FREE SPEECH DEMO AT ENTERGY – April 26-27

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20th Anniversary of Chernobyl

FREE SPEECH DEMO AT ENTERGY HEADQUARTERS, April 26 – 27:

Please join us at Entergy Headquarters this Wednesday, or Thursday. Drop in
for any (short or long) visit during a 24-hour period, from 4pm Wed. to 4pm
Thursday, April 26-27. Since October, we’ve convened monthly at Entergy
Nuclear offices. Together we confront the risks, and work to reduce our
complicity in paying for a melt-down. We mark our calendar in earnest this
Chernobyl Day and insist, “Not here.”

Please also drop in to support Hattie Nestle’s 3-day fast which began today,
in downtown Brattleboro, continuing Tuesday and Wednesday, by the fountain
from 10am-4pm. Please note, we’ve changed our start time previously proposed
for noon, to accommodate and support Hattie’s fast. (We need ALL thoughtful
approaches –What’s yours?)

Bring a friend, young or old. From Exit 3 in Brattleboro at the tiny rotary,
take Route 5 north; turn right at the light onto Old Ferry Road. You may
wish to carpool, or bicycle, or be dropped off with your back pack and
thermos full of tea or hot chocolate at the demo site, right in front of the
headquarters. We expect no arrests, exercising our rights to freely assemble
and speak our truths.

For more information, contact Traprock Peace Center, 413 773-7427, or see
www.traprockpeace.org

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ASKING

What vivid concerns do you have regarding emergency planning? Since
early March we’ve been calling (and faxing petitions) to ask for meetings
with Emergency Management Agencies. In phone conversations with Senator
Kennedy’s aide, Ron Carlton, with our Sherriff, our Reps. and others, we
advocate that the first item on the agenda should be to draft a list of
important questions. Your understanding of evacuation difficulties can help
provide a reality check, to ground the views of men in suits.

M.E.M.A. has NOT YET granted our requests for a meeting at Frontier High
School in South Deerfield, (equi-distant from Greenfield, Amherst and
Northampton.) M.E.M.A. Seems instead to be planning to tape a talk (without
public questions) at Greenfield Community Television. (I’m charging up
the battery on my video camera. Bring yours? … Cheech? Harvey? Norm? Nick?
Carl?)

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RECORDER STORY ON EVACUAION BREAKS ABOVE THE FOLD

Pam Kelly, congratulations! Two great photos accompanied Richie Davis’s
article naming poignant concerns about how Pam’s disabled son can deal with
an evacuation — This appeared on pages ONE and five in The Recorder on
Saturday … Earth Day.

The picture of the reactor with steam blowing on the front page was
perfect, and the gripping reality of Fred Alden standing near a row of desks
in the basement of the Greenfield fire station, where they plan to
coordinate an emergency response should bring lots of letters to the
editors, and important discussions. I’m especially eager to hear out
community discuss how we trust information about whether to evacuate or not,
and how our nursing homes and hospitals can be evacuated. I think we need to
insist now that the National Guard promise to put down their guns an pick UP
the stretchers … post Katrina. Are neighbors without cars aware of this
need?

————————————————————————-
PLEASE PUT PREVENTING A MELT-DOWN ON YOUR TO-DO LIST THIS SPRING:

April 26 – Chernobyl Day, Come make your curb-side comments.
“No More Chernobyls.”
May 13 – Mothers’ Eve (full moon if you stay for the evening)
Theater Improv, Songs for the Soul, The Great Turning:
Inter-help offers a workshop on care that provides energy
for the long haul.
June 11 Strawberry Full Moon, Sunday, with greetings for Entergy
staff on Monday. As Annie Hassett says, “… Because we care.”

——————————————————————-

IN GRATITUDE:

Thank you Annie, Devia, for the wonderful singing at the Three Mile Island
Free Speech Demo. Grattitude fits with this work. The first demonstration
I ever attended with Traprock folks was a Chernobyl demonstration on the
Greenfield Common, more than 15 years ago. I brought a banner about 30-feet
long from North Adams that said, “BASTA! Enough nuclear waste for 10,000
generations!” I got to meet David Detmold taking a principled stand, Jim
Perkins warmly welcoming volunteers, and later, Doug Wilson, drawing our
attention at the Charlemont Inn — warning us that the Rowe reactor owners
wanted to run the reactor for 60 years, not 40. Sound familiar?

Bob Pollard, B.J Roach, Judith Johnsrud, Diane Sidebottham, Williamstown and
North Adams news editors, cable station managers and so many others played
their early roles. We are forever grateful there was no melt-down at Rowe.

NOW HERE YOU ARE, taking a lead on this one, in the company of reasonable
women and thoughtful men. It’s a wonderful thing to see how public
interest, personal commitment, articulate experts and fine reporters can
turn heads around. … Because we care. What a party we should have when
we win the peace. Three-days worth at least!

Melt-down? NO. As Wally Nelson said, “You don’t Gotta!”

———————————————————-

From “info llrc”
Chernobyl and health. New ECRR book is vital reading

The Chernobyl Sub-Committee of ECRR (the European Committee on Radiation
Risk) has published a most important collection of results from the
ex-Soviet Union territories affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

This is the rebuttal to all the official fudging and the failure of nuclear
apologists to look at the real world ˜ 250 heavily referenced pages
summarising the real effects on human beings, animals and plants. This is
the antidote to endless calculations of dose (whatever “dose” means) and the
predictions of some hypothetical black-box model.

Chernobyl is the biggest ever test of the modelling of the International
Commission on Radiological Protection and it’s clear that ICRP has failed
the test, since public health in the affected areas is seriously affected
and worsening. The diseases involved represent a far wider spectrum than the
cancer and genetic defects that ICRP confines itself to. The Committee
members conclude that mortality and morbidity will continue to grow as a
result of continuing internal contamination and because many non-cancer
illnesses are increasing as a result of genomic instability and damage to
the immune system. All the way from increases in still birth and congenital
malformation to early ageing and premature death, no stage of life is
immune. And all this is happening at dose rates comparable with natural
background, which according to the established model simply should not cause
enough disease to be discernible against the background noise of spontaneous
rates. So much for ICRP and the established view!

This is heart rending stuff when you recall that it represents the
day-to-day experience of hundreds of thousands of real people. The Guardian
headline of March 25th ˜ UN accused of ignoring 500,000 Chernobyl deaths ˜
was informed by this ECRR sub-Committee’s findings, but no-one will ever
know how many people will suffer chronic ill-health and untimely death. This
stands in stark contrast to the spurious precision of fatal cancer totals
predicted by various agencies ˜ 4000 by IAEA, 9000 by WHO, 60,000 by TORCH,
all of them muddling with models and fiddling with numbers and never looking
at the reality that daily faces the doctors and researchers in the field.
Eventually the victims will number in the millions and probably already do.

This book must remind us that when the apologists say wildlife is thriving
in the exclusion zone no-one knows what diseases and mutations are suffered
by the animals that don’t survive. No-one knows what life shortening the
apparently healthy survivors may be subject to; the animal data in the ECRR
book suggest strongly that there are indeed costs. And in the context of
genetic mutation in plants 20 or more generations removed from their
irradiated ancestors one scientist ironically, laconically, observes that
wheat doesn’t suffer from radiophobia. Nor from alcoholism nor despair, we
think to add. Nor do the animals, yet mice 22 generations removed from being
irradiated in the higher fallout areas display greater radio-sensitivity
than those less exposed. So much for current ideas about genetic selection!

Against this background politicians plan to foist another round of nuclear
power stations on us and our descendants, another generation of nuclear
weapons, perpetuation of Uranium armour-piercing weaponry, and relaxed
standards for the incineration and dustbin disposal of radioactive waste. So
much for human-kind’s ability to learn from its mistakes!

Full price of the book is £UK55 / •90 but if you can’t afford it there’s a
concession price of £UK20 / •32 for campaigners, students and the like.

There is a flyer on www.euradcom.org.

Email admin@euradcom.org to order copies and to apply for the concession
price. Low Level Radiation Campaign
bramhall@llrc.org

Watchdog group appeals Yankee power boost approval

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Original article – Boston Globe

Watchdog group appeals Yankee power boost approval

By David Gram, Associated Press Writer | April 24, 2006

MONTPELIER, Vt. –The Vermont Public Service Board committed “extreme procedural violations” when it gave final approval for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to increase its power output by 20 percent, a nuclear watchdog group has charged.

The phrase was contained in an appeal by the New England Coalition to the Vermont Supreme Court in which it asked the court to reverse the board’s March 3 order saying Vermont Yankee could go ahead with the power increase.

The board’s decision, on the heels of final approval for the power increase by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Vermont Yankee and the NRC had made a satisfactory effort to meet a key condition the board had set when it gave the power boost its tentative approval in March of 2004.
The NRC has exclusive jurisdiction over several issues surrounding nuclear plants, including their safety. But the state Public Service Board has the authority to weigh the economic impacts of power plants and other utility projects.

During board hearings on the power increase, the New England Coalition argued for an “independent safety assessment” of Vermont Yankee before it was allowed to increase power.

The board instead called for a special NRC review of the likely effect the power increase might have on the plant’s reliability. It reasoned that it had the power to call for such a review as a condition for approving the power increase because the plant’s reliability would affect electric rates by increasing the likelihood of outages at Vermont Yankee.

The NRC did a special review. In its March 3 order, the board said in effect that although the federal agency’s review was not exactly what it had called for, it was good enough.

The NRC review “did not employ precisely the same methodology we had requested,” the board said. But it said it “appears to have nonetheless achieved the same purpose.”

In its appeal, the coalition said the board reached that conclusion without any of the usual court-like hearings in which witnesses can be cross-examined. The board hosted a conference with the NRC to hear about its inspection, but the information gathered there was not under oath, the group said.

“The NRC specifically acknowledged that its inspection did not even address the reliability of the plant, but was rather limited to an examination of whether certain safety mechanisms would operate in the event of an accident,” the coalition’s appeal said.

Robert Williams, spokesman for Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Nuclear, said the “the NRC conducted the most comprehensive review of any plant uprate they’ve ever done.”

He added that “the PSB relied on those comprehensive reviews and they rightly decided not to modify their approval. We’re very confident the Vermont Supreme Court will affirm the board’s decisions.”
Vermont Yankee has been increasing power in stages. It raised the level to 115 percent of its original power output on Saturday; data the plant collected after reaching that level is now being reviewed by the NRC, Williams said.

© Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Indian tribe, downwinders: Stop Nevada blast

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original article

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Indian tribe, downwinders: Stop Nev. blast
By KEN RITTER
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

LAS VEGAS — Members of an Indian tribe and two nuclear fallout
“downwinders” are asking a federal court to halt plans for a huge
non-nuclear explosion that is expected to generate a mushroom cloud over the
Nevada desert in June.

“This is a worst nightmare come true for downwinders,” said Robert Hager, a
Reno-based lawyer representing four members of the Nevada-based Western
Shoshone tribe and two residents of Utah.

He said the June 2 detonation of a 700-ton ammonium nitrate and fuel oil
bomb at the Nevada Test Site would kick up radioactive fallout left from
nuclear weapons tests conducted from 1951 to 1992.

Test site and federal officials have said the blast, some 280 times larger
than the ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb that destroyed the Alfred P.
Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, should not disturb surface
contamination at the Test Site.

The 21-page request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary
injunction predicts a 10,000-foot mushroom cloud, and calls the blast a
“clear and present danger” to the health of people living to the east, or
downwind of the vast Nevada Test Site.

The document names as defendants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and
Linton Brooks and James Tegnelia, the directors of two federal agencies
planning the test.

Defense Department, National Nuclear Security Administration and Defense
Threat Reduction Agency officials each declined comment Thursday, saying
they had not immediately seen the court documents submitted to U.S. District
Court in Las Vegas.

The court filing claims the test, dubbed “Divine Strake,” would irreparably
desecrate land the Western Shoshone tribe has never acknowledged turning
over to the U.S.

The two “downwinder” plaintiffs, Peter Litster and Stephen Erickson, live in
Salt Lake City, Utah, Hager said.

Thomas Wasson and Sharon Wasson, two of the four members of the Winnemucca
Indian Colony of northern Nevada, live in Susanville, Calif. Plaintiff Judy
Rojo lives in Winnemucca and Elverine Castro lives in Los Angeles, Hager
said.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency has said the blast will help design a
weapon to penetrate hardened and deeply buried targets.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, which operates the vast Nevada
Test Site north of Las Vegas, has said the Divine Strake explosion will be
at least 1 1/2 miles from the nearest underground nuclear test, and three
miles from the nearest ground-zero areas of known radioactive contamination
from aboveground tests.

The long-term effect of radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests
in the 1950s and early 1960s has long been debated.

Studies have produced conflicting conclusions as to whether fallout caused
increased incidences of particular types of cancer in the residents living
downwind in parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 provides for compassionate
payments to downwinders who contracted certain cancers and other serious
diseases.

DeFazio to Bush: Iran Military Strikes Require Congressional Authorization

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April 19, 2006

CJ & SM: We hope people will ask their representatives as well as senators to support legislation by Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon to head off an unconstitutional presidential attack on Iran. See his press release and letter below.

The attack could come as early as next month and include the first nuclear bombing since Nagasaki. U.S. troops have already been illegally sent to Iran to map bombing sites. See also http://warandlaw.org/files. JH, PWL, War and Law League, SF, warandlaw@yahoo.com.
____________________________________________________

DeFazio To Bush: Iran Military Strikes Require
Congressional Authorization

April 13, 2006

Press Release | Contact: Danielle Langone (202)
225-6416

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio will
send a letter to President Bush reminding him that he
is constitutionally bound to seek congressional
approval before making any preemptive military strikes
against Iran. DeFazio is circulating the letter to
other members of Congress seeking additional support.
Recent news reports, including a report by Seymour
Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the My
Lai massacre, have indicated that the administration
is planning a military action against them.

DeFazio will also introduce a resolution expressing
the sense of the Congress that the President cannot
initiate military action against Iran without
congressional authorization. He is seeking additional
support among other House members for the resolution
as well. The text of the letter is included below:

April 13, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush
President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Bush:

We are concerned by the growing number of stories that
your Administration is planning for military action
against Iran. We are writing to remind you that you
are constitutionally bound to seek congressional
authorization before launching any preventive military
strikes against Iran.

As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S.
Constitution grants Congress the power “to declare
war,” to lay and collect taxes to “provide for the
common defense” and general welfare of the United
States, to “raise and support armies,” to “provide and
maintain a navy,” to “make rules for the regulation
for the land and naval forces,” to “provide for
calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the
Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions,” to
“provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the
militia,” and to “make all laws necessary and proper
for carrying into execution…all…powers vested by
this Constitution in the Government of the United
States.” Congress is also given exclusive power over
the purse. The Constitution says, “No money shall be
drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of
appropriations made by law.”

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the
Executive Branch through the President can be found in
Article II, Section 2, which states, “The President
shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy
of the United States, and of the Militia of the
several States, when called into actual Service of the
United States…”

Your Administration has argued that this
“Commander-in-Chief” clause grants the President wide
latitude to engage U.S. military forces abroad without
prior authorization from Congress. You further argue
that previous unilateral actions by presidents of both
political parties add credence to your interpretation
of the U.S. Constitution.

Contrary to your Administration’s broad reading,
nothing in the history of the “Commander-in-Chief”
clause suggests that the authors of the provision
intended it to grant the Executive Branch the
authority to engage U.S. forces in military action
whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior
authorization from Congress. The founders of our
country intended this power to allow the President to
repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to
unilaterally launch, without congressional approval,
large-scale preventive military actions against
foreign threats that are likely years away from
materializing. With respect to Iran, according to the
most definitive U.S. intelligence report, Iran is
likely a decade away from developing a nuclear weapon.
Even the most pessimistic analysis by outside experts
puts the timeline at least three years away, but
that’s only if everything in Iran’s development
program proceeds flawlessly, which would defy the
history of nuclear programs around the world,
including Iran’s.

The architects of the U.S. Constitution were well
aware of government models, like the monarchy in Great
Britain, which vested the power to go to war with the
head of state. Instead, the Founding Fathers made a
conscious decision to grant the solemn war-making
powers to the Legislative Branch. The intent of the
authors of the U.S. Constitution is clear.

In the Federalist Paper Number 69, while comparing the
lesser war-making power of the U.S. president versus
the King of Great Britain, Alexander Hamilton wrote,
“…the President is to be commander-in-chief of the
Army and Navy of the United States. In this respect
his authority would be nominally the same with that of
the King of Great Britain, but in substance much
inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than
the supreme command and direction of the military and
naval forces, as first General and admiral of the
Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to
the declaring of war and to raising and regulating of
fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution
under consideration, would appertain to the
legislature.”

James Madison declared that it is necessary to adhere
to the “fundamental doctrine of the Constitution that
the power to declare war is fully and exclusively
vested in the legislature.”

In 1793, President George Washington, when considering
how to protect inhabitants of the American frontier,
instructed his Administration that “no offensive
expedition of importance can be undertaken until after
[Congress] have deliberated upon the subject, and
authorized such a measure.”

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson sent a small squadron of
frigates to the Mediterranean to protect against
possible attacks by the Barbary powers. He told
Congress that he was “unauthorized by the
Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go
beyond the line of defense.” He further noted that it
was up to Congress to authorize “measures of offense
also.”

While presidents in the latter half of the 20th
Century have initiated military action without prior
authorization by Congress, “everybody does it” is not
a legitimate defense to ignore the plain words of the
U.S. Constitution, the clear intent of the authors of
the U.S. Constitution, and more than 150 years of
legal precedent.

We also want to go on record that the Authorization of
Force Resolution (Public Law 107-40) approved by
Congress to go after those responsible for the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our country
does not, explicitly or implicitly, extend to
authorizing military action against Iran over its
nuclear program. The legislation specifically says,
“The President is authorized to use all necessary and
appropriate force against those nations,
organizations, or persons he determines planned,
authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks
that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such
organizations or persons, in order to prevent any
future acts of international terrorism against the
United States by such nations, organizations, or
persons.” There is no evidence that Iran was involved
in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Nor is there any
evidence that Iran harbored those who were responsible
for the attacks.

Further, the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public
Law 107-243) approved by Congress to go to war with
Iraq does not extend to military action against Iran
over its nuclear program. This resolution only
authorized you to “(1) defend the national security of
the United States against the continuing threat posed
by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations
Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.” Like
P.L. 107-40, there is no explicit or implicit
authorization on the part of Congress in P.L. 107-243
that would allow you to attack Iran without first
coming to Congress to seek a new authorization.

When asked about reports of your administration
planning for war with Iran, you said on April 10,
2006, “It [prevention] doesn’t mean force,
necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy.” We
agree with the focus on diplomacy. But, we want to be
clear, should you decide that force is necessary,
seeking congressional authority prior to taking
military action against Iran is not discretionary. It
is legally and constitutionally necessary.

Sincerely,
/s/
PETER DeFAZIO
Member of Congress

-30-

Print Note: This page is excerpted from the web site
of U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, Fourth District,
Oregon. http://www.house.gov/defazio/.

Bush won’t exclude Iran nuke strike

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original Reuters article

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

By Saul Hudson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday failed to secure international support for targeted sanctions against Iran and President George W. Bush refused to rule out nuclear strikes if diplomacy failed to curb the Islamic Republic’s atomic ambitions.

Bush said he would discuss Iran’s nuclear activities with China’s President Hu Jintao, who has been cool toward sanctions, during his U.S. visit this week.

Asked if his options included planning for a nuclear strike, Bush said: “All options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we’re working hard to do so.”

But a meeting of major powers in Moscow ended without consensus despite strong U.S. pressure for international sanctions. Washington believes Iraq is trying to build bombs but Tehran says it is only developing nuclear energy.

The meeting of deputy foreign ministers of the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members — The United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — plus Germany, was called after Tehran declared last week that it had enriched uranium and was aiming for industrial-scale production.

The No. 3 State Department official, Nicholas Burns, argued that sanctions should be imposed on Iran, but Russia and China are resisting and the parties came to no agreement, said State Department spokesman Tom Casey in Washington.

“Burns raised the issue of some form of sanctions and there will need to be further discussions on this,” he said after being briefed by U.S. officials about the meeting.

The United States, which already enforces its own sweeping sanctions on Iran, wants the Security Council to be ready for strong diplomatic action, including measures such as a freeze on assets and visa curbs on Iranian officials.

Tehran had vowed to continue its pursuit of nuclear technology, whatever the meeting’s outcome.

“Whatever the result of this meeting might be, Iran will not abandon its rights,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said before the meeting ended.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack stressed that the goal of the Moscow meeting was to make preparations for decisions to be taken in various capitals.

IAEA REPORT DUE

The International Atomic Energy Agency is due to report at the end of the month on whether Iran is complying with U.N. demands that it halt uranium enrichment.

Iran’s defiance of world pressure to halt its program drove oil prices to a record high of $72.64 a barrel, raising fears of a cut in supplies from the world’s fourth biggest crude exporter.

Speculation about a U.S. attack has mounted since a report in New Yorker magazine said this month the Bush administration was considering the option of using tactical nuclear weapons to knock out Iran’s underground nuclear sites.

China, which sent an envoy to Iran to try to defuse the standoff, repeated a call for a negotiated solution. “We hope all sides will maintain restraint and flexibility,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing.

Russia restated its opposition to punitive action. “We are convinced that neither the sanctions route nor the use of force route will lead to a solution of this problem,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin, according to an Itar-Tass news agency report.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Iran to suspend its research and development efforts to enrich uranium in a telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki on Monday, Interfax said.

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Jerusalem Post that the United States probably could not destroy Iran’s nuclear program but could attempt to set it back by strikes as a last resort.

“I think the only justifiable use of military power would be an attempt to deter the development of their nuclear program if we felt there was no other way to do it,” he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking at an annual military parade, said the army was ready to defend the nation. “It will cut off the hands of any aggressors and will make any aggressor regret it,” he declared.

While refusing to drop its right to enrich uranium for peaceful use, Iran has offered to work with the IAEA.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog says it has been unable to verify that Iran’s nuclear program is purely civilian but has found no hard proof of efforts to build atomic weapons.

IAEA inspectors are due in Iran on Friday to visit nuclear sites, including one at Natanz where Iran says it has enriched uranium to 3.5 percent, the level used in nuclear power plants.

Experts say it would take Iran years to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb from its current 164 centrifuges. But Iran says it wants to install 3,000 centrifuges, which could make enough material for a warhead in one year.

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Alireza Ronaghi in Tehran, Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow, Mark Heinrich in Vienna)

US embassy in Baghdad to be world’s largest

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original article

Embassy project is cloaked in secrecy
Diplomatic complex to be world’s largest

By CHARLES J. HANLEY
The Associated Press
April 15. 2006 8:00AM

The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq’s turbulent future.
The new U.S. Embassy also seems as cloaked in secrecy as the ministate in Rome.

“We can’t talk about it. Security reasons,” Roberta Rossi, a spokeswoman at the current embassy, said when asked for information about the project.

A British tabloid even told readers the location was being kept secret – news that would surprise Baghdadis who for months have watched the forest of construction cranes at work across the winding Tigris, at the very center of their city and within easy mortar range of anti-U.S. forces in the capital, though fewer explode there these days.

The embassy complex – 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report – is taking shape on riverside parkland in the fortified “Green Zone.”

—ADVERTISEMENT—

The Republican Palace, where U.S. Embassy functions are temporarily housed in cubicles among the chandelier-hung rooms, is less than a mile away in the 4-square-mile zone, an enclave of American and Iraqi government offices and lodgings ringed by miles of conccrete barriers.
The 5,500 Americans and Iraqis working at the embassy, almost half listed as security, are far more numerous than at any other U.S. mission worldwide. They rarely venture out into the “Red Zone,”that is, violence-torn Iraq.

This huge American contingent at the center of power has drawn criticism.

“The presence of a massive U.S. embassy – by far the largest in the world – co-located in the Green Zone with the Iraqi government is seen by Iraqis as an indication of who actually exercises power in their country,” the International Crisis Group, a European-based research group, said in one of its periodic reports on Iraq.

State Department spokesman Justin Higgins defended the size of the embassy, old and new, saying it is indicative of the work facing the United States here.

“It’s somewhat self-evident that there’s going to be a fairly sizable commitment to Iraq by the U.S. government in all forms for several years,” he said in Washington.

Higgins noted that large numbers of non-diplomats work at the mission – hundreds of military personnel and dozens of FBI agents, for example, along with representatives of the Agriculture, Commerce and other U.S. federal departments.

They sleep in hundreds of trailers or “containerized” quarters scattered around the Green Zone. But next year, embassy staff will move into six apartment buildings in the new complex, which has been under construction since mid-2005 with a target completion date of June 2007.

Iraq’s interim government transferred the land to U.S. ownership in October 2004, under an agreement whose terms were not disclosed.

“Embassy Baghdad” will dwarf new U.S. embassies elsewhere, projects that typically cover 10 acres. The embassy’s 104 acres is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall.

Original cost estimates ranged over $1 billion, but Congress appropriated only $592 million in the emergency Iraq budget adopted last year.

Most has gone to a Kuwait builder, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting, with the rest awarded to six contractors working on the project’s “classified” portion – the actual embassy offices.

Higgins declined to identify those builders, citing security reasons, but said five were American companies.

The designs aren’t publicly available, but the Senate report makes clear it will be a self-sufficient and “hardened” domain, to function in the midst of Baghdad power outages, water shortages and continuing turmoil.

It will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility, “systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities,” says the report, the most authoritative open source on the embassy plans.

Besides two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, and the apartment buildings for staff, the compound will offer a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club, all housed in a recreation building.

Security, overseen by U.S. Marines, will be extraordinary: setbacks and perimeter no-go areas that will be especially deep, structures reinforced to 2.5-times the standard, and five high-security entrances, plus an emergency entrance-exit, the Senate report says.

Higgins said the work, under way on all parts of the project, is more than one-third complete.

—— End of article

By CHARLES J. HANLEY

The Associated Press

To Israel – who is a terrorist?

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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/705995.html

Haaretz.com
16/04/2006

Who is a terrorist?

By Gideon Levy

The scenes from Gaza are heartbreaking. Heartbreaking? That’s not for certain. The sight of the Aben family from Beit Lahiya mourning its 12-year-old daughter Hadil last week did not stir any particular shock in Israel. Nor did anyone take to the streets and protest over the sight of her wounded mother and little brother lying in shock on the floor of their shanty in Gaza.

On the day Hadil Aben was killed, Yedioth Aharonoth carried a story about Nelly, the dog from Kibbutz Zikim that died of heart failure from the booming noise of the Israeli artillery firing into Gaza.

Instead of expressions of sorrow at the death of children, the upper echelons of the defense establishment came out with a stream of strident statements. The defense minister said that the only thing to do was step up the pressure on the Palestinians. The deputy chief of staff spoke about a possible invasion of Gaza and the head of army operations added, “what we’ve seen so far are only the previews.” The IDF announced it would further reduce the “safety range” that is designed to avoid shells hitting the civilian population.

It was a chilling, united chorus. Israel is dropping thousands of bombs on towns and villages, on the “the launching pads” of the Qassams – another dubious term created by the defense establishment and blindly adopted by the press – and only the Palestinians, whose Qassam rockets haven’t killed anyone since the disengagement, are called “terrorists.”

Nor was there any substantive debate after a possible slip of the tongue by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in an interview to the BBC, in which she said that there was a difference between attacking civilians and attacking soldiers. Even though she did not resolutely stand by her own words in an interview with Channel 10, Livni dared to speak the truth: If harming civilians is a measure of terror, then Israel is a terror state. With 18 killed in Gaza alone in 12 days, three of them children, the absence of intent cannot suffice for us. Someone who uses artillery to shell population centers and says with horrific indifference that this is “just a preview,” as if it were another reality show on TV, cannot claim that he does not intend to kill children.

Those responsible for such bombings around the world are rightfully considered war criminals. That’s terror – just ask Livni. And when it is done in the name of a state, it is much worse than in those cases when the perpetrators are from rogue organizations.

Israel declares it is striving to apply pressure with its cannon on the Palestinian population, so that it will prevent the Qassam fire. That is a hollow argument. No Palestinian leader can promote a cease-fire while dozens of civilians are being hurt. No Palestinian, no matter how peaceable, can prevent with his body the launches from inside Palestinian Authority territory. Could Hadil Aben’s parents have done something? What exactly was the crime of these poor people? And how, exactly, will killing their daughter lead to a halt in the Qassams?

The continuing imprisonment of besieged Gaza is precisely the opposite policy that should be applied to serve Israeli interests. The current policy only strengthens support for the Hamas, just like the terror attacks within Israel always strengthen the Israeli right. A nation under siege, its leadership boycotted, will have far more determination and resolve to fight to its last drop of blood. It is impossible to break the spirit of a desperate people. Only a nation that sees a light at the end of its desperation will change its ways.

What would happen if Israel were to turn to the world and call upon it to enlist in the cause of support for the residents of Gaza, to donate and invest money to help them out of their utter poverty? If an Israeli prime minister did such a thing and at the same time called for a meeting with his elected Palestinian counterpart, it would create far more effective and positive pressure than any cannon fire.

If the Palestinians only saw for the first time in their lives that Israel also had their well-being in mind, which is not necessarily bad for Israel, they would have a lot more to lose and they would expel the Qassam launchers themselves. Only the Palestinians can do that, and sowing the seeds of hope is the only way to do so. And if, in the current situation, the artillery fire were to end, and they were to stop the Qassams, would Israel ease the siege, enable freedom of movement from Gaza to the West Bank, allow Palestinians to work in Israel, agree to the construction of a seaport and airport in besieged Gaza? Israel’s declarations prove that the answer to all these questions is an unequivocal no. Its current policy and the policies we have seen it adopt lead only to intensification of the violence on the part of the Palestinians.

No Qassam justifies the killing and terror that the shells sow in Gaza. Cannons are meant for war against an army. Using them against a helpless civilian population is supposed to be beyond the realm of the legitimate, without any ifs or buts about it. A state does not shell towns. Period. Just like in the war against crime that is also deadly and endangers state security, no end justifies all the means. Would it ever occur to the Israeli police to evacuate an entire neighborhood from which some murderers came? Would anyone decide to shell such a neighborhood, even if it would mean minimizing the crime coming out of it?

Those who really want to end the Qassam launches from Gaza, should turn Israeli policy upside down. To show restraint in the face of the Qassams, to lift the siege, to immediately meet with the elected Palestinian leadership and call on the world to stop withholding the funds from the Palestinian Authority. Only a free and secure and thriving Gaza will stop launching Qassams. Have we ever tried that?

Iran – Bombs that would backfire

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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/opinion/16clarke.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

April 16, 2006
Op-Ed Contributors
Bombs That Would Backfire

By RICHARD CLARKE and STEVEN SIMON
WHITE HOUSE spokesmen have played down press reports that the Pentagon has accelerated planning to bomb Iran. We would like to believe that the administration is not intent on starting another war, because a conflict with Iran could be even more damaging to our interests than the current struggle in Iraq has been. A brief look at history shows why.

Reports by the journalist Seymour Hersh and others suggest that the United States is contemplating bombing a dozen or more nuclear sites, many of them buried, around Iran. In the event, scores of air bases, radar installations and land missiles would also be hit to suppress air defenses. Navy bases and coastal missile sites would be struck to prevent Iranian retaliation against the American fleet and Persian Gulf shipping. Iran’s long-range missile installations could also be targets of the initial American air campaign.

These contingencies seem familiar to us because we faced a similar situation as National Security Council staff members in the mid-1990’s. American frustrations with Iran were growing, and in early 1996 the House speaker, Newt Gingrich, publicly called for the overthrow of the Iranian government. He and the C.I.A. put together an $18 million package to undertake it.

The Iranian legislature responded with a $20 million initiative for its intelligence organizations to counter American influence in the region. Iranian agents began casing American embassies and other targets around the world. In June 1996, the Qods Force, the covert-action arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, arranged the bombing of an apartment building used by our Air Force in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Americans.

At that point, the Clinton administration and the Pentagon considered a bombing campaign. But after long debate, the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favorably for the United States.

While the full scope of what America did do remains classified, published reports suggest that the United States responded with a chilling threat to the Tehran government and conducted a global operation that immobilized Iran’s intelligence service. Iranian terrorism against the United States ceased.

In essence, both sides looked down the road of conflict and chose to avoid further hostilities. And then the election of the reformist Mohammad Khatami as president of Iran in 1997 gave Washington and Tehran the cover they needed to walk back from the precipice.

Now, as in the mid-90’s, any United States bombing campaign would simply begin a multi-move, escalatory process. Iran could respond three ways. First, it could attack Persian Gulf oil facilities and tankers — as it did in the mid-1980’s — which could cause oil prices to spike above $80 dollars a barrel.

Second and more likely, Iran could use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States. Iran has forces at its command that are far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field. The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah has a global reach, and has served in the past as an instrument of Iran. We might hope that Hezbollah, now a political party, would decide that it has too much to lose by joining a war against the United States. But this would be a dangerous bet.

Third, Iran is in a position to make our situation in Iraq far more difficult than it already is. The Badr Brigade and other Shiite militias in Iraq could launch a more deadly campaign against British and American troops. There is every reason to believe that Iran has such a retaliatory shock wave planned and ready.

No matter how Iran responded, the question that would face American planners would be, “What’s our next move?” How do we achieve so-called escalation dominance, the condition in which the other side fears responding because they know that the next round of American attacks would be too lethal for the regime to survive?

Bloodied by Iranian retaliation, President Bush would most likely authorize wider and more intensive bombing. Non-military Iranian government targets would probably be struck in a vain hope that the Iranian people would seize the opportunity to overthrow the government. More likely, the American war against Iran would guarantee the regime decades more of control.

So how would bombing Iran serve American interests? In over a decade of looking at the question, no one has ever been able to provide a persuasive answer. The president assures us he will seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis. And there is a role for threats of force to back up diplomacy and help concentrate the minds of our allies. But the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling.

The parallels to the run-up to to war with Iraq are all too striking: remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was “no war plan on my desk” despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion. Congress did not ask the hard questions then. It must not permit the administration to launch another war whose outcome cannot be known, or worse, known all too well.

Richard Clarke and Steven Simon were, respectively, national coordinator for security and counterterrorism and senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

Traprock Peace Action Report – April, 2006

Traprock Homepage

This spring we honor what brings hope.
April News in a Neighbors Network to End War

CONTENTS:

1. Hear Peter Johnson reflecting on MLK’s mentoring and humor
2. Haiti – Circle teachers here, pot-luck 5:30 Sunday Apr. 16
3. Cindy Sheehan invites your signature, “Don’t attack Iran!”
4. TENT STATE April 17-21, U-Mass Amherst!!!
5. TAX Day Protest & Ed-Action, Springfield, Tues, Apr. 18
6. Rebels with a Cause, Doc. Film on SDS, Thurs, Apr. 20
7. Simba – Give Earth a Dance , Dummerston, VT Fri.
8. Juanita Nelson -Courage of Conscience Award, Sat, April 22
9. Amherst Earth Day Celebration honors Deb Katz, Sun, Apr 23
10. Arise Dinner honors Joanne Comerford!
11. 20th Anniversary of Chernobyl Day, Wed, Apr 26
12. Information session on War Tax Resistance, April 30, 1-3PM.
13. Nominate a Franklin Co. HS student for Peace Maker’s Prize

More details, Photos, audio at >>> http://www.traprockpeace.org

If you come to visit this evening, take some forsythia in full bloom.
We could bring some for a tent at TENT STATE.
Hope to see you soon.

******************APRIL***********************

1. April 4 was the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King,
Jr. Hear on the help he was given, MLK’s sense of humor, and more during
the March to Redeem the Soul of America — recorded this April 4 in
Waxahatchie, TX. See ___ at http://www.traprockpeace.org

*********
2. Meet HAITI’s Innovative Educators,
Abner Sauveur & Steve Werlin today/tonight, Sunday.

Abner Sauveur is the principal of the Matenwa Community Learning Center in
Haiti, an oasis of non-violent, child-centered education in rural Haiti.
Steve Werlin, who works with Haitian teachers, brings Abner to western
Massachusetts this April 15 & 16. Both are master teachers in action. Meet
these dedicated, innovative, educators; discuss their splendid educational
model and the realities of life in Haiti. On Saturday at 10 am they will
be at the Pathways Co-housing common house on Florence Road. On Sunday at
5:30 they will be at Traprock Peace Center on Woolman Hill in Deerfield, 1/2
mile south of Greenfield. You don’t have to travel to Haiti to know it’s
warmth.
Contact: Sally Weiss, 584-9887

**********
3. Cindy Sheehan invites your signature opposing attacking Iran.
We honored that Cindy invited us to host her petition.

http://www.traprockpeace.org

**********
4. TENT STATE, U-MASS Amherst
Description: TENT STATE, U-MASS Amherst
April 17 – 21
UMass Amherst Student Union Lawn

Hear Cindy Sheehan at TENT STATE on Tuesday, 7PM at U-Mass.

A coalition of students and workers at UMass are organizing a week-long
event called Tent State University (TSU). This event is both a protest of
rising student fees, un-funded union contracts and a lack of strong public
support for higher education AND a positive enactment of our vision for what
a University can and should be.

Never has the time been so ripe for an event like Tent State. Massachusetts
ranks 47th in the nation on spending per capita for higher education;
workers face tough challenges trying to get ahead with the high cost of
education; and the diversity of UMass’s flagship campus is slowly slipping
away.

TSU is a call for equal access to education and an attempt to create an
example of what a university should be: a democratically controlled public
space that brings together diverse groups to exchange ideas, art, and
culture. Right ON. Traprock Peace Center is pleased to support this
initiative. Come help. – See you there!

**********

5. Tax Day Protest and Educational Action – Springfield
Tues, Apr. 18 (Mon. is the Patriots Day holiday in MA.)

Arise members will be fliering the public from 5 pm to 9 pm
on Tax Day at the Main Springfield Post Office, 1883 Main Street, in
Springfield, Massachusetts. We will be informing people where there tax
dollar goes. It should go to serve Springfield instead of being squandered
in the black hole of imperialist misadventures. Please join us. Bring
fliers, protest signs, and your friends. Of course, community education
events are nonviolent as always.
Peace & Solidarity,
Michael Lindberg

**********
6. Rebels with a Cause, Doc. Film on SDS, Thurs, Apr. 20
Rebel With a Cause, film, Amherst College
Description: Helen Garvy ‘s film on Students for a Democratic Society will
be shown and discussed at Amherst College at the Merrill Science Center,
lecture room #4, on Thursday, April 20.

Carl Ogleesby, President of SDS from 1965-1966 will comment and lead a
discussion of the film. Tom Fels, another former member of SDS member and
Amherst College graduate, will also participate.
For information call Dade Singapuri, 413 253-5558.

**********
7. GIVE EARTH A DANCE – Dummerston, Vermont
Friday, April 21st at 8pm,

The funk, reggae, latin band “Simba” will be hosting a dance to
celebrate “Earth Day” and benefit the area anti-nuke
groups – New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution;
Traprock Peace Center; Citizen’s Awarenes Network; and
Nuclear Free Vermont. The dance will be held at the
Evening Star Grange in Dummerston, Vermont.

With blazing horns and scorching rhythm, the
Simba band for this event will include Charlie
Schneewies, trumpet; Dan Dewalt, keyboards,
trombone,and steel drums; Bob Stabach, sax and flute;
Derrik Jordan, guitar, percussion, and vocals, John
Kravitz, drums and vocals; Vim Auer, Bass.

Let’s all get together and boogie for the earth
and benefit the anti-nuke groups working to minimize
the harmful effects of our local nuclear reactor. For more
info call 802 387 4714.

**********
8. Courage of Conscience – Peace Abbey
3:30pm-7:30pm Saturday, April 22, 2006

Juanita Nelson and Wally Nelson will be honored with the “Courage of
Conscience Award.” Join us at the Peace Abbey in Sherborne, MA where we
will install some of Wally Nelson and Chuck Matthai’s ashes on C.O. Hill
with a service of prayers, reminiscences and song. Followed by veggie
potluck and song circle. Nevewr been to the Peace Abbey? Please invite your
neighbors to carpool for this.

**********
9. Amherst Earth Day Celebration
Sunday, April 23, 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Amherst Earth Day Celebration — Annual event featuring environmental
displays, live music, speakers, and activities for kids. Interfaith Prayer
Circle and Sacred Circle Dance with Rowan at 11 a.m., Parade at 1:30 p.m.
Performers include Michael Baines, Annie Hassett, Molly Scott, Matt
Nozzolio, The Faculty, Brian Arel, The Secret, Adam Sweeney, Savoy Shuffle,
Soulroot, and Running with Karma. Amherst Town Common. The third annual
Valley Eco Award For Distinguished Service To Our Environment will be
presented to the Citizens Awareness Network and its founders Deb Katz and
the late Fred Katz. Information: 413 549-5503.

**********

10. Honoring Joanne Comerford!
Arise 3rd Annual Recognition Dinner,
Tuesday, April 25

Arise for Social Justice Presents
their 3rd Annual Recognition Dinner
honoring Joanne Comerford of Western Mass
American Friends Service Committee.
Come Help Celebrate our friend and ally
at Old First Church, Court Square, Springfield.
Doors open at 5:30 pm., dinner at 6:00 pm will be
a spaghetti feast: vegetarian and meat, salads galore,
breads and desserts beyond compare, with entertainment and tributes.

Tickets: $10 for one; $15 for two
Call Arise, 734-4948 with questions or to reserve an entire table

*******
11. 20th Anniversary of Chernobyl Day, Wed, Apr 26
Come to Entergy Headquarters for a 24-hour, FREE-Speech Demo, noon to noon.

*******

12. Information session on War Tax Resistance, April 30, 1-3PM.
At our co-op, Green Field’s Market, Main Street, Greenfield, MA

Come meet old-timers and young whipper snappers resisting the hell of war
with a wide range of actions, from letter-writing to years of refusal to pay
for war.

*******
13. Nominate a Franklin Co. HS student for a Peace Maker’s Prize?

The Interfaith Council of Franklin County and Traprock Peace Center
co-sponsor the sixth Annual Peace Maker’s Awards. There are so many ways to
make peace! Who might you nominate? In April, please mail a *one-page letter
describing the problem solving, conflict resolution, peace and justice work
or other worthy initiatives of a Franklin County high school student to
Traprock Peace Center, 103a Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

All nominees will be recognized! Five $100-awards and other prizes will be
awarded on May 7. You are invited to come and be inspired, at Greenfield
High School, Sunday May 7 ay 7 pm.

Students attending high school, while living in Ashfield, Bernardston,
Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Heath,
Lake Pleasant, Leverett, Millers Falls, Monroe Bridge, Montague, New Salem,
Northfield, Orange, Plainfield, Rowe, Shelburne, Shutesbury, So. Deerfield,
Sunderland, Turners Falls. Warwick, Wendell, and Whately are eligible.

*******
… 13 Lucky numbers, take your pick.
This all happens because we pitch in and make it so.
If we pay for nuclear war we might get it.
If we pay as much for peace, what might happen?

Truth matters – Labors matter – Gifts matter

in a Neighbors’ Network to End War

Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413 773-7427

Allegations US waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq

Traprock Homepage

original article

Allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse

April 16, 2006

Auditors have found that the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell, failed to keep track of the Iraqi money it was doling out to contractors.

Some examples, according to a congressional report:

Only $498 million of the approximately $1.5 billion in cash given to Iraqi banks for government operating expenses can be accounted for.

Auditors believed Halliburton overcharged $218 million on a contract to import fuel and repair oil fields, for which the US company was paid $1.6 billion in Iraqi oil proceeds.
One US official was given a week to spend $6.75 million in cash to beat the CPA’s handover of the country to the interim Iraqi government in June 2004, when the money would revert to Iraqi control.

CPA officials gave more than $8 billion in cash to Iraqi ministries that had no internal controls to handle such an influx. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found that significant amounts appeared to be paid to ”ghost employees.”