How Chernobyl could happen here April 24, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Environment.
Tags: browns ferry reactor, chernobyl, environment, fermi i, fermi i fast breeder reactor, harvey wasserman, indian point, nuclear accident, nuclear meltdown, nuclear radiation, nuclear reactor, oyster creek, perry reactor, radioactive waste, roger hollander, three mile island, tmi, vermont yankee
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www.onlinejournal.com, April 24, 2009
A catastrophe like Chernobyl could happen here. It’s the radioactive core of the second biggest lie in US industrial history.
The atomic pushers say such a disaster is “impossible” at a US reactor. But Chernobyl’s explosion spewed radiation all over the world. And Sunday’s tragic 23rd anniversary reminds us that any reactor on this planet can kill innumerable people anywhere, at any time, by terror, error and more.
It further clarifies why yet another grab at billions of taxpayer dollars for new reactor construction must be stopped NOW!
The BIGGEST lie in US industrial history is that “nobody died at Three Mile Island.” Just before last month’s thirtieth anniversary of the central Pennsylvania meltdown, critical new evidence was completely ignored by the corporate media.
Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, a former industry executive, reported in Harrisburg that new findings show far more radiation may have been released than previously estimated. Epidemiologist Stephen Wing of the University of North Carolina joined in a study indicating human health was indeed compromised downwind.
To this day, neither TMI’s owners nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knows how much radiation escaped, where it went or whom it impacted. The Gundersen/Wing findings cast new light on the question of building more reactors.
But they got a Stalinesque blackout from ALL corporate media, which parroted the official lie that “nobody was harmed” by the 1979 disaster.
This week comes official Radioactive Lie #2: “Chernobyl can’t happen here.”
Chernobyl Unit 4 exploded in the wee hours of April 26, 1986. It was of a different design than US reactors. But its lid was stronger than about a third of the domes covering plants here. The Soviets who ran it also said Chernobyl could not explode, and that in any event its lid would hold.
On October 5, 1966, the Fermi I fast breeder reactor nearly delivered a far worse explosion. Cooled by highly volatile liquid sodium, it teetered for a month on the brink of a radioactive eruption that could have cratered much of southeastern Michigan and permanently destroyed the biggest fresh water bodies on Earth. The accident was kept under Soviet-style wraps for years.
When TMI melted, a potentially explosive hydrogen bubble formed inside the dome. Officials denied there was a meltdown (there was) but were privately terrified the trapped gas could rupture the containment vessel. The escaping cloud would have contaminated millions along the east coast, from Boston to Washington.
Chernobyl’s cloud blanketed Europe with deadly isotopes. Some came down in California within 10 days, killing countless birds and possibly, in the long run, even more people. The radiation then crossed the entire northern United States, contaminating milk in New England. It returned later for a second pass.
Reactor backers say Chernobyl “only” killed 31 plant workers. But the Soviets denied the accident happened, then ran 800,000 drafted “jumpers” through the radioactive corpse for a futile clean-up. They have been dying in droves for two decades.
Chernobyl’s radiation rained down on a May Day parade among citizens of Kiev who were told nothing about the catastrophe 80 kilometers away. The heartbreaking deformities plaguing the children born thereafter are the starkest reminders of that horrific day. Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the late President Boris Yeltsin, and president of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, has estimated the known death toll at 300,000. The financial costs have topped a half-trillion dollars. The sale of lambs is still banned 2,000 miles away in Wales and Scotland, where radioactive cesium still contaminates sheep farms and grazing land.
The tidal wave of cancers, miscarriages, sterility and worse that still washes over the Ukraine and surrounding regions gets ever more horrifying as time passes. Because Chernobyl 4 was a new “state of the art” unit, its core spewed far less radiation than might come from older reactors at Indian Point, New York, or Oyster Creek, New Jersey, which has just been relicensed to run 20 years beyond its original design specifications.
Chernobyl’s design was peculiar to the Soviets. But to say only it could explode is to argue that hybrid cars can’t run people over, or that since there are no more World Trade towers, terrorists can no longer kill Americans.
On January 31, 1986, four months prior to Chernobyl’s explosion, an earthquake shook the Perry reactor east of Cleveland, which thankfully was not operating at the time. Now it is.
By accident inspectors stumbled onto a football-sized hole eaten by boric acid to within a fraction of an inch through the pressure vessel at Davis-Besse near Toledo. A worker using a candle set a $100 million fire at the Browns Ferry reactor in Alabama. A cooling tower unexpectedly collapsed to the ground at Vermont Yankee. A basketball wrapped in tape was used to stop up a pipe at a reactor in Florida. This March 28, on TMI’s 30th anniversary, an unexplained tremor shut Unit Two at Fermi.
And, of course, the first jet that flew into the World Trade Center passed directly over the two decrepit reactors at Indian Point, as well as the three spent fuel pools and one dormant core shut for lack of an emergency cooling system. No reactor on this planet could withstand a similar terror attack.
Small wonder the reactor industry cannot get private financing or insurance and has no place to go with its radioactive waste. Or why its pushers are yet again demanding $50 billion in loan guarantees for new reactor construction, and still more to perpetrate the myth that nuclear fuel can be reprocessed (to help stop this madness, see www.beyondnuclear.org, www.nirs.org and www.nukefree.org).
Chernobyl remains history’s worst human-made disaster. Something slightly different but even worse could be happening as you read this. Building new reactors, and keeping old ones running, will guarantee it.
The only containment strong enough to make atomic energy truly safe is the political power YOU exert. Chernobyl “can’t happen here” only if the reactors are turned off before they kill again.
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
President Obama must free Leonard Peltier January 25, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, Race.
Tags: Amnesty International, Barack Obama, bob fitrakis, Criminal Justice, harvey wasserman, leonard peltier, native activist, native american rights, peter matthiessen, political prisoner, prisoner abuse, roger hollander, spirit of crazy horse
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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
January 23, 2009
The welcome news that President Obama is taking steps to shut Guantanamo and right other Bush-era human rights abuses must quickly be joined by a proclamation of freedom for Leonard Peltier.
Peltier is the nation’s best-known native activist and has become a global symbol of abject injustice and prison abuse. Imprisoned in the late 1970s for allegedly murdering two FBI agents, Peltier has never been given a fair trial. Federal authorities have quashed or destroyed thousands of pages of evidence that might have freed Peltier decades ago.
The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee points out that “Amnesty International considers Leonard Peltier to be a political prisoner whose avenues of redress have long been exhausted….Amnesty International recognizes that a retrial is no longer a feasible option and believes that Leonard Peltier should be immediately and unconditionally released.”
The committee adds that” Documents show that although the prosecution and government pointed the finger at Peltier for shooting FBI agents at close range during the trial in 1976, for three years the prosecution withheld critical ballistic test results proving that the fatal bullets could not have come from the gun tied to Leonard Peltier. This trial also denied evidence of self defense.”
The committee further states that: “the U.S. Prosecutor, during subsequent oral arguments, stated: “we can’t prove who shot those agents.” And that the Eighth Circuit found that “There is a possibility that the jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier had the records and data improperly withheld from the defense been available to him in order to better exploit and reinforce the inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government’s case.”
The committee also says that “Judge Heaney, who authored the denial now supports Mr. Peltier’s release, stating that the FBI used improper tactics to gain Mr. Peltier’s conviction.”
Now 64 years old, Peltier is suffering from diabetes and a series of other serious ailments brought on by his decades in prison. He has great grandchildren he has never seen. His case is the centerpiece of the book IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE by Peter Matthiessen.
Reports from Betty Peltier-Solano, Leonard’s sister, now assert that Peltier was severely beaten during a recent transfer to the Canaan Federal Penitentiary. According to Peltier-Solano, he has been held in solitary confinement and limited to a single meal a day, a serious threat to his health due to his diabetes.
Over the decades Peltier has been a model prisoner, concentrating on his art and writing. His commitment to native American rights has been consistent throughout the years, though he’s been repeatedly denied media access.
Peltier is eligible for parole in the near future. His supporters fear this latest round of abuse may be designed to discredit him. The FBI recently sent a letter accusing Peltier of prompting this latest attack. Given Peltier’s age, poor health, immanent parole status and long-standing political commitments canont be viewed as a calculated absurdity. His sister writes that “currently, the FBI is actively seeking support for his continued imprisonment.”
The political involvement of the FBI is itself an issue the President must address. At very least Peltier should be freed on bail pending a new trial, with a concerted effort on the part of the new Department of Justice to unearth all suppressed evidence in this case.
Leonard Peltier has languished unjustly in prison far longer than those held in Guantanamo. It is time to set him free!
To find out more, contact the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee at http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, which appear at http://freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. Harvey’s HISTORY OF THE U.S. is at http://harveywasserman.com. This article was originally published by http://freepress.org.
Republican IT Specialist Dies in Plane Crash December 24, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Electoral Fraud, U.S. Election 2008.
Tags: amy goodman, arnebeck, chattanooga, Democracy Now, Dick Cheney, don seilegman, Electoral Fraud, fitrakis, florida 2000, Florida voter fraud, geogria 2002, George Bush, govtech solutions, harvey wasserman, Karl Rove, ken blackwell, mark crispin miller, michael connell, michael mukasey, nancy rogers, ohio, ohio 2004, Ohio voter fraud, republican strategist, rico, roger hollander, smartech, spoonamore, triad, velvet revolution
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Democracy Now! December 22, 2008 (www.democracynow.org)
A top Republican internet strategist who was set to testify in a case alleging election tampering in 2004 in Ohio has died in a plane crash. Michael Connell was the chief IT consultant to Karl Rove and created websites for the Bush and McCain electoral campaigns. Michael Connell was deposed one day before the election this year by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count in Ohio and his access to Karl Rove’s email files and how they went missing.
AMY GOODMAN: A top Republican internet strategist who was set to testify in a case alleging election tampering in 2004 in Ohio has died in a plane crash. Mike Connell was the chief IT consultant to Karl Rove and created websites for the Bush and McCain electoral campaigns. He also set up the official Ohio state election website reporting the 2004 presidential election returns.
Connell was reportedly an experienced pilot. He died instantly Friday night when his private plane crashed in a residential neighborhood near Akron, Ohio.
Michael Connell was deposed one day before the election this year by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count and his access to Karl Rove’s email files and how they went missing.
Velvet Revolution, a non-profit investigating Connell’s activities, revealed this weekend that Connell had recently said he was afraid George Bush and Dick Cheney would “throw [him] under the bus.” Cliff Arnebeck had also previously alerted Attorney General Michael Mukasey to alleged threats from Karl Rove to Connell if he refused to “take the fall.”
Well, Mark Crispin Miller joins us now, a professor of media culture and communication at New York University, the author of several books, including Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008 and Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too. Mark Crispin Miller us now in our firehouse studio.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: It’s good to be here, Amy. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Alright, well, we had you on right before the election, because that’s when Mike Connell was being deposed. This news that came out of his death in a plane crash on Friday night, talk about what you understand has happened.
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, I cannot assert with perfect confidence that this was no accident, but I will say that the circumstances are so suspicious and so convenient for Rove and the White House that I think we’re obliged to investigate this thing very, very thoroughly. And that means, first of all, taking a close look at some of the stories that were immediately circulated to account for what happened, that it was bad weather. That was the line they used when Wellstone’s plane went down. There had been bad weather, but it had passed two hours before. And this comes from a woman at the airport information desk in Akron. We’re told that his plane was running out of gas, which is a little bit odd for a highly experienced pilot like Connell, but apparently, when the plane went down, there was an explosion, a fireball that actually charred and pocked some of the house fronts in the neighborhood. People can go online and see the footage that news crews took. But beyond the, you know, dubiousness of the official story, we have to take a close look at—and a serious look at all the charges that Connell was set to make.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, he had asked the Attorney General Mukasey for protective custody, because of threats to him and his wife?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: He reported threats to his lawyer, Cliff Arnebeck, and Arnebeck—also, Velvet Revolution heard from tipsters, as well, tipsters who also claimed that Connell’s life was at risk. Stephen Spoonamore, the whistleblower who was the first—who was the one to name Connell in the first place, also had an ear to the inside. He’s also very connected. And all these people were saying Rove is making threats, the White House is very worried about this case.
Having heard all this, Arnebeck contacted Mukasey, he contacted Nancy Rogers, who is the Ohio Attorney General, and he wrote a letter to the court, telling all of them that “This man should be in protective custody. He is an important witness in a RICO case. Please do something to look after him.” And they didn’t respond to this.
AMY GOODMAN: So, explain what this case is all about and exactly what Mike Connell has been doing over these last years. What does it mean to be Karl Rove’s IT guru?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, the lawyers in the case refer to him as a high-IQ Forrest Gump, by which they mean that he seems to have been present at the scene of every dubious election of the last eight years. We’re talking about Florida in 2000. We’re talking about Ohio in 2004. We’re talking about Alabama in 2002. He seems to have been involved in the theft of Don Siegelman’s re-election for governor. There’s some evidence that links him with the Saxby Chambliss-Max Cleland Senate race in Georgia in 2002. To be Karl Rove’s IT guru seems to have meant basically setting it up so that votes could be electronically shaved to the disadvantage of the Democrats and the advantage of Republicans.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “electronically shaved”? I mean, you’ve got all these precincts all over Ohio. They’re counting up their votes. What does he have to do with this?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, specifically, there’s a computer architecture setup called “Man in the Middle,” which involves shunting the election returns from, you know, the state in question—in this case, Ohio—shunting them to a separate computer elsewhere. All of the election returns in Ohio in 2004 went from the Secretary of State’s website—this is Ken Blackwell—to a separate computer in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was under the control of another private company called SMARTech.
So we have now two private companies: GovTech Solutions, which is Connell’s company, SMARTech, which is run by a guy named [Jeff] Averbeck. And the company—the third private company that managed the voting tabulators in Ohio was called Triad. All three of these companies worked closely together on election night in Ohio in 2004. It turns out that the state’s own IT person was sent home at 9:00 p.m. They said, “Go ahead. Go home. We’ll take care of this.” So that this trio of highly partisan and, let me add, Christianist companies basically took over the whole—
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “Christianist”?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, they’re radical theocratic activists, particularly—particularly Triad and SMARTech. You know, they are fervently anti-choice.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mike Connell was, in fact—many said that’s what motivated him through all of this, his fierce anti-abortion stance.
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: He told—Connell told Spoonamore that one of the primary reasons why he helped Bush-Cheney steal elections was to save the babies. I do think, though, that we have to draw a distinction between Connell, on the one hand, and the Averbeck and the Rapp family, on the other hand, because Connell was far less ferocious in his political views. He was an ardent anti-abortionist, it’s true, but he wasn’t quite as hardcore as the others. And in fact, you know, he was a little bit alienated from the others, and that’s one of the reasons why he was inclined to talk, and so on.
But the fact is, to answer your question, that on election night in 2004, it had been Connell, with these other two companies working with him, who had managed the computer setup, enabling Ken Blackwell to study the maps of precincts and voter turnout very carefully and figure out how many votes they need. By shunting the data to Chattanooga, they kind of slowed down the data stream.
AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t Karl Rove’s email also there in Chattanooga on some of these servers?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yes, yes. The same servers were used to host a whole bunch of highly partisan websites. And also, indeed, Karl Rove’s emails were on that server, too.
AMY GOODMAN: That have gone missing.
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: That have gone missing. Incidentally, Stephen Spoonamore, again, the whistleblower who’s the one who named Connell, has told us—and I’ve seen his own contemporary notes—
AMY GOODMAN: And explain again who he was. Why was he in a position to whistleblow?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Stephen Spoonamore is a conservative Republican, a former McCain supporter and a very prominent expert at the detection of computer fraud. He’s the star witness in the Ohio lawsuit, right, in which Connell was involved. He has done extensive work of this kind, involving computer security, and had therefore worked with Connell, knew Connell personally and knew a lot of the people who were involved in the sort of cyber-security end of the Bush operation.
Despite his conservatism—or I suppose some would say because of it—he’s a man of principle—I mean, believes in the Constitution. He believes elections should be honest. He’s the one who came forward and named Connell.
And I have seen his notes of a conversation in which Connell asked Spoonamore how one would go about destroying White House emails. To this, Spoonamore said, “This conversation is over. You’re asking me to do something illegal.” But clearly, clearly—this is the important point—Mike Connell was up past his eyeballs in the most sensitive and explosive aspects of this crime family that, you know, has been masquerading as a political party.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did Fitrakis, the attorney who has brought the suit with Harvey Wasserman, the Ohio lawsuit, learn in the deposition of Mike Connell in the day before the election, which hardly got attention, considering it was the day before this historic election?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yeah. Harvey wasn’t part of it. Harvey writes articles with Bob. It’s Bob Fitrakis and Cliff Arnebeck are the attorneys. They learned very little. What they learned was that Bush-Cheney lawyer who accompanied Connell to the deposition was watching the whole thing like a hawk, repeatedly objected to questions. Connell was stonewalling like crazy at this deposition.
They only learned one thing. And that was, they got confirmation that it was Connell who brought these other private companies into the arrangement, in addition to his own GovTech Solutions. Again, there was Triad and SMARTech. It was Connell who brought those three companies into one unit, so that the three of them were, in effect, handling Ohio’s election returns on election night under Connell’s supervision. That’s what we learned.
We also know, Amy, that since the deposition—I want to make this clear; we said it before, I want to repeat it—that Connell has indicated very clearly a desire to talk further, to tell more, whether it’s his conscience bothering him or whether it’s fear of some kind of a perjury charge because of how vigorously he stonewalled at the deposition. He made it known to the lawyers, he made it known to reporter Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story, that he wanted to talk. He was scared. He wanted to talk. And I say that he had pretty good reason to be scared.
AMY GOODMAN: So why did he fly in—why did he pilot his own plane when he was so afraid?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, that’s a good question. We can’t ask him, unfortunately. I mean, this is kind of a grisly thought, but, I mean, I think we should be asking where the body is? We’re told that a trooper on the scene immediately identified Connell. But then we read elsewhere that there was nothing left but debris and that the fireball was enormous. So maybe he wasn’t on the plane. I mean, who knows, when you’re dealing with people as deep as these?
But the point is—I can’t stress this strongly enough—we’re dealing not just with a shocking accident, if that’s what it was, and a convenient one. We’re dealing not even just with a particular lawsuit that, you know, really requires vigorous promotion. The important point here is that this is all about our elections. That’s what this is about. This is about democratic self-government.
The fact that Obama won so handily has caused a lot of us to sit back and relax. There’s been a lot of popping of champagne corks and people drawing the conclusion that the system must work, because our guy won. Well, this is not a sports event. This is self-government.
In fact, the evidence strongly suggests—and we haven’t had a chance to talk about this since Election Day—that Obama probably won by twice as many votes as we think. Probably a good seven million votes for Obama were undone through vote suppression and fraud, because the stuff was extensive and pervasive, in places where you wouldn’t expect it.
The Illinois Ballot Integrity Project was monitoring the vote in DuPage County, right next door to Obama’s, you know, backyard, Cook County. And two of them, in only two precincts on Election Day, saw with their own eyes 350 voters show up, only to be turned away, told, “You’re not registered,” people who were registered, who voted in the primary. All but one of these people was black. That’s in Illinois.
People at the Election Defense Alliance have discovered, from sifting through the numbers, an eleven-point red shift in New Hampshire. That means that there’s a discrepancy in Obama’s disfavor, primarily through use of the optical scan machines, an eleven-point discrepancy in the Republicans’ favor, OK?
You start to combine this with all the vote suppression, all the disenfranchisement, all the vote machine flipping that went on in this election, you realize, OK, Obama won, but millions of Americans, most of them African American and students, you know, were not able to participate in any civic sense, ironically, a lot of the same people, you know, who would have been disenfranchised and were disenfranchised before the civil rights movement. So the fact that a black president was elected, while cause for jubilation, see, ought not to take place at the expense of a whole lot of our fellow citizens who seem to have been disenfranchised on racial grounds. My point is very simply this: We’ve got to get past the victory of Obama and look seriously at what our election system is like, or else, I promise you, see, the setup that was put in place in this last election, in 2004 and in 2000, OK, will still be there in 2010, still be there in 2012. So we’ve got to take steps to do something about it now.
AMY GOODMAN: Mark Crispin Miller, I want to thank you very much for being with us, professor of media culture and communication at New York University, most recent book Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.