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Jewish groups slam ‘Newseum’ for honoring Palestinian journalists killed by Israelis

Rehmat’s World | May 11, 2013

On May 13, 2013, Washington-based media museum, Newseum, will honor 84 journalists killed in line of duty in various countries in 2012. The list includes two cameramen, Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al-Kumi, from Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV, who were killed by an Israeli air-strike while driving through Gaza City’s Nasser area inside a car clearly marked “TV” in November 2012.

On May 10, the Zionist embassy in Washington DC demanded that Newseum management remove Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al-Kumi’s names from the honor list saying they’re members of Gaza-ruling Hamas, which Israel and the US have designated as a terrorist group.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper, criticized Newseum saying: “Duct Tape on car with the letters TV does not a journalist make. A shameful decision based on a falsehood that besmirches the true heroes of journalism who died while pursuing their mission of seeking and reporting the Truth.”

“What would the legitimate martyred journalists like Daniel Pearl say as their heroism and humanity is debased and degraded?” Cooper asked.

Daniel Pearl, a US-Israeli Jewish citizen and Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan allegedly working for Israeli Mossad. The Center itself is named after the so-called the “Father of Holocaust” Simon Weisenthal (1908-2005) who is described by Israeli historian, Tom Segev, as a fame-seeking myth-maker and an Israeli Mossad agent.

The Washington Free Beacon (May 10, 2013), a pro-Israel Jewish website quoted an adviser to a large Washington DC Jewish organization, saying: “They couldn’t have been legitimate journalists killed in the line of duty because they weren’t working for a legitimate media outlet. They were working for a designated terrorist organization that has a propaganda shop.“

On Friday, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Jewish-Israeli advocacy group, said it’s boycotting Newseum. “I will put a call to the CEO of the Newseum first thing tomorrow morning. I’m hoping he’ll tell me there’s been a misunderstanding – or a re-thinking once it became clear that these ‘journalists’ were members of designated terrorist organizations,” Cliff May, the Zionist Jewish president of the FDD, said in an email to BuzzFeed, a Jewish website.

Despite Israeli protest, Jonathan Thomson, spokesman for the Newseum said the two cameramen, who were killed by an Israeli air-strike, would remain on its roll of slain reporters. “Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al-Kumi were cameramen in a car clearly marked “TV”. The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers all consider these men journalists killed in the line duty,” said the Newseum spokesperson.

The dedication ceremony will take place at the Journalist Memorial Gallery. The keynote speaker will be Jewish Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News. Last year, while on assignment in Syria – he along with other members of his crew were kidnapped by USrael-funded anti-Assad rebels and held hostage for five days. NBC identified the kidnappers as members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, an anti-Assad Wahabi militant group.

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK pro-Palestine activists to hold Nakba Day demo

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Press TV – May 11, 2013

Pro-Palestine campaigners from across Britain are to stage a protest in London later this week on Nakba Day, marking the 65th anniversary of evicting Palestinians from their homes by Israelis.

The demonstration is planned to be held at 1 p.m. across Downing Street on Wednesday May 15 in coordination with international rallies around the world.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) will be also hosting a series of Nakba Week events between 11 and 17 May, including a speaking tour by Palestinian rights activist Mousa Abu Maria in Belfast, Cork, Limerick and Dublin.

Another protest rally dubbed “End the ongoing Nakba-Palestine’s catastrophe” and organized by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), will be held outside the British Parliament on May 18.

Palestinians refer to the May 15, 1948, occupation of Palestine as the “Nakba Day,” which means the Day of Catastrophe in Arabic, to mark the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland almost 65 years ago.

Israeli forces have wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees hoping for an eventual return to their homeland more than six decades later.

On May 13 last year, Palestinians commemorated Nakba Day outside Downing Street in London, carrying placards reading, “free Palestine,” “end ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem,” and “end the siege on Gaza.”

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel angry with Scottish Church report criticising its policies

MEMO | May 10, 2013

Israel has denounced a paper by the Scottish Church which denies “Jews’ special claim to the land of Israel.”

The paper entitled “The Inheritance of Abraham,” which was published last week rejects “claims that scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory.”

According to Israel’s Jerusalem Post, the paper further states that “reconciliation (between Palestinians and Jews) can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended.”

The report was published on the Church’s website, but is to be discussed during the Church’s general assembly on May 18. About 723 members are going to vote on whether they are for or against the report. The church is to discuss further economic and political measures against Israel.

In addition, it includes demands to cancel investments in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and “urges the UK Government and the European Union to use pressure to stop further expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank.”

The Israeli ambassador to London said that should the Church adopt the report, it would be a “reverse hit to the powers that push towards tolerance and peace in the region.” He also said that the report serves positions of political extremists in the region.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported the writers of the report as saying: “Jewish people have to be provoked in order to stop their belief that they deserve special treatment because they are victims.”

“They have to know that their unjust and unethical treatment with the Palestinians cannot continue forever,” they added.

The Church’s spokesman told the Israeli newspaper that what was mentioned in the report was not “anti-Semitism,” which he held is a theory that does not completely exist.

The Church does not deny the right of Israel to exist, the spokesman told the newspaper, but it questions Israeli policies in the light of a framework that could preserve peace in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The report questions, the spokesman argued, the absence of justice regarding dealing with the Palestinians and dividing the country. “It considered that it is wrong that scriptures are used as a basis to grab the land.”

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 4 Comments

L.A. Times’ Distorted Report on USAID

By Steve Rendall | FAIR | May 10, 2013

“USAID Develops a Bad Reputation Among Some Foreign Leaders,” read a May 7 Los Angeles Times headline, followed by the subhead:

The U.S. Agency for International Development doesn’t just offer aid to the poor, it also promotes democracy, which is seen as meddlesome or even subversive.

Fighting poverty and spreading democracy–what’s not to like?

And so, the report seems to suggest, there’s something a little off about foreign leaders, nine in recent years, who’ve expelled the agency.  Why else would Bolivian President Evo Morales expel an anti-poverty group from his “impoverished” country, if he wasn’t just a little bit crazy? And Russian President Vladimir Putin can’t be playing with a full deck either; he recently expelled USAID and a bird lovers group.

Of course, these leaders and other USAID critics aren’t crazy; they argue that USAID undermines national sovereignty and democracy. The story includes charges that USAID manipulates the internal politics of host nations, but it leaves the allegations unexplored and lets supporters bat them away. In one case, reporter Paul Richter quotes an anonymous U.S. official on USAID critics:

“This is the empire striking back,” said a senior Obama administration official, who asked not to be identified because of diplomatic sensitivities. He insisted that USAID does not try to undermine governments.

Someone doesn’t have a firm grasp on the meaning the word “empire,” which applies much more accurately to U.S.’s role in these relationships. A fact that might be better understood by the reader if Richter had bothered to mention USAID’s sordid history of bolstering U.S. imperial goals.

USAID’s publicly stated goals include “furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets.” Readers aren’t told about that, nor are they informed that in pursuing these goals the agency has frequently partnered with the CIA, as in the ’60s and ’70s when its now-closed Office of Public Safety trained foreign police in counterinsurgency techniques–including torture. Not exactly what jumps to mind when one imagines a democracy-promoting institution.

The report also fails to mention how for decades USAID has undermined popular democratic organizing in Third World countries by, among other things, creating parallel “popular” organizations, such as labor unions, in order to weaken authentic grassroots movements.

And just last month, U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks revealed that USAID and its Office of Transition Initiatives had been secretly tasked with destabilizing Venezuela’s democratically elected government. As historian and U.S. foreign policy critic William Blum points out, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives

is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world–they say it means a transition to “democracy.” What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.

But mentioning any of that might make USAID critics look rational, even like defenders of democracy. Which is, of course, crazy–if your worldview requires a belief that U.S. interests are synonymous with democracy.

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on L.A. Times’ Distorted Report on USAID

Gatekeeping for Zion

By Philip Giraldi | America-Hijacked | May 9, 2013

People like myself who are either paleoconservatives or libertarians generally base their opposition to Israel and its Lobby on the costs of the de facto alliance, both financial and in terms of the wars and political chaos it has triggered. We try to demonstrate how damage to rule of law and actual U.S. interests has been a byproduct of the relationship and seek to explain what a sane U.S. foreign policy might actually look like, end of story. But it is a different sensibility coming from the more humanitarian inclined political left of the spectrum, which one would assume to have a natural inclination to oppose purveyors of oppression and human suffering. With that in mind, I would observe it is remarkable how ineffective the left has been in mobilizing any serious opposition to Israel’s policies.

There is a kind of groupthink that might provide an explanation for the lack of results in spite of what sometimes appears to be frenzied activity on the part of the cluster of liberal groups that focus on the Middle East. Gatherings to “Expose AIPAC” often focus on strategy and training, hardly discussing or challenging the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at all. They also frequently fail to confront the full array of predominantly Jewish groups actively promoting Israel to include The Hudson Institute, WINEP, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, MEMRI, the American Enterprise Institute’s foreign policy wing, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The plethora of well-resourced and actively engaged Jewish groups involved in foreign policy and more particularly Israel promotion is a fact of life inside the Beltway and a critical element supporting the interventionist narrative in spite of the country as a whole becoming decidedly war weary.

At the same time, most American Jews are actually either cool or even hostile to the policies of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Peter Beinart has called for a boycott of goods produced in the Israeli settlements while Jeffrey Goldberg has denounced a coalition partner in Netanyahu’s government, writing “The Jewish Home party advances an ideology that will bring about the destruction (the self-destruction) of Israel.” This reaction to the Israeli drift rightwards politically speaking probably explains why most organizations on the political left that are critical of Israel are themselves led by American Jews and, to their credit, they are very outspoken regarding Israel’s human rights violations and its policies towards the Palestinians. But it sometimes seems that they are restrained in their critiques, something that might be attributed to what could be referred to as Jewish identity politics. Instead of biting the bullet and confronting the fact that it is leading Jewish organizations and their in-the-pocket politicians that have quite plausibly been the sine qua non in unleashing a series of actual and impending wars against the Muslim world, they instead sometimes serve as gatekeepers to frame and divert an uncomfortable truth while looking for alternative explanations.

Part of the problem is that even though major Jewish organizations’ support of interventionism represents what is only a minority opinion among Americans in general, they pretend to represent everyone who is Jewish and have successfully sold that canard to both congress and the media. And make no mistake, it is the financial and political muscle of Jewish groups like Anti-Defamation League, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, The American Jewish Committee, and the AIPAC that have given the green light to the hard line Israeli governments that have done so much damage to U.S. interests over the past decade. Christian Zionists are highly visible and are frequently cited to demonstrate the diversity of the Israeli Lobby, but they are largely irrelevant in terms of the actual dynamics of the pro-Israel effort. The reality is that no other national lobby can gather 13,000 of the faithful to its convention and count on the enthusiastic presence of numerous politicians from both parties as AIPAC does every year. But in spite of the quite visible power of the Jewish organizations it is sometimes more convenient and less troubling to look instead for other reasons to explain Tel Aviv’s misbehavior.

Progressives who are nervous about mentioning the shameless politicking of Jewish organizations frequently parrot what I call the Noam Chomsky rationalization, engaging actively in criticizing Israeli behavior while at the same time blaming the Middle East farrago on outside forces like American imperialism, capitalism, or oil. This approach largely exonerates Israel from actual blame for what it does and it also by extension minimizes the role of the Jewish groups that constitute the core of the pro-Israel lobby because it is claimed that Washington drives the Israeli government’s behavior based on its own self-interest not vice versa. As a result, the critics seldom question the legitimacy of the self-defined Jewish state and they are sometimes reluctant to support any measures that would actually do damage to Israel and its perceived interests.

Norman Finkelstein, a reliable progressive critic of Israeli actions, is of the Chomsky persuasion. He believes that the United States would have attacked Iraq anyway based on its own interests whether or not the fervently pro-Israel neocons had occupied key positions in the Pentagon, National Security Council, and White House. Finkelstein, in an article on the Israel Lobby, maintains that “fundamental U.S. policy in the Middle East hasn’t been affected by the Lobby,” rejects the view that Israel is a liability for U.S. national interests and states instead that it is a “unique and irreplaceable American asset.” He describes American Jewish elites as only “’pro’ an Israel that is useful to the U.S.” He insists that the neocons do not “generally have a primary allegiance to Israel [or] in fact, any allegiance to Israel.” The evidence, however, suggests otherwise: even agreeing that the Iraq war had a number of godfathers, the folks in the Pentagon and White House who cooked the books and led the charge had extremely well documented strong personal and even financial ties to Israel, so much so that several of them were accused of passing classified information to the Israeli Embassy.

The shaping of the narrative to minimize the role of organizations that are demonstrably Jewish – albeit unrepresentative of Jewish opinion in America -has also been very effective in some media circles. An April 2007 ninety minute presentation on PBS’s Frontpage with Bill Moyers “Buying the War,” a critical look at the genesis of the Iraq invasion, did not mention Israel’s supporters even once. And one only has to consider the recent Obama trip to Israel as well as the interrogation at the Chuck Hagel nomination, which was driven by organizations like AIPAC from behind the scenes, to realize that the United States government is no free agent when it comes to Middle Eastern policy. Ignoring the dominant role of “Jewish leaders” and the well-funded organizations that they head which falsely pretend to represent their entire community is a convenient obfuscation if one does not want to address causality, a bit like being concerned about global warming without looking at the actual science.

President Obama recognizes the power represented by Jewish groups acting as a cohesive and focused political entity when he meets with them collectively in the White House, so why the reluctance in recognizing and confronting their persistent pro-war, pro-intervention agenda? At a March 7th session, shortly before his trip to Israel, Obama met with Alan Solow, Lee Rosenberg and Michael Kassen of AIPAC; Barry Curtiss-Lusher of the Anti-Defamation League; David Harris of the American Jewish Committee; Jerry Silverman of Jewish Federations of North America; Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz; former Congressman Robert Wexler; Dan Mariaschin of B’nai B’rith; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street; and Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Admittedly the linking of Jewish organizations’ easy access to policymakers with their possible role in launching a string of failed wars in Asia and still more in the offing on behalf of Israel makes many people uncomfortable because it invites the dual loyalty critique and even more extreme commentary that is ultimately racist in nature, but there you have it. The president knows who is pulling his strings and so should the rest of us.

Americans can either confront the ugly realities of what has been going on for the past twelve years or they can pretend that what they are seeing is not really there. The gatekeepers are understandably concerned lest Washington’s next war be blamed on American Jews so it is far better to suggest against all evidence that Israel is a pawn of American imperialism or that recent wars have been about oil or capitalist exploitation. The reality is that if progressives (and the rest of us) really want to stop a proxy war against Syria followed by a catastrophic conflict with Iran we have to take the blinkers off and be willing to confront Jewish groups like AIPAC and the ADL directly and persistently.

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beaten for Filming a Beating, Woman Says

By RYAN ABBOTT | Courthouse News | May 10, 2013

BALTIMORE – Baltimore police beat up a woman and smashed her camera for filming them beating up a man, telling her: “You want to film something bitch? Film this!” the woman claims in court.

Makia Smith sued the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and police Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell in Federal Court.

Smith claims she was stuck in stand-still rush hour traffic in northern Baltimore when she saw the defendant officers beating up and arresting a young man.

She says pulled out her camera, stood on her car’s door sill and filmed the beating.

“Officer Church saw plaintiff filming the beating and ran at her,” the complaint states. “He scared her and she sat back in her vehicle. As he ran at her, he yelled, ‘You want to film something bitch? Film this!’

“Officer Church reached into plaintiff’s car and grabbed her telephone-camera out of her hand, threw it to the ground and destroyed it by smashing it with his foot.

“Officer Church pulled plaintiff out of her car by her hair and beat her. Officers Pilkerton, Ulmer, and Campbell then ran to plaintiff’s car and joined Officer Church in beating plaintiff and arrested her using excessive force. At all times described herein, plaintiff’s two year old daughter witnessed her mother’s beating and arrest by the Officers, as did others.”

Smith claims the cops taunted her and threatened to take her daughter away. She says they refused to call her mother to her toddler.

“The officers, despite the pleas of plaintiff, refused to call plaintiff’s mother. Instead, the officers tormented plaintiff by telling her that her daughter would be taken from her and sent to Social Services. Seeing plaintiff’s distressful reaction to these tormenting threats, they continued,” the complaint states.

Smith says claims she was arrested and taken to jail on bogus charges that she assaulted Church and resisted arrest.

She claims Church failed to appear for her trial – twice, and prosecutors dropped the charges, but she had to hire a lawyer and spend more money recovering her impounded car.

She claims Baltimore police have a history of illegally seizing and destroying recording devices.

She seeks $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations, conversion and infliction of emotional distress.

She is represented by Christopher Lyon, with Astrachan Gunst Thomas.

Police departments around the country have been accused of similar responses to citizens filming them abusing other people.

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 3 Comments

California dad ‘begged for his life’ as police beat him to death – witnesses

RT | May 10, 2013

A California father of four died Wednesday shortly after a group of police allegedly beat him with batons as he lay defenseless on the sidewalk. Cops, before confiscating witness’ cameras, also reportedly unleashed a canine unit on him.

David Sal Silva, 33, allegedly resisted when police approached him to ask if he was who neighbors called about to complain of an intoxicated man in the area. The officers called for backup and, witnesses told the Bakersfield Californian, Silva was soon being beaten in the face and upper body by as many as nine policemen and their batons. At least one of the cops reportedly held a German Shepherd on a leash nearby.

Witnesses who had recorded the events on their cell phone cameras had the devices confiscated by officers, who claimed the footage was part of a police investigation that could yield evidence. The Sheriff’s Department has released the names of seven officers who were on the scene, but the identities of the California Highway Patrol police who were also there have not yet been made public.

“When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons, and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head,” said witness Ruben Ceballos, who told the Californian the noise was so loud it woke him up.

“His body was just lying on the street and before the ambulance arrived one of the officers performed CPR on him and another used a flashlight on his eyes but I’m sure he was already dead.”

Police have refused to comment, citing an ongoing investigation that could take years to complete, but relatives have demanded the cell phone footage be made public.

“My brother spent the last eight minutes of his life pleading, begging for his life,” said Christopher Silva, 31. “The true evidence is in those phone witnesses that apparently the sheriff deputies already took. But I know the truth will come out and my brother’s voice will be heard.”

An autopsy was completed Thursday but the cause of death’s release is pending a toxicology report and microscopic studies, the local coroner’s office told the Bakersfield Californian Friday.

The family has hired attorney David Cohn, who told reporters they plan to file a civil rights lawsuit in federal district court next week. He sent a letter formally requesting that law enforcement agencies do not tamper with the video evidence on the phones.

“We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words,” Cohn said. “And thank God we have concerned citizens who take video and pictures of incidents like this and who are ultimately policing the police … But we will get to the bottom of this and I ask the sheriff’s department once again, what are you hiding?”

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 3 Comments

Lebanon Gas 30 trn Cubic Feet of Offshore Reserves

Al-Manar | May 10, 2013

Preliminary surveys of Lebanese offshore fields show reserves of 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 660 million barrels of oil, Lebanon’s energy minister said on Thursday, adding that production could begin within four years.

Speaking at the Arab Economic Forum, Gebran Bassil said scanning was now complete on 70 percent of the country’s territorial waters — an area of some 15,000 square kilometers (5,791 square miles).

“In just 10 percent of that area… we have 30 trillion cubic feet (850 million cubic meters) of gas and 660 million barrels of oil,” he said.

Speaking to Agence France Presse, Bassil said the amounts were “very large and promising as initial estimates.”

Production from the reserves was linked to the speed of the exploration phases and installation of wells, but “theoretically ranges from three to seven years.”

“If we meet all the deadlines, we hope to have completed the first exploration phase in the period between 2016 and 2017 and to begin thereafter development and production,” he added.

Last month, Bassil announced the name of 46 firms that had qualified to bid on a first round of licenses to explore Lebanon’s offshore fields, with 12 qualified to bid as operators.

The bidding round opened on May 2 and is scheduled to be completed by November 4.

In January, Bassil said Lebanon hoped to have exploration contracts with international oil companies signed and sealed by the end of the year.

In August, parliament passed a law setting Lebanon’s maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.

Lebanon has submitted to the United Nations a maritime map which is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, and that conflicts with one proposed by the Zionist entity.

The disputed zone consists of about 882 square kilometers, and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , | Comments Off on Lebanon Gas 30 trn Cubic Feet of Offshore Reserves

Mexico’s Aging Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant a Fiasco

By Talli Nauman – Americas Program – 10/05/2013

The case of the failure of Mexico’s Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant, nestled on the jagged Veracruz seacoast, reveals the need to nix nukes and fortify public right-to-know mechanisms.

With Latin American countries still turned off to nuclear power two years after Japan’s monumental Fukushima meltdowns dispersed radioactive fallout across the ocean to them, events inside a similar facility in Mexico have fueled mounting skepticism over the potential for developing the energy technology.

Fissures, leaks, shutdowns, government secrecy, a failed upgrade, alleged bid-rigging and contract fraud at Mexico’s lone atomic power station, the state-run Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant, were vetted during the 9th Regional Congress on Radiation Protection and Safety held in Rio de Janeiro in April.

The audience of Latin American experts eager to share the information at the professional association forum starred scientists from Argentina and Brazil, which also have nuclear power plants, as well as from Venezuela, Chile and Cuba, which had made tentative moves toward establishing atomic energy stations before the Fukushima catastrophe stymied aspirations.

The irregularities at Laguna Verde came to light thanks to a courageous group of anonymous high-level employees inside the power plant and to the public information requests by their spokesperson, Mexico’s National Autonomous University Physics Professor Bernardo Salas Mar, a former plant employee and valiant whistleblower.

Some of Salas Mar’s most recent research was accepted at the International Radiation Protection Association congress in Brazil, but his university did not provide him with travel expenses to attend in person.

Salas faces high-level attempts to have him fired as a result of his persistent efforts to make public his discoveries of dangerous faults and cover-ups at the Laguna Verde plant. But Salas’ achievements speak for themselves. Were it not for his ceaseless hammering on the doors of the 10-year-old Federal Information Access Institute (IFAI), perhaps no one ever would have known about the latest incidents at Laguna Verde until it was too late.

Based on his freedom-of-information requests to the institute, Salas and Laguna Verde’s own technicians revealed in an April 19 letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto that Mexico has been defrauded to the tune of more than a half-billion dollars by the international companies that won the bid for the federal contract to uprate the two reactors at the plant located near the Caribbean port of Veracruz.

“Uprating” is industry jargon for boosting the capacity of nuclear reactors so they can generate more electricity.

The letter to the President alleges the Federal Electricity Commission purposely botched the bid letting by omitting the usual requirement for a contractor to abide by the Review Standard for Extended Power Uprates. Apparently the CFD did this to favor the Spanish company Iberdrola Ingenería and the French company Alstom Mexico, which lacked the capability to carry out the changes to the nuclear steam supply system according to standard specifications.

Employees in key positions at Laguna Verde had alerted the two previous presidential administrations to the issue as far back as 2006, communicating their “worry over the capacity-boosting work contemplated for this nuclear plant, considering it to be unreliable, risky and overpriced,” according to the letter. Still Iberdrola and Alstom got the $605-million contract to increase the plant’s power output by 20 percent.

Iberdrola announced the successful conclusion of the five-year, $605-million modernization project in February, noting that it overhauled equipment dating back to 1990, in the project that created more than 2,000 jobs.

The president of Alstom in Mexico, Cintia Angulo, was arrested a week after the announcement of the upgrade conclusion on charges of giving false testimony in an unrelated French case of non-payment.

However, the more spectacular fraud for both firms will prove to be the Mexican uprate contract, which not only failed to accomplish the goal of boosting Laguna Verde’s power output, but also left the reactors in worse condition than before, Salas and employees charge.

The Federal Electricity Commission responded to Salas’ inquiries, saying that Reactor Unit 2 would be operating at 100 percent of planned output in April and Unit 1 would be at 100 percent in May.

Nonetheless, after further information requests, Salas revealed that the National Nuclear Safety Commission has denied both reactors the licenses to operate at higher output in the aftermath of the contract, due precisely to the fact that the guidelines for the nuclear steam supply system were not followed.

Employees say the failure to follow the guidelines during the uprate cracked the jet pumps that inject the water to the core of the General Electric boiling water reactors, the same kind that melted down due to a generator system crash at Fukushima.

“The situation of the reactors is not serious yet, but operating with fissures could cause a major problem to the extent that it could endanger national security. (Remember Fukushima and Chernobyl.)” the letter to President Peña Nieto says. The employees consider it “risky and unacceptable for both reactors to continue operating with the fissures that have been encountered.”

Simultaneous suspension of operations at both reactors in September 2012 and related confusing news releases, some blaming the pump fissures, caused alarm in the communities around the installation.

Authorities first said a diesel generator breakdown was at fault for the interruption in service of one reactor, while fuel-cell restocking was the reason for a stoppage at the other.

The next day they said a clogged seawater intake was part of the reason for removing both reactors from service. An escape of hydrogen gas from a condenser was posited. And finally, officials stated to the public that the fissures in both reactors’ water pumps were to blame.

Government secrecy about details surrounding the event accentuated longstanding worries in the population near the plant. The fear of accidents and serious concerns over the ongoing situation was highlighted by an NGO’s court appeal arguing that people should be exempted from paying their light bills due to the fact that their civil rights had been violated by the lack of safety measures and accountability at Laguna Verde.

In response to Salas’ information requests, the Energy Secretariat, in charge of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the National Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSNS), said it didn’t have the answers to his questions.

Its commissions presented incongruous replies. The vagueness of the answers provided by the Federal Electricity Commission prompted the researcher to appeal to the IFAI to require revised responses.

After his second round of questioning, he was able to deduce that the cooling water intake channel had indeed filled with sediment and it had been dredged, so it did not present a hazard and did not cause the reactor operations’ interruption.

He also then could determine that the hydrogen had been released from the ductwork into the cooling water of the main generator, during the month of August. While the amount of gas was unknown, the escape was not to the atmosphere, and neither presented a danger nor was cause for halting operations.

The CSNSNS responded that the diesel generator failed when a piston stuck due to lack of lubrication resulting from a bearing problem on Sept. 12. The event did not endanger life and limb, according to Salas.

Simultaneous reloading of fuel cells at both reactors was the most likely reason for the concurrent stalling, Salas concluded after the numerous freedom-of-information requests.

While the main present dangers appear to be the fractures in the cores’ water pumps, a Jan. 11, 2013 scram (emergency reactor shutdown) remains to be inspected under the looking glass of the IFAI.

The institute created by decree in 2002 has provided important tools for shedding light on the machinations of the nuclear plant, among other formerly opaque federal operations.

Yet, as this case underscores, IFAI should strengthen its own processes in order to avoid the kind of inconsistent and self-belying responses that ensnared this most recent of many investigations into the lack of security at Laguna Verde.

Even so, that won’t protect the population from the specter of accidents or deteriorating health and safety in the advent of air and water pollution from the facility, which is located on a part of the coast with only poorly maintained roads to offer escape routes.

If Peña Nieto and company are to be more responsive to community needs than their predecessors, one way to show good intentions would be to comply with demands for conducting an emergency public evacuation drill, something that never has been done in the history of the 17-year-old nuclear plant. Another would be to take the irresponsible parties to court to establish accountability.

 

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Nuclear Power | , , , , | 1 Comment

Guatemala: Former Dictator Ríos Montt Guilty of Genocide

By Kristie Robinson | The Argentina Independent | May 10, 2013

alizadeh20130511003617807In an historic verdict, former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt has been found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 50 years in prison for genocide and a further 30 for crimes against humanity. The verdict sets a global precedent, as Ríos Montt was the first former leader to be tried for genocide in a national court.

In reading her verdict, Judge Yassmin Barrios said: “We are completely convinced that in this case, elements demonstrating the intent to commit genocide have been proven … Ríos Montt, the head of state, knew exactly what was happening. He did nothing to stop it.”

Ríos Montt’s co-defendant and former head of military intelligence, José Mauricio Rodriguez Sánchez, was acquitted.

Ríos Montt came to power following a coup in 1982, during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, in which an estimated 200,000 people, mostly of indigenous descent, were killed or disappeared.

For background on the case, see Avery Kelly’s report from 8th May 2013.

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on Guatemala: Former Dictator Ríos Montt Guilty of Genocide