 people appointed by the Councils of Hobbs, Lea, Eddy and Carlsbad counties. According to its promotional material it was “Formed Under the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) for Economic Development Purposes in 2006 & to Respond to Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Proposal from DOE.”

Heaton qualifies as what Eric Hoffer called a ‘True Believer’ in his 1951 best seller of that title. Heaton’s energetic sales-pitch is persuasive… at least to the uninformed.

As Heaton tells it, seeing opportunity in a recommendation by Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’ Nuclear Future for creation of ‘consent-based’ Centralized Interim Storage sites around the country, the Alliance believed it had secured what Heaton calls ‘an ideal site.’ It’s located 35 miles outside the town of Hobbs, and about equidistant from the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) outside Carlsbad.

Although ‘consent-based siting’ was recommended by Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission, the DOE has not finalized rules for how a state or community gives or denies consent. Already some cities have forced construction of highway bypasses around their metropolitan jurisdictions.

New Mexico’s ‘High Nuclear IQ’ vs. ‘Fear Mongering’

Heaton describes the proposed Eddy-Lea site as ‘dry’ and ‘seismically stable.’  In addition he says, because of all the existing neighboring facilities in Nuclear Alley, “we have what I call an area of the country with a very high nuclear IQ. The local population understands nuclear materials,” he claims, “and know they can now be handled competently.”

“This is deja vu for us,” an irritated Heaton told the NRC in its Hobbs meeting. “We went through this same thing with WIPP. We went through all the fear mongering. WIPP has shipped more than 12,000 shipments and traveled over 14 million miles. That’s like going to the moon and back 28 times, without a serious accident and absolutely no release.”

However, there are many members of that regional ‘high nuclear IQ population’ Heaton refers to who also remember that – touted as the country’s flagship deep geological nuclear waste repository, designed to remain secure for ten thousand years – WIPP suffered an explosion and release of plutonium in 2014, after a mere15 years of operation.

An ‘Ideal Site’ for Holtec

Having secured their ‘ideal site,’ the Alliance issued an RFP to potential contractors and chose Holtec. “Because,” Heaton says, “they are a great company with a fabulous record [and] have the best, safest, most secure system in the world.”

Joy Russell is a Holtec Vice President and nuclear engineer who is proud, she told us, of being both a West Point graduate and a co-designer of the Holtec transport cask modeled by the scaled-down inflatable replica being toured around the state by opponents as the growing Halt Holtec campaign gathers momentum.

She boasts that her company has been in the radioactive waste storage business for over 30 years, and that “sixty per cent of nuclear plants in the U.S. use Holtec dry storage equipment.”

“We have an impeccable safety record,” Russell told an NRC community meeting in Roswell, NM. “None of our equipment has ever experienced a safety issue, ‘leak,’ as you so call it.

But, I would like to point out,” she told the Roswell auditorium – packed 5-1 with opponents of the proposed project – in a tone dripping with ill-concealed condescension, “spent nuclear fuel is not a liquid, it can’t ‘leak’.”

Opponents cite a number of disquieting facts, which call Heaton and Russell’s confident public relations assertions into question.

Halt Holtec!

A group of New Mexico and Texas organizations, including the Nuclear Waste Study Group, the SEEDS Coalition, and Alliance For Environmental Strategies, started a ‘Halt Holtec’ campaign. They toured an inflated, scaled-down model of the kind of transport cask proposed by Holtec that would carry thousands of shipments of highly radioactive waste shipments through the nation’s towns and metropolitan areas on dilapidated highways, bridges and railway lines for the next 20 years or more.

One significant result of their campaign is that on Monday, May 21, the Albuquerque City Council, in a 4-3 vote, approved what it called a ‘memorial’ against the transportation of nuclear waste through the Albuquerque metropolitan area.

Similar measures by other municipalities and counties along the potential shipment routes around the country are in the works.

Details and additional Cask Tour dates will be posted online at: 
www.facebook.com/HaltHoltec

Websites with more information:
   Here   Here    Here

‘Strange Bedfellows’

The Halt Holtec Campaign has quickly gathered strong momentum surprising both to its organizers, and the Holtec dump proponents, whose claim of ‘wide-spread regional public support’ has been totally debunked by the turnout in opposition to the project. Public statements have so far run 5-1 ‘against’ the proposed site in all five New Mexico NRC meetings.

At the recent series of NRC community meetings, this opposition was strong from a wide cross section of New Mexico and Texas demographic sectors, including Native American Tribes, growers, ranchers, the Jewish and Christian faith communities, and the powerful oil and gas fracking industry.

A regional leader of that booming industry is the Fasken Oil and Ranch company, which has been in business since 1913. Their representative, Jimmy Carlisle, explained his company’s position to the visiting NRC officials.

I work for Fasken Oil and Ranch based in Midland. We are an oil and gas company, but we also are a major landowner in the State of Texas.

We own some 200,000 net acres in the State of Texas. Our largest ranch is a 165,000 acre contiguous ranch just north and west of Midland.

The WCS site definitely comes into play in this discussion. The Holtec side, however, has the same issues … groundwater issues.

On our ranches [we depend on] everything we look at: we look at vegetation, we look at soil characteristics, we look at moisture in the soil, but the thing we watch the closest is the quantity and the quality of our groundwater.

Our company is the first one really in West Texas that made the determination to get off of use of fresh water in our drilling and fracking operations and we started recycling produced water and using brackish water as a result.

So we believe firmly that the freshwater issue is a major significance that has to be addressed.

Stressing that the State Engineer’s Office lacks definitive maps of the ground water aquifer locations in New Mexico, Carlisle told the NRC panel, “We’re not alone in this fight.”

Explaining that it had taken ‘less than two hours to get four letters of opposition from major landowners in West Texas, Carlisle concluded,

Groundwater, folks, is the lifeblood of the ranching business. If you don’t have groundwater you’d just own dirt. Think about that for a second.

The bottom line is we believe that this [Holtec] application and the WCS application need to be withdrawn.

A group letter from oil industry representatives to Holtec warned that Holtec and the Eddy-Lea Alliance would ‘need more money than God’ to compensate them if their project damaged the thriving drilling industry in the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin, which is currently on pace to become the world’s most booming region of petroleum production.

“I don’t intend to let this thing run over us.”

Randy Prude, an influential county commissioner from Midland, Texas, told the Roswell NRC meeting that he had spent $2000 of his own money to fly Fasken representative Jimmy Carlisle and other opposition speakers to the event.

“I intend to organize all the ranchers and all the commissioner’s courts and everybody in all the governments in all this whole region,” Commissioner Prude went on.

I will tell you, I am an odd duck, I am a Republican — (Laughter) and this is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is an important issue to all of us….

I just cannot tell you the horror that could happen if we ever have an accident. And so I intend to organize all of our governments that are willing to listen….

I am going to get to all the ranchers and all the ranch oil men to contact their commissioners and their mayors and their representatives, house representatives, senators, and so forth, and I don’t intend to let this thing run over us.

The Permeable Permian

The contentions by dump proponents that the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site is ‘dry and seismically stable’ were repeatedly debunked by facts presented by opposing speakers.

Activists visiting the site, despite Heaton’s attempts to stop them, discovered clear signs that it contains a ‘playa,’ where seasonal rain water collects, feeding the ground water deposits and aquifer below.

The region’s most famous tourist attraction – the Carlsbad Cavern – was formed by such a subterranean body of water, the Capitan Reef Aquifer.

“It’s hard to think of a worse place to choose for placing an interim waste site,” consulting geologist Dr. Steve Schafersman told the meeting.

The area is surrounded by aquifers, some close, some far. The sediments and the sedimentary rock are porous and permeable. The thin barrier they claim is on the top is not sufficient. It’s just like the WCS site, which is really no better. So this is not a good place to put a hazardous waste site, especially one for nuclear waste.

There are soluble rocks below the site, limestone and rock salt. There is karst limestone in the area, which is a soluble limestone that develops caverns, the caverns collapse and sinkholes develop.

It is conceivable that a sinkhole would collapse and take down the depository with it, which would be a terrible, colossal tragedy. In addition there is the soluble Salado formation below that.

In West Texas unplugged wells carry fluids to this formation, the salt dissolves, and sinkholes develop. This is a matter of fact.

An Earth-Shaking Announcement of Seismic Significance

Several of the opposition speakers referred to a recently-published, peer-reviewed study in the March 16, 2018 issue of Nature, with the catchy title, ‘Association between localized geohazards in West Texas and human activities, recognized by Sentinel-1A/B satellite radar imagery.

The study by Southern Methodist University geophysicists Jin-Woo Kim and Zhong Lu reported literally earth-shaking findings.

It showed that, in the last two and a half years, large sections of the four Texas counties they studied, spanning a 4000-square-mile area, had shown ‘vertical deformation,’ that is, sunk or uplifted as much as 40 centimeters or nearly 16 inches.

“The ground movement we’re seeing is not normal. The ground doesn’t typically do this without some cause,” said co-author Zhong Lu, a recognized global expert in satellite radar imagery research.

“These hazards represent a danger to residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines, as well as potential pollution of ground water,” Lu declared.

Co-author Jin-Woo Kim notes that, “This region of Texas has been punctured like a pin cushion with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s and our findings associate that activity with ground movement.”

In fracking, liquid is injected into bore holes under pressure, then extracted, causing uplift while the wells are in operation, and subsidence when they are abandoned.

The researchers’ Nature article states,

… the rapid subsidence is likely induced by the freshwater impoundments from the nearby abandoned wells. During our field trip, we observed numerous recent ground fissures…. These growing fissures can allow the rainwater to swiftly flow down to the Salado formation and promote the dissolution of the salt layers. [ Thus causing subsidence. ]

Although their analysis focused on just that one 4000-square-mile area, Kim says, “We’re fairly certain that when we look further, and we are, that we’ll find there’s ground movement even beyond that.”

The area they’ve studied so far lies just adjacent to the two proposed storage sites in New Mexico and Texas.

The Oil Drilling and Fracking Connection – Oil & Nuclear Waste Don’t Mix

Evidence of the links between oil and gas extraction and earth movement are clear. Researching an unprecedented swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas, a 2016 Stanford University study published in Science found a direct connection between a quake series in Texas in 2012 and 2013, which included the largest on record, and the high volume injection of wastewater into oil and gas fracking wells that happened between 2005 and 2007. The high pressure forced water into fault zones and triggered the subsequent quakes, the study showed. Read more

One of the people Commissioner Randy Prude flew in to speak at the Roswell meeting was Cody Rogers. “I am an ex-Navy nuke,” he told the NRC. “I have operated nuclear reactors for eight years. I am a huge proponent of nuclear power. I think we need it. We have 99 operating nuclear reactors. We do not have anywhere to dispose of the spent fuel. This is a major, major problem and we have to fix it.

“I know we need a site” Rogers told the group. But the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site, he said emphatically, “is not it.”

“We [the U.S.] are on the cusp of being the world’s largest energy producer, okay. We are going to control oil very soon. We are going to control our own destiny. So West Texas is one of the most valuable places in the world right now, especially in the United States, and, because of this I implore you to look up the study from SMU. West Texas is sinking… fast!

“I know we need a site. This is not it. If this thing sinks and we get something like the WIPP accident, that was never supposed to happen, the environmental impact is forever, and if we lose West Texas oil, natural gas, the people of Roswell, the people of New Mexico, the people of Texas, the United States, we’re done.

”We’re not going back to Saudi Arabia and getting their oil. We need independence and this site is sinking and I truly believe that we need to look at that and study its environmental impact.”

Reputations and Rap Sheets

Opponents stress that entrusting the economic and environmental future of this area to companies with corporate histories like those of Holtec and Waste Control Specialists is a highly risky proposition.

Growth Industry

With aging reactors closing down around the country in an accelerating cascade – and with no ‘national permanent geological repository’ for their accumulated SNF in sight – decommissioning and radwaste storage are on pace to become major growth industries for some time to come.

Holtec’s visionary head Dr. Krishna Singh is positioning his huge company, based in Camden, New Jersey, to dominate both industries, as well as to be a leader in the manufacture of small modular reactors (SMRs), the failing nuclear energy industry’s latest bid for survival.

Back in October 2010, based on the results of a criminal investigation of bribery, conducted by its Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) debarred Holtec International, Inc. for sixty days. And fined it $2 million.

According to a TVA document,

Holtec agreed to pay a $2 million administrative fee and submit to independent monitoring of its operations for one year. The TVA Board’s Audit, Risk, and Regulation Committee and TVA management fully supported the OIG’s recommendation to create a suspension and debarment process and submit Holtec to that process. TVA’s Supply Chain organization and Office of General Counsel worked collaboratively with the OIG to achieve this milestone in TVA history. Why wasn’t the company permanently debarred? A subsequent Department of Justice document seems to suggest that a TVA employee may have been bribed by Holtec to falsify a financial disclosure report. Read more.

Meanwhile, just miles away on the other side of the state border in Texas, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and its new French partner Orano each have their own checkered pasts.

WCS was founded in 1989 as a landfill company by Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who controlled it until his death in 2013. During that time, Simmons used his financial muscle and political connections to morph the site into a licensed low level waste dump with some highly questionable maneuvers.

His generous support for then Texas Governor, now Energy Secretary Rick Perry, no doubt eased his path. Critics allege that “Radioactive Rick” Perry appointees at key regulatory agencies bent rules on WCS’s behalf, including the Texas Water Development Board’s altering of maps showing that Simmons’ waste facility is located over part of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies and supplies drinking and agricultural water for eight western bread basket states. Another water body, the Dockum Aquifer lies nearby as well. Many Texas environmental officials resigned in protest.

For its part, WCS’s new partner Orano, parent company of Orano USA, is a recent reincarnation of the radically reorganized French government-owned struggling reactor maker AREVA, after years of business losses brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.

These are the strange bedfellows hoping to profit from the nuclear energy industry’s decline by making New Mexico’s ‘nuclear alley’ America’s de facto radioactive waste repository for the foreseeable future.

There are several things wrong with this scenario, not the least of which, as noted, is that poor and minority residents make up a large portion of the population in and around ‘Nuclear Alley.’

Until and unless the existing Nuclear Waste Policy Act is changed by currently proposed, but not yet enacted legislation, licensing of these CIS sites will be illegal. This is because the Act requires that a permanent repository is approved before any consolidated interim storage site can be licensed.

If the NRC were to license the sites without a central repository being established, they would likely become in effect the national dump, because utilities would probably stop lobbying for – and lawmakers could be less inclined to authorize funding for – establishing a central repository.

If that happens, thousands of shipments of deadly radioactive waste will be moving daily along rail and truck transportation corridors, through our nation’s population centers, for decades to come.

A Shell Game of Nuclear Russian Roulette on Wheels

Eddy-Lea/Holtec project proponents are fond of citing the transport record claimed by the Navy, which proudly states that it has been shipping both new and used nuclear fuel cross-country by rail for over 60 years without mishap.

However the Navy admits that, “All shipments [are] classified (security) and invoke the Department of Transportation (DOT) National Security Exemption (49CFR173.7b).” It claims that 850 spent fuel containers have been safely shipped from March, 1957 to the present.

However, no radioactive labels and placards are ever used in these boxcar and flatcar shipments, and there is no advance notification given to authorities along the route, so reports of any incidents that may have occurred would also be classified – secret for ‘security reasons.’

Those 850 shipments over 6 decades are far fewer than the estimated 17,000 shipments it would take to move the projected 173,000 metric tons of radioactive SNF from US nuclear plants to the Eddy-Lea/Holtec site across the entire lower 48 states in the coming years.

Government documents show that other details of Navy shipping methods make them significantly different than those anticipated for the Shimkus Bill’s proposed nation-wide rail, highway and barge transport network:

+ Transport has been along only one specific rail route;

+ The Navy uses a different containment system than the Holtec transport cask;

+ Each Navy transport cask holds just 1/10th of what is planned for each Holtec spent fuel canister.

Itemizing Nuclear Transport Risks

Kevin Kamps from the Washington DC-based group Beyond Nuclear traveled to New Mexico to show his organization’s solidarity with the Halt Holtec movement and to share knowledge gained from a professional life spent campaigning for nuclear safety.

His hand-out list of the documented high risks involved in transporting highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, whether by train, truck, or barge, on rails, roads, or waterways included “high-speed crashes into immovable objects, like bridge abutments, or high-temperature long-duration fires, or long-duration underwater submergence.”

“Intentional attacks,” he warned, “such as by anti-tank missiles or shaped charges, could also breach shipping containers and release their contents into the environment.”

Since Holtec has claimed in its license application that any and all NRC certified canisters can be accommodated at this facility, Kamps explained, not only rail-sized shipping containers must be worried about, but also legal weight limits for the truck casks which would travel on interstate highways throughout the country.

“X-Ray Machines that can’t be Turned Off”

Contrary to Holtec VP Joy Russell’s reassurance that, since spent fuel shipments aren’t liquid, “they can’t leak,” all shipments would emit dangerous gamma and neutron radiation for several yards in every direction, dissipating with distance. Because of the large expense and added weight necessary to provide shielding against these gamma and neutron emissions, the NRC has set ‘allowable’ limits.

“But,” Kamps reminded the meeting, “Allowable does not mean safe. Any exposure to ionizing radioactivity carries a health risk, and these risks accumulate over a lifetime.”

According to NRC guidelines, at six feet away from the container’s exterior surface, a dose rate of 10 millirem per hour is allowed – about one to two chest x-rays’ worth per hour.

At the exterior surface of the container, the allowable dose rate increases dramatically to 200 millirem per hour. That’s 20 to 40 chest x-rays’ worth.

But workers, such as truck drivers, locomotive engineers, inspectors, security guards, and the like, who come in very close physical proximity into the shipping container would be exposed to the highest radiation dose rates.

Even innocent passersby and bystanders in the general public would also be exposed, including those who live close to transport routes exposed to large numbers of shipments going by over time.

Some people, Kamps noted, such as pregnant women, should not be exposed to any radiation dose that can be avoided due to the high risk of harm caused to the fetus in the womb.

He reported that the state of Nevada, based on federal government data, has documented 49 incidents of accidental surface contamination on these highly radioactive waste shipments between the years of 1949 and 1996.

And in France, Areva Corporation has had many hundreds of externally contaminated shipments, a full one-quarter to one-third of all shipments bound for the La Hague reprocessing facility. On average, these French contamination incidents emitted 500 times the allowable radiation dose rates. One even emitted 3,300 times the allowable dose rate.

De Facto National Dump in Disguise?

But, perhaps the greatest danger to be considered by New Mexicans, Kamps, warned, is the “question of temporary versus permanent.”

This is the danger, Kemps says, of so-called centralized or consolidated interim storage facilities becoming actually de facto permanent surface storage parking lot dumps.

Holtec-ELEA have applied for a permit to NRC to store irradiated nuclear fuel here for 40 years. But this time period could, as they admit, be extended to 120 years.

But, Kamps’ research shows that, on page 12 of a January 27th, 2017 report that Holtec prepared and submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Andrew Griffith over company Vice President Joy Russell’s signature, Holtec’s response to the DOE request for proposal on centralized interim storage, stated that “the CIS should have a minimum service life of 300 years.”

“How can 40 years be called temporary, let alone 300?” Kemps asked the gathering. “That’s longer than the United States has been a country.”

“So, just to end with some political reality,” he said, “If this waste comes out here, it would turn out to be one New Mexico member of the United States House of Representatives versus 434 others for it to ever move again. And in the U.S. Senate it would be a vote of 98 against 2.”

“So,” Kemps concluded, “folks had better think about this deeply before it’s allowed to come out here.”

‘Chernobyl in a Can’

Expanding on the theme of transportation risks, EON producer, Mary Beth Brangan pointed out that “Every one of these canisters that would be coming would contain roughly as much cesium alone, as was released in the Chernobyl accident. Every canister. […]

“My partner and I are here,” Brangan told the meeting, “because we’re very, very concerned about this. And I want to assure you there are other Californians who do not want to send their radioactive waste here.

“We don’t want to do that for a great many reasons but the first one is its environmental racism, and we really object to the concept of putting anymore of the burden of the nation’s radioactivity on your communities,” she said to appreciative applause.

We were not the only concerned Californians who came to the NRC’s New Mexico scoping meetings to say, “We don’t want our radioactive waste dumped on you.”

Another was Southern California urban planner and community organizer Torgen Johnson, whose efforts helped shut down San Onofre’s reactors. He flew in to the Albuquerque meeting to show support for the Halt Holtec Campaign and network with regional organizers.

“The New Mexico people hammered Holtec and the NRC,” he reported. “They didn’t need our help, but they welcomed our solidarity. It was so great and encouraging to hear these well-informed, passionate and articulate people expressing the same concerns we have at the other end of the potential rail line.”

Johnson says he heard testimonies from down-winders of the 1945 Trinity test with long, tragic family histories of cancer and health impacts. Being among them, he says, deepened his understanding of the human rights, social justice and environmental issues at stake, and his commitment to continued public education about them.

What impressed him, he says, is the realization of the “Link between the low income, red and brown people in New Mexico and wealthy white people in Southern California – both being victimized by the plans and decisions of Holtec and the NRC.”

“Its a representative cross-section of America” he says, “united against the onslaught of the nuclear waste disposal industry.”

Sharon and Ace Hoffman, whose efforts had also contributed to the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant, attended several of the meetings to share their experience and voice their solidarity with the Halt Holtec movement.

“We are very happy that San Onofre is closed,” Sharon Hoffman said.  “It is a really bad place for the waste. But that doesn’t mean that we solve the problem by moving it to a different place. We have to look at the transportation. We are talking about moving the most dangerous stuff on the planet all over the country. And if we moved it all today, we would have more tomorrow.

“So the real question here is, when are we going to shut down all these plants and stop making more waste? That’s really the problem.

“This is a beautiful place,“ she concluded. “And it might be contaminated forever. This is not something that you want to take on for the rest of the country. Yes, you can help the rest of the country. You can say, stop making this, and then let’s figure out together the best thing to do with what is left.”

“I am a stakeholder,” Ace Hoffman told the assembly. “I am from Carlsbad. Not Carlsbad, New Mexico; Carlsbad, California, which is about 15 miles as the crow flies, or the plutonium flies, from San Onofre. So it was very important to me that we do something about this waste.”

Based on his experience of the NRC’s actions during the controversy about shutting down San Onofre, Hoffman warned his New Mexico counterparts, “don’t expect anyone to be telling you the truth about what is possible or what is going to happen. And I strongly advise — even though I would love to get rid of the waste, and I would love to find a sucker that will take it — don’t be that sucker.”

From the Mouths of Babes…

But it was the little daughter of artist and prominent Halt Holtec campaigner Noel Marquez who perhaps best summarized New Mexico’s majority view that emerged from the 5 meetings held around the state on the Elea-Holtec proposed dump site.

When the moderator, Chip Cameron offered to hold the mike for her, she responded, “I can hold it myself. Thank you.”

Handling the mike with confident ease, she continued, “My name is Pakeia Marquez and I am 11 years old. I’m here on behalf of unborn kids and born kids like me. I think this whole situation is very important because it affects everything and everybody. It affects the plants and wildlife around here.

“I have recently been writing an essay about ecosystems. I read that ecosystems can be very easily poisoned through water, air, and soil. Water, if all this radiation leaks into the water, everything that’s living needs water. It’s going to suck up all of that, and it’s going to get poisoned. Who is going to, like, you know, reimburse us for it?

“You may think you might be solving a problem, but really you’re just creating more problems to solve, and they might just be forever, and you might just not be able to solve them.

“Please remember that I cannot vote,” she told the NRC officials. “So please do vote against this horrible mistake. Thank you.”

The applause was loud and long as Pakeia Marquez made her way back to her seat.

James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection Pt. ! – The Case of San Onofre is now in post-production. He can be reached at jamesmheddle@gmail.com

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 8 Comments

Boycott Israel & you won’t get aid donations, Hurricane Harvey victims told

RT | October 20, 2017

Residents in a Houston suburb will not receive funds donated for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts if they support boycotting Israel, according to a funding application form issued in the wake of the devastating storm.

The city of Dickinson, Texas, told individuals and businesses on Monday that they are now accepting applications for “grants from the fund generously donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund” for storm damage repair.

In order to apply for the grant, however, applicants must agree to a number of clauses, one of which is asserting that they do not boycott Israel.

“By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement,” read the application form.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the city’s condition as a violation of free speech rights.

“Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity,” said ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura.

The clause likely stems from a Texas law passed in May that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.

“As Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership… Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” said Governor Greg Abbott at the signing ceremony.

Dickinson is one of the hardest hit towns in the Houston area, according to a September report from KTRK. Some 7,000 homes and 88 businesses were seriously damaged, said the local police department. The small town is home to just 20,000 people.

RT.com has reached out to representatives of the City of Dickinson for comment.

READ MORE: US Air Force sprays Harvey-stricken Texas with controversial chemicals

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Texas’ Annual Roundup of the Working Poor

By Trisha Trigilio | ACLU of Texas | March 4, 2016

March 5th marks the beginning of the annual Great Texas Warrant Roundup. It sounds like quite a lot of fun, another cowboy extravaganza from a state famous for its stock shows and rodeos.

But what it is, in practice, is a shakedown of Texas’s working poor.

The Great Texas Warrant Roundup is an annual statewide collaboration of courts and law enforcement agencies. Their goal is to collect payment of overdue fines and fees from Texans who have outstanding warrants for unpaid traffic tickets and to arrest and jail those who can’t pay. What little press is dedicated to the Roundup focuses on praising cities for the so-called “amnesty” period that precedes it.

The state’s unreasonable traffic ticket scheme and the devastation it can wreak on low-income Texans receive considerably less attention.

Depending on the jurisdiction, a ticket for failing to signal a lane change — the trooper’s justification for Sandra Bland’s tragic traffic stop — will cost you around $66. But the state tacks on $103 in court costs and a host of fees, some bordering on Kafkaesque. Texas will charge you a public defender fee, even though courts refuse to appoint a public defender for traffic ticket cases. If your fine is already too expensive to afford, Texas charges a fee to put you on a payment plan. You’ll even pay an “administrative fee” for the privilege of handing money over to the court. For people who are too poor to pay their traffic fines, a $66 fine can balloon to over $500 because of these court costs and fees, as well as late fines and warrant fees when towns try to arrest the poor (at times illegally) to collect money they simply do not have.

If you can’t afford to keep up with these fees, the state will suspend renewal of your driver’s license (add another $30 for the License Renewal Suspension Fee), and you’ll be unable to register your car, making it illegal for you to drive to the job you need to take care of your kids and pay off your spiraling debt. An expired registration means you’re certain to be pulled over and put back at square one, with new tickets, new fines, new fees, and no hope.

Case in point: Valerie Gonzales, one of the original plaintiffs represented by the Texas Fair Defense Project in a class action lawsuit against the City of Austin. Valerie is a 31-year-old mother of five children with disabilities. She and her family live in poverty. After receiving two traffic tickets nine years ago, not only had Valerie’s tickets multiplied and her fines ballooned into the thousands of dollars, she lost a job after she was unconstitutionally jailed without the benefit of a court-appointed attorney.

When people like Valerie are arrested in the coming warrant roundup, judges across Texas will follow their usual plan of demanding a payment in exchange for liberty. Without asking questions about financial circumstances, judges literally order people to turn over all the money they happen to be holding when they are arrested. “Give me what’s in your pockets” is not a phrase that should be uttered in a courtroom. What’s worse, when the working poor don’t have enough money to hand over, judges send them to jail without a fair hearing or a second thought.

Jailing people for debt is both unjust and profoundly counterproductive. Not only does it deprive people of their liberty and separate them from their children and families, it also renders them incapable of paying off their fines and costs the taxpayer (by conservative estimates) $51 per person per day of incarceration. It’s in everyone’s best interests to keep Texans with their families and out of jail.

There are sensible alternatives. Courts can consider ability to pay before assessing unmanageable fines or waive debts for people who have made a genuine effort to pay what they can. So why don’t they?

This is what makes the roundup so nefarious. Courts are hoping that the threat of jail will frighten people into turning over whatever they can scrape together in exchange for protection from arrest. Rather than praising amnesty, we should address the systemic injustices that keep low-income Texans in perpetual debt to the state.

March 6, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Buy the Rights-Abusing Cops Lunch Says Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

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By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | September 3, 2015

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick issued a statement Wednesday that says that, to counter “America’s negative attitude toward our law enforcement officers,” people should all-but grovel at the feet of any police they come across. Patrick even suggests that “financially able” individuals (who presumably are already paying cops’ salaries via taxes) pay for the lunches of any cops they may see in a restaurant.

Here is Patrick’s complete list of groveling suggestions:

Join me in changing this negative attitude toward those that protect us, by practicing the following:

Start calling our officers sir and ma’am all of the time. It’s a show of respect they deserve.

Every time you see an officer anywhere, let them know you appreciate their service to our community and you stand with them.

If you are financially able, when you see them in a restaurant on duty pick up their lunch check, send over a dessert, or simply stop by their table briefly and say thank you for their service.

Put their charities on your giving list.

If your local law enforcement has volunteer-citizen job opportunities, sign up.

Interestingly, Patrick never mentions in his statement that a major contributor to the negative attitude many people in Texas and across America have toward cops is the many times cops act in manners bereft of respect for the rights, property, health, and lives of the individuals they encounter.

How about the cops who abused Sandra Bland or Angel and Ashley Dobbs in Patrick’s home state? “Thank you sir. Thank you ma’am. Please, let me pay for that sandwich!”

While some people would say that these abusive cops are just a few bad apples, reading through articles by Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead or journalist William N. Grigg, it becomes clear that the basket contains many bad apples. The fact is that many cops are more intent on harassing, abusing, and dominating people they encounter than on serving and protecting them. Rather than disrespect for cops being, as Patrick seems to believe, some irrational, mystical belief that showed up out of nowhere, the disrespect is a logical response to the horror show of abusive cops that plays out again and again in this age of police militarization.

Though often overlooked, the war on drugs is an underlying cause of the worsening police conduct. Because the growth, manufacture, sale, transfer, and use of drugs are nonviolent and victimless activities, with no complaining victim, police have resorted to all kinds of invasive, deceptive, and destructive tactics in fighting the war. For example, the drug war has been used as an excuse for vast expansion of police practices including covert surveillance, sting operations, pretext traffic stops, asset seizures without any court hearing whatsoever, and SWAT team raids on homes and businesses. All of this is supposedly justified to protect people from themselves.

Of course, the drug war, like alcohol prohibition before it, has also spawned gangs fighting over turf. This violence, in turn, is used as an excuse for the further militarization of the police — in equipment, tactics, and mindset.

But, according to Patrick, we should be thankful for the SWAT team members who raided a home last night, pointing guns at all the suddenly awoken family members, turning the place upside down in an effort to find even a fraction of an ounce of a forbidden drug, and maybe shooting someone or the family’s pet dog to boot.

The drug war corrosion runs even deeper. Beyond the SWAT team members, there are also the undercover cops trying to snag individuals in drug sale stings, the traffic cops who make up pretenses to conduct drug searches without consent or pressure drivers to “consent” to searches, and even the desk-bound cops who handle the paperwork that allows the drug war machine to relentlessly move forward.

Patrick laments that “America’s negative attitude toward our law enforcement officers” may result in less people choosing to become cops. Yet, having less cops around can actually lead to much enhanced safety.

Let’s call off the war on drugs, its danger-enhancing police practices, and the related drug war exception to the Fourth Amendment. Let people exercise their right to grow, manufacture, sell, transfer, and use drugs as they see fit. Let the violence prohibition engenders wither. Free the drug war prisoners.

With the end of the drug war, the number of cops can be significantly reduced. Ending the war may also be the single biggest step that may be taken immediately to increase Texans’ and Americans’ respect for police.

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Dashcam Video Released in Sandra Bland Traffic Stop Shows Aggressive Abuse by Texas Cop

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | July 22, 2015

Waller County, TX — As more details emerge about the incident involving Sandra Bland, the story gets more and more suspicious. On Tuesday night, dashcam footage was released that highlights the terrible abuse inflicted on Ms. Bland for a routine revenue collection stop — for a turn signal.

According to Waller County Sheriff’s Department officials, Bland was pulled over for “improperly signaling a lane change” and charged with “assault on a public servant.” However, after watching the dashcam, it is quite clear that Bland was the only one being assaulted in this scenario.

Police claim that Bland hung herself with a plastic trash bag in her jail cell. They also claim that Sandra Bland assaulted an officer during her traffic stop. The newly released dashcam footage shows that these cops are not afraid of lying.

After Bland is pulled over for an arbitrary infraction, this abusive cop begins his assault. He starts by screaming at the young lady and then physically attacks her, attempting to yank her from the car.

The entire escalation of violence seems to be over this thug officer demanding Bland put out her cigarette. “I’m in my car, I don’t have to put out my cigarette,” says Bland just before this jackboot tyrant explodes and assaults her and threatens her with a taser.

“Get out of the car! I will light you up!”

It is quite clear who the aggressor was in this incident. If this video is any indication of what went on once Bland was in prison, it is no question why her death is being investigated as a homicide.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Video | , | Leave a comment

New Bill Would Have Teachers Diagnose Psychological Issues in Children and Report them to Police

By Jay Syrmopoulos | The Free Thought Project | March 24, 2015

Dallas, Texas – Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is once again in the spotlight after submitting yet another Orwellian proposal, H.B. 985.

Villalba first raised the ire of civil libertarians by proposing a bill, H.B. 2006, which would have eliminated the religious exemption for vaccination, essentially creating a forced government vaccination program without exception.

More recently, Villalba was thrust into the national spotlight when he proposed H.B. 2918, which would usurp citizens of the ability to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. The bill would negate the people’s ability to create an accurate and impartial record of police interactions by restricting citizens from filming within 25 feet of an officer.

Now with H.B. 985, Villalba intends to give school officials the authority to force psychological screenings of students that teachers and staff diagnose as having mental health issues.

Once the process is set in motion by school officials, parents would be forced to take their child to a mental health professional within 30 days, under threat of suspension of the child from school.

“ …the requirement that the parent or guardian, before the expiration of the 30-day period, to avoid suspension of the student under this section, take the student to the nearest local mental health authority or a physician specializing in psychiatry to receive a mental health screening and a certificate of medical examination for mental illness, as described by Section 533.03522(c), Health and Safety Code, that contains the examining physician’s opinion that the student is not a danger to self or others.”

While under suspension the child would still receive an education, but they would be sent to an “alternative school.”

School administrators would be required under the law to provide the student’s name, address, and information regarding the complaint to the local mental health authorities and the police department upon verification of the complaint.

(i) A school counselor or a principal who receives notice
under. Subsection (b) about a student who subsequently is subject to
a notice of intent to suspend under Subsection (g) shall:
(1) provide the student’s name and address and
information concerning the conduct or statement that led to the
notice of intent to suspend to:
(A) the school district police department, if the
school counselor or principal is employed by a school district and
the district has a police department;
(B) the police department of the municipality in
which the school is located or, if the school is not in a
municipality, the sheriff of the county in which the school is
located; and
(C) the local mental health authority nearest the
school;

Teachers have enough on their academic plates without them being forced to become armchair psychologists in the classroom.

Also, it is highly inappropriate and dangerous for unqualified teachers to play the role of child psychiatrists. Unless they’ve had special training and are certified to diagnose the disorders, it can also be illegal.

We are already witnessing the damage caused by parents believing teachers who think that every child who acts out in their classroom has ADHD. It’s called The Ritalin Explosion.

The idea that students’ personal information would be submitted to mental health facilities and police departments for complaints initiated and investigated by only school officials also causes serious concern.

Is it really necessary to criminalize kids based upon a teacher’s unprofessional assessment of a kids mental health? And what about the student that is mentally healthy, but simply defiant?

Perhaps rather than attempting to legislate away this perceived problem by criminalizing “problem” children, there is a better way. Villalba would have been better served by using his position to help create a program to build sustainable bridges of communication between parents and administrators that assist in identifying and combating mental health problems in students.

Instead, like so many tyrants before him, Villalba tries to solve complex problems using the force of the state.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

Witnesses against death row grandmother admit they lied following threats from prosecutors

Reprieve | February 16, 2015

Key witnesses against a British grandmother on death row in Texas have said that prosecutors in her 2002 trial threatened or ‘blackmailed’ them into testifying against her.

Among them is the only person who claimed to have seen Linda Carty (56) carry out the murder of Joanna Rodriguez, who has now admitted that Texan District Attorneys (DAs) “threatened me and intimidated me” into identifying Ms Carty as the culprit. Christopher Robinson, who was the key to the prosecution case, admits that he never saw Ms Carty kill anyone and his testimony to this extent at trial was a lie.

Mr Robinson has signed an affidavit, filed in September 2014, in which he testifies that prosecutors “told me I had to testify at Linda’s trial to avoid the death penalty, and they made it clear what it was I had to say.” Mr Robinson adds that they “[told] me I would get the death penalty myself if Linda Carty did not get the death penalty.”

Several other witnesses at Ms Carty’s trial have also admitted they were “blackmailed” by Texan prosecutors, and lied or omitted evidence as a result.

Charles Mathis, a former Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer who was Ms Carty’s ‘handler’ during the time she worked as an informer for the Agency has stepped forward to reveal the lengths the prosecutors went to obtain the testimony they needed. Mr Mathis’ affidavit states that when he told the Texan DA that he “knew that Linda did not have it in her to kill anyone,” and so did not want to testify against her, the DA “threatened me with an invented affair that I was supposed to have had with Linda.”

“I felt that [Texas DA Connie] Spence was threatening and blackmailing me into testifying,” Mr Mathis concludes. “It struck me that Spence wanted a death sentence as a feather in her cap. She was far more interested in a death conviction that the truth.”

As a result of the Prosecutor’s threat to smear him and ruin his marriage with a fictional affair, Mr. Mathis omitted testimony regarding “misconduct during the investigation”.

The new testimony – which was unearthed by lawyers at international legal non-profit Reprieve following years of work and investigation – is currently being considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). Ms Carty’s lawyers are asking for an evidentiary hearing to air this newly discovered evidence and ultimately seek a new trial.

Commenting, Clare Algar, Executive Director of Reprieve said:

“If Linda is not granted a new hearing, she faces the death penalty based on lies extracted by prosecutors desperate to secure an execution at any cost. The behaviour of prosecutors in this case has been so appalling it takes the breath away. They have stooped to targeting the marriage of one witness with invented slurs, while using the threat of death to force another to produce the lies they needed for conviction. Linda’s last hope is that Texas recognises that she deserves a new – and this time fair – trial.”

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 2 Comments

High-Level Rad Waste Dump Called “All Risk and No Reward for Texas”

By JOHN LAFORGE | CounterPunch | February 11, 2015

A high-level radioactive waste “parking lot” — proposed for West Texas — poses both terrible and unnecessary risks for people throughout the country — Texas in particular — and should not be built.

That’s the position of a coalition of public interest groups that declared its opposition to the plan February 9.

The proposal was announced by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) which currently operates a low-level radioactive dump at the site near Eunice, New Mexico. The plan is for WCS, and the French nuclear giant AREVA, to accept high-level radioactive waste.

About 70,000 tons of such waste fuel–other rad waste is called “low-level”– is now stored at about 70 reactor sites around the country. The waste is some of most long-lived, deadly and dangerous material known to science, radioactive for over half-a-million years.

“It was irresponsible even to generate high-level nuclear waste without a plan for how to dispose of it,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, in a press release. “It would be doubly so to ship it across the country, with no serious plan to protect it in transit or in its new temporary destination. Hiding the problem of high-level nuclear waste in West Texas doesn’t make it go away, it makes it worse.”

Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director at Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said, “Moving nuclear waste to a supposedly temporary consolidated storage place gives the delusion of ‘a solution’ when in fact it will at least double the risks and create a de facto permanent dump near one of the largest aquifers in the country.”

D’Arrigo called the plan part of an elaborate, unnecessary shell game. “WCS is really volunteering to make the US nuclear problem worse by putting the deadliest radioactive wastes from nuclear power on the same highways, railways and waterways we all use every day,” she said. The government said 20 years ago that the waste could safely be kept at reactor sites for 100 years.

“This plan is all risk and no reward for the state of Texas,” said Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. “It poses transportation and accident risks around the country. We don’t need Fukushima Freeways,” he said. […]

“The federal government has made a mess of nuclear waste policy,” said Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “The highly radioactive spent fuel from nuclear reactors should be stored on-site, in hardened configurations while Washington sorts it out. Putting the deadliest nuclear waste on the roads needlessly increases risks.” he said.

The only plausible rationale for moving high-level waste away from reactor sites has come from those warning about tsunami risks on the West Coast, and from environmental justice advocates who note that radioactive waste is often placed — as with Xcel’s Prairie Island reactors in Minnesota — near Native American communities.

Former Texas State Rep. Lon Burnam of Ft. Worth said, “The site isn’t even dry — a minimum safety prerequisite for safe storage or disposal of radioactive waste. Recently, 22 percent of test wells at the existing low-level radioactive waste site had water present. … WCS admits the Ogallala Aquifer is nearby. What would happen if radioactive waste contaminated water that lies beneath eight states?”

Texas must not be allowed to risk answering that question. – Full article

John LaForge works for Nukewatch and lives on the Plowshares Land Trust near Luck, Wisc.

February 11, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Houston P.D. Orders All Officers Turn Off Body Cameras During Protest

TheAntiMedia | December 20, 2014

Remington Alessi was arrested on Saturday December 13 in Houston, Texas. He was arrested while engaging in a nonviolent protest against police brutality. He gives us his account of what he learned in the back of a squad car.

“We’re going to go ahead and turn off the personal video devices going forward, so be sure all officers have them turned off when engaging the protesters.” The words cut through me and chilled my spine as I sat, helplessly handcuffed in the back of a Houston Police cruiser after being arrested in the midst of a protest.

As an activist who has been around the block a few times, I knew that little would endanger a crowd more than a crowd of officers who had just received an order from higher up to disable their own personal accountability.

Barely into the pilot program, the Houston Police Department’s commanding officers managed to brazenly display how easily the personal video devices can be misused. Per an earlier interview, “Capt. Mike Skillern, who heads HPD’s gang unit and is involved in testing the cameras, said his fellow officers act “a little more professionally” when wearing the devices.” But how do they act when they switch the devices off? If officers had their way, no one would know.

The biggest fault here lies in the physical design of the cameras themselves. The VIEVU LE3 model camera is employed by HPD and is worn by over four thousand police agencies, according to the company’s website. The camera’s most conspicuous feature is an easily operated off switch, which can functionally slide over the lens of the camera at any time an officer feels the need to remove any potential accountability. Hyperbole fails in describing how much of a problem it is for police to control when video is being recorded.

Allowing police to control the video stream will create a situation in which footage will appear only when it benefits the officer, while footage of police beating unarmed suspects, throwing incendiary devices at toddlers, and erasing civilians’ video records of police brutality will never appear, due to conveniently located off switches designed by VIEVU to make the devices popular among police.

When the order came across the radio to disable the cameras, I held my breath, hoping against hope that even a single officer would object to the directive that specifically commanded officers to stop recording their activities. My heart sunk as I was met with silence. Not even the friendly Lieutenant Troy Finner, who only an hour prior had waxed poetic about being concerned about protesters’ safety had a word to say about the order. Instead, he, like every other police officer assigned to ‘protect’ the nonviolent protesters, agreed to endanger them the moment a commanding officer gave the order.

The thin blue line will be maintained, cameras or not.

December 22, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Texas Cop Places Woman in Chokehold for Video Recording

UPDATE: Texas Cop Loses Job for Chokehold on Woman, 2nd Cop Disciplined for Ordering Footage Deleted

By Carlos Miller | PINAC | November 30, 2014

A Texas cop placed a woman in a chokehold because she was video recording some type of police activity in the parking lot of what appears to be a fast food restaurant after she refused to provide identification.

It started when Corpus Christi Sergeant J.E. Lockhart stormed up to Lanessa Espinosa, who was standing a good distance away from the investigation, accusing her of interfering – after a nearby cop from another agency accused her of being a “jailhouse lawyer.”

“There is a probable cause for us to be out here,” Lockhart said. “I want to know who you are, so I’m requesting your ID. You fail to ID, I’m going to take you into jail. And that’s law.”

“What’s my charge?

“You’re not being charged with anything.”

“Then I don’t have to show you my ID, sir.”

“You’re involved in an investigation. You want to interfere with an investigation, you’re going to jail for interfering with a police officer in performance of his investigation. Do you understand that? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?”

Espinosa understood that Lockhart was out of line, so she said she was in fear for her safety and took a step back, which was when another cop placed her in a chokehold.

Espinosa turned the camera on herself as she was getting chokehold by the cop from the other agency, whose agency has not been determined because Corpus Christi runs into four counties and I haven’t been able to make the patch out.

That cop then turned her over to Lockhard, who handcuffed her.

Espinosa has not responded for comment from PINAC over the incident, but public records show she was not arrested.

UPDATE:

The video of a Texas woman getting placed in a chokehold and handcuffed for refusing to provide her identification ended up going viral where it was covered by a local television news station at the top of the news hour Monday night.

However, KIII-TV reporter Bill Churchwell finished the segment by providing misinformation about the law when it comes identifying yourself to police, informing viewers that citizens are required to identify themselves whether or not they have been lawfully arrested.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Texas Failure to Identify law makes it a crime for people to refuse to identify themselves if they have been lawfully arrested or if the person provides false information if they have been lawfully detained.

However, when news anchor Joe Gazin asked Churchwell about this law, the reporter stated the following:

“Well that is required whether you are a witness or involved in an incident, you are required to  tell officers who you are,” Churchwell said.

Churchwell is most likely getting his information from police without bothering to look at the actual statute, which is a big mistake because we all know police are clueless about the laws they are supposed to enforce.

But that is the norm for mainstream media reporters who don’t want to risk questioning their local police department and therefore lose access to the daily information that enables them to report the news without putting in much effort.

However, it didn’t take long for a viewer to set the record straight on KIII-TV’s Facebook page about the law.

Screenshot 2014-12-01 20.45.23

 

Blogger ExCop-LawStudent, a former Texas cop turned law student, also elaborated about the law on his blog.

In the video, a police officer with an unknown police department† claims that Lanessa Espinosa is a “jailhouse lawyer” because she actually knows what the law says. She pointed out that she did not have to identify herself unless she was “being charged.” At that point Corpus Christi Senior Officer‡ J.E. Lockhart comes up and demands ID and tells her that he will arrest her if she doesn’t provide ID.

The problem is that § 38.02, Texas Penal Code, does not authorize an arrest for failure to ID on a mere detention unless the person provides a fictitious name. We’ve covered that several times, here, here, here, here (also in Corpus), here, here, here, and here.

There are several things wrong with the video. First, the officer from the unknown department is choking Espinosa with an arm-bar choke hold. If you look at the video at 1:12, you’ll see the officer’s forearm cutting directly over Espinosa’s adam’s apple in the same manner that killed Eric Garner in New York. The arm-bar choke hold is almost universally viewed as deadly force, and completely inappropriate here when the crime is at best, a misdemeanor under the officer’s mistaken idea of the law.

Second, it is a false arrest. Even more so, it is an arrest because she is exercising her right not to provide identification when he knows (or should have known) that the arrest is unlawful, and that he intentionally denied her of her freedom when he knew (or should have known) that his conduct was unlawful. Folks, that the definition of Official Oppression, § 39.03, Texas Penal Code, and is a Class A misdemeanor.††

Some states have what are called “stop and identify” laws, which requires citizens to identify themselves if they have been detained, but Texas is not one of those states, which is why it only requires a citizen to identify themselves if they’ve been arrested.

There is no state where citizens are legally required to provide identification merely because a cop demands it unless the cop has detained you because he had a reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime.

That doesn’t mean cops won’t demand your identification because they do it all the time, many times under intimidating threats of arrest, which is why we must remain recording in these situations.

And if a cop tells you he has the right to ask you for your identification, tell him you have the right not to provide that identification. … Full article

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Texas State Board Of Education Votes To Approve Biased Textbooks

By Sarah Jones | Wall of Separation | November 24, 2014

On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 10-5 to approve 89 new social studies textbooks for use in public classrooms. The vote, which split cleanly on party lines, ends public hearings on the subject. But controversy over the books’ content is likely to linger: Critics allege the books contain multiple errors and exaggerations designed to portray the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation.

As reported previously in Church & State, the textbooks as proposed overplayed the influence of Mosaic law on the Founding Fathers, cast doubt on the constitutionality of separation of church and state and skewed discussions of existing legal precedent on prayer in schools. Although publishers did make many corrections to the books – such was watering down inflammatory and inaccurate information about Islam – “Christian nation” myths unfortunately remain in the material.

And that’s thanks to the SBOE, which in 2010 passed a series of curriculum standards that mandated instruction that emphasized the country’s Christian heritage. Those standards, and the flawed review process itself, finally proved too much for one publisher. According to the Texas Tribune, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pulled its government textbook from consideration after being asked to “add greater coverage of Judeo-Christian influence – including Moses – on America’s founding fathers.”

The SBOE also rejected curriculum from WorldView Software, and there’s evidence the decision was politically motivated. Prior to the final vote, WorldView issued a strongly worded statement in response to public testimony from Barbara Lamontagne, who informed the SBOE last week that the material called the late General Douglas MacArthur “racist” and lionized communist figures at the expense of President Ronald Reagan.

WorldView slammed the comments as “very serious and patently false allegations” and noted that Lamontagne admitted in her testimony that she had not read the material before preparing her remarks. Despite this, the SBOE ruled that WorldView had not done enough to address her criticisms, and rejected the company’s curriculum.

Even without the Houghton Mifflin Harcout and WorldView materials, the SBOE had hundreds of pages of edits to review in less than a week. As a few members noted, the vote’s timing made it impossible for the SBOE to read all edits under consideration. But a motion to delay the final vote failed, rejected by the fundamentalist Christian officials who dominate the board.

Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), slammed the review process in a press statement. “And once again the state’s process for approving textbooks was revealed to be a sham, as state board members voted for last-minute changes that they had never even read,” she said. “Those changes were approved without any input whatsoever from historians and experts.”

TFN had appointed its own review panel to identify errors and suggest corrections in the books. Scholars expressed serious concern over the books’ slant, only for those concerns to be largely dismissed by the SBOE.

Americans United also opposed the books. We launched a petition in partnership with TFN and People For the American Way; our organizations combined collected over 30,000 signatures to demand that publishers produce accurate textbooks for Texas students.

Activist Zack Kopplin testified on our behalf before the SBOE earlier this month to reiterate our concerns that the books presented a flawed, fundamentalist version of American history with little to no basis in evidence.

The SBOE didn’t respond kindly to Kopplin’s testimony, with one member asking him if he’d been paid to testify (the answer, of course, is no).

With the board’s vote, the textbooks are set to enter public classrooms in 2015, where they will be used for the next decade. Local school districts do have the option to reject the books and use alternative curriculum, a move recommended on Friday by moderate members of the SBOE. Based on the evidence, it’s a move we recommend as well.

It’s clear that the SBOE has carefully constructed curriculum standards and a shoddy review process designed to erode the separation of church and state. Unfortunately, their latest victory means that thousands of students will receive biased and inaccurate information about the development of our democracy. And that, of course, has been the SBOE’s goal all along: Indoctrinating “culture warriors” has officially taken precedence over preparing students for higher education and work.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment