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Wikipedia Sues NSA Over Dragnet Internet Surveillance

Featured photo - Wikipedia Sues NSA Over Dragnet Internet Surveillance

Wikipedia is suing the NSA over surveillance programs that involve tapping internet traffic en masse from communications infrastructure in the U.S. in order to search it for intelligence purposes.

The lawsuit argues that this broad surveillance, revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, violates the First Amendment by chilling speech and the open exchange of information, and that it also runs up against Fourth Amendment privacy protections.

“The surveillance that we’re challenging gives the government virtually unfettered access to U.S. communications and the content of those communications,” said Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is bringing the litigation on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, and a group of human rights and media organizations including The Nation magazine and Amnesty International, who say that their sensitive overseas communications are imperiled by the NSA’s snooping.

So-called “upstream” surveillance involves direct access to the physical cables, switches, and routers that enable the flow of information across the internet. With its upstream efforts, the agency essentially copies virtually all international text-based communications — emails, instant messages, web searches, and the like — and searches them for terms related to its investigations. In the process, purely domestic conversations can also be swept up and retained by the NSA.

“The NSA copies and reviews the communications of millions of innocent people to determine whether they are discussing or reading anything containing the NSA’s search terms,” ACLU lawyers wrote in their complaintfiled today in the United States District Court in Maryland. “Its purpose is to identify not just communications that are to or from the NSA’s targets but also those that are merely ‘about’ its targets.”

In an op-ed in today’s New York Times announcing the lawsuit, Wikipedia’s co-founder, Jimmy Wales, and Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, cited the tens of thousands of volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia entries around the world.

Many of those volunteer contributors, they note, “prefer to work anonymously, especially those who work on controversial issues or who live in countries with repressive governments.” The fear that the NSA could be collecting information on contributors, and perhaps sharing that intelligence with other governments, “stifles freedom of expression and the free exchange of knowledge that Wikimedia was designed to enable.”

With billions of users worldwide, Wikipedia processes countless international communications and requests for data from its servers. As one NSA slide from the Snowden files indicates, the NSA is interested in HTTP, the protocol for those requests, “because nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet uses” it. The slide includes a picture of Wikipedia’s logo. (An administration official told Reuters, “We’ve been very clear about what constitutes a valid target of electronic surveillance. The act of innocuously updating or reading an online article does not fall into that category.”)

Upstream collection occurs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, a law passed in the 1970s to regulate overseas spying, and amended in 2008 to allow collection of Americans’ international communications under more expansive terms – so long as the NSA’s target is a foreigner outside the U.S., and it involves broadly defined “foreign intelligence information.”

In addition to constitutional questions, the new lawsuit argues that the 2008 law, expansive though it is, still “authorizes surveillance only of targets’ communications; it does not authorize surveillance of everyone.”

Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman with the Justice Department, said in an email that the department is “reviewing the complaint.”

If the case moves forward at all, it will reflect the impact of Snowden’s revelations.

A previous challenge by Amnesty International and others to warrantless spying on Americans’ international conversations was tossed out because the court said the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that their communications could be monitored under the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. The Supreme Court upheld that decision in February 2013, just a few months before the first Snowden documents were published.

The Snowden documents, and subsequent admissions by the government, said Toomey, “have made clear that the government it not just monitoring targets, but that in order to find the communications of those targets it is monitoring the communications of nearly everyone. That broadens the scope of the surveillance at issue, and removes some of the obstacles [to getting standing] that we encountered in the previous case.”

Separate challenges to the constitutionality of collecting metadata on domestic calls, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, are awaiting decisions in three federal appeals courts.

Photo: Gregory Bull/AP

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Greedy big pharma guilty of selling harmful children’s medicine

Brian Snyder

The maker of Children’s Tylenol agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge of knowingly selling adulterated bottles of its painkillers for children and infants. The drugs were recalled in 2010 because they contained metal particles.

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Consumer Healthcare ‒ which makes Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Motrin ‒ agreed to pay $25 million to resolve the case, the Associated Press reported, citing court documents. The deal came at a plea hearing Tuesday afternoon.

“The proposed criminal resolution is sufficient to punish McNeil for its past failures and to deter McNeil from violating” federal law in the future, prosecutors wrote in a memo to the judge overseeing the case.

Metal particles ‒ including nickel, iron and chromium ‒ were introduced during the manufacturing process at McNeil’s plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. The company began a voluntary recall in April 2010. The drugs may also have contained more of the active drug ingredient than specified, the company said in a statement at the time.

“The particles may be solidified product ingredients or manufacturing residue such as tiny metal specks,”said Marc Boston, a McNeil spokesman, according to the New York Times.

Prosecutors accused the company of continuing to sell the tainted products for nearly a year after discovering the problem, also claiming that McNeil failed to take immediate steps to fix the cause of the adulteration.

The Johnson & Johnson subsidiary first learned of the particle problem in May 2009, when a consumer complained about black specks inside a bottle of Infants’ Tylenol, according to court documents.

McNeil subsequently found metal particles during production but continued making the liquid medicines for several more months. The company and prosecutors said Tuesday that no one was injured due to the tainted drugs.

However, Shawn Arndt, whose 4-year-old son Joshua died after taking one dose of Infant’s Tylenol, sued the company in 2012. The US District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania dismissed his suit in December 2014, in part because Joshua died in November 2009, several months after the recall went into effect.

A Food and Drug Administration investigation traced the problem to machinery at the Fort Washington plant, which included manufacturing violations and airborne contamination from a chemical used for wood pallets, Drugwatch reported. The suburban Philadelphia location was shuttered in April 2010, rebuilt from the ground up, but has yet to re-open. The closing of the factory caused supply disruptions for several of McNeil’s over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, the company said in a March 2013 statement.

Johnson & Johnson has been forced to issue a variety of pharmaceutical recalls since 2009. McNeil was not the only subsidiary that had quality-control failures during that time period.

CIA, US Marshals engaged in domestic phone spying – report

Reuters / Larry Downing

Reuters / Larry Downing

CIA technology used to scan data from cellphones overseas has allegedly been used by the US Marshals Service to spy on phones in the US and Mexico.

For over a decade, airborne devices employed by the Central Intelligence Agency in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have been shared with the Marshals Service, an agency of the Department of Justice, the Wall Street Journal revealed Tuesday. Research and development of the technology has cost over $100 million, according to the paper’s investigative report.

Small airplanes operating out of five US cities have been equipped with devices – called “dirtboxes” – that mimic cell tower signals, tricking mobile phones into revealing their unique identification information. This is then used to locate targets within three meters (10 feet). The flying range of the airplanes was described as “covering most of the US population.”

Initial versions of the dirtbox device worked on GSM telephones, used in much of the world, and by AT&T and T-Mobile devices in the US. Later models were reportedly able to track down Verizon and Sprint phones as well. The companies did not comment on the revelations to The Wall Street Journal.

Surveillance and intelligence agencies have a history of trying to track and hack cell phones. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed that the CIA had been engaged in a “multi-year, sustained effort” to crack security measures on Apple devices. Earlier Snowden revelations documented attempts by the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ to hack into the world’s largest manufacturer of cell phoneSIM cards.

The CIA, which is forbidden from surveillance work inside the US, recently announced it would establish a fifth directorate, dedicated to “digital innovation,” under an ambitious reorganization scheme.

While some technologies developed by the CIA “have been lawfully and responsibly shared with other US government agencies,” how those agencies use that technology is not determined by the CIA, an agency spokesman told the paper.

READ MORE: CIA reshuffle features ‘mission centers’, cyber-warfare to ‘cover the entire universe’

A Department of Justice spokesman said the agency did not conduct “domestic surveillance, intelligence gathering or any type of bulk data collection,” nor does it gather intelligence on behalf of US spying agencies. The spokesman described the activities of the US Marshals Service as “consistent with federal law.”

Civil liberties groups have raised concerns that the CIA-DOJ phone tracking program could be a “digital dragnet of innocent Americans’ phones,” the paper said.

Emwazi Revelations Point to Larger ‘Agenda’ in the Case of Jihadi John

As the Jihadi John narrative continues to evolve, there are pressing questions concerning British security services, Mohammad Emwazi and his family…

Over the past couple of weeks, British security services, along with the FBI, revealed that they had ‘unmasked’ the ISIS terror video persona known as Jihadi John and had known his identity for the last 6 months. While this news stunned the international community – it was quickly revealed that the man suspected of being the ISIS front-man was known by MI5 for the past 6 years.

The man purported to be the infamous ISIS executioner by Western media, is former computer programmer, 27-year-old Mohammad Emwazi. According to reports, Emwazi is believed to have left the UK to join ISIS militants in Syria sometime in 2013.

However some reports have stated that Emwazi was headed to do aid work in Turkey. Emwazi’s parents reported him missing in August 2013 and were told that he was in Syria by authorities four months later.


IMAGE: ‘Painting a picture’ – Media outlets continue to paint Mohammad Emwazi as Jihadi John, without the burden of proof. (Photo link mirror.co.uk)

Scripted terror

Following the alleged unveiling of Jihadi John’s identity, Kuwaiti government officials disclosed that Mohammad Emwazi’s parents recognized him in the propagandized ISIS ‘beheading’ videosand that they knew of their son’s alleged extremist views before he headed to Syria, according to the UK’s Telegraph.

In the news release for the Telegraph entitled, “Jihadi John: Father accuses Mohammed Emwazi of being a dog and terrorist,” written by Robert Tait, discussed a controversial interview with an apparent colleague of 51-year-old Jassem Emwazi, Mohammad’s father. The colleague was stated as being 40-year-old Abu Meshaal and he along with Jassem, are said to work at a ‘Cooperative supermarket depot’ together near the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border. Meshaal gave a stirring account of the elder Emwazi’s emotional state regarding his estranged son, seemingly paraphrasing a personal conversation that both men had about Mohammad and his suspected involvement with militants.

Here’s a portion of the Telegraph report for review:

“The father of Mohammed Emwazi described his son as a “dog, an animal and a terrorist” and revealed he begged his parents for forgiveness before joining Isil and becoming Jihadi John, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.”

“The colleague, Abu Meshaal, 40, said Mr Emwazi was in tears during Monday’s conversation, in which he described the identification of his son as the hooded executioner filmed beheading seven British, American and Japanese hostages as a “catastrophe” for his family.

He was very emotional and crying the whole time,” said Mr Meshaal. “He said, ‘my son is a dog, he is an animal, a terrorist. He said he had talked to him a lot trying to persuade him to return to his personal life but that the son didn’t listen to him. He said, ‘To hell with my son’.”

The report goes on to state that Emwazi’s father, Jassem, was ‘interrogated’ by Kuwaiti investigators last week and that he received a phone call in 2013 from Turkey, where Mohammad asked his parents’ blessing before heading to Syria to fight alongside ISIS and other militants.

Additionally, Kuwait’s Qabbas newspaper apparently spoke to another unnamed colleaguewhich claimed that Jassem Emwazi had been ‘concerned’ long before his son was charged with being an internationally known terrorist.

The controversial report echoed across Western media outlets, with many citing the alleged quotes from Jassem Emwazi and other colleagues as being more evidence of Mohammad Emwazi’s descent into terror.

However, just one day later, Jassem Emwazi hired an attorney to stifle what he called ‘false rumours’ concerning his son and family in media. In fact two of the first news releases to push the apparently false narrative, appeared to come from an ABC news story which claimedEmwazi’s mother knew her son was Jihadi John and the Telegraph story that was mentioned above from March 3rd.

The apparently ginned-up story involving Emwazi’s family garnered heavy circulation for 24-48 hour period, but was quickly buried in the news cycle following the conflicting account of Emwazi’s father.

In another report featured by the Guardian, it was disclosed that Jassem Emwazi, had indeed sought legal council regarding the apparently fabricated tales about his son and family:

“Jassem Emwazi told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas: “There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips and footage, that the accused is my son Mohammed, who is being referred to as the alleged executioner of Daesh (Isis).”

“I have a message to the Kuwaiti people that many of the rumours are false,” he said. “Because I felt that some people have believed it, I have assigned a lawyer to defend me and to prove … that what is being said is untrue.”

The report continued:

“when asked directly by the Guardian on Monday, he (Jassem Emwazi) said this was untrue, adding that the information was an outright “lie, lie, lie.”

After reviewing this information, we’re left to consider the strong possibility that the Emwazi family quotes were likely planted in order to sensationalize and further distort public opinion over the ‘reality’ of Jihadi John’s alleged identity.

The current deception concerning the Emwazi story, appears to have been influenced by West interests and reminds me of another fabled tale that was used to sway public opinion in 1990. On October 10th, 1990, Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ, the daughter of Kuwaiti ambassador for the United States, Saud Al-Sabah, provided a tearful testimony that turned out to be false, as she claimed to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital during the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. This was the lie that Washington and its PR strategists used as a pretext for the Gulf War in 1990, pre-dating the WMD lie that was used to invade Iraq in 2003.

There are many moving parts in the Emwazi story and we should examine all angles of this story…


IMAGE: ‘The SITE of Terror’ – ISIS terror video presenter Jihadi John propagandized by the terror watchdog group SITE. (Photo link dailymail.co.uk)

Tale of the tape

Following graduation from the University of Westminster, Emwazi is said to have been scrutinized and targeted for recruitment by Britain’s main intelligence agency MI5 after a planned safari with friends in Tanzania in May of 2009. After Emwazi’s treatment by authorities, he was said to have reached out to the human rights group CAGE.

Strangely, new reports have emerged stating that the reason for Emwazi’s detention and expulsion from Tanzania, according to local authorities was because he had been drunk and disorderly and insulting immigration staff upon his arrival.


IMAGE: ‘Disorderlies’ – Tanzania’s home affairs minister Mathias Chikawe is said to have stopped Emwazi because of his intoxication. ( Photo link bbc.com)

According to the home affairs minister in Tanzania, a document names Emwazi, Ally Adorusand Marcel Schrodel as having been drunk and displaying misconduct after their arrival in Tanzania. However, it should be mentioned that Tanzania authorities have close ties to Britain and this information should be examined more thoroughly.

Mohammad Emwazi’s relationship with the advocacy group CAGE and its research director Asim Qureshi, has stirred up a wave of controversy, along with the timed release of Emwazi information. CAGE’s dissemination of Emwazi material seemed to be simultaneously tied to the ‘official’ release of Emwazi’s identity by authorities. This is a key aspect to consider when looking at the many moving parts in this case.

Recently, CAGE released an eye-opening tape recorded session with Mohammad Emwazi, and it was disclosed that the MI5 had been tracking Emwazi and had accused him of having extremist views while actively seeking to recruit him. The newly released material from CAGE depicts a man who appears to have been harassed and coerced into alleged violent activity with other terror group ISIS.

Most shockingly however, were the recent audio recordings provided by CAGE, that displayed Emwazi’s condemnation for extremism, as he apparently stated that the attacks on 9/11 and London’s 7/7 bombings  “were wrong.”

Here’s the short clip on YouTube from CAGE…

The recent Emwazi revelations have only added to the confusion, as security services also have a close relationship to CAGE and given the overall impact of this story – any information released from either entity should be closely examined for its authenticity.


IMAGE: Coerced Operative? – Was Mohammad Emwazi forced to participate in the fraudulent ISIS terror videos? (Photo link 24matins.fr)


Another element to scrutinize in the Emwazi story, is that shortly after Mohammad was named as being Jihadi John, conveniently an unnamed former school friend claimed to have recognized Emwazi as the terror presenter.

The friend explained that he first met Emwazi in 1999 when both had attended the recently scandal plagued institution Quintin Kynaston Secondary School in St John’s Wood, North London.

There have been at least two other former pupils at Quintin, that have also been implicated in terrorism, prompting some to be concerned about the institution.

Here’s a video provided by Britain’s Channel 4, that depicts a camera shy Emwazi in his teenage years…


IMAGE: ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ – Mohammad Emwazi at Mary Magdalene Church of England primary school in Maida Vale, West London. (Photo link mirror.co.uk)

Emwazi relocated back to UK in 2010 after having worked as salesman for a Kuwaiti IT company, where he was regarded by his boss as being, “the best employee we ever had.” Emwazi’s  former boss also noted in the Guardian report from March 1st that, “How could someone as calm and quiet as him become like the man who we saw on the news? It’s just not logical that he could be this guy.”

Emwazi is said to have been recruited to an unnamed ‘international terror gang’ sometime in 2012 by Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed who lived just a couple of miles from Emwazi’s Queen’s Park, West London home.

According to the Mirror, those on the periphery of Emwazi, appear to be affiliated to those involved in the 1998 US Embassy bombing, as well as those said to be linked to the 7/7 London bombings. One could argue that the 1998 Embassy bombing was a clear shift in operations with the US-backed mujahideen proxy fighters, as they quickly became a ‘sworn’ enemy of the West after being linked to the 1998 bombing as al-Qaeda. The late 1990′s marked the ramp up to the war on terror:

“Emwazi’s network spreads even further. A file seen by The Mirror shows a direct link between Ahmed Mohammed and two al-Qaeda killers.

One of the men, Saleh Nabhan, was behind the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 250 and the 2002 attempt to bring down an Israeli airline with Stinger missiles.

Together with Harun Fazul he also trained and guarded British terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite – the White Widow.”

The same Mirror report from February 27th continued by explaining how Ahmed Mohamed met Mohammad Emwazi at a mosque, prior to Emwazi’s apparent radicalization some 3 years later.

Curiously, in the very same report by the UK’s Mirror, the unnamed former school friend who is said to have identified Emwazi, stated that Emwazi never went to a mosque and he never seemed that religious:

“Today security sources revealed that Emwazi, 26, and burkha disguise jihadi Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed met in 2006 at a West London mosque before Emwazi began a computer programming course at Westminster University.”

Is it possible that Ahmed Mohamed worked as a security services asset and that MI5, in conjunction with other groups, sought to recruit Emwazi at least 3 years prior to his detention in May of 2009?

Interestingly, is was reported that Ahmed Mohamed’s control order was quashed in the Court of Appeal in May of 2014.


IMAGE: ‘The al-Qaeda & al-Shabaab link’ – Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed allegedly averted MI5 while pretending to be a woman cloaked in burka in 2013. (Photo link celebnew.com)

The relationship of terror & security

In November of 2013, according to security officials, Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed was suspected to have been linked to a plot to bomb the London Olympics and another alleged Westgate-like attack on Eton College. Ahmed Mohamed was named as being a member of anAl Shabaab sleeper cell known as the London Boys.”

As we reported last week here at 21WIRE, Emwazi’s longtime West London associate, former UK rapper Abdel Bary, the initial Jihadi John suspect, had also been linked to the ‘London Boys’ network, along with Emwazi.

We were told that Emwazi had “fled the gaze of MI5” in early 2013 to head for Syria, around the same time Bary disappeared from London – also near the same time that ‘burkha’ wearing Ahmed Mohamed gave the security agency the slip, escaping after being implicated in several terror plots.

How would it be possible for all three of these men to thwart MI5 and escape undetected from the UK, as they would have mostly certainly been closely watched considering their connection to the London Boys sleeper cell and the apparent affiliation to al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab?

Western political leaders and their media will publicly discuss the idea of so-called terror ‘sleeper cells’ ad nauseam, hiding in a nation near you, but none of them will acknowledge the historical fact that they themselves help to harbor, grow, foment and radicalize individuals through counter-terrorism operations. Allied nations of course, will bring up the fact that Western intelligence regularly uses double agents and informants, under the banner of security to obfuscate the true intentions of such programs – always careful as to how they paint Western foreign policy aims.

According to reports, the London Boys were connected to planned attacks at top London hotels as well as several other locations. It was previously released that a Somali cell was active in Britain and had been trained by Al Qaeda’s former leader in Africa, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the same associate of ‘White Widow’ Samantha Lewthwaite, at a camp in Mogadishu in 2006.

Rather conveniently, there were blueprints that specified certain British targets found with Fazul, when he was killed during a gunfight at a police checkpoint in Mogadishu in 2011.

In excerpt that 21WIRE previously linked to from the Daily Mail, an as of yet unnamed source, stated that Emwazi had joined up with other militant groups prior joining ISIS:

“The son of a minicab driver, he was reported to have occasionally prayed at a mosque in Greenwich, south-east London.”

“A source who claims to have met with Emwazi in Syria told Channel 4 news that they believed Emwazi initially joined the Migrants Brigade or Mujahideen in 2012.”

“Emwazi was believed to have been based in Syria’s Idlib Province and then outside Aleppo, before going on to join Al-Nusra and finally ISIS.”

Other reports suggest that security services were not able keep track of Emwazi when he relocated to Syria, because of the recently abolished anti-terror control orders in the UK.

In revealing article by investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed, appearing on Middle East Eye, once again British security is shown to be inextricably tied to known radicals:

“According to Dr Noman Hanif, a lecturer in international terrorism and political Islam at Birkbeck College, University of London, and an expert on Hizb ut-Tahrir, the group’s presence in Britain likely provided many opportunities for Western intelligence to “penetrate or influence” the movement.

Dr Hanif, whose doctoral thesis was about the group, points out that Husain’s tenure inside HT by his own account occurred “under the leadership of Omar Bakri Mohammed,” the controversial cleric who left the group in 1996 to found al-Muhajiroun, a militant network which to this day has been linked to every major terrorist plot in Britain.

Bakri’s leadership of HT, said Dr Hanif, formed “the most conceptually deviant period of HT’s existence in the UK, diverting quite sharply away from its core ideas,” due to Bakri’s advocacy of violence and his focus on establishing an Islamic state in the UK, goals contrary to HT doctrines.”

It has been documented that Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri the founders of Al-Muhajiroun, a terror labeled organization that was banned, are linked to British intelligence.

The Jihadi rewrite

In a recent BBC report, an alleged former ISIS fighter was said to have defected from the terror group. A man calling himself Abu Ayman, has now come forward claiming to have met Emwazi in Syria. The report was splashed across media outlets, with most treating the alleged fighter’s word as being truthful, even though his identity was not confirmed.

However, one should consider Ayman’s role in all of this and why he would come forward to support the Western narrative of Jihadi John – without any hard evidence to prove Emwazi is Jihadi John.

Something else to consider: If Ayman has actually defected from ISIS and presumably returned to a Western nation, why wouldn’t he be arrested for his involvement with the terror group?

In another, almost buried report, we were told that Jihadi John allegedly reached out to Western media outlets via a third party in Syria, to ‘apologize’ for the trouble his identity has caused. While the report attempts to be a serious piece of journalism, the story reeks of PR strategist’s attempting to validate the unmasking of Jihad John as Mohammad Emwazi, through a cheap parlor trick directed at Western audiences.

Over the last 24 hours the terrible Jihadi John scripting continues, as Sky News reports the reason that hostages were seen calm before their alleged executions in the ISIS ‘beheading’ videos was because often they, “were routinely subjected to mock executions with their captors telling them they would not be killed as it was a show for the camera.” The newly cooked-up report claimed that a masked ISIS militant known only as Saleh, provided the unverifable details of the executions.

Below is an interview conducted by Sky News with Saleh. The interview appears tobe another attempt to ‘humanize’ the ISIS cause, while continuing to deceive the public about the character known as Jhadi John…

The questions concerning Emwazi his family, security services, and his purported identity continue to persist – as origin of  the ‘Jihadi John’ avatar is unravelling as time goes on…

Fukushima: Corium may have melted out to reactor building, prepare for radiation doses over 200,000,000 microsieverts/hour

By

Jiji Press, Mar 5, 2015 (emphasis added): Where is the melted fuel in the stricken reactors at Fukushima No. 1? This remains a question… cosmic rays [are being used] to “see through” the reactors… [Prof. Fumihiko Takasaki of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization calls the] nuclear disaster a “national crisis”… muon detectors were… placed last July at reactor No. 1… As detector units can’t be placed underground at reactor 1, any melted fuel in the underground part of the reactor will go undetected.

Science (AAAS), Mar 5, 2015: Fukushima Daiichi… won’t be truly safe until engineers can remove nuclear fuel… But first, they have to find that fuel… [TEPCO] thinks… fuel in the Unit 1… dropped to the bottom of the containment… engineers need much more detail about its location and condition… By the end of this month, Takasaki says, the detectors may have absorbed enough muons to confirm there is no fuel left in the reactor core… [Detectors] won’t be able to map fuel that may have flowed to the bottom of the containment vessel.

Wall St Journal: Fuel rods… melted fully out of their pressure vessel [says Tepco]… but it likely stopped as Tepco began [injecting] seawater [See: Tepco: We should have told public this sooner… water injections failed to cool melted fuel]… Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says it remains unclear why the fuel rods didn’t also breach the containment wall. “Why this didn’t happen is still unknown”…

U.S. NRC — State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) Report (pdf), Oct 2012: Fukushima Daiichi… presented… many insights with potential parallels to SOARCA’s analysis of… Peach Bottom, a similarly designed plant… in the SOARCA scenarios, significant hydrogen release [begins with] failure of the containment pressure boundary, which… results from molten debris failing the drywell liner… (i.e., drywell liner melt-through)… TEPCO has announced… the fuel did not move laterally across the drywell floor [and melt through the liner]… In the analyses presented in
this report
, hydrogen [was] released via the failure of the drywell liner by melt-attack.

Argonne National Lab (USA), MCM (Switzerland), Sep 2014: location of 1F corium — Critical questions relate to the extent of core melt and the extent to which it has melted through RPV and penetrated into the primary containment… “hot particles”… may be throughout the reactor building [and] water collection system and even released to surroundings… Identification of hot particles… is going to be critical for safe decommissioning… [the equipment] must withstand extremely high radiation – perhaps up togreater than 200 Sv/hr.

More from MCM: Most molten core appears to be contained within the primary containment, although a very small extent of melt-through to… cannot be precluded.

Symposium sponsored by Consortium for Japan Relief — Chim Pom, published Feb 2015: “Media never reported that the whole process — meltdown, melt-through, and so-called melt-out — happened, was done within a few days after the earthquake.”

Watch the presentation here

Related posts
  1. Nuclear Engineer: New video appears to show molten corium that melted out of Fukushima reactor — “Some of it is still oozing” — We’ve been talking about criticalities going on and causing continued heat for a long time now” (AUDIO & VIDEO) February 23, 2015
  2. Gov’t experts warn about mass of corium melting deeper than Japan, Tepco claim — Fukushima cores “could be eroded more extensively than announced” February 10, 2014
  3. US Experts: Fukushima melted fuel “a concern for millennia”; Risk of criticality from corium moving, redistributing — Tepco Chief: Certainly a difficult path ahead… we’ll be able to move forward if we can find damaged fuel (VIDEO) June 4, 2014
  4. Scientist back from Japan: Melt-through of Fukushima containment vessels being discussed — They can’t locate any of the 3 molten reactor cores — “It’s bad, it’s definitely not over” November 25, 2013
  5. Nuclear Expert: Fukushima fuel suspected to be in ground… “it’s going to melt right down into the ground” when heat isn’t removed, that’s why these are so dangerous — Physician: “3 of Fukushima’s reactors melted through containment… the crisis is clearly ongoing” (VIDEO) August 18, 2014

Venezuela Has Worse Human Rights Problems than Saudi Arabia … ?

President Obama imposed sanctions on a number of Venezuelans yesterday, including — among others — the woman prosecuting Caracas MayorAntonio Ledezma Diaz, Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron. Apparent intelligence officers seized Ledezma on February 20, and since then, Nicolas Maduro, has been tying Ledezma’s seizure to a purported coup plan launched by exiles in the US, but also using the tools of American hegemony.

President Maduro played the audio of a conversation held between Carlos Manuel Osuna Saraco, a former Venezuelan politician living in New York, and a soldier, in which Osuna dictates the statement that the rebel soldiers should read out during the coup.

The Venezuelan leader informed viewers that he would soon call upon the United States to extradite the suspect Osuna for trial in his home country.

Maduro also noted that in addition to the call from Osuna’s base in New York, there was a second phone call from Miami.

Ledezma was in constant coordination with Osuna in New York via telephone.

Maduro also showed a copy of a new “100-day Plan for Transition”, designed by the coup plotters and the opposition, which stipulated a series of measures which would be implemented by the planned governing junta.

The plan would take effect immediately after the coup, calling for early elections and the privatization of all public services.

The transitional government would request all of the current Venezuelan officials to turn themselves into the police within a period of 180 days. It also requested every Cuban worker within the government to turn themselves in unarmed to their local police station.

The plan also contemplated a role for the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to intervene in the Venezuelan economy.

In response, the US has been saying Maduro is making this whole coup thing up, even accusing him of making up some of the intelligence he was showing to make his case.

And then, even while claiming Maduro was making shit up about the US engaging in economic war and using its tools of hegemony to conduct regime change in Venezuela, President Obama used its dominant financial position to undermine Maduro’s regime.

The order imposing sanctions, like all such orders, makes a convoluted explanation for why the US has to use its purported capitalistic tools against foreigners. First, because Venezuela poses a threat to US national security.

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

It then defines sanction targets as those who undermine democratic processes, engage in violence or human rights abuses (including — though purportedly not limited to those involved in anti-government protests), those that limit freedom of expression, and those involved in public corruption.

(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State: (A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela: (1) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions; (2) significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014; (3) actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or (4) public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;

The fact sheet on these sanctions also argues Venezuela is the among the most corrupt countries in the world (but doesn’t mention that it ties with Yemen, and beats out Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as allies like Uzbekistan — all of also which rank much worse for human rights abuses than Venezuela.

In other words, the Administration is claiming that Venezuela’s corruption and human rights abuses present a much bigger threat to the US than a string of countries we’ve already destabilized that are worse in terms of corruption and human rights, as well as (in the latter category) Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s more severe human rights abuses.

All of which is receiving more scrutiny than it normally would, not least because the claim that Venezuela is a threat to US national security is so obviously bullshit.

As an official whose identity couldn’t be revealed because Obama’s is the Most Transparent Evah™ explained the other day, it’s actually normal for the government to claim that sanction targets are a threat to this country.

So I can start off and say in terms of how unusual this is, most of our sanctions programs began with the declaration by the President of a national emergency that results — that’s a threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.  And so most of the sanctions programs that we have, from Iran to Syria, Burma, across the board, rely on these same types of national emergency declarations.

So in that sense, it’s a usual part of the process.  And we have somewhere between 20 and 30 sanctions programs, depending on the way you measure them, that are based on these same types of national emergency declarations.

Either the same or another SAO insisted that this is not about the US bigfooting in Venezuela.

Can I just also — let me just say that there’s been a lot of commentary about interference in internal affairs of other countries by the Venezuelan government.  The actions we take today are clearly sovereign actions by a country about its own financial system.  These actions we take are sovereign decisions about who comes into the United States.  They’re not actions taken to involve ourselves in another country.

Other countries — notably Russia and China — are both affirmatively rolling out measures to counter our dominance in the financial world, in ways that could significantly undermine our obviously selective choice for sanctions targets. Whatever else these Venezuela sanctions do, they will also likely elicit more scrutiny of just how illegitimate our use of sanctions is (and to a significant extent, has long been).

Millennials Drive Sustainable Food Practices at Fast-Casual Restaurants

Earlier this year McDonald’s announced that its CEO Don Thompson was stepping down after one of the iconic burger chain’s worst years on record. The very next day, Shake Shack, a scrappy young burger cart turned global restaurant chain with something of a cult following, announced the value of its initial public offering had increased to $675 million. While Shake Shack’s value pales in comparison to McDonald’s longstanding multi-billion dollar business, it’s a signal of changing restaurant trends, especially among millennial diners.

Shake Shack is one of several emerging “fast-casual” restaurants like Panera, Five Guys and Chipotle that appeal to millennial diners with elevated, healthier, ethical and more sustainable food experiences. Shake Shake and McDonald’s both serve burgers, but that’s where similarities end.

Millennial diners are moving away from traditional fast food towards healthier, more sustainable fast casual options. Photo credit: Shutterstock
Millennial diners are moving away from traditional fast food towards healthier, more sustainable fast casual options. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Shake Shack, for example, prides itself on building eco-friendly restaurants out of recyclable and sustainable materials, paying employees well above minimum wage and serving only hormone-free, vegetarian-fed, humanely-raised beef. Chipotle also sources sustainable food products and recently made waves when it removed pork carnitas from the menu in locations throughout the country because its supplier did not meet the chain’s ethical standard.

Meanwhile, traditional fast food and fast-casual restaurants like McDonald’s are falling under fire for questionable ingredients, labor issues and antibiotic-ridden chicken. The company launched its transparency campaign in the U.S. (already successfully rolled out in Canada and Australia) to address customers’ concerns about what is in their food, but it has been met with skepticism.

Despite attempts to appeal to diners with fresh menus and new marketing campaigns, restaurants like McDonald’s are losing footing with millennial diners. In fact, according to NPR, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, TGIFridays, IHOP, Applebee’s and Chili’s combined are worth less than Chipotle. While it could be a sign of the end for some, other traditional fast food restaurants are trying to pivot to keep pace with front runners like Chipotle.

Taco Bell, for example, is testing its own fast casual concept Taco Co. in California. The restaurant is a far cry from Taco Bell’s $0.99 value menu, selling tacos featuring Mahi Mahi, lobster, brisket and more for up to $7 each. Will it work?

We won’t likely see any of the major fast food brands slip away any time soon, but they will have to reinvent their offerings to appeal to a new generation of diners. According to restaurant industry experts, the best ways to appeal to millennial diners are to imitate fast casual concepts, provide ample build-your-own customization options, accept mobile payments, offer artisan beer and wine on site, and appeal to their desire to minimize environmental impact by using recycled materials and sustainably sourced ingredients.

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