Mistake at Vernon Reactor — VT State Nuclear Engineer Challenges Entergy

Mistake at Vernon Reactor — VT State Nuclear Engineer Challenges Entergy

On Wednesday, December 7, 2005 at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, Bill Sherman, Nuclear Engineer for the State of Vermontchallenged Entergy Nuclear engineers calculations that project safety during uprate conditions proposed at the New England’s 33-year old reactor in
Vernon, Vermont. Sherman’s opening remarks included the comment that, “There is not a full positive indication of containment integrity.”

As one example, Sherman pointed out that within the past week, his office discovered that a 3/4-inch valve had been left mis-positioned at the Vernon reactor for the last nine to ten years. The proper positioning of the valve was presumed in calculations made by Entergy Nuclear engineers. “It shows that in the real world, things happen …” said Sherman.

The 2-hour+ meeting was recorded by Traprock Peace Center, by conference call. Thanks to Ed Russell, Vermont’s objections, expressed by Bill Sherman
can be heard on line at http://www.traprockpeace.org/edrussell/acrs_7dec05.mp3

One Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards member asked repeatedly whether the NRC staff’s calculations were realistic.

Raymond Shadis of the New England Coalition traveled from Maine to challenge assumptions made at the meeting, and to emphasize the difference
between inspections of paper provided by the reactor operators, and real inspection of reactor systems. The Committee continued deliberations that week. By telephone at 11pm, December 7th (Wednesday night) Ray Shadis reported, “The committee deliberated further this evening. They’ve caved in on every point.” Shadis says the Committee would confer with the NRC at 1 pm Thursday, Dec. 8. The meeting was expected to be viewable by video streaming at the NRC website, < www.nrc.gov >. Press releases about NRC meetings are sent out by Neil Sheehan, < nas@nrc.gov >.

Town, state and federal representatives in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts have expressed their support for physical and thorough inspection of the entire facility before proposed power increases are allowed. Two members of the Vermont Public Service Board are accepting comment, David Coen, and John Burke, Vermont Public Service Board, 112 State St. Drawer 20, Montpelier, VT. 05620-2701.

Residents in the tri-state area confered on Saturday at Greenfield Community College on Saturday, Dec. 10, Human Rights Day. This conference brought together scientists, educators, students, cancer survivors, healthcare practitioners and musicians, from 12:30 to 6:30 Saturday for “Surviving the Vernon Reactor.” The conference was organized by Traprock Peace Center, which played a crucial role more than a decade ago in alerting the public to hazards at the embrittled Rowe Reactor, now closed. (Please see the traprock home page for links to audio – http://www.traprockpeace.org

Co-sponsors promoting public discourse to regarding community response to the risks of the nuclear age include the G.C.C. Response Initiative, All Souls Church Religious Education Committee, and the New England Coalition based in Brattleboro, VT.

Sami Ramadani on the latest “milestone” election in Iraq

Courtesy of Socialist Worker

By Eric Ruder, reporting from London
December 11, 2005

Sami Ramadani on the latest “milestone” election in Iraq
“The elections won’t change things”

SAMI RAMADANI was for many years an exile from his native Iraq as a political refugee from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Today, he is an outspoken opponent of the U.S. invasion and occupation. At an international antiwar conference in London in December, Ramadani spoke with Socialist Worker’s ERIC RUDER about whether the upcoming elections in Iraq would be a “turning point,” as the Bush administration claimed.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WE HAVE had so many turning points that we’re getting dizzy. I think actually that the December elections are not going to change things in Iraq. The occupation will go on, and we’ll have yet another government that is devised under U.S. control and influence in Iraq.
But at another level, it will have an important impact in terms of the legality of the occupation of Iraq. I think one of the plans behind holding this election so speedily is to legitimize the occupation, so the new government will be deemed to be a sovereign government with a permanent constitution, and this so-called new government will invite the occupation forces to stay in Iraq.

At one level, they would like to get the United Nations off their backs and legitimize the occupation. At another, if this does happen, then all contracts signed by the new government will have the force of international law behind them–and this has very significant consequences for control of Iraqi oil, because they are preparing so-called production sharing agreements that will pass control over Iraq’s oil reserves to the transnational oil corporations.

These “production sharing agreements” are privatization under another name. Effective control will pass to the oil companies. They hope that once these agreements are speedily signed come January or February of next year, then even if they can’t exploit Iraqi oil now, these agreements can be brought into effect at a later stage, once Iraq is stabilized and when they have a government in Baghdad pliant enough, and have enough American bases in the country to back such a government.

Much of this is already in the public domain and has been exposed in the past few months.

In terms of who will participate and who will not, I think overwhelmingly this election is going to prove to be–like the previous one in January–a non-event in terms of the daily lives of Iraqis. The situation in Iraq is deteriorating day by day, and this election is not going to change things, unfortunately.

The forces that are standing in the election are not even mentioning the word “oil,” which is quite significant in many ways. And the constitution they adopted actually opens the door for the control of Iraq’s oil by the oil companies.

The new constitution contains an article which is preceded by saying Iraq’s oil belongs to the Iraqi people. Then there is a more detailed article that follows, which says that Iraq’s current oilfields will continue to be administered by the Iraqi government. The word “current” is the crucial one, because only 10 percent of Iraq’s oil is in currently exploited oilfields. About 90 percent of Iraq’s oil is still underground and hasn’t been tapped yet.

So the constitution has surreptitiously opened the door for the privatization of most of Iraq’s oil, and put it at the mercy of so-called production sharing agreements.

Most of the forces running in the election are saying they want to end the occupation–some very strongly, some mildly. But I don’t think that most of them are serious about this, because if you remember, the bloc that got most of the votes last time around had at the top of its agenda the withdrawal of the occupation forces, but they didn’t do anything about it. This was Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s Coalition List.

As far as kicking out the occupation forces, I don’t think they are strong enough or serious enough to do so. But even if they are genuine about the slogan, they end up sitting in the Green Zone, where the occupation tanks are protecting them. So immediately, they are in a compromised situation where their daily safety and existence depend on the tanks and helicopters of the occupation forces.

Even if they last a week, two weeks, a month, two months, opposing the presence of the occupation, their daily life and existence grows ever more dependent on the presence of the occupation, and this is a fix that they cannot escape from.

You cannot join in this political process and become completely anti-occupation because of the facts on the ground–because the occupation forces are the only effective forces that can provide any state-type protection for elected representatives, even if these elected representatives are anti-occupation themselves. It’s a very big contradiction they fall into the moment they get elected.


For a full list of articles from the current issue of Socialist Worker, see http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

Rounding up Women in the UK – In any name, this equals harassment of the vulnerable.

Traprock Homepage

Published December 6, 2005

Police steal and threaten in sex worker raids

On 6 October 2005, over 40 police and immigration officers raided 55 flats in the Baker Street area of central London. 70 sex workers were held and questioned, some for up to five hours. Women working as “maids” for the working girls were forced to sign cautions under threat that otherwise the flat would be raided again and they would be charged with living off immoral earnings.

During the raids police removed goods and money. In one flat, police from Marylebone police station took £2,000 of women’s hard-earned cash. No receipt was given, the money has not been returned and the police now deny any knowledge of it. To get their money back women would have to make a formal complaint to the police and would have to be public about their occupation. None of them feel able to do this as their families don’t know about their work.

The police tried to impose conditions on women working in the flats that bore no relation to the law. Women were told by Marylebone police that they couldn’t work with a maid. Other women were told they could stay open with a maid as long as only one girl worked at a time and none were immigrant – labelled by the police as ‘illegals’. Other women were told, under threat of being charged with trafficking, that they couldn’t employ ’illegals.

One woman caught up in the raids spelt out the implications:

“The police have been encouraged to run rampant – taking out money and threatening us. When they treat us like this, how can we go to them for protection when we are attacked? Some women will be terrorised out of their premises. If businesses are taken out of women’s hands, gangsters will take over. We have been visited by men who try and heavy us over but because we know each other we have been able to stand up to them. We have been here for years and we have families to support. Which of those women in high places will speak up for us.”

Other raids

Birmingham: These London raids follow on from a much publicised raid in Birmingham where, under the guise of rescuing victims of traffickers, 50 police raided a massage parlour, taking 19 women into custody. However, as soon as the women were able to speak they denied they were victims of traffickers. They also denied key aspects of what the police told the media, for example that they were locked into the premises. Local shopkeepers confirmed that the women regularly came in to buy sandwiches and showed no signs of being coerced. Women in our network in Birmingham have said that this premises was known to be one of the better places to work.

No charges for trafficking have ever been brought against anyone arrested in the raid. 13 of the women were released almost immediately but six were taken to Yarl’s Wood detention centre and held there pending deportation. Only public protests from a number of people, including ourselves, and the intervention of a lawyer prevented their deportation. Women were then visited by the police, immigration officials and the Poppy Project, a Home Office funded pilot project for trafficking victims. Some women reported that they were told that the only way to get out of Yarl’s Wood was to say they had been trafficked. They would then be released into the custody of the Poppy Project. Even under this pressure only one woman claimed she had been trafficked.

Guildford: On 23 September, police and immigration raided four premises, the only Chinese speaking premises out of more than 20 parlours in town. All the women caught in the raid were working for themselves. Personal computers and papers were taken. One woman whose visa was out of time was deported. Charges of running a brothel and money laundering have been brought against some women.

NW London: On 30 October police raided a flat saying they were looking for trafficked women and underage girls. Two women and their security guard were arrested, taken to police station and held until the early hours. They were cautioned and not charged but £700 was taken from their flat. Again, there is no record of the money being taken, no receipt was given and the police have refused to return it saying it is proceeds of crime.

It is no accident that the Birmingham raids were followed by others. Trafficking has given the police and immigration an excuse to raid any working flat. It is 10 times safer for women to work in premises than on the streets, and especially safer to work in premises with a maid. Why is police time being spent in persecuting women who are working independently and more safely, when so many violent attacks on women, including domestic violence, rape and racist attacks, which are reported to them are barely investigated?

Although all public opinion polls show that people are against the criminalisation of consenting sex, under Labour increasingly punitive measures have been introduced:

· Maximum custodial sentences for brothel keeping have been raised from six months to seven years. Threats of prosecution and actual prosecutions against maids, whose first job is prostitute women’s safety, have forced many out of the business leaving sex workers more vulnerable to violence.

· New anti-trafficking legislation which carries a custodial sentence of 14 years and does not include the need to prove force or coercion can be used against anyone helping someone come into the country. As seen above, anti-trafficking is used to provide a “humane” cover for police and immigration to raid women regardless of circumstances.

· Anti Social Behaviour Orders have had a devastating impact on women working on the streets, imprisoning women for an activity that was no longer considered prisonable. In one area of Birmingham over 30 women have been imprisoned, losing their housing and sometimes even their children. Violence has increased as women are forced further underground to avoid the police.

Many organisations, including Home Office funded sex workers projects, which work directly with sex workers, speak privately of the horrendous consequences of these government laws and policies on some of the most vulnerable women. How long will they keep quiet?

Meanwhile a national umbrella for women’s organisations is promoting, in the name of equality, the criminalisation of clients which was introduced in Sweden some years ago with disastrous consequences. But no attention is being paid to New Zealand where the decriminalisation of prostitution has resulted in women being able to get off the streets and work more safely.

English Collective of Prostitutes
020 7482 2496
ecp@allwomencount.net 30 November 2005

“Our movement won’t back down.”

Campus officials target student antiwar activists’ right to dissent
“Our movement won’t back down”
By Eric Ruder and David Thurston | December 2, 2005 | Page 12

STUDENT ACTIVISTS across the U.S. are challenging the U.S. war in Iraq–and military recruiters on their campuses. Along the way, they’re finding that they also have to fight campus administrators who try to deny them the basic right to dissent.

In recent weeks, student activists at Hampton University in Virginia, Harold Washington College in Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have become targets for administrators after holding peaceful protests.

At the same time, activists targeted at other campuses won victories by exposing their administrations’ violations of their rights. Students at Kent State University, for example, succeeded in forcing the university dropped all charges against Dave Airhart, a Kent State student and combat veteran who was stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The university had planned a hearing for mid-November to consider whether Airhart should be suspended or expelled for climbing a wall set up by military recruiters and hanging a peace banner. But the day before the hearing, Airhart was notified that the university had backed down.

Key to the victory was the highly visible “Hands off Dave!” campaign waged by the Kent State Anti-War Committee (KSAWC). Activists flyered the campus, organized calls and e-mails from activists across the U.S., and enlisted the support of prominent antiwar activists, including Howard Zinn and Cindy Sheehan.

“When we heard the administration had dropped all charges, we were extremely excited,” said Nicole Robinson, a KSAWC member and Midwest representative on the Campus Antiwar Network’s (CAN) national coordinating committee. “Not just because Airhart could remain in school and continue his antiwar activism. And not only because we are part of the struggle, and in the end experienced victory. But we were also excited because we hope that other schools across the U.S. begin to take the student antiwar movement more seriously, and understand that if administrators begin repressing our voices, we will not sit silently and take it–that we will, as a united movement, not back down.”

Robinson said KSAWC members plan to use the momentum they have to build for CAN’s December 6 national day of action to target military recruiting stations.

The action is timed to coincide with the beginning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing of FAIR v. Rumsfeld, which challenges the federal government policy of denying funds to universities that bar military recruiters from campus on the grounds that the military’s discrimination against gays and lesbians violates campus anti-discrimination policies.

December 6 is also the one-year anniversary of Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes’ refusal to board his ship and deploy to the Middle East–a decision that brought widespread attention to growing antiwar sentiment among U.S. troops. Paredes has signed on as a supporter of the CAN day of action–along with Cindy Sheehan, Howard Zinn, independent journalist Dahr Jamail, Iraq war resister Camilo Mejía and Progressive Democrats of America Director Tim Carpenter.

The December 6 actions will also highlight the most recent round of repression against students carried out by campus administrators.

Hampton University in Virginia is carrying out the most flagrant attack, threatening to expel at least seven students in the wake of a peaceful November 2 protest.

Administrators have even tried to keep students from telling their story to the media. “We met at a Burger King, which is off-campus, but is university-owned,” John Robinson, a leading organizer, told Socialist Worker. “Somebody got in touch with the local news station, who wanted to interview us.

“There was an official from one of the dorms who happened to be in the Burger King with three Army ROTC officials. He was eyeing us and called the dean of students, who sent the campus police. The police pulled their cruiser in front of the camera and then kicked the reporter and cameraman out of the shopping center.”

But the story still led the local news. With so much negative publicity, Hampton’s dean felt pressured to respond publicly. He wrote a letter saying that the school encourages peaceful protest, and that the issue is “compliance with university policy.”

Yet Hampton has made it impossible for activists to organize openly. “When you’re social-justice oriented, there is no right route,” said Robinson. “They have been staunchly opposed to recognizing our group–even when we were only affiliated to Amnesty International. We weren’t even allowed to go through the process. People refused to acknowledge that we even filled out the paperwork.”

Though Hampton activists initially felt demoralized by the crackdown on their November 2 protest, they’ve been energized by the outpouring of support from students angry at this infringement of basic rights.

“Although the police prevented us from making the point that we intended to make, the students ultimately were made conscious in a much deeper way that could not have been achieved through our speeches and poetry,” wrote the Hampton activists in a statement on CAN’s campusantiwar.net Web site. “The students saw what their school’s administration was really for by seeing what it was really against.”

Meanwhile, UW-Madison is copying Kent State’s approach of using exaggerated claims that protesters endangered “campus safety” to threaten members of the student antiwar group with probation, suspension or expulsion.

The allegations stem from a November 2 rally and march of 200 people that ended at the Military Science Department. The university asserts the protesters “jeopardized the safety of several individuals of the Military Science Department” and attempted to “gain entry to the building by pounding on doors and windows and attempts to destroy university property.”

But the charges are absurd, according to a statement by UW Stop the War. “The protesters chanted slogans, held signs and marched around the building,” the statement reads. “A few spoke through a bullhorn. Some people–none of them Stop the War members–knocked on the door. The only contact anyone had with members of the Military Science Department was spotting them through a window. With the exception of the UW police detaining a 14-year-old high school student for throwing a penny at a window, there was no physical confrontation of any kind.”

UW activists aren’t taking this administration attack lying down. “We’ve seen this type of thing before–at Kent State, Holyoke and George Mason University,” said Paul Pryse, a member of UW Stop the War. “The university is trying to use disciplinary measures to silence antiwar activists and organizations.

“In all three of these cases, public solidarity campaigns were key to fighting back and getting the university to back down. So we plan on going public to expose them for the hypocrisy of defending the free speech of military recruiters, while they try to deny the rights of students who also want their opinions heard.”

For more information about all these cases and what you can do to show your support for student protesters, go to campusantiwar.net.


December 2, 2005 Index

“It was never as bad as this.”

Iraq under U.S. occupation:
“It was never as bad as this”
November 18, 2005 | Pages 4 and 5

WHEN U.S. and coalition troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, many Iraqis hoped that at least their conditions of life would improve–after a decade and a half of living under the strictest system of economic sanctions ever known. Now, they know different. “I believed when they said they came to help us,” said Hossein Ibrahim in an interview with a Christian Science Monitor reporter. “But now I hate them, they are worse than Saddam.”

ANTHONY ARNOVE is the editor of the South End Press collection Iraq Under Siege, and co-author, with Howard Zinn, of Voices of a People’s History of the United States. His latest book, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be published by the New Press next spring. Here, Anthony looks at the racist logic of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

LIFE IN occupied Iraq today is so grim that many Iraqis say it was better during the deadly years of United Nations sanctions and Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. In much of the country, there is less electricity than before the March 2003 U.S. invasion–with predictable consequences, including “patients who die in emergency rooms when equipment stops running,” the New York Times reports.
Despite the billions handed for reconstruction work to George W. Bush’s friends at Bechtel and Halliburton, “[n]early half of all Iraqi households still don’t have access to clean water, and only 8 percent of the country, excluding the capital, is connected to sewage networks,” USA Today reports.

Hospitals in Iraq are a shambles. “At Baghdad’s Central Teaching Hospital for Children, gallons of raw sewage wash across the floors,” Jeffrey Gettleman reported in the New York Times. “The drinking water is contaminated. According to doctors, 80 percent of patients leave with infections they did not have when they arrived.”

“It’s definitely worse now than before the war,” Eman Asim, who oversees 185 public hospitals, told the Times. “Even at the height of sanctions, when things were miserable, it wasn’t as bad as this.”

Unemployment has skyrocketed, in large part because of decisions made by the occupation authorities.

After the invasion, L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, disbanded Iraq’s 350,000-person army and fired thousands of state workers who were members of the Baath Party–despite the fact that party membership was required for most jobs in Iraq. More than half of Iraqi workers are unemployed, and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari has announced plans to shred more public-sector jobs as the Iraqi government carries out the privatization plans written by U.S. economists.

“Liberated” Iraqis repeatedly have noted the irony that the U.S. occupation authorities and the contractors working on lucrative no-bid and cost-plus contracts don’t trust Iraqis to work for them, and instead are paying millions of dollars to import foreign workers who earn many times the average Iraqi’s annual income. “[W]hen the full history of this bloody circus is written, people will look back slack-jawed at the scale and brazenness of the occupation’s corruption and incompetence,” journalist Christian Parenti writes in The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq.

Of the $18.4 billion Congress appropriated for “reconstruction” in Iraq, less than half has been spent, and some $100 million has disappeared without any accounting, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Instead of rebuilding Iraq, money is flowing to corporate friends of the Bush administration. “[M]ore than 150 U.S. companies were awarded contracts totaling more than $50 billion, more than twice the GDP of Iraq,” writes researcher Antonia Juhasz. “Halliburton has the largest, worth more than $11 billion, while 13 other U.S. companies are earning more than $1.5 billion each. These contractors answer to the U.S. government not the Iraqi people.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THIS PRINCIPLE of accountability applies to every aspect of the occupation of Iraq. Real authority rests not with Iraqis, but with occupation forces. As the Pakistani writer Tariq Ali points out in Bush in Babylon, we are seeing in Iraq a clear example of “imperialism in the epoch of neoliberal economics.”
The Coalition Provisional Authority renewed the anti-worker trade union laws of the Hussein regime and lowered taxes on business in Iraq to levels only dreamed about by U.S. corporations.

“The Bush administration has drafted sweeping plans to remake Iraq’s economy in the U.S. image,” the Wall Street Journal reported soon after the invasion began. As New York Times economics columnist Jeff Madrick points out, the economic plans for Iraq are likely to cause “widespread cruelty.”

In addition to economic insecurity, physical insecurity for ordinary Iraqis has greatly increased. Women who formerly worked as educators or doctors now speak of being imprisoned in their homes, afraid to leave. They see hard-won social and political rights being eroded. Children who formerly attended school are now kept at home by parents fearful of sending them out in public.

And at any moment, Iraqis know their doors may be battered down by U.S. or British troops, with family members humiliated, arrested and taken off to be detained, tortured or murdered.

Dexter Filkins of the New York Times opened a window into the reality of occupation in an October 2005 profile of Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman, an aggressive Army captain of the Fourth Infantry Division’s 1-8 Battalion. After the death of a soldier in the unit, Sassaman declared that his unit’s “new priority would be killing insurgents and punishing anyone who supported them, even people who didn’t.”

As Filkins wrote, “On a mission in January 2004, a group of Sassaman’s soldiers came to the house of an Iraqi man suspected of hijacking trucks. He wasn’t there, but his wife and two other women answered the door. ‘You have 15 minutes to get your furniture out,’ First Sgt. Ghaleb Mikel said. The women wailed and shouted, but ultimately complied, dragging their bed and couch and television set out the front door. Mikel’s men then fired four antitank missiles into their house, blowing it to pieces and setting it afire.” As Mikel explained, “It’s called the ‘leave no refuge’ policy.”

U.S. soldiers have also taken to quartering troops in Iraqi homes and schools. “Requisitioning homes or other buildings has been widespread in Iraq for U.S. troops on missions who stay far away from bases, sometimes for several days or weeks,” the Associated Press reports.

“They broke into my house before Ramadan and they are still there,” Dhiya Hamid al-Karbuli recounted to a reporter. “We were not able to tolerate seeing them damage our house in front of our very eyes…I was afraid to ask them to leave.” “Marines have been making camp in seized houses,” the New York Times reported from Husayba, the site of a major assault in November 2005, in which “[f]ighter jets streaked overhead, dropping 500-pound bombs” on the town.

Neither the Associated Press nor the Times seemed to have remembered that the quartering of troops was one of the primary complaints of American colonists against King George and the British–as described in the Declaration of Independence: “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States…”

But the feelings of Iraqis don’t really matter in U.S. calculations. As Col. Stephen Davis, of the Second Marine Division, who headed the Husayba assault, explained, “We don’t do a lot of hearts and minds out here, because it’s irrelevant.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

EVERY DAY, people are being harassed, killed, arrested and tortured only for the crime of being Iraqi.
A Red Cross investigation found that the U.S. military has engaged in a “pattern of indiscriminate arrests involving destruction of property and brutal behavior towards suspects and their families” in Iraq. “Sometimes, they arrested all adult males present in a house,” the report states, “including elderly, handicapped or sick people.” Of the people detained at Abu Ghraib prison, even U.S. military intelligence officers estimated that 70 to 90 percent were arrested “by mistake.”

U.S. soldiers have been trained to view Iraqis–just like they were once trained to view the people of Vietnam–as less than human. Soldiers call Iraqis “hajis,” just as they once called the Vietnamese “gooks.”

A clear message has been given to troops from the highest levels of political and military authority: Iraqi deaths and Iraqi suffering do not matter.

A recent Human Rights Watch investigation found that U.S. military personnel routinely torture Iraqis for “sport.” The investigation documented widespread use of torture, “often under orders or with the approval of superior officers.”

Soldiers in the 82nd Airborne described beating Iraqis “to amuse themselves.” “Sergeant A,” from the 82nd Airborne Division, told Human Rights Watch how occupation troops would routinely “fuck a PUC” or “smoke a PUC” (a “PUC” is a “Person Under Control,” a term used to differentiate Iraqi detainees from prisoners of war, who have legal protections the Bush administration does not want to recognize).

“To ‘Fuck a PUC’ means to beat him up,” the sergeant said. “We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day. To ‘smoke’ someone is to put them in stress positions until they get muscle fatigue and pass out. That happened every day. Some days, we would just get bored, so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib, but just like it. We did that for amusement.”

Torture is just one symptom of an occupation that constantly shows contempt for the people it claims to have liberated. U.S. forces have engaged in numerous prohibited forms of collective punishment against the Iraqi population.

Though the United States refuses to count the number of dead Iraqis, an October 2004 study by The Lancet, Britain’s leading medical journal, estimated 98,000 “excess deaths” in Iraq in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. This figure is actually conservative, as it excludes deaths in the “mortality cluster of Falluja”–the site of some of the deadliest U.S. military attacks. According to the survey, “The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher…than in the period before the war.”

Under these conditions, it is no surprise that strong majorities of Iraqis view U.S. troops not as liberators but as occupiers.

Meanwhile, the death toll has also continued to climb for U.S. soldiers, and is now more than 2,000. Injuries are also mounting. One in six soldiers returning from Iraq reports experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, leading to high rates of depression and suicide. Soldiers who came to Iraq believing they were protecting the world from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or liberating Iraqis now find they are instead being asked to subjugate a population that does not want them there.

“[W]hen I first went to Iraq, I actually believed what the government was saying, that we were searching for weapons of mass destruction, we were making the country safe for democracy, and things like that,” one soldier who applied for conscientious objector status recently told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! “But when we got there, I quickly found another story. I very quickly found that the Iraqis didn’t want us there…If soldiers had come into our country and had invaded us and had come into our homes, then I would have fought back, too.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE ONLY way to liberate Iraq today is to end the occupation, and bring the troops home now. To do so, we’ll have to challenge all the racist lies that Iraqis are incapable of running their own country, or that the United States must remain in Iraq to confront “the terrorists.”
This war has nothing to do with terrorism or liberation. From the beginning, it has been about oil and its role in sustaining the United States as a global capitalist empire. Racism has been used to sell the war to a public, but people are increasingly seeing through the lies.

Today, a clear majority of people in the United States now believe the invasion of Iraq wasn’t worth the consequences and should never have been undertaken. A Washington Post-ABC poll this month found that “Bush has never been less popular with the American people.” In a September New York Times-CBS News poll, support for immediate withdrawal stood at 52 percent. Seventy-nine percent of African-Americans think the war in Iraq was mistake. Approval of President Bush among African-Americans is 2 percent, a statistical anomaly.

Millions of people sympathize with the aims of the antiwar movement, but have not yet been mobilized for actions. We need to involve these wider audiences in our movements, and to connect local actions with coordinated national actions that can help people overcome the pervasive sense of isolation and atomization that so many feel.

As with the movement to end the war on Vietnam, we will have to fight on many fronts: supporting counter-recruitment, confronting government and military officials about the human costs of this war and the lies they use to justify it, exposing war profiteers, encouraging and protecting soldiers who speak out and who resist their orders or service, working with veterans and military families–and all along arguing, patiently yet urgently, with everyone around us that we need to end the occupation now.


Index to November 18th issue

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSIONS hears comment – CALL NOW to arrange an opportunity to hear two upcoming NRC meetings in Rockville, Md. Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 29 & 30.

CALL NOW to arrange an opportunity to hear two upcoming
NRC meetings in Rockville, Md. Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 29 & 30.

A toll-free bridge line and a toll-free conference call are available to
listen in on two meetings in Rockville, Maryland at NRC headquarters, 10
miles north of DC. There is a conflict of schedules on November 30, so you
may have to choose between these concerns. On Nov. 30 Traprock Peace Center
in Deerfield, MA will dedicate two phone lines and speaker phones to the
process, beginning at 8:30 am and continuing to the close of NRC business
expected to be at 8pm. We encourage town boards of health and public service
organizations to make this service available at public locations.

> 1. Leave a message now? Ralph Caruso, (301 415-8065)
If you get the machine you can ask for the toll-free number, and the access
code. Ask Mr. Caruso to sign you up to hear the Advisory Committee on
Reactor Safeguards, which is hearing testimony early this week on the
hazards (and the smooth sailing imagined) for the proposed uprate at New
England’s oldest reactor in Vernon, Vermont.

Recent fires, loss of highly radiated spent fuel, prior failure of tests
on meeting threats, requests for exemption of stack radiation monitors,
indicate lack of readiness for additional risks. In written comment you may
want to ask about corrosion, cracking, vibration or containment
overpressure, hazards the NRC sees of greatest concern. Ralph Caruso gave
me the address to send your comments, which could be considered on Dec. 7.
(At the ACRS meeting in Brattleboro, VT on Tuesday, November 22, one member
of this advisory committee said he felt uncomfortable about the timeline
pressuring the committee to come to a decision soon.)

Advisory Com. On Reactor Safeguards
Attn. Ralph Caruso (or particular member)
Mailstop T2E26
US RRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
Washington, DC 20555

Members of the committee can be addressed individually. Their names are
posted at www.nrc.gov

PLEASE CALL NOW if you agree that a thorough Safety Assessment is needed.


> 2. Steven Hoffman (301 415-3245)
For information on how to listen in from home or work, on an NRC meeting at
10am on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the NRC offices in Rockville, MD, call Steven
Hoffman, 301 415-3245.

Entergy Nuclear will propose to lump together license renewal requests
for the nuclear reactors they manage in Plymouth MA and Vernon, Vermont.
You may have an opportunity to comment, before the call ends mid-day. Ask
for the toll-free number, the access code, and the exact time to call.
Steven Hoffman said fifteen lines were available when I called last
Wednesday for Traprock. (I recommended adding more lines. Your early call
will help them to prepare.)

> 3.

Saturday, Dec. 10
*** SAVE THE DATE!!! ***

12:30-6:30 pm, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005
Confer with experts and neighbors,
this Human Rights Day,

Greenfield Community College
*** Greenfield, Mass. ***

This is in the Cafeteria, but the cafeteria food service is closed. Please
come after lunch. Co-sponsors can set up a card table for literature or a
display beginning at noon. Doors pen for the public at 12:30.

Keynote speaker Ernest Sternglass, PhD., formerly a GE employee, speaks at
1PM and shows graphs on downwind health effects following nuclear testing
and reactor operations. There’s reason to address the 26% increase in breast
cancer mortality over a 30-year period in Franklin County. Ernest is a
brilliant man with both practical and theoretical understanding. He designed
the instrument that captured the first image of the earth rising, from the
moon. He once had a 5-hour conversation with Einstein. Students will enjoy
conversation with him over tea. He is 82 but looks and acts 62, visiting
here from Pittsburg, PA.where he has retired as a professor.

Sally Shaw of Gill will introduce Ray Shadis, the Technical Advisor for the
New England Coalition. He will speak about the particular hazards of the
proposed power uprate at New England’s oldest reactor. Ray is from Maine and
can answer questions about how a thorough safety assessment of the Maine
Yankee reactor, proclaimed to be well maintained, was shut down after a
thorough safety assessment, because there was simply too much wrong to fix.


It’s not enough to be grateful that Ray and Sally work hard on these issues.
Please pitch in. Ask your questions! Make a phone call? Survive and help
your town thrive, at panel discussions and workshops on Evacuation Planning,
Radiation Monitoring, and the Powers of Nonviolent Action. During the last
session, choose which issue you want to focus on.

We willingly address realities that can help us avoid the hardships of
ongoing low-level contamination, or nuclear catastrophe. Land trusts,
parents, nurses, activists, Hospice, big brothers, big sisters, sustainable
energy proponents, cancer survivors, please join us as we notice what will
move us toward solutions as a society. Will your town Board of Health come
to hear about radiation monitoring?

Treat yourself to the panel discussion on healing and recovery. We are
excited that author Alice Epstein, “Mind, Fantasy, and Healing” will join us
and bring some of her out-of-print book describing her recovery from cancer.
After being given a diagnosis of cancer and as little as a year to survive,
X-rays showed that her kidney cancer had already spread to the lungs. Diet,
exercise, meditation and therapy were her chosen treatments, about ten years
ago. Claudia Sperber will show us acupressure for health maintenance and
self-care. Kathleen Becker demonstrates Breema massage, for a little heaven
on earth.

DIRECTIONS: Take US91 & 2-West, turn north onto Colrain Rd. and proceed to
the beautiful campus of Greenfield Community College. We’d love to hear
who’s coming. We’d love to hear you’re coming.

Free and open to the public. Wheelchair accessible. Donations welcome.
Donors support conference and travel costs, web access & radio use of audio
recordings. Transcribing help welcomed. Volunteers who can help in any way,
please call Sally Weiss, 413 584-9887 or Sunny Miller, 413 773-7427.

To Co-sponsor or reserve space for your card table, please mail $25 today to
Traprock Peace Center, 103A Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.


> 4. Thanksgiving in a Neighbors’ Network to End War
The Nuclear Age is at our door, knocking.

Who will answer?

Dear Colleagues,

Thanks for considering how you will (or won’t cover) this important story. I
urge you to consider that preventing a melt-down may be worthy of placement
above the fold in all our media. If a melt-down would earn that front-page
placement, why not the efforts (of all the players) to prevent one? Town
Boards of Health, school and hospital administrators, nursing home and
hospice attendants, daycare providers, homeless shelters, all would have
enormous responsibilities during an accident.

We have seen by FEMA’s performance in New Orleans that the federal agencies
will be of little help during a radiological emergency. In Plymouth,
towspeople are considering sheltering in place, rather than sending kids out
in buses into a veritable parking lot. This would mean moving to the
interior hallways and basements, locking down doors, windows and ventilation
systems, and using the foodstuffs on hand.

Windows provide no protection against gamma radiation, but closure can limit
inhalation of the most dangerous alpha emitters. Wooden buildings are
estimated to provide 20% protection, and masonry buildings can provide up to
80% protection from gamma, when shelter is available as far downstairs as

We maintain that because MEMA and FEMA will not be prepared for an
evacuation on the scale that will be needed, all schools and healthcare
facilities need radiation monitors on hand, so that accurate and responsible
decisions can be discussed and made, based on fact, rather than on fiction,
as current evacuation plans suggest.

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

(over 2000 visitors daily)

What wouldn’t you do to prevent a melt-down?

The Vernon, Vermont reactor is just 15 miles from here.
In June the Vermont legislature gave away the store, and linked
payments for new radioactive waste storage on the shores of
the Connecticut River to a 20% increase in power output.
This is the highest power increase ever proposed.
The NRC has not yet denied a single request for a power uprate.
Will they rubber stamp this one,
or require a thorough safety assessment?

Please let us know if you have friends in DC who can
attend the NRC & ACRS meetings.

We have concerns about the loss of a back-up cooling pump,
increased water pressure and operating temperatures, and
the reduction of the melt-down margin.

Dec 10 – Surviving the Vernon Reactor Conference – Greenfield Community College

Confer with experts and neighbors,
this Human Rights Day,
12:30-6:30 pm, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005
Greenfield Community College
*** Greenfield, Massachusetts ***

This is in the Cafeteria, but the cafeteria food service is closed. Please come after lunch. Co-sponsors can set up a card table for literature or a display beginning at noon. Doors pen for the public at 12:30.

Our Keynote speaker Ernest Sternglass, speaks at 1PM and shows graphs on downwind health effects following nuclear testing and reactor operations. Ernest is a brilliant man with both practical and theoretical understanding. He had a 5-hour conversation with Einstein once. He is 82 but looks and acts 62, here from Pittsburg.

Ray Shadis, the Technical Advisor for the New England Coalition will speak about the particular hazards of the proposed power uprate at New England’s oldest reactor. Ray is from Maine and can answer questions about how a thorough safety assessment of the Maine Yankee reactor, proclaimed to be well maintained, was shut down after a thorough safety assessment. http://www.necnp.org

Survive and thrive at panel discussions and workshops on topics such as Evacuation Planning, Radiation Monitoring, and the Powers of Nonviolent Action.

We willingly address realities and what will move us toward solutions as a society.

Treat yourself to the panel discussion on healing and recovery. We are excited that author Alice Epstein, “Mind, Fantasy, and Healing” will join us and bring some of her out-of-print book describing her recovery from cancer. After being given a diagnosis of cancer and as little as a year to survive, X-rays showed that her kidney cancer had already spread to the lungs. Diet, exercise, meditation and therapy were her chosen treatments, about ten years ago.
Claudia Sperber will show us acupressure for health maintenance. Kathleen Becker demonstrates Breema massage, for a little heaven on earth.

Take US91 & 2-West, turn north onto Colrain Rd. and proceed to the beautiful campus of Greenfield Community College. We’d love to hear you’re coming.

Free and open to the public. Wheelchair accessible. Donations invited. Generous donors support web access & radio use of audio recordings. Transcribing help welcomed. Volunteers please call Sally Weiss, 413 584-9887 or Sunny Miller, 413 773-7427. We’d love to hear you’re coming.

To Co-sponsor or reserve space for public display, please mail $25 or more to Traprock Peace Center, 103A Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342

Call Now – Independent Safety Assessment is needed.

CALL NOW – Independent Safety Assessment is needed.

CALL NOW to later hear NRC meetings in Rockville, Md.!
Your wisdom could affect NRC decisions.
Use toll-free bridge line or conference call to listen in.

1. Leave a message now? Ralph Caruso, (301 415-8065)
If you get the machine you can ask for the toll-free number, the access
code, the time and date to call. Ask him to sign you up to hear the Advisory
Committee on Reactor Safeguards hearing testimony early this week on the
hazards (and the smooth sailing imagined) for the proposed uprate at New
England’s oldest reactor in Vernon, Vermont.

Recent fires, loss of highly radiated spent fuel, prior failure of tests
on meeting threats, requests for exemption of stack radiation monitors,
indicate lack of readiness for additional risks. Ask about corrosion,
cracking, vibration and containment overpressure, hazards the NRC sees of
greatest concern. Ralph can also give you the address to send your
comments, to be considered on Dec. 7.

2. Steven Hoffman (301 415-3245)
If you want to listen in on an NRC meeting at 10am on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at
the NRC offices in Rockville, MD. Entergy Nuclear wants to lump together
license renewal requests for Pilgrim and Vernon. Merry Christmas! You may
have an opportunity to comment and persuade the committee that this is
inappropriate, before the call ends around noon. Ask for the toll-free
number, the access code. Fifteen lines were available on Wednesday when
Sunny called.

D. Ray Shadis, Sally Shaw and Dorothy McIver ask …
Please take part in this Rutland Herald poll,
and vote no on the uprate.

The Rutland Herald is currently conducting a poll on the Entergy Nuclear
Vermont Yankee e xtended power uprate. The web address is listed below,
Please take a minute to make your feelings known and please pass this
message on to your contacts/lists and/or members of your organization.
Thank you! http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage

At the bottom of their page:
Should federal regulators grant the Vernon nuclear
Reactor a 20% power increase? (They call it a “plant.”

Traprock Peace Center, 413 773-7427

Flaws found at nuke plant – Camera uncovers possible leak sources

Friday, November 4, 2005
Flaws found at nuke plant
Camera uncovers possible leak sources
By Greg Clary

The Journal News

BUCHANAN — Entergy engineers told a group of elected and public officials yesterday they have isolated three locations inside Indian Point 2’s spent fuel pool that may be the source of leaking radioactive water at the site and will start to work on those areas next week.

They also said they will start drilling at least five new wells at the same time to make sure the leak has been contained properly.

Though the tests are not yet conclusive, engineers said the flaws in the tank which range in size from 1 to 6 inches were discovered this week at joints along a quarter-inch stainless steel pool liner during an underwater camera inspection of the 400,000-gallon tank.

By next week, a diver will go into the pool and place a box over two of the locations between 16 and 22 feet from the top of the pool to create a vacuum and verify if the flaws are actual openings. If the leaks are coming from those locations, officials said, divers will seal the spots with new welds or an industrial coating.

The third location, according to officials, is too far down to allow a diver and would have to be sealed by another means, which engineers are still considering.

The five new wells, as deep as 90 feet into the ground, will be dug to test how the underground water around the fuel pool is moving. State health officials yesterday asked for samples of the earth and water collected during those borings and were promised they could independently analyze whatever is found.

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation corroborated the leakage findings, announced during a presentation and tour of the plant for about four dozen elected officials, their representatives and members of government agencies.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of Indian Point, invited the group to answer officials’ growing concerns and questions about the leak, which was discovered in August and continues to produce between 1 and 2 liters of radioactive water per day.

“We don’t have all the answers,” said Fred Dacimo, an Entergy vice president in charge of Indian Point. “We’re working to get all the answers.”

Two hairline cracks at the base of the spent fuel tank were found Aug. 22. Since then, samples near the leaks have turned up cesium, cobalt and tritium, all radioactive elements.

After touring the site of the leak, officials from Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties said they had a better idea of what the problem was and what Entergy was doing to fix it.

“I think it puts things in perspective,” said Susan Tolchin, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano’s chief adviser, adding Entergy’s effort to educate leaders about the leak didn’t change Spano’s call for the plant’s closing.

Greg Clary can be reached at gclary@thejournalnews.com

62 cracks found at Vt. Yankee

62 cracks found at Vt. Yankee

Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO — There are 62 cracks in an important piece of equipment at Vermont Yankee, but plant officials and federal regulators say that’s not a problem.

The hairline, surface cracks in the plant’s steam dryer were found this month during a routine shutdown. Entergy Nuclear, owners of the plant, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the cracks pose no safety threat.

The cracks are not structurally significant and they are probably from the plant’s early years of operation, according to Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC. They “appear to be old,” he said.

However, nuclear watchdogs say the cracks are one more reason why the NRC should put the brakes on Entergy’s plans to boost power at the plant to 120 percent. A so-called “uprate” at Vermont Yankee is pending final review by the NRC.

In other nuclear plants that have been uprated, cracks in the steam dryer have been a persistent concern.

Vermont’s congressional delegation has identified the cracks as a problem, too. The state’s senators and sole representative wrote to the NRC on Thursday, urging the agency to evaluate the steam dryer issue before approving the uprate.

The Vernon reactor has been off line for re-fueling since Oct. 22. During the outage, plant engineers looked at the reactor and the steam dryer, located at the top of the reactor. They found 42 cracks, ranging from 1 inch to 5 inches in length, said Rob Williams, spokesman for the plant.

The other 16 cracks were discovered in March 2004, during the last refueling outage.

The cracks could have been on the steam dryer more than 20 years, but they’ve only been discovered now because engineers are using cameras with higher resolutions than ever before.

The images show the cracks have been reviewed by Entergy officials, as well as the NRC and General Electric.

Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor that started running in 1972.

When the reactor heats up, it produces steam which, eventually, produces power. Before the steam hits the plant’s turbines, it passes through the steam dryer, where any traces of water are removed.

The Quad Cities Generating Station in Illinois, also a boiling water reactor that went on line in 1972, was granted a 17.5 percent uprate by the NRC in 2002.

Since then, the steam dryer has failed twice because of cracking. In one instance, a piece of the dryer broke off and damaged other components of the reactor. The plant has been shut down a number of times to try to fix the problem.

The NRC is scrutinizing the steam dryer issue at Vermont Yankee as a result. This fall, it told plant officials that in order to have their uprate approved, they’d have to adhere to more stringent maintenance of the steam dryer. Entergy agreed to the condition.

Ray Shadis, technical advisor for the nuclear watchdog New England Coalition, said the added oversight amounts to “an experiment on the banks of the Connecticut River.”

“They are now making the assertion that because these are surface cracks, they will go no further.”

And particularly in light of a 20 percent boost in power output at the plant, Shadis said, “that’s preposterous.”

Entergy officials have until the end of the month to prove that the cracks won’t be exacerbated by an uprate, said Sheehan, of the NRC.

Plant engineers will evaluate the steam dryer and submit a report to the NRC for review. The NRC will not investigate the issue itself.

However, in a letter to the NRC chairman, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., and Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., indicated that’s what they’d like the agency to do.

“We request that the condition of the steam dryer be fully evaluated, using the techniques of the most recent inspection and any other appropriate means,” the letter states. “… it is essential that our constituents receive needed information about whether the plant’s steam dryer will be able to withstand boosted power conditions and operate safely and reliably.”

While Vermont Yankee was shut down, plant officials refueled the reactor with a fuel specifically designed for the plant’s “uprated” production, according to Williams, plant spokesman. During last year’s outage, plant officials installed the same fuel.

Entergy has reportedly done other work at the plant in preparation for the power boost, but Williams could not say how much officials have spent in anticipation of an uprate.

The uprate has been approved by the state’s Public Service Board, a quasi-judicial panel that handles all matters related to utilities. The board’s approval is not final, however; members are still deliberating whether they want an independent safety assessment of the plant done first.

The NRC is the last, major agency that must endorse the uprate. This month, it all but granted tentative approval. It’s “draft” evaluation will bear public review on Nov. 15 and 16, when an agency panel hosts hearings at the Quality Inn in Brattleboro.

NRC officials have said they will issue a final evaluation of the uprate early next year.

Kristi Ceccarossi can be reached at kceccarossi@reformer.com.