Urgent Appeals re: Vernon, VT Reactor

Urgent Appeals re Vernon Reactor
November, 2005

1. Direct Action: Urgent Appeals re the Vernon Reactor
2. WXOJ airs EMERGENCY EVACUATION issue Monday, 6pm
3. Why we need real-time radiation monitors: in all area schools, healthcare
facilities, & for the car-less, in a 50-mile radius.
4. What You can do
5. CALLS are urgently needed

1. Direct Action: Urgent Appeals re the Vernon Reactor

Perhaps you read the news this weekend that the NRC staff has given
preliminary approval to Entergy, moving along the process towards
Possible approval of an uprate entailing a 20% increase in electrical
output, increased operating temperatures, increased water and steam
pressures, intensified mechanical stresses and increased radioactive
emissions.

On Mon 11/7, at 10am five women from Massachusetts will make urgent appeals
to Entergy Nuclear for a thorough safety assessment of the Vernon reactor,
wider evacuation planning, and funding for real time radiation monitoring in
all schools and medical facilities a 50-mile radius. Entergy spokesman Rob
Williams says officials will not meet with us. We will go to the Entergy
offices and await their willingness to meet with us. Demonstrations of
support are welcome. There are some parking restrictions, so you may want to
carpool.

We’ll be at Entergy offices in Brattleboro, 223 Old Ferry Road.
From the valley take 91 North to Exit 3.
Go around the circle to 5North.
Proceed to first light. Turn Right onto Old Ferry Rd.
Pass food store, UPS, car dealer, to the ENTERGY Nuclear office.

2. WXOJ airs EMERGENCY EVACUATION ISSUE Monday, 6pm

103.3 FM Northampton, & at
http://www.traprockpeace.org/audio/fniplenary29oct05aimedia.mp3
51:22 minutes: 23.6 mb; 64 kbps mono

At the New England Coalition Nuclear Institute, held at the School for
International Training on Oct. 29, Ed Russell taped an important commentary
on initiatives neighbors are taking near the Pilgrim reactor in Plymouth, to
address emergency evacuation issues. (Pilgrim is also owned by Entergy
Nuclear.)

Mary Eliazbeth Lampert of Duxsbury ( http://www.pilgrimwatch.org )
explained that with help from public grants, highways have been marked to
indicate best evacuation routes. Schools and other public buildings were
assessed for their potential as radiation shelters. Wooden buildings provide
only 20% dose reduction. Masonry buildings can provide 80% shielding.
Basements and interior spaces provide the best protection. In a radiological
emergency windows provide little protection. Lampert questions the ability
of school administrators and evacuation planners to assess in advance
whether putting kids on buses and having them sit in a traffic jam will be
better than locking down a building to reduce inhalation and exposures.

Many schools are welcome centers. In the event of an emergency during school
hours, administrators must choose between protecting their students by
locking down the building to prevent radiation contamination, or opening the
doors to admit evacuees and contamination. Therefore to be prepared, new,
fully-equipped radiological evacuation centers at a great distance from each
of the nation’s reactors must be designated, staff must be designated, and
centers must be stocked with some provisions in advance.

Pilgrim area neighbors are pressing for distribution of potassium iodine
(PI) tablets to the entire, local population. We believe that since
radiation health effects are carried on the wind with no consideration for
lines on any map, distribution of PI should be nationwide, to protect
against just one of the quickest acting contaminants.

Thanks to Ed Russell of http://activeingredients.org this commentary airs at
6 pm Monday on WXOJ, 103.3 FM Northampton, and thanks to Charlie Jenks the
commentary will be posted at http://www.traprockpeace.org
Thank you NEC staff and volunteers! http://www.necnp.org
More issues at http://www.nukebusters.org

3. Why we need real-time radiation monitors:
in all area schools, healthcare facilities, for the car-less, in a 50 mile
radius — Appeal sent through Mr.Rob Williams, spokesperson, 802, 258-4181,
rwill23@entergy.com (and soon to Mr. Larry Smith, Community relations, 802
258-4118)

From Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
November 4, 2005

To Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee
223 Old Ferry Road
Brattleboro, VT 05302

Dear Sirs,

I write to request a meeting to discuss concerns about the health
effects of the proposed uprate at the Vernon reactor. In a phone
conversation today was glad to hear your spokesperson, Mr. Williams express
concern for safety during a demonstration on Monday morning, but I suspect
that your concern for traffic safety is a bit misplaced. I don’t expect a
large group to demonstrate on a Monday morning.

I ask for a meeting to discuss with you a pressing need for radiation
monitoring equipment for all schools, and medical facilities in a 50-mile
radius of the Vernon reactor, and for all residents without cars. Mr.
Williams assures us that the industry is thoroughly regulated, but after the
fact, no NRC fines or closure of facilities will adequately address
radiation exposures during an accident. School administrators need accurate
and exact radiation monitoring on site, in order to decide whether to impose
a lock down with closure of entrances and windows at schools, and removal of
children from classrooms with windows to interior hallways and more
protected areas such as basements; or to work instead to achieve evacuation
on roads that may be veritable parking lots, when everyone who has a car
tries to leave an area at the same time. Because wind directions vary
greatly in our hills and valleys, on site monitoring at your perimeter will
be of quite limited value.

In addition we can’t trust government sources of information. For
example our understanding of the 3-day delay in evacuating women and
children after the accident at Three Mile Island; the federal government’s
long-standing traditions of brutality and misinformation during atomic
testing; and other, more recent non-disclosures of information regarding
contamination at reactors cause us to insist that we need accurate and local
access to radiation monitoring immediately.

Please meet with me and with my neighbors who share these concerns on
Monday morning. Because I fully expect that all the employees at the Vernon
reactor and Entergy Nuclear hold the welfare of our communities and our
nation in high regard, I ask that you reconsider your decision to meet with
no one on Monday morning. I am reachable by voice mail message, and will
look forward to hearing from you by phone, or in person on Monday when I
hope to visit your offices. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

Sincerely,

Sunny Miller, Executive Director, 413-773-7427
(cc’d to responsible & concerned neighbors)
————————————————
PS Underlying other news of the day this question remains:
What wouldn’t you do to prevent a melt-down and an evacuation?
Truth matters – Labors matter – Gifts matter
in a Neighbors’ Network to End War

For more information you can also contact

Sally Shaw, Gill acer8sac@crocker.com 413 863-4992
Nina Keller, Millers Falls ninakeller@crocker.com

4. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO URGE, INSIST, DEMAND
Of ALL LEGISLATORS, STATE AND FEDERAL

Legislators must

? immediately legislate for Research & Development to implement renewable,
clean replacement power sources
? initiate legislation to change the evacuation plans from the meager 10
mile radius to a 50-mile minimum radius
? advocate for Entergy to provide real-time radiation monitors for all
schools and healthcare facilities in a 50-mile radius of the Vernon reactor
? support health studies that analyze the increase in cancers, thyroid
disorders and immune deficiencies
? support additional studies which will test soil, water, fish and milk for
radiation
? initiate studies of radiation impacts on fish reproduction in the CT River
? immediately intervene to object to the reactor restarting with the hotter
fuel rods. The aged nuclear facility is nearing its 40-year license
termination and must not be allowed to uprate or re-license without an
in-depth, independent safety assessment as provided at Maine Yankee.

Let legislators know that

? we are a majority of constituents who want them to slow down the uprate
process until our concerns are answered
? the nuclear licensing and oversight process harms democracy: Citizens
feel disenfranchised from their rightful role in setting standards of health
and safety for industry to follow. Regarding re-licensing and uprate issues,
we feel a deep sense of frustration, loss of hope and loss of control over
our safety, property and lives.
? we are outraged that mothers & grandmothers must risk arrest in order to
bring their concerns to the industry that potentially threatens their
family’s right to health and safety.
? we demand an end to further production of highly radioactive waste until
a safe isolation system can be found that will endure for hundreds of
thousands of years.

VT. House: 802 828-2228 Senate: 802 828-2241
MA. House: 617 722-2000 Senate: 617 722-1455
NH. House: 202 225-3121 Senate: 202 224-3121
U.S. House: 202 225-3121 Senate: 202 224-3121
_________________________________________________
It is crucial that we ask local public officials to speak up about
readiness to cope with an evacuation emergency:
We can ask Healthcare Providers, Emergency Responders,
School Administrators & Nurses, Town Hall & Boards of Health.
_________________________________________________
What is your destination if there is a fire in the spent fuel pool? Will our
phones work if we ALL have urgent questions during an emergency? Who do you
know who doesn’t drive? What if you’re out of the area when your pre-teen
needs to evacuate from their soccer game in Northfield, Deerfield,
Northampton, Turners Falls? What if buses are needed in Bernardston, but
preoccupied with taking kids home on their usual routes?

5. CALLS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED

Perhaps you can call local officials to ask how one can ascertain current
Radiation levels. My local hospital emergency room has a radiation monitor.
The hard working supervisor on the night shifts invites me to call Monday
through Friday to ask Mr. Fred Callahan my questions about how many first
responders or members of the public can be decontaminated per hour. Many
calls to your federal and state legislators expressing concerns
are URGENTLY NEEDED!

Many State Legislative Representatives have written to the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission expressing concerns and reservations about the
proposal to increase risks at the Vernon reactor. They need to hear from
constituents to affirm that preventing further risks and harm are a priority
for a majority of their electorate.

Have you thanked them, or urged them to take a strong position? We require a
thorough independent safety assessment like the thorough analysis done at
Maine Yankee. We require thorough testing and inspection of components,
rather than a cursory glance at systems and abstract analysis on paper.

Summary contact info including STATE REPS:

VT. House: 802 828-2228 Senate: 802 828-2241
MA. House: 617 722-2000 Senate: 617 722-1455
NH. House: 202 225-3121 Senate: 202 224-3121
U.S. House: 202 225-3121 Senate: 202 224-3121

Some detailed contact info:

MASSACHUSETTS

Senator Edw. Kennedy… 202 224- 4543
Sen. John Kerry… 202 224- 2742

Rep. John Olver… 202 225- 5335
Rep. Richard E. Neal… 202 225- 5601
Rep. James McGovern 202 225-6101
Rep. Barney Frank 202 225- 5931
Rep. Martin Meehan 202 225-3411
John Tierney 202 225-8020
Rep. Ed Markey 202 225-2836
Rep Michael Capuano 202 225-5111
Rep. Stephen Lynch 202 225-8273
Rep. William Delahunt 202 225-3111

VERMONT

Senator Patrick J. Leahy 202-224-4242
Fax 202-224-3479 senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

Senator James M. Jeffords 202-224-5141
Fax 202-228-0776 http://jeffords.senate.gov/contact.html

Representative Bernard Sanders 202-225-4115 202-225-6790
http://www.house.gov/formbernie/forms/contact.html

New Hampshire

Senator Judd Gregg 202-224-3324
Fax 202-224-4952 http://gregg.senate.gov/sitepages/contact.cfm

Senator John Sununu 202-224-2841
Fax 202-228-4131 mailbox@sununu.senate.gov

Representative Jeb Bradley 202-225-5456
Fax 202-225-5822 http://www.house.gov/bradley/contact.html

Representative Charles F. Bass, II 202-225-5206
Fax 202-225-2946 cbass@mail.house.gov

We ask you to pick up the phone to ask your questions, locally and
nationally, of the media, of administrators, of reps, on behalf of our
families, our grandchildren, the birds & the bees, … we work for the
beloved community, and to preserve these lands, these communities we love.

Best regards,

Sunny Miller, Executive Director
413-773-7427
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
————————————–

The nuclear age is at our doorstep, knocking.
Truth matters – Gifts matter – help fund your

Neighbors’ Network to End War

Open Letter to Congressman John Olver

Attn: Kristin Wood
Economic Development Specialist for
Congressman John Olver
Kristin.Wood@mail.house.gov

Re: Constituent Concerns About Entergy Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station
Issues: Public Safety, Terrorism Susceptibility, Reliability, Inadequate Engineering Analysis

Dear Congressman Olver,

We need high-level leadership such as yours to represent the concerns and interests of our region with regard to threat to public safety and to the local economy represented by the power uprate of Entergy Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station.

This is a real threat to the region, not simply a typical political concern. To make a difference is a challenge, but to have a chance of making a difference, we need your involvement.

As an energy engineer who has personally reviewed the limited inspection report provided on the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Reactor and as a citizen living in the 10 mile evacuation zone of the reactor, I and my family are very concerned about the changes that are proposed at the reactor.

There are a host of concerns with the proposed uprate. It is our understanding that:

• A 20% power increase, even accomplished in two steps, is an extreme uprate. Most uprates have been accomplished in smaller steps and been for a smaller increase.
• An increase in power output requires more steam/water to be passed through the system at a faster rate; this subjects all components to greatly increased stresses and vibrations. These effects can lead to making parts break off or to breaking of pipes which can cause major malfunctions in the rest of the power station.
• Operation under uprate shortens time available for operator response and increases the likelihood of a malfunction due to operator error.
• The limited inspection review provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was inadequate. Information and analyses provided by Entergy were incomplete and inadequate. Vermont state legislator Steve Darrow said that Entergy gave evasive answers to questions asked. He testified at Vermont Public Service Board hearing that Entergy is gaming the process.
• The recent fueling of the nuclear reactor with more highly enriched uranium in advance of completion of the uprate approval process and prior to a ruling by the Vermont Public Service Board on the acceptability of the inspection report is unacceptable.
• Instead of providing a comprehensive analysis of the ability of components to handle the increased stresses, the NRC is proposing to allow Entergy to stress test components during the process of ramping up the power level. We hold that such an experimental approach to assessing the operation represents an irresponsible approach and an unacceptable risk.
• David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that such experiments belong in a laboratory, not in communities.
• We are aware that similar uprates at other reactors of this type have caused costly shutdowns due to potentially dangerous steam dryer cracking and valve jamming. Cracks are known to exist in VY’s steam dryers, which are identical to the Quad Cities unit that failed in Illinois.
• In addition, the Entergy request to run the ENVY reactor at containment overpressure is a potentially dangerous and operationally confusing condition that puts the public at risk.
• It may be seen that in addition to safety concerns, the power uprate will reduce the reliability of existing power production at the reactor.
• We are concerned to read in the March 22, 2005 Federal Register that Entergy is no longer reequired to report annual occupational radiation exposure for its workers. This suggests relaxation of safety standards for public and workers alike at a time when risks of harm are heightened by the uprate..

We call on Congressman Olver:

• To call on the NRC to require a comprehensive Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) using the same methodology and scope as that applied to Maine Yankee Reactor. I call on the Congressman to enlist the Vermont congressional delegation (Jeffords, Sanders, Leahy) to stop the uprate until such a study is completed and to assert the inadequacy of the inspection report that the NRC provided.
• To request the GAO (General Accounting Office) to investigate the adequacy of the NRC’s streamlined inspection which they substituted for a safety assessment. We question whether the NRC in, using the streamlined inspection process in this case, is meeting its responsibility to protect the public from unnecessary radiation exposure. The Independent Safety Assessment process as used at the Maine Yankee reactor uncovered many deficiencies that the NRC’s current process would never address or reveal. We feel our children deserve the same protections as Maine’s children.
• We call on the Congressman to work with the Vermont delegation to make the Entergy parent company financially responsible for the on-site storage nuclear waste expenses for as long as the waste remains on the site.

We further call on Congressman Olver to write to the Vermont Public Service Board and deliver the following message:

1. We call on the Vermont Public Service Board to reject the NRC’s inspection report as inadequate to meet the VPSB’s requirement for an independent engineering assessment.

2. We urge the Vermont Public Service Board to rescind its conditional approval of the power increase until an adequate report is provided and its results are evaluated and subjected to public scrutiny.

3. If added on-site storage is to be allowed at all, we make a call on the Vermont Public Service Board to require hardened on-site storage (using concrete and steel structures around each waste module, enclosing them in protective mounds, and with waste modules spread further apart). If this storage system is inadequately designed and constructed, then future generations may end up bearing the economic and societal burden associated with protecting the site and preventing any malfunction while reaping none of the benefits.

4. We call on the PSB to consider health concerns and related costs to the state, local agriculture and business economies which would be adversely affected by an accident or technical problem leading to added releases of radiation to the area. We also perceive the power uprate as reducing the reliability of existing power production at the reactor.

5. We call on the Vermont Public Service Board to make the Entergy parent company financially responsible for the on-site storage nuclear waste expenses for as long as the waste remains on the site.

The address for the Vermont Public Service Board is:

Vermont Public Service Board
Chittenden Bank Building
112 State Street
Drawer 20
Montpelier, VT 05620-2701
clerk@psb.state.vt.us

Please write to the Vermont Public Service Board to emphasize our continued concerns about the Entergy-VT Yankee nuclear power reactor. As citizens living within the 10-mile evacuation zone, we write to express our concerns.

Iraq vet arrested at protest of military recruiters – “We won’t let students be vulnerable”

Iraq vet arrested at protest of military recruiters
“We won’t let students be vulnerable”

By Nicole Colson | November 4, 2005 | Page 12 – Socialist Worker Online

“I CAME to Kent State because I figured that Kent is the total opposite of what the military is like.” But Kent State University student, former Marine and antiwar activist Dave Airhart was in for a shock when his involvement in a protest against military recruiters on campus last month left him with fines and facing possible disciplinary action at school.

On October 19, Airhart, a member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee (KSAWC), took part in a protest against the recruiters, who had set up a rock-climbing wall on campus to help entice students to talk to them. The recruiters weren’t prepared when Airhart–who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay before leaving the military in 2004–scaled the wall and hung a banner reading “Kent, Ohio for Peace.”

“They sent an Army recruiter up to get me, so I climbed down the back of the wall and I also had to take off my harness to do that,” explained Airhart. “Those two things are what they said ‘endangered me.’ They also said that I endangered others, because they claim that I could have made the wall fall over.”

When police showed up 10 minutes later, Airhart was briefly detained, and then given a $105 ticket for disorderly conduct. “I’m also in trouble with the university,” he explained. “I might get expelled or suspended for a couple of semesters.”

But while Airhart faces a November 16 disciplinary hearing, Kent State administrators stayed silent about the fact that one of the recruiters assaulted him–grabbing his shirt and trying to yank him off the wall as he was climbing down. Additionally, says Airhart, Kent’s own anti-discrimination policy prohibits the military from setting foot onto campus.

“I guess I didn’t realize how much Kent State values the military recruiters,” said Airhart. “It’s sad because they’re putting an entire campus in danger, and they’re allowing Kent State to be used as a supplier of bodies to be sent over to Iraq.”

Airhart knows firsthand what students who are recruited may face in the military. Against the war from the beginning, he explained that during his time in Iraq, “not all, but most of the casualties I saw were civilian casualties. Children, women, elderly. Mostly civilians… Also, I’d say 90 percent of the casualties inflicted on my unit were from friendly fire–mostly close air support, bombing raids that would end up killing more of us and more civilians than it would kill insurgents.”

When he served in Guantánamo, Airhart said that part of his job included transporting prisoners from the airport to the prison camp. “There was a school bus that we had taken the seats out of,” he said. “We’d put them on the school bus, and drive them back to Camp X-Ray…

“We were encouraged by our officers to be extremely brutal and violent with [the prisoners]. Even if they made the slightest movement, like maybe they moved their finger or took too deep of a breath, we were told to kick them in different sensitive areas, like their ribs. A lot of times they were just beaten for entertainment purposes.”

Now, Airhart is one of a growing chorus of voices on campuses across the country speaking out to say that not one more person should be sent to kill and be killed for oil and empire.

Prominent activists, including Howard Zinn and war resisters Pablo Paredes and Camilo Mejía have risen to Airhart’s defense. “Surely, the memory of that shameful episode at Kent State in 1970 would be enough to make the university administration sensitive to unjust wars and the right of protest,” Zinn wrote in a recent letter to Kent State President Carol Cartwright. “A university should not be subservient to government, or the military, especially where an immoral war is taking the lives of so many people here and abroad. And a university should protect its students, not punish them, for engaging in that honored American tradition of protest against injustice.”

As Paredes said in a statement, “Dave Airhart did not climb a playful climbing wall, he climbed an unwelcome mountain of military exploitation of our youth, and upon conquering it, rightfully and courageously reclaimed his campus, placing his flag of dissent atop a symbol of deceit.”

Airhart says that the administration is mistaken if it thinks it can silence him–or other antiwar voices on campus. “If Kent thinks that KSAWC are going to back off–if they’re going to try and make me an example–they’re wrong,” said Airhart. “We’re trying to make Kent a better place. We’re trying to make the students safer by not allowing them to be vulnerable to be recruited and sent over to Iraq.”

Defend Dave Airhart–call Kent State University President Carol Cartwright at 330-672-2210 or e-mail Carol.cartwright@kent.edu.

Read statements in support of Dave on the Web at www.traprockpeace.org/kent_state_students/

Republished with permission from Socialist Worker
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/564/564_12_Kent.shtml

###

The latest issue of Socialist Worker is available at SW Online:
http://www.socialistworker.org

To see a full list of stories from this issue, go to:
http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

DER SPIEGEL on: “The Threat from Tehran”

Traprock homepage

“But Iran’s nuclear program may have already taken a decisive step in the direction of nuclear weapons in recent weeks. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, the president has placed himself at the head of a new “Control Center for Nuclear Issues,” which is managed by his friends, the Revolutionary Guards. This enables Ahmadinejad to direct all nuclear developments himself. With intelligence official Farhad Rahbar, who manages the government’s budget, as its deputy director, the organization has unlimited financial resources.

The organization’s objective, according to an intelligence document, is to “finally move things along.”‘

http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,382457-2,00.html

Bells for 100,000, 100,000 Signatures! Protest at Copley, Saturday: Nukes Conference, DC Rally, Boston Rally, In Northampton: Nonviolent Peaceforces – How? + Lui Collins, Deerfield

“NO one should die for a lie!”
Cindy Sheehan insists, in front of the White House.
Please raise your voice with hers.

IN THIS ISSUE
—————
1. Bells for 100,000 dead in Iraq, Greenfld, Noon, Friday
2. 100,000 Signatures? MA
Download any hour, any night,
http://www.homefromiraqnow.org
3. Protest Fund-raiser at Copley Plaza Friday, Boston, 5pm
4. Ibdaa, Palestinian dancers at U-Mass Bowker, 7:30

All on Saturday, Oct. 29:
A crucial Nukes Conference, Brattleboro, 8-5
Rally, Lafayette Park, Washington, DC, 2pm
March and Rally, Boston Common, 11am
Nonviolent Peaceforces – How? 10-5, Northampton
Witness for Peace New England, Lui Collins, Deerfld
———————————————————

1. BELLS ringing 100,000 times across the country.

Friday we continue a nation-wide response to a call by Kathy Kelly of the
newly formed group, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and the British group,
Justice not Vengeance. All week, we have rung bells throughout the Valley
(Springfield, Amherst, Holyoke, Northampton) to mourn the 100,000 dead in
Iraq. Yet few in the US have heard these numbers.

If you would like to join a small procession of solemn neighbors,
please meet in front of Green Field’s Market by noon Friday. Wear black if
you like. At noon we will walk to All Souls Church 399 Mail Street where Jon
Rehmus is ringing 12-12:10, and then to St. James Episcopal Church, on
Federal Street where Bill Knipe is ringing approximately 12:10-12:20. We
proceed to the ‘Swords into Ploughshares” sculpture at the Veterans Memorial
on Main Street to lay flowers, where you may share thoughts or brief
readings. Second Congregational Church will ring bells from 12:30-12:40.

Wherever you are, these are times to stand and speak, to help end
the spiral of violence. The Lancet research report and commentary published
October 29, 2004, which estimated the numbers dead in Iraq, is at:
http://www.thelancet.com

Further resources for a weekend vigil at:
http://iraqmortality.org

2. SIGN IT ?? — SEND IT !!
100,000 SIGNATURES NEEDED to BRING THE MA. GUARD HOME –

MA is the first state to be working on a statewide ballot initiative to
bring the Guard home! Please print out copies of the petition, sign it and
send it in. If you pass copies on to friends and collect signatures, yee-ha!
Only three weeks to go! Organizers in Brookline ask that we mail in
signatures WEEKLY, so that we can get some idea of where we’re at,
statewide. The address is right on the front of the petition. Other simple
steps:
1. Sign your name LEGIBLY, or it won’t count.
2. Write your street address (and apt.#), not PO box.
3. Each town needs it’s own page.
4. Front and back must appear on the same page to be valid.
5. The printed copy must be perfectly clear.
6. No other notes or extraneous marks on the page.

On the street, now pressure–many people are eager to sign, others might
sign the petition and still have until next November to decide how they’ll
vote. Thanks Steve and the Montague Reporter for a letter on this! The
petition can be downloaded from http://www.homefromiraqnow.org

3. Demonstration in Boston, Friday, Oct. 28
Protest at the Copley Plaza, where Hillary Clinton and other women who are
members of Congress are trying to raise money. We’ll be raising our voices,
saying, “Want my vote? END THE WAR!” Military Families Speak Out want
their family members home! Iraqis want their country back. Meet at 5 pm at
Copley Square, Friday. Tell a Boston friend?

4. IBDAA, Palestinian Dance Troupe
will be dancing tonight at Bowker Auditorium, Umass, near the main parking
garage. Friday, October 28, 2005, 7:30 pm. Free and open to the public.
Donations encouraged.

DeAnne Riddle, of the Amherst Middel East Education Committee writes, “Last
night I had 5 of the IBDAA dancers stay at my house just off the plane from
Amman. They are between the ages of 10 and 14, wide-eyed, full of
energy and so excited. The IBDAA dancers capture the energy of youth and
direct it in a positive direction. They raise money for other activities at
the IBDAA cultural center, where they have classes in crafts, arts, computer
to help people from the refugee camp earn a living and express themselves in
creative ways. I hope you can come.”

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005
———————————–
FIVE important events SATURDAY
in a Neighbors’ Network to End War:

***** Most importantly:

The New England Coalition (on nuclear pollution) has five terrific experts
coming to the School for International Training (S.I.T.) in Brattleboro this
Saturday from 8-5. Choose from ten sessions!
Take US 91 to Exit 3, turn right onto Putney Road and follow the signs, to
help prevent a melt-down.
David Lochbaum,
Marvin Resnikiv,
Judith Johnsrud,
Paul Blanch,
+ Ray Shadis !
Show them you care. Call now? 802-257-0036
Tell them what time you’ll arrive. Rub shoulders with people who could save
us from terrible times at New England’s oldest reactor, but only if
students, elders, farmers, teachers, preachers, nurses, clerks and lawyers
will MOBILIZE. What excuse would be good enough for not saving ourselves
from a melt-down? But >NO REGRETS< if we all do what we CAN, it will be enough. More on the conference presenters below. There's a reduced rate for students! (In quiet brown letters see the "Nuclear Institute Registration") http://www.necnp.org ALSO< Sally Shaw of Gill has found slimy deals behind the scenes, by reading the Federal Register. Read about the request for a permanent exemption from steam leakage test. She fears that the entire public process with the NRC is a smoke screen. 2500 visitors daily can find her comments at: http://www.traprockpeace.org Oct 29 *****LAFAYETTE PARK, WASHINGTON, DC, 2pm World Can't Wait is mobilizing for a 2pm, permitted rally this Saturday in Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, DC. What a week to speak up with Cindy Sheehan and call for an end to the lies. See http://www.worldcantwait.org Oct 29 *****Rally in Boston Organizers predict as many as 10,000 may come to the Boston Common. Charles Peterson, a Holyoke Community College member of the Campus Antiwar Network will be one of the speakers. See http://www.oct29.org SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Cindy Sheehan, Felix Arroyo, Charles Peterson (Holyoke Community College), Bromley Heath Workers, Diane Dujon (Welfare Rights), Somerville 5 Speaker, USWA Local 8751 School Bus Driver's Union. Amee Chew (Reproductive Rights), Dario Zapata (Colombia), Bolivarian Circle, Jose Morales (Puerto Rico), Joe Turcotte (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Ahmed Shawki (Nat'l Council of Arab Americans and International Socialist Review), Nation of Islam, Socialist Alternative, New England Human Rights Organization for Haiti, Khury Petersen-Smith (Campus Antiwar Network), Military Families Speak Out, Muslim American Association, Palestine Speaker, Klare Allen on the Bio Weapons Lab to keep out of Roxbury, Trina Jackson, Chinese Progressive Association, with nearly 20 PERFORMERS, including the Palestinian Dance Troupe! Oct 29 ***** Imaging a World with Nonviolent Peaceforces instead of Armies! How do we Get There? 10 1m - 5 pm Seelye Hall, Smith College Northampton For late registration call Ruth Anderson-Zabre 413 774-5418. More details on the Traprock calendar for Oct. 29. Oct 29 ***** 7pm Saturday, singer-songwriter Lui Collins performs in a benefit concert at Woolman Hill for the fabulous New England retreat of Witness for Peace. ---------------------------------------------------------- MORE ON THE CRUCIAL CONFERENCE IN BRATTLEBORO: ---------------------------------------------------------- Reactor Basics – David Lochbaum - Introduction to the design and operation of boiling water reactors, and safety systems. Focus is on the Vermont Yankee reactor. – Periods One and Three Reactor and Waste Site Security in an Age of Terrorism – David Lochbaum - Reactors, spent nuclear fuel, sabotage and acts of terror. Common sense approach to evaluating risks and applying safeguards. – Periods Two and Four Dry Cask Nuclear Waste Storage and Transportation – Dr. Marvin Resnikoff - Short and long term risks of dry cask nuclear waste storage and transportation - Implications of interim and permanent storage – Periods One and Three Radiation Basics – Dr. Marvin Resnikoff - An introduction to ionizing radiation fundamentals distinguishing sources and types of radiation and radiation exposure. Covers radiation measurement, calculation of radiation “dose” and radiation terminology. – Periods Two and Four Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation - Dr. Judith Johnsrud - An introduction to the history of radiation exposure regulation and research; culminating in the latest state-of-the-art single cell and DNA radiation impact research. Radiation protection theories and principles. – Periods One and Three Nuclear Geography - Dr. Judith Johnsrud - The nuclear industry-whole picture: where did it come from, why is it here, and where is it headed? Understanding the impacts of the nuclear industry, locally, nationally, and globally. Nuclear “culture” and influence. – Periods Two and Four Nuclear Regulation - Paul Blanch - Introduction to how regulation of the nuclear industry is supposed to work, contrasted with the state of nuclear regulation today. Discussion of NRC enforcement discretion. Addresses the questions of why NRC can’t seem to learn, why NRC’s failure to regulate may be pushing us toward another nuclear accident, and what citizens can do about it. – Periods Two and Four Industry and Opposition Propaganda - Raymond Shadis - Both sides now. Light-hearted, but informative look at common methods of propaganda using nuclear and coal electric generating industry (and opposition) sources and examples. Includes discussion of the content of recent Entergy Nuclear Vermont focus groups. - Periods One and Three Extended power Uprate – Raymond Shadis - How old reactors, including Vermont Yankee, are being altered to burn up to twenty percent more nuclear fuel. Discussion of risks; the Entergy extended power uprate case now before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board and still before the Vermont Public Service Board on issues such as the Independent Engineering Assessment. – Periods Two and Four 8:00 - 8:30 Gathering – Coffee and Light Refreshments 8: 30 - 8:35 Welcome – Diana Sidebotham, NEC President 8:35 - 8:45 Orientation - Joseph Bish, Outreach Coordinator 8:45 - 10:15 Period One 10:30 -Noon Period Two Noon - 12:45 Lunch, included with pre-registration, 12:45 -1:45 Plenary Session* 1:45 -3:15 Period Three 3:30 -5:00 Period Four *Nuclear Emergency Preparedness (a plenary session community conversation) – New England Coalition will have, in advance, presented institute participants with a short white paper containing nuclear emergency preparedness considerations and recommendations for affected citizens, communities, first-responders, educators, and legislators. The paper is intended to serve as an introduction and a focus for mid-day plenary discussion. Institute registration fee of $35 covers enrollment in up to four courses and the plenary session. If you do not have a registration form, please go to the New England Coalition website: www.necnp.org to down load one or you may call the New England Coalition office at 802-257-0336. necnp@necnp.org New England Coalition Post Office Box 545, Brattleboro, Vermont 05302 “The World that we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have so far, has created problems we cannot solve at the level of thinking at which we created them.” -- Albert Einstein --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Coming soon: SAVE THE DATE for "Surviving the Vernon Reactor: Health is a Human Right!" Conference proposed at GCC, Saturday Dec. 10, 1-6 pm Keynote speaker Ernest Sternglass can return to the area! Lots of photos to come on the Campus Antiwar Network Conference in Berkeley. Thanks, Charlie! http://www.traprockpeace.org Hugs, Sunny Miller, 413 773-7427 Thank you for sharing resources in a Neighbors Network to End War.

Student antiwar activists chart way forward

Student antiwar activists chart way forward
By Michael Smith | October 28, 2005 |

Reprinted with the kind permission of Socialist Worker
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/563/563_11_CAN.shtml

BERKELEY, Calif.–More than 650 college and high school students, parents and community activists from across the country participated in this past weekend’s On the Frontlines counter-recruitment conference at the University of California-Berkeley.

Cosponsored by the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) and Military Out of Our Schools-Bay Area, the conference reflected both the recent reawakening of the antiwar movement and the increased role of counter-recruitment in that movement.

The conference brought together community organizers with years of experience in educating youth about alternatives to military service; CAN activists at the heart of the counter-recruitment movement on college campuses nationwide; and high school students interested in getting involved in or starting counter-recruitment activities on their campuses.

The event also served as the annual CAN national conference, bringing together delegates from nearly 40 CAN chapters. The delegates voted to make “College not combat, troops out now!” the central slogan for CAN over the coming year, reflecting political growth for an organization that previously had been divided over the issue of when U.S. troops should leave Iraq.

CAN adopted several proposals for its work over the coming year, including a national day of action on December 6, which coincides with the Supreme Court hearing of Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights v. Rumsfeld, the case that will decide whether it is unconstitutional for the government to withhold federal funds to universities that kick out military recruiters.

John Robinson, an activist with the just-formed CAN chapter at the historically Black school of Hampton University in Virginia, said he plans on making it to D.C. for the December 6 protest. “There’s so much youthful energy here at the conference,” he said. “I really see CAN leading the antiwar movement through counter-recruitment.”

In addition, plans include a May 4 commemoration of the 1970 massacre at Kent State (where a CAN chapter was newly formed), a national CAN newspaper, sending delegates to the January World Social Forum in Venezuela and a spring campaign for CAN chapters to “adopt” a local high school and help start a CAN chapter and counter-recruitment movement there.

Workshops included discussions of broad political issues, such as whether U.S. troops should leave Iraq immediately and the nature of the “war on terror,” as well as practical organizing–such as starting a CAN chapter and strengthening the ties between schools taking part in the counter-recruitment movement.

One of the central themes of the conference was defending military resisters–soldiers such as Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman and Camilo Mejía–who refuse to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. As a part of that effort, CAN decided to organize a speaking tour of war resisters in the spring on college campuses.

Paredes, who was a featured speaker at the conference, remarked that having a strong movement makes it easier for current members of the military to resist. “Counter-recruitment has to lead the movement,” said Paredes. “It’s a confidence booster because it’s a tangible act, it’s attainable. Having the conscientious objectors here, this is why we do the counter-recruitment work. It gives you something to fight for.”

Given the increased targeting of student activists across the country by campus administrators from San Francisco State University to Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts, a proposal was adopted to create a nationwide anti-repression working group.

The group will give CAN activists a chance to share ideas and strategies for defending students targeted by their universities as well as organize national actions to combat repression. “It’s been really inspiring coming here to Berkeley and seeing all the support,” said Charles Peterson, a Holyoke student attacked by cops for protesting recruiters. “It makes it much easier to go back to school and continue the fight.”

Many of the conference attendees said that, since this past summer, the opportunities for CAN around counter-recruitment, and in building the antiwar movement generally, have improved significantly. There was a definite sense that the conference was the first step in building CAN into the premier student antiwar organization in the country. “This is a do-or-die time,” said Chris Schwartz, a member of CAN from the University of Northern Iowa. “There’s a momentum that’s getting ready to explode, and we need to capture the moment or else it will pass us by.”

###

The latest issue of Socialist Worker is available at SW Online:
http://www.socialistworker.org

To see a full list of stories from this issue, go to:
http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

________

Highlights from the latest issue of Socialist Worker…

MAIMED IN BUSH’S WAR FOR EMPIRE
U.S. officials have tried to downplay the reporting of deaths and injuries
suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq–as part of an elaborate attempt to manage
public opinion.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_05_Maimed.shtml

HOW POLICE SPARKED VIOLENCE AT TOLEDO ANTI-NAZI PROTEST
Officials in Toledo, Ohio, imposed a state of a state of emergency and an
all-night curfew following clashes between police and anti-Nazi protesters.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_12_Toledo.shtml

WHEN ABORTION WAS ILLEGAL
A look at the horrors of illegal abortion in the years before Roe v. Wade
shows that women’s lives are at stake in the right wing’s crusade to end the
right to choose.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_06_Abortion.shtml

WHAT THE U.S. “WAR ON TERROR” IS REALLY ABOUT
Invoking the “war on terror” hasn’t made the occupation of Iraq more
popular. Yet the White House has preserved a bipartisan consensus in favor
of aggressive use of military force.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_03_WarOnTerror.shtml

THE RACE TO EXECUTE STAN TOOKIE WILLIAMS
The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear Stanley Tookie Williams’ appeal,
clearing the way for the state of California to try to execute its most
famous death row prisoner.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_02_StanWilliams.shtml

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE RED CROSS
For many people, the American Red Cross is the very embodiment of
lifesaving. But the real story of the organization isn’t nearly as noble and
humanitarian as the image.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_04_RedCross.shtml

________

2005 Socialist Conferences:
WAR, POVERTY, RACISM…TIME FOR AN ALTERNATIVE
Join SW Online for these one-day conferences, held in cities around the
country. In plenary panel discussions and dozens of workshops, these
meetings will address today’s burning issues and struggles, and look ahead
to the fight for a new society–a socialist society built to meet human
needs, from New Orleans to Baghdad.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA | October 29 | East Los Angeles

MIDWEST | November 5 | Chicago

NORTHEAST | November 5 | New York City

NORTHWEST | November 5 | Seattle

TEXAS | November 5 | Austin, Texas

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA | November 19 | Berkeley, Calif.

For more information and details on the conferences, go to:
http://www.socialistworker.org/WhatOn.shtml

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NRC gives VT Yankee the hot gas, then turns off their radar guns.

NRC gives VT Yankee the hot gas, then turns off their radar guns.

By Sally Shaw, October 26, 2005

The VT Yankee Nuclear Reactor Uprate may have deleterious effects on public health, but the public may never know about them. On Oct. 21, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the agency had completed its draft review of Vermont Yankee’s plan to increase its power output, but would not make it public yet. Instead, the so-called safety evaluation would first be sent to Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Nuclear to allow the company to request which parts of the report it wants kept from public view. NRC grants Entergy this courtesy due to so-called proprietary information in the engineering analyses that went into the report. A redacted report MAY be available before the November 15 public hearing in Brattleboro (at the Quality Inn on November 15 & 16) before the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safety (a quasi-NRC board), but then again there is no deadline for Entergy to return the report to the NRC with its requested redactions. So intervenors and concerned citizens may once again be left to testify in the dark.

Lord protect us.

But that’s not all.

In an astoundingly inept metaphor, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said last week that Entergy may fuel up its antique VT Yankee Reactor with extra-hot fuel this week (10/22/05), even before they receive permission from the PSB or NRC on the uprate, because hot gas (and a souped up engine) doesn’t equate to speeding.

“Just because you put high octane gas in your car doesn’t mean you can break the speed limit. The speed limit is still 65.”

But is it, Neil?

A little web research reveals that on March 23, 2005, while we were all going about our sleepy little ordinary lives, the NRC quietly posted in the Federal Register the fact that they had granted Entergy’s request to PERMANENTLY EXEMPT VT YANKEE FROM RADIATION (STEAM) LEAKAGE TEST REQUIREMENTS. The Federal Register goes on to explain that federal regulations specify the leakage test requirements, schedules and acceptance criteria for tests of the “leak-tight integrity of the primary reactor containment and systems and components which penetrate the containment.”

Entergy, it seems, asked for AND RECEIVED from their NRC benefactors a PERMANENT EXEMPTION from the requirements contained in Appendix J Option B, Section IIIA which requires that the total leakage rate through all tested leakage paths not exceed the allowable leakage rate with margin, as specified in the Technical Specifications.

Not content with this, they also requested exemption from Option B, Sections III.B “Type B and C tests” which requires that the sum of the leakage rates of all Type B and C local leak rate tests be less than the performance criterion with margin. But that’s not all,

Entergy’s exemption request was submitted in conjunction with a TS (technical specifications?) amendment application to INCREASE THE ALLOWABLE LEAK RATE FOR THE MAIN STEAM ISOLATION VALVES. The Federal Register says that the proposed amendment will be issued concurrently with the aforementioned exemptions. So,

NRC’s Sheehan blithely gives the go ahead to soup up the reactor, knowing that back in March the cops removed the speed limit AND turned off their radar guns. Of course, they don’t tell us that when justifying their arrogant claim that just because you increase the octane of your gas, you aren’t intending to speed. Sheehan knows Entergy won’t be caught speeding, because NO ONE IS LOOKING!!! How do these people sleep at night? I know I don’t.

Incidentally, also reported in this unusual Federal Register, which gives no opportunity for public comment on this rule change as most Federal Register notices do, is the fact that Entergy has analyzed the main steam leakage pathway and reported an increase in leakage from 62 cubic feet per hour to 124 cubic feet per hour. (PER HOUR!) at the calculated peak internal containment pressure (and does this or does it not account for containment OVERpressure, another contested Uprate artifact)! So, folks, the increase in leakage of radioactive steam does not follow the increase in power of 20%, it increases it by 100%! The NRC, of course, finds all this acceptable. They don’t happen to live in the ZONE. They claim that Entergy’s calculated radiological consequences of the combined leakages are within their criteria. Perhaps this is because Entergy uses fuzzy math in their calculations, which is sanctioned by the NRC. They use 1 Roentgen = .71 REM instead of the usual 1 Roentgen = 1 REM. This fuzzy math was caught by the VT Dept. of Health Radiological Dept. last year when Entergy’s calculated fenceline doses disagreed with VT Dept. of Health’s monitors. (Entergy exceeded their VT State mandated fenceline radiation limits for the last quarter of 2004 by 5 millirems, even before fueling up with or storing more, HOTTER, MORE PLUTONIUM- INTENSE fuel. Ray Shadis of the New England Coalition commented, “it is now known that ENVY discounts the calculated impact of their direct radiation on human beings by 29 %. ”

Or perhaps NRC finds these radiological consequences acceptable because they only consider whole body gamma radiation in setting their criteria. They do not consider the effects of ingested or inhaled fission products, alpha & beta emitters; isotopes like Strontium 90, Iodine 131, Cesium 137, or Cobalt 60, which cause leukemia, thyroid disease, childhood cancers, bone and nearby tissue cancers, infant mortality, fetal death, etc. etc. If they did include safe levels for these radioisotopes, leaked with the steam, in their criteria, if they followed the advice of the National Science Foundation who reported no safe level of radiation exposure; if they were as honest about the health effects of living near a nuclear reactor as the EPA is on their website, they would not allow this stuff to be emitted at all.

In this Federal Register announcement, the NRC PERMANENTLY EXEMPTS ENTERGY FROM STEAM LEAKAGE TESTS.
http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-5679.htm

But that’s not all.

One of the primary concerns expressed by intervenors in the Uprate permitting process is the effect of the Uprate on the already cracked steam dryers. It was admitted by an Entergy Engineer at a VSNAP meeting two years ago when asked what the implications of steam dryer cracking and breaking could be, that if a piece of steam dryer cracked, shook loose and entered the steam line, it could cause a valve to stick open and release radioactive steam directly to the environment. So rather than build a NEW steam dryer to withstand the intensely increased vibration of the super hot fuel releasing 20% more energy, and 100% more steam leakage, Entergy and the NRC just patched up 3 of the 20 known cracks in the old steam dryer, changed the rules regarding steam leaks, and proposed pseudo conditions to appease a frightened public: an experimental ramp-up period in which, as long as the whole reactor doesn’t crumble, everything will be perceived to be Okey Dokey, since no one’s paying attention to the steam leaks anyway. Voila! The wonders of modern technological denial. But that’s not all, either.

In April of 1998 the then owner of Vermont Yankee, The VT Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. requested an amendment to the Technical Specifications, relaxing requirements to SHUT DOWN THE REACTOR if the high range stack noble gas monitor failed and could not be restored within 30 days. Instead, the owners gallantly offered to submit a special report to the NRC within 7 days if NRC would remove the requirement to shut down the reactor. The stack radiation monitor system is designed to sample, monitor, indicate and record the radioactivity level of the radioactive gases being released from the plant stack during operation and to alert operators if radiation levels approach or exceed pre-established (now probably gutted) limits. NRC Docket No. 5-271, Accession number ML01166002 states “This change essentially replaces a 30 day shutdown action statement with a 14-day reporting requirement.” They expect an alternative monitoring system to be imposed within 72 hrs (3 days). The high range stack noble gas monitor consists of a single instrument with no redundant counterpart. If they aren’t required to install a back-up, alternative monitoring system ahead of time, and aren’t required to until 3 days after an accident, the most intense releases of dangerous gases due to malfunction in the reactor will already have been released, as at Three Mile Island, allowing officials to then tell the media that radiation releases are within acceptable levels.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m feeling a little nervous that NRC and Entergy are proposing to experiment with ramping up a leaky bucket with leakage monitoring exemptions, a secret safety evaluation, a cracked steam dryer, and no back up for their stack radiation monitors in my back yard. Especially when trusted scientists like David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists say “experiments belong in laboratories, not in communities.”

Please write to the Public Service Board, The Advisory Committee on Reactor Safety (ACRS), your local legislators and your Congressmen and point out that the cops have turned off their radar. This is clearly all about protecting the Entergy Corporation, and not about protecting us. It is an outrage, and only we can stop it. These people all work for us.

Sally Shaw
One Enraged Mom

Vermont Public Service Board
112 State Street
Drawer 20
Montpelier, VT 05620-2701

Phone: 802 828-2358

OR email: clerk@psb.state.vt.us

ACRS
(301) 415-8065 or email RXC@nrc.gov.

People who wish to speak at the November 15 ACRS hearing in Brattleboro may contact ACRS staff member Ralph Caruso in advance at (301) 415-8065.or email him at RXC@nrc.gov.

As number of U.S. soldiers killed nears 2,000…

As number of U.S. soldiers killed nears 2,000…

Maimed in Bush’s war
October 21, 2005
reprinted with permission of Socialist Worker

ERIC RUDER looks at the spiraling cost of the war in Iraq–in human lives.

“WE DON’T do body counts on other people,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in November 2003.

Since the beginning of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. military officials have refused to discuss how many civilians have been killed by U.S. bombs and bullets. The world will probably never know how many Afghans and Iraqis have died–let alone get an accounting of their names and ages, or the stories of those they left behind.

But U.S. officials have also tried to downplay the reporting of deaths and injuries suffered by U.S. soldiers.

It’s all part of an elaborate attempt to manage public opinion. The administration, for example, banned reporters from photographing the flag-draped coffins of troops killed in action as the caskets arrive in Dover, Delaware. Soldiers wounded in Iraq invariably arrive back in the U.S. on flights that land in the dark of night–and they are then whisked to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., through an entrance that’s inaccessible to the media.

The grisly tally of U.S. soldiers killed in action is likely to top 2,000 in the coming weeks. But the official count of those killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan obscures more than it describes the enormous cost of the war for those who must fight it.

For example, the Department of Defense (DoD) lists on its Web site the names of all service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it doesn’t list the names of soldiers who returned from combat so shattered by the experience that they committed suicide.

“An example is a guy named Master Sgt. James Coons,” Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center and a retired Army Ranger, told Socialist Worker. “He committed suicide and his family wanted his name and death to count as one of the losses of life in fighting the ‘war on terrorism,’ so they lobbied the DoD to classify his death as such. He killed himself at Walter Reed.

“We also noticed that DoD was reporting about 40 suicides in Iraq and seven in Afghanistan, but they weren’t reporting the people who had killed themselves one day, one week or one month after coming back from the war. We were able to track down 30-plus media accounts of people who had served in the war and had committed suicide and weren’t listed on any DoD Web site.”

The scale of injuries suffered by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is even more drastically distorted by the Pentagon.

“A large number of people in Iraq are getting injured from bullets and bombs, and we’re hearing about them,” said Robinson. “But there’s an even larger majority of people getting injured by non-combat-related causes–like endemic disease, motor vehicle accidents that stem from avoiding crowds and flipping over in ditches, breaking legs because they’re carrying heavy equipment. There’s a whole bunch of people that have been injured that aren’t on the DoD Web site.”

The severity of injuries in Iraq is much worse compared to earlier wars. “We know that people are surviving injuries that would have killed soldiers during the Vietnam War because of body armor,” said Robinson. “You also have to remember that this is urban fighting in an area about the size of California that has trauma-response teams all throughout the region. So no matter where you are in Iraq, you can probably be at a field hospital in a matter of minutes. That’s another reason that people are surviving, and that’s a good thing. However, it also means that there are a lot of people in wheelchairs and missing arms and legs as a result of their combat experience.”

As an added insult, the military also seems determined to force those injured in combat to cover the costs of their care. This is especially true of those suffering from combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)–because it’s easier for the military to claim that the mental trauma didn’t actually occur in Iraq.

“When you get [to Walter Reed], they analyze you, break you down, and try to find anything wrong with you before you got in,” Specialist Josh Sanders told investigative journalist Mark Benjamin, who spent a year following more than a dozen soldiers being treated for psychological trauma suffered in Iraq.

“They started asking me questions about my mom and my dad getting divorced,” said Sanders. “That was the last thing on my mind when I’m thinking about people getting fragged and burned bodies being pulled out of vehicles.”

Robinson thinks it’s important for the public to hear these stories. “During the war in Vietnam, the willingness to send people off to war began to drain away when they started seeing their loved ones come home in body bags,” said Robinson. “The number of dead ended up being more than 58,000. I think by not providing accurate or fully detailed information, the government does a disservice to us, and in essence, conducts information warfare in reverse, which prevents us from knowing what’s happening in the war.”

How the Pentagon treats injured vets

ROBERT ACOSTA’S life changed forever on July 13, 2003. At the time, he was 20 years old and serving in Iraq. He and his best friend Anthony had gone out in a Humvee to pick up ice and other supplies when a hand grenade was tossed into the vehicle.

Robert picked it up to throw it out, and it went off in his hand. The shrapnel and concussion obliterated his hand, broke his right leg and shattered his left leg and foot.

“I still have my foot, but it really hurts,” Robert told Socialist Worker. He has a prosthetic in place of his hand.

Robert credits the medical treatment he received at Walter Reed for saving his foot, but that’s where the praise ends. From filling out paperwork for out-processing to struggling to get disability benefits, he has faced one obstacle after another.

When his commanding officer told him to appear for formation in the snow, he went AWOL for a week. “I just got on crutches, and they said you’ve got to go to formation at 7:30 a.m.,” said Robert. “I told them I don’t care what you do–you can take my rank away–but I’m not showing up, because my leg hurt.”

Robert has given up on trying to get his prosthetic hand fine-tuned so that he’s comfortable with it. “The VA here in Long Beach doesn’t have the facilities to deal with my injury,” he said. “I think I’m the only upper-extremity amputee here. You show up, and you want something small done, and it takes two to three months. When I first got back and filed my claims for the VA, my claims got denied, and they said that they weren’t going to count the injured leg and my hearing and my PTSD as part of my disability.”

Asked how he resolved this, Robert gave a three-word answer: “The Washington Post.” “A reporter interviewed me about the VA treating soldiers the way they should be treated when they return,” he says. “I told him everything–about how I was denied, my checks coming late in the mail so I couldn’t pay for rent and bills. And that’s what got me my disability.

“They were trying to shut me up. My best friend, the guy who was with me when I was injured, is still waiting to get his claim–a year and a half later. It’s kind of satisfying that you get what you wanted, but then again, they’re shutting you up, and you think about all the soldiers with the same problems, but they won’t re-file their claims a lot of times, and they don’t have the option to talk to the Washington Post.”

The latest issue of Socialist Worker is available at SW Online:
http://www.socialistworker.org

To see a full list of stories from this issue, go to:
http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

________

Highlights from the latest issue of Socialist Worker…

MAIMED IN BUSH’S WAR FOR EMPIRE
U.S. officials have tried to downplay the reporting of deaths and injuries
suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq–as part of an elaborate attempt to manage
public opinion.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_05_Maimed.shtml

HOW POLICE SPARKED VIOLENCE AT TOLEDO ANTI-NAZI PROTEST
Officials in Toledo, Ohio, imposed a state of a state of emergency and an
all-night curfew following clashes between police and anti-Nazi protesters.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_12_Toledo.shtml

WHEN ABORTION WAS ILLEGAL
A look at the horrors of illegal abortion in the years before Roe v. Wade
shows that women’s lives are at stake in the right wing’s crusade to end the
right to choose.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_06_Abortion.shtml

WHAT THE U.S. “WAR ON TERROR” IS REALLY ABOUT
Invoking the “war on terror” hasn’t made the occupation of Iraq more
popular. Yet the White House has preserved a bipartisan consensus in favor
of aggressive use of military force.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_03_WarOnTerror.shtml

THE RACE TO EXECUTE STAN TOOKIE WILLIAMS
The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear Stanley Tookie Williams’ appeal,
clearing the way for the state of California to try to execute its most
famous death row prisoner.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_02_StanWilliams.shtml

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE RED CROSS
For many people, the American Red Cross is the very embodiment of
lifesaving. But the real story of the organization isn’t nearly as noble and
humanitarian as the image.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/562/562_04_RedCross.shtml

________

2005 Socialist Conferences:
WAR, POVERTY, RACISM…TIME FOR AN ALTERNATIVE
Join SW Online for these one-day conferences, held in cities around the
country. In plenary panel discussions and dozens of workshops, these
meetings will address today’s burning issues and struggles, and look ahead
to the fight for a new society–a socialist society built to meet human
needs, from New Orleans to Baghdad.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA | October 29 | East Los Angeles

MIDWEST | November 5 | Chicago

NORTHEAST | November 5 | New York City

NORTHWEST | November 5 | Seattle

TEXAS | November 5 | Austin, Texas

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA | November 19 | Berkeley, Calif.

For more information and details on the conferences, go to:
http://www.socialistworker.org/WhatOn.shtml

Scott Ritter talk postponed

October 13, 2005 – Scott Ritter has had to postpone tomorrow’s event in Amherst. It will be rescheduled. Scott apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused, as does Traprock. We will announce a rescheduled event soon. We will provide an educational program at the Jones Library, Amherst at 7 PM on October 14th for those who will not have heard of that the event has been postponed. All are welcome to the substitute event which we will announce shortly.

Scott Ritter has just returned from speaking on this topic in Europe and is currently on tour in the US.

The confrontation at the bridge – How Katrina unleashed a storm of racism

The confrontation at the bridge
How Katrina unleashed a storm of racism

October 14, 2005
reprinted with permission of Socialist Worker

ERIC RUDER reports on a confrontation at a bridge out of flooded New Orleans–between armed police and people trying to get out of the devastated city.

THE HUNDREDS of people–a mixture of New Orleans residents and tourists–finally felt hopeful after days stranded in flooded New Orleans without adequate supplies of food and water. A police commander had instructed them to walk to a highway bridge that would take them across the Mississippi River to the West Bank, where buses were waiting to evacuate them from the flood zone.

But as they reached the foot of the bridge, armed deputies blocked their way. Before the group could even approach the bridge, the police fired their weapons in the air.

The crowd dispersed, returning to an uncertain fate in New Orleans rather than risk being shot. But a few people refused to go away without an explanation.

“As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation,” wrote Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, two San Francisco Emergency Medical Services workers who were trapped in the city after a paramedics convention. “The sheriffs informed us that there were no buses waiting. We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans, and there would be no Superdomes in their city.

“These were code words for: if you are poor and Black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River, and you are not getting out of New Orleans.”

Larry and Lorrie Beth’s account of this confrontation, first published in Socialist Worker, made its way around the world via the Internet–and eventually was reported by the mainstream press, which corroborated the details.

Their story showed in shocking detail how race and class condemned thousands of New Orleans residents to a nightmarish ordeal in the aftermath of Katrina. But follow-up reports about the showdown between desperate people trying to evacuate New Orleans and the police of Gretna–the town that lies at the other end of the bridge people were trying to cross–demonstrate a deeper reality about racism in America.

As even mainstream media outlets eventually admitted, what took place at the bridge over the Mississippi wasn’t a misunderstanding or even a regrettable mistake.

“Little over a week after this mostly white suburb became a symbol of callousness for using armed officers to seal one of the last escape routes from New Orleans–trapping thousands of mostly Black evacuees in the flooded city–the Gretna City Council passed a resolution supporting the police chief’s move,” reported the Los Angeles Times on September 16.

“This wasn’t just one man’s decision,” said Mayor Ronnie Harris. “The whole community backs it.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

GRETNA POLICE Chief Arthur Lawson claimed that he had little choice but to shut down the bridge. He says that his officers used buses to evacuate some 5,000 people who had walked across the bridge in the first days after New Orleans’ levees broke–and that it was only after looters and arsonists had set fire to nine stores in a Gretna mall that he decided to shut down the bridge.
National Public Radio reporter John Burnett summed up Lawson’s explanation this way: “Chief Lawson would like to know without communication, food, water, enough buses and gasoline, how long would it take another American city to reach the limits of its compassion?”

But the Gretna cops aren’t the selfless humanitarians their chief makes them out to be. Vermont National Guard troops stationed in Gretna after Katrina told reporters from the Rutland (Vt.) Herald that the cops were making incursions into Black neighborhoods looking for confrontations.

When the Gretna deputies asked several Vermont soldiers how things were going and were told that their duty was “boring,” one of the deputies said, “I guess we’ll go make a run through there to see if we can stir some [stuff] up.” “They said they went back in there, and kicked everybody’s door in,” said Vermont guardsman Sgt. Francis Estey.

Staff Sgt. Eric Crammond said the officers took a much harsher attitude toward residents than the Vermont soldiers. “They’re talking the way we used to talk when we were in theater,” said Crammond, who recently returned from Iraq with the rest of the unit. “They were in there the better part of an hour. [The residents] are pretty intimidated.”

What’s more, Chief Lawson shut the bridge to foot traffic, but allowed people in vehicles to cross–meaning that the ticket to escape New Orleans was an automobile to take you there.

“If you look at the chief’s early comments, before he started trying to clean up his act, his whole concern was that when he looked and saw people trying to get out of New Orleans, he didn’t see human beings in need, or neighbors who needed help,” Larry told Socialist Worker. “He saw ‘criminals’–that is, African American people–and that seemed to be his primary concern.

“The chief has also said repeatedly as his justification that he didn’t have any food, water or shelter, so he was stopping us for our own good. But we never at any point asked them for food, water or shelter. Our goal was purely to extricate ourselves from the scene of a major disaster. And we were prepared to walk as long and far as necessary to do that. If they offered us food, water and shelter, we wouldn’t have turned it down. But there was never an expectation that Gretna was going to provide that for us.

“We’re worried that the politicians of Gretna are engaged in this language of division, discord and drawing lines, and by sanctioning the chief’s actions, they’re defining themselves as an ‘us,’ and everyone else as a ‘them.’”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

GRETNA POLICE weren’t the only ones stoking fears about senseless violence committed by the marauding residents of New Orleans.
“Five weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans, some local, state and federal officials have come to believe that exaggerations of mayhem by officials and rumors repeated uncritically in the news media helped slow the response to the disaster and tarnish the image of many of its victims,” reported the Washington Post. “There turned out to be little evidence to support CNN host Paula Zahn speaking of ‘reports’ of ‘bands of rapists, going block to block,’ or New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin on national television, describing the scene as ‘animalistic.’”

Former New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared with Nagin on The Oprah Winfrey Show to claim that “babies” were being raped in the Superdome–a story he later recanted. And despite Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) report of injured and killed deputies, only one law enforcement official was shot–and the wound to his leg was the self-inflicted result of a struggle.

Major Ed Bush of the Louisiana National Guard was dismayed that the residents of New Orleans were depicted so cruelly. “I certainly saw fights, but I saw worse fights at a Cubs game in Chicago,” he said. “The people never turned into these animals. They have been cheated out of being thought of as people who looked out for each other. We had more babies born [in the Superdome] than we had deaths.”

Worse, the racist panic–unleashed by elected officials, police and the media spreading unsubstantiated rumors–undoubtedly hampered relief efforts and led to needless death and suffering.

“One of the nightmares of white America is the idea of a mob of Black people,” reads an editorial in the Montpelier (Vt.) Times-Argus. “It is a nightmare born of deep fears that go back to the days of slavery. Nothing was more threatening to white America back then than the idea of a slave revolt and the ravishment of white womanhood…

“[T]he stories of rampaging Blacks might well have become exaggerated because they played perfectly into white fears. Those are the fears that led law enforcement officials, not to help, but to turn people away when they were fleeing a flooded city. They are the fears that gave white police officers license to terrorize Black neighborhoods.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

LORRIE BETH says that the media interest in their story has been “awe-inspiring.” Nearly six weeks since Katrina, Larry and Lorrie Beth are still behind in getting back to 30 or 40 reporters, and their answering machine regularly fills up within a few hours.
“There are a number of mainstream reporters who saw the racism firsthand, and they felt like they couldn’t say it themselves, so they bring us on television or the radio for us to say it, because they want to get that message out,” Larry says. “But their own prejudice comes out, in the sense that they think that because we’re white and middle-aged and ‘professionals,’ we’re legitimate. It’s bizarrely ironic that Lorrie Beth and I, who are white, are being called upon to tell this story of racism.”

Nevertheless, the features of this story reflect the powerful role played by race and class in the U.S. today.

“We don’t see our run-in with the Gretna police force as an individual case of mistreatment, but it’s the issue of racism and brutality that exists throughout the relief effort and is endemic throughout our country,” says Lorrie Beth. “One-third of Black children in this country are growing up in poverty, infant mortality is on the rise among Blacks, Black children are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white children. The list goes on. Racism plays a huge role in this country, politically and economically.”

Larry agrees. “It’s important to put this in a context. A million more people became poor last year. And for the last 20 years, we’ve had both Democrats and Republicans withdrawing public services from poor and working families, and we’ve seen the results of that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”

_____________________________________

Highlights from the latest issue of Socialist Worker…

HOW KATRINA UNLEASHED A STORM OF RACISM
A confrontation at a bridge out of flooded New Orleans–between armed police
and people trying to evacuate–has shown how race and class condemned
thousands to a nightmare after Katrina.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/561/561_08_Katrina.shtml

SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL
Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, schoolchildren in the U.S.
are suffering the consequences of an increasingly segregated school system.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/561/561_07_Separate.shtml

WHY DID PAKISTAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FAIL?
Delayed rescue attempts after the earthquake that struck Pakistan led to
countless deaths–and highlighted the human cost of militarism and
imperialist power plays.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/561/561_16_Pakistan.shtml

WILL DELPHI BUST THE UAW?
The bankruptcy of auto parts manufacturer Delphi marks the biggest attack on
the United Auto Workers in decades–and sets the stage for an onslaught by
Big Three automakers.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/561/561_15_Delphi.shtml

A FORMER PANTHER’S CAMPAIGN IN GEORGIA
Former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown talks about her campaign for mayor
of Brunswick, Ga., on the Green Party ticket.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/561/561_06_ElaineBrown.shtml

REPRESSION AND RESISTANCE IN PUERTO RICO
Ever since the U.S. seized Puerto Rico in 1898, Washington’s colonial rule
has showcased the intersection between exploitation, imperialism and racism.
http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/561/561_10_PuertoRico.shtml

________

ARCHIVES AT SW ONLINE
Socialist Worker Online has compiled featured articles and interviews on
pressing political issues. A full list of our featured archives can be found
at:
http://www.socialistworker.org/Featured.shtml

Here are some of the special archives:

HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE AFTERMATH
http://www.socialistworker.org/Featured/Katrina.shtml

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST BUSH’S WAR
http://www.socialistworker.org/Featured/IraqAntiwar.shtml

_________

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