With no way to process it, US will bury 70,000 tons of nuclear waste


“It also ups the ante for reactor accident danger, as in the case of Fukushima, because MOX fuel has plutonium in it.”

“…So-called MOX fuel, short for mixed-oxide, is used in nuclear warheads and usually consists of a mix of plutonium and uranium.

The stock of used nuclear fuel currently held at 79 temporary locations in 34 US states “is massive, diverse, dispersed, and increasing,” according to the Oak Ridge report…”

Published: 01 February, 2013, 08:05
Edited: 02 February, 2013, 06:31

RT

With two decades to go before it can reprocess spent nuclear fuel, the US will have to bury nearly 70,000 tons of it, a research lab reports. It comes after Congress and the Obama administration defunded a planned nuclear waste repository in 2011.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a facility that does research for the Department of Energy (DOE), said that “about 68,450 [metric tons] or about 98 percent of the total current inventory by mass, can proceed to permanent disposal without the need to ensure retrievability for reuse or research purposes” in its report, published near the end of 2012. The rest of the waste, the report said, could be kept available for research on fuel reprocessing and storage.

The report was fairly obscure until being cited in a DOE document that showed plans to find a new permanent waste dump after Congress and the Obama administration cut funding for the Yucca Mountain repository in 2011.

Reprocessing has little support in Washington due to concerns that spent fuel could fall into the wrong hands. Nevertheless the DOE started looking into reprocessing methods in 2005.

But following the March 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, US officials became wary of recycling radioactive waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, co-chaired by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said that “no currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments — including advances in reprocessing and recycling technologies — have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenges the nation confronts over at least the next several decades, if not longer” in a report.

Reprocessing was not taken off the table following the report, though, with American officials saying it was “premature for the United States to commit, as a matter of policy, to ‘closing’ the nuclear fuel cycle given the large uncertainties that exist about the merits and commercial viability of different fuel cycle and technology options.”

The method is seen as a dangerous cash grab by anti-nuclear activists.

Recycling is a euphemism for reprocessing which is one of the worst polluters of the atmosphere and the ocean, and is a direct conduit to proliferation,” Mali Martha Lightfoot, executive director of the Helen Caldicott Foundation, told Forbes. “It is not really a solution to anything except how can the industry get more of our money. It also ups the ante for reactor accident danger, as in the case of Fukushima, because MOX fuel has plutonium in it.”

So-called MOX fuel, short for mixed-oxide, is used in nuclear warheads and usually consists of a mix of plutonium and uranium.

The stock of used nuclear fuel currently held at 79 temporary locations in 34 US states “is massive, diverse, dispersed, and increasing,” according to the Oak Ridge report.

http://rt.com/usa/news/us-bolloxed-nuke-waste-209/

 

In search of a revolutionary road #mentalhealth


K. S. JACOB, The Hindu

Psychiatric diagnoses continue to lack the predictive power required of hard science. A new framework is needed to understand mental health, distress and disease

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) will release the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) in May 2013. DSM-5 has been years in the making. The process included planning sessions, international research conferences, review of literature, a series of monographs, secondary analysis of data and field trials involving hundreds of scientists and clinicians, drawn from many countries and disciplines, and feedback from the public. Many interest groups — neurologists, psychologists, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, legal and forensic fraternity, military veterans and anti-psychiatry groups — have been watching the process and outcome closely as the DSM has a wide impact. The Indian Psychiatric Society also submitted its views to the APA.

International standard

The DSM-5 has pursued the basic framework adopted by its forerunners, DSM-III and its successors DSM III R, IV and IV TR. DSM III, with its atheoretical approach, objective diagnostic criteria and specific exclusions, was revolutionary at the time of its introduction in 1980. Its focus on standardised diagnosis and on improving inter-rater reliability had a major impact on psychiatric practice and research. It soon became the international standard.

The absence of laboratory tests to diagnose mental disorders forced psychiatry to focus on clinical presentations for this purpose. The lack of pathognomonic symptoms required the discipline to rely on identifying collections of symptoms to define clinical syndromes. Psychiatric classifications include medical conditions (e.g. delirium, dementia and psychiatric manifestations of medical diseases), severe mental disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, psychotic depression, and stupor) and stress-related conditions (e.g. depression, anxiety and adjustment disorders).

The DSM laid out objective criteria for diagnosis. It offered differential diagnosis in order to distinguish similar conditions. It allowed psychiatrists working around the globe to read from the same page. It facilitated collaboration and comparison. It improved communication, standardised research, increased, and improved the evidence base. A unified language also helped mental health activism.

Despite major advances and significant progress, the DSM has many critics. Most detractors are free with their criticism, without providing comprehensive solutions to the complex issues facing people with mental illness. Defining mental illness is no simple task. A single definition to partition health, illness and disease has proved to be extraordinarily difficult. The diversity of and heterogeneity within these conditions are major challenges. Typically, patients emphasise distress and suffering, while psychiatrists diagnose and treat “diseases.” Mental disorders include both disease and illness. Nevertheless, diagnostic criteria for psychiatric disorders did not bridge the classical disease-illness divide between physicians’ perspectives and patients’ subjective experience of sickness. In fact, the DSM resulted in language, concepts and frameworks, which contrasted starkly with those held by patients, impeding understanding of the illness experience and diminishing the role of patient narratives. In addition, DSM could not overcome the fact that different etiology and pathology can result in similar clinical presentations, and that a particular cause can produce diverse clinical manifestations. Research and specialist interests also increased manifold the number of diagnostic categories.

Little regard for context

The difficulty in separating disease from distress is a major challenge. The DSM system emphasised symptom counts to identify psychiatric categories, with little regard for the context (e.g. psychosocial stress, personality, and coping). This strategy improves reliability of diagnosis for non-psychotic conditions associated with psychosocial adversity, but also includes people with normal responses to such difficulties. Psychiatry tends to reify diagnosis, making abstract concepts concrete. Psychiatric practice transmutes clinical syndromes (collection of symptoms) into diseases.

The DSM III also suppressed etiological debates about mental disorders and placed them on the back burner. The biomedical model, which undergirds the approach, became dominant, annihilating psychological, behavioural and social conceptualisations. However, the APA argued that reliable diagnoses would result in the recognition of underlying neurobiological substrates and facilitate etiological research; it would lead to the development of new and more effective treatments.

However, the frequent revisions of the DSM, with minor changes often based on limited evidence, also prompted debates on the motivation of the APA. The numerous minor and major disagreements with World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) -10 diagnostic categories supported the argument that most changes were arbitrary as there was no agreement among international experts. The DSM had to contend with many charges including medicalising normal reactions, lowering diagnostic thresholds to create spurious “epidemics,” creating new categories without evidence, using medication responses to define categories and playing into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry.

Challenges to diagnosis

Defenders of the DSM argue that its primary purpose is to enable psychiatrists to reliably identify individuals who seek clinical attention, and to facilitate communication among clinicians and researchers. The field of psychiatry has to grapple with the current state of knowledge with its inherent limitations. The lack of laboratory diagnosis, poor understanding of genetic basis and psychological vulnerability, and the need to provide categorical diagnosis for phenomena which lie along a spectrum (e.g. depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment and substance misuse) are difficult challenges.

The most ardent supporters of the DSM acknowledge its imperfections but argue that it reflects our current understanding and state of the science. They contend that DSM-5 is not an attempt to define normal and that being normal is not the same as not having a DSM-5 diagnosis. They argue that having a psychiatric diagnosis is not the same as being insane or crazy, stigmatising labels, which do not apply to the vast majority of people with a DSM diagnosis. They suggest that prescribing medication for any condition in preference to time and labour-intensive psychological interventions is dependent on many factors, including the economic realities of medical practice, and does not necessarily imply medicalising normality.

Pressure from user groups

The use of a single set of criteria, useful to psychiatrists working in specialist settings, in other locations (e.g. definitions for legal use and for reimbursement, in primary care and across cultures) is not without problems. There was also pressure from patient and user groups, as any changes to the DSM-IV categories in the new revision would have affected their claims for disability support and health insurance. Consequently, there were demands to enlarge and to reduce the diagnostic net from different quarters.

A close examination of the DSM-5 suggests the maintenance of status quo. Psychiatric diagnoses and theories, with their technical language, operational criteria, elaborate classificatory systems and empirical data continue to lack the predictive power required of hard science. Its diagnostic systems and models do not explain many aspects of mental health and illness. Human cognition, emotion and behaviour are complex, interconnected and under a variety of influences (e.g. genetics and biology, psychological, social and cultural forces), whose effects cannot be teased out under controlled experimental conditions.

Nevertheless, psychiatric treatments help millions of people lead productive lives. The DSM process and consultation was elaborate and transparent, seeking opinions and evidence from people with diverse backgrounds. Despite its shortcomings, it does reflect the current state of the science. Psychiatry, at this moment in time, has been compared to biology before Darwin and astronomy before Copernicus.

Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions described three stages: (i) normal science (routine scientific work) within existing paradigms and a dedication to solving puzzles, (ii) serious anomalies produced by research, which leads to a crisis, and finally (iii) resolution of the crisis by the creation of a new paradigm. Psychiatry today, with its attempt at solving the clinical puzzles and its many anomalies, is awaiting a paradigm shift, which will not only clarify these complex issues but will also provide for a new framework, insight and understanding. Psychiatric research, despite its current attempts at testable conjectures and refutations, is still within a paradigm that seems inadequate for the complexity of the task. Psychiatry awaits its new dawn.

(Professor K.S. Jacob is on the faculty of the Christian Medical College, Vellore. The views expressed are personal)

 

Delhi Govt Insults Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan by Naming Fish Market After Him #WTFnews


It is a matter of national shame that the insensitive authorities of
the Delhi Government have so recklessly renamed the fish market at
Ghazipur as Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan Fish Market supposedly to honour
the memory of this great son of India and famed Urdu poet.

To set this right, we have created petition to the Chief Minister of Delhi and
requested her to rectify this horrendous faux pas ASAP.

This matter not only relates to the Urdu-speaking populace, freedom fighters
and concerned citizens, it is a  transgression on the sanctity of the
Indian nation which was formed from the blood and toil of such freedom
fighters and martyrs as Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan.

The petition states that if  Delhi Government has run out  of
ideas to constructively and judiciously commemorate our martyrs,  poets
and intellectuals, it should at least refrain from making a  mockery of
their sacrifices and dedication to the cause of the nation.

Below is text of petition and do sign at

http://petitions.halabol.com/2013/02/18/case-shaheed-ashfaqullah-khan

Ms Sheila Dikshit
Chief Minister of Delhi
New Secretariat
IP Estate
New Delhi-110002

Dear Chief Minister,

On the behest of Anjuman  Taraqqi Urdu ( Hind)   I would like to bring to your notice an intriguing issue thatcan only be considered a matter of national shame as it not only shows an Urdu poet, and by corollary the entire Urdu community, in poor light but also runs the risk of provoking the ire of freedom fighters.

I am sure many concerned citizens like me would not like that the erstwhile
Murga Machli Market of the the Jama Masjid area (shifted to Ghazipur
area) should be named Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan Fish Market. The fact
that it is located right in front of the Murga market is double jeopardy
which even a student of class V will testify. This supposedly to honour
the memory of a great son of India and an eminent poet of Urdu, the
national language! There cannot be a more apt example of myopic policies
and bad taste. It is even more surprising as this atrocity has been
committed under the auspices of an urbanized chief minister such as you
who claims to be a Dilliwali! To drive home my point let me quote a few
lines on the sights and sounds of Delhi, with reference to this market,
described in one of Delhi’s premier magazines Time Out:

‘If you are up for a more pungent olfactory sensation, dive into
Shaheed Ashfaqulla Khan Fish Market, created in 1999 in the sahdow (sic)
of a landfill as a replacement for the famously filthy Jama Masjid fish
bazaar. Around 4am daily, the trucks roll in with catfish and crabs in
water tanks, lobsters, tuna, mackerel, kingfish, prawns and hilsa on
ice.(Time Out on August 31 2012 9.51am, Time Out website, emphasis
added).

Do we want to pay homage to our national heroes with glowing
commemorations or shower them in a deluge of crabs, lobsters, tuna and
prawns? Is this the legacy we want to bequeath to our young generation?
This is surely nothing but a disservice to the memory of this brave
freedom fighter and martyr for the cause of the nation and also to Urdu
which has been a victim of linguistic genocide by the State in free
India.

Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan should only be remembered as an Indian who was
an Urdu shayar par excellence, a brave freedom fighter and a martyr who
gave up his life for his country at the young age of 27. Therefore, it
will be a great service to his memory, if you rectified this grave faux
pas and reconsidered honouring his martyrdom in a more appropriate
manner befitting his stature.

I will be grateful if you could put right this bungle as soon as
possible and an acknowledgement of this note will be greatly
appreciated.

Sincerely,

 

#India – When a rape is not a rape #sexualviolence #Vaw #AFSPA


Freny Manecksha | February 16, 2013, Times Crest

 

In 2004 an iconic image, hailed as a feminist statement, depicted a dozen Manipuri women who had stripped in front of the headquarters of Assam Rifles, holding banners saying “Indian army rape us.” But as Chitra Ahanthem, editor of Imphal Free Press explains, “These women actually belong to a very patriarchal society. What drove them to such extreme forms of protest? They told me it was an expression of the impotent rage they felt at the way security troops could commit sexual crimes with such impunity.”

The protest occurred after the body of 34-year-old Manorama Thingjam was found near Imphal on July 11, 2004. Manorama was earlier picked up from her home by 17 Assam Rifles on suspicion of being a militant. “The protesting women told me no woman could remain unmoved after seeing what the troops had done to Manorama. Her body bore appalling wounds _ scratch marks, deep gashes on her thighs and her genitals peppered with gunshot wounds,” says Ahanthem.

More than eight years later Manorama and women of Manipur are still denied justice. The army, in 2011, stalled the Manipur government’s probe and call for action by challenging the Guwahati High court decision in the Supreme Court through a Special Leave Petition saying no sanction had been given to the Manipur government to carry out a probe. Manipur comes under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Sections 6 provides that the state government cannot prosecute law enforcement agencies without sanctions from the federal Home Ministry.

Such high-profile cases of impunity and “the belief that AFSPA because of its overarching powers to security troops virtually provides legal sanction to rape and sexual assault” led the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) to make suggestions to the Verma Commission to bring security troops under the criminal justice system. The commission did so but the recent ordinance on sexual violence is totally silent on this issue. (Ironically in 1997, a bench headed by Justice Verma had upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA).

PUDR observes how powers of search and seizure under AFSPA work as “permissions to enter households and harass, protest and rape women with impunity.”

A most heinous example of such a “permission” is the Kunan-Poshpura mass rapes of 1991 in Kashmir. Men were made to assemble in the fields at night whilst some 23 women of the village, aged between 13-80 years, said they were raped by troops of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles between the night of February 23-24. No police investigations were carried out. A Press Council of India committee headed by B G Verghese, claimed the complaints were fabricated. But in October 2011, the State Human Rights Commission, (SHRC) acknowledging the sexual assaults asked the state to start a fresh probe.

The army which resists all attempts to lift AFSPA, says it has its own justice delivery systems and there is a strong and vigilant court martial process. But as legal activist Vrinda Grover observes, “Whilst they do deliver some sentences it is not commensurate with justice. Also there is no transparency since one has no access to court martial proceedings and no information is shared either with the public or even the victims.” In several cases Right to Information applications are refused under exemptions.

Increasingly, rights activists are now arguing that it is not merely draconian legislation but militarisation and the guise of a security-centric approach that creates “institutional impunity at political, judicial and moral levels.”  A report Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in Jammu & Kashmir by the International People’s Tribunal for human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons states that in the “name of countering militant violence the Indian state authorises armed forces to carry out operations with or without adherence to law. Significantly in a majority of cases crimes are not noted or investigated at all.”

A team member explains that in Jammu and Kashmir the very act of filing an FIR against the forces becomes a huge struggle.

One of the victims of Kunan-Poshpora  in her testimony to another report to the Independent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in Kashmir speaks of the daunting challenge in  filing FIRS because of fear and reprisal by concerned troops. She adds that although an FIR was lodged (RI/1387/83) at Trehgam police station on March 2, 1991 nothing came of it.

Alleged Perpetrators documents the lengthy and almost futile efforts of a particular case of torture and sexual assault in Sipan, Anantnag district. In response to an RTI query the Jammu & Kashmir government in 2009 said sanction for prosecution had been sought from the ministry of defence in 2006 but was still awaited. The ministry of defence claimed sanction had not been received. What is also significant is that it took 12 years for the J&K police to investigate and process the case for prosecution.

An even more alarming feature is that the culture of impunity has permeated to the police who do not come under AFSPA.  One notable case in Alleged Perpetrators pertains to rape and torture of  a 16-year-old girl from Zachaldara,Kupwara district. She says she was picked up from school and taken to a police station for interrogation. Lady constables tortured her and later DSP Altaf Ahmad Khan kicked her in the abdomen and then raped her. So horrific were the injuries that she was in hospital for 50 days. Her ruptured uterus was removed. Although she filed an application no FIR was registered. She then approached the SHRC who have recommended an inquiry three years after receiving the complaint. No investigations appear to have taken place.  Meanwhile the police officer has been promoted and awarded the President’s Police award for gallantry.

Significantly this trend of rewarding policemen who have charges of sexual violence against them have echoes in Chhatisgarh, where there is militarisation but no AFSPA. SRP Kalluri who was awarded a gallantry medal this January has been named by Ledhabai, the wife of a slain Maoist, as an accused for custodial rape and gangrape in a case filed in the Chhatisgarh High Court.

Last year there was outrage over adivasi school teacher Soni Sori’s letter to her lawyer stating that she was sexually assaulted and tortured by police officer Ankit Garg whilst in jail. Garg was given a gallantry award despite the complaints and Sori emerged as a global rallying figure for her vehement stand against atrocities perpetrated on adivasi women.  Sori who has been jailed by Dantewada police on various counts won a crucial victory this week as she was acquitted for being a key accused in an incident of opening firing and burning Essar vehicles.

Commenting on this trend of rewarding tainted police officers Vrinda Grover says that by such rewards the state is assuring them that they will be safeguarded. It is telling women, she says, that their bodies are fodder for interests of national security.

Israel and the curious case of Prisoner X


By Yolande Knell BBC News, Jerusalem

Photographs and details of Ben Zygier made the front pages of Australia's newspapers on 14/2/13 Details about Prisoner X have been revealed in the Australian media

Many questions remain unanswered in the mysterious case of Israel‘s so-called Prisoner X, an Australian-Israeli man imprisoned under a false identity who died in custody – it is not known what he was accused of or exactly how he died in a high security jail two years ago.

A government gag order that remains partially in place could leave key facts shrouded in secrecy for some time.

However, the details that have come out over the past few days – and the way that they have emerged – have sparked an open, vigorous debate in the Israeli media about civil rights and issues of censorship.

In 2010, brief articles were published on the online news website, YNet, saying that an Israeli was detained in isolation at Ayalon Prison, near Tel Aviv, and later that he had committed suicide. Both stories were later removed.

A blanket ban meant that no more was reported until Tuesday, when Australia’s ABC News identified the dead man as Ben Zygier, 34, originally from Melbourne.

It said that he had moved to Israel in 2000, and quoted sources suggesting he was imprisoned for misconduct after spying for the intelligence agency Mossad.

I can imagine a scenario where winning two years of secrecy gave the Mossad time to organise alternative arrangements for whatever they thought was threatened by this guy’s transgression”

Martin Sherman Israel’s Institute of Strategic Studies

While the news spread quickly via social networks, the Israeli media stayed virtually silent.

The left-leaning newspaper Haaretz reported on the ABC programme on its website and then took the page down. It also reported that the prime minister’s office had asked media editors to withhold information that was “very embarrassing to a certain government agency”.

It was only after three Israeli MPs used their parliamentary immunity to raise the issue in the Knesset that the censor was forced to ease restrictions and permit coverage of the ABC findings.

Old-fashioned thinking?

On Wednesday, in a column titled Cloak and Dagger democracy, Haaretz editor Aluf Benn sharply criticised the head of Mossad for his handling of the affair, suggesting he was “still living in the previous century” beyond the reach of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“Beyond the highly fortified walls of his office there is an entire world without restrictions and constraints, in which people are free to exchange information, opinions and even photographs,” he went on.

He called on censors, judges and security officials to accept “the concept of a free media operating in a democratic state”.

This outburst prompted the chief editor of the conservative Israel Hayom, Amos Regev, to accuse Haaretz of “hypocrisy, cynicism and arrogance”.

“The Mossad is not the enemy. The Mossad protects us, the citizens of Israel,” he said.

Social media encourages us to share content, to push it to our friends and contacts – there’s no gag order that can stop that”

Yuval Dror Digital media expert

“Does the public’s ‘right to know’ require us to set a spotlight on each action of an agent, spy or fighter, who endangers their lives so we can live in peace? Who appointed us, the journalists, as experts about everything?”

While Israel prides itself on its democratic values like free speech, there is military censorship.

To receive an official press card, journalists must sign an agreement pledging not to publish any security information that could help Israel’s enemies or harm the state. Most know how to tread carefully.

With the facts in this case still murky, human rights groups have also been cautious when raising their concerns about the treatment of Prisoner X.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote to the Deputy Attorney General suggesting it should be possible to safeguard state security while being transparent about any failures.

“There is considerable public interest in information on the investigation into the detainee’s death, and in answers to the following questions: Was it really suicide? Was there negligence in the supervision of the detainee? Has any official body taken responsibility? What steps have been taken to prevent the recurrence of similar events in the future?” it said.

Digital age

Israeli security experts say that the action taken against Prisoner X was highly unusual. “As far as I know, in recent decades it’s unique,” says Martin Sherman, who heads the Israeli Institute of Strategic Studies.

Timeline of Prisoner X scandal

  • Dec 10: Man found hanged in cell at Ayalon prison
  • Story reporting brief details of the death appears on Israeli news website Ynet, but is then taken down
  • Rumours continue to circulate that Prisoner X, as he became known, was a Mossad agent
  • 12 Feb 13: Australia’s ABC News names Prisoner X as Ben Zygier, 34
  • Mr Zygier was reportedly born in Melbourne to a prominent Jewish family and moved to Israel in 2000
  • 13 Feb 13: Israeli justice ministry confirms the existence of Prisoner X
  • 14 Feb 13: Australia admits it was told of Zygier’s detention in Feb 2010

“I would have thought there was almost irrefutable proof of him having done something otherwise they wouldn’t have risked such an extraordinary measure.”

Speculation is rife that Mr Zygier, also known as Ben Alon, was suspected of being a double agent or was being threatened to hand over sensitive information.

Australian sources suggest that their intelligence service had questioned him about trips that he made to Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and Mossad’s operation methods relating to foreign passports.

Mr Sherman disagrees that the media blackout was a failure.

“I can imagine a scenario where winning two years of secrecy gave the Mossad time to organise alternative arrangements for whatever they thought was threatened by this guy’s transgression,” he says.

But media analysts argue that recent events showed that in the digital age ultimately gag orders do not work.

“They are simply ludicrous. I think that the government that asked the courts to issue one now understands that,” says Yuval Dror, an expert on digital media at the College of Management.

“Social media encourages us to share content, to push it to our friends and contacts. There’s no gag order that can stop that,” he adds.

Foreign sources

For Israelis, there was a familiar pattern to the way in which information was revealed this week via the foreign media. Here, journalists often leak stories forbidden for publication to their overseas counterparts and then quote their reports.

Ayalon prison watchtower Prisoner X was reportedly held at Ayalon prison in Ramle, Israel

Last month, Israeli outlets circumvented the censor’s ban by running foreign media coverage of an Israeli air raid on a military complex in Syria.

So far, the only official Israeli account about Prisoner X comes from a district court.

It confirms that an Israeli with an unspecified dual citizenship was imprisoned under a false name “out of security considerations”, that his family was informed and he was given legal representation.

After the man was found dead in his cell in December 2010, a judge ruled it was suicide. The state has now been asked to check for possible negligence.

Following an interesting parliamentary session in Canberra, the Australian media continues to serve as a main source for Israeli news leads.

The Australian foreign ministry has now admitted it knew of Mr Zygier’s detention as early as February 2010.

And other foreign reports are surfacing. The Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Jarida, implicates Mr Zygier in the assassination of a senior Hamas official in Dubai in January 2010. Australia complained to Israel at the time after faked Australian passports were used.

 

Koodankulam: Shoddy equipment develops leaks


February 17, 2013, 8:21 pm
article_image

by Sam Rajappa

 

ACCORDING to the Department of Atomic Energy and the authorities of Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the loading of uranium fuel rods at the 1,000 MWe-capacity first unit of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project was completed on 2 October last year, but has not produced a single unit of electricity so far. Critical equipment supplied by Atomstroyexport of Russia, building nuclear reactors abroad, were found to be shoddy and have developed leaks even before commissioning of the plant. The financial statement released by Atomstroyexport shows its losses have doubled in the last year and it is on the brink of bankruptcy. Russian engineers at the Koodankulam plant site have not been able to plug the leaks. In a desperate attempt to commission the plant, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it a prestige issue, NPCIL has flown in technicians from Croatia and Germany to carry out repairs in the Russian designed and erected plant. NPCIL claims to have spent an excess of Rs. 4,500 crore on the non-functioning power plant. The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy has threatened to lay siege on the Koodankulam nuclear complex in a non-violent manner if the Centre commissions the first unit in haste and secrecy without attending to its safety requirements, and sought a White Paper on the KKNPP and its reactors from the Centre. It was turned down.

 

An official statement issued by NPCIL on 25 January said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has given permission to “repeat the full systems test at the first unit.” One needs to repeat a test only if it failed in the first instance. NPCIL’s desire to gloss over its failure and make it seem as if the ‘permission’ is a hard-won victory is understandable. But why is the AERB condescending even after RK Sinha, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, had said that “there are some system parameters like flow, pressure, temperature that need to be maintained within particular values.” During the first hydro test conducted last December, certain valves did not behave the way the manufacturer claimed they would. These valves were opened, repaired, and some components replaced. The fact that brand new valves malfunctioned raises questions about the quality of equipment supplied. Identification of defective valves at this late pre-commissioning stage suggests that the quality of assurance of individual components was deficient.

 

In February last year, Russia’s Federal Security Service arrested Sergei Shutov, procurement director of Rosatom subsidiary Zio-Podolsk, on charges of corruption and fraud. Zio-Podolsk is the sole supplier of steam generators and some other key components for Russian nuclear reactors worldwide, including India. Shutov was charged with using cheap Ukranian steel blanks in nuclear reactors. NPCIL should reveal whether the leaky valves were supplied by Zio-Podolsk. A PTI feature issued in July 2011 reveals, quoting DAE sources, that the Koodankulam plant was expected to be commissioned in March 2009, long before protesters held up work on the project for nearly six months, but was delayed because of difficulties experienced in receiving equipment from Russia “in sequential order.” The article says: “The designers discovered that several kilometers of power and control cables in the reactor were missed after the completion of double containment of the reactor.” The problem was rectified after the cables meant for power supply to instrumentation in different buildings were incorporated by breaking open the concrete walls in the containment domes and was sealed again bringing the cables from the switch yard to inside. Breaking open and resealing the containment dome is unprecedented in nuclear power industry.

 

As the Manmohan Singh government is determined to unleash all kinds of atrocities on peaceful protesters against the shaky Koodankulam plant like filing 325 cases including sedition, waging war on the Indian State and on other serious sections of the Cr PC and IPC with 5,296 named as accused and 221,483 unnamed accused at one police station alone near the plant site, PMANE has taken up the issue with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who had earlier reached out to the tribal people opposed to Vedanta Resource’s Rs. 4,500-crore bauxite mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills. Rahul had then said: “True development takes place by respecting the interests of the poor,” and offered to be their sipahi in Delhi. SP Udayakumar, coordinator of PMANE, in a letter to Rahul, said if the Congress did not respect people’s power, democracy and peaceful struggles, and starts the Koodankulam plant forcibly, it would prompt the voters at least in Tamil Nadu and Kerala to shun the Congress.

 

Unmindful of the people’s fears about the breaking open and resealing of the dome of the Koodankulam plant, the AERB, DAE and NPCIL remain tight-lipped. Even a small mishap in a nuclear facility will have the potential to destroy millions of people in our densely populated country. In a recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has passed strictures on the ‘toothless’ AERB for not even ensuring nuclear and radiation safety in any of the atomic installations in the country. The long-awaited Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, tabled in the Lok Sabha on 7 September 2011, ostensibly to bring about much needed independence and transparency in administering safety of nuclear operations, remains a non-starter. According to A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of AERB, the Bill fails to serve any of its laudable objectives in its present form.

 

The Bill seeks to establish a Council of Nuclear Safety to be chaired by the Prime Minister and will have as its members five or more Cabinet ministers, the Cabinet Secretary, chairman of the AEC and experts nominated by the Union government. The CAS will constitute two search committees, one to select the chairperson and the other to select members of the NSRA. The CNS is empowered to create an Appellate Authority to hear any appeals on any order or decision of the NSRA. The same Appellate Authority will also decide on appeals from the government against the NSRA. What the government tries to do under this Bill is to create a high level council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to control and curb the freedom of action of the NSRA. Clause 20 of the Bill stipulates the NSRA should function in a manner consistent with the international obligations of India.

 

If the NSRA were to find the equipment supplied by Russia to the Koodankulam plant substandard and do not conform to safety norms, the regulatory body dare not act for it would be contrary to “India’s international obligations” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised unilaterally to his Russian counterpart while on a visit to Moscow in December 2011.

 

The same clause also says the NSRA “shall not interact with bodies outside India without the prior approval of the government.” The subservient nature of the proposed NSRA has been made abundantly clear in Clause 48(1) which says: “the Central government may, by notification, supersede the regulatory authority for such a period not exceeding six months. Upon notification, the chairperson and members of the NSRA shall vacate their offices as such; … all the powers, functions and duties shall, until the authority is reconstituted, be exercised and discharged by the Central government.” The NSRA can never be independent unless the appointment of its chairperson and selection of members of the regulatory authority as well as supersession of the NSRA are left to Parliament and not to the ruling party of the day. (The Statesman/ANN)

 

The writer is a veteran journalist and former Director of Statesman Print Journalism School

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=72856

 

#Mumbai-Ex-encounter cop planned builder’s murder


Ex-encounter cop planned builder’s murder

Pranab Jyoti Bhuyan l @pranabbhuyan, DNA

Vashi: A retired state police encounter specialist and a shooter were arrested between Saturday late night and Sunday morning in connection with the murder of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Kumar Loharia.
Two men on a motorcycle had gunned down the 50-year-old builder in front of his office in Vashi’s sector 28 on Saturday morning, moments after he got off his white BMW. Local people had caught one of the shooters, Venkatesh Shettiyer, 35, from the spot while the other, Wazid Qureshi, 28, managed to flee.
Qureshi was arrested from his home in Mumbra. And Emmanuel Amolik, the 62-year-old retired police officer, was arrested from Naigaon in Dadar late on Saturday night. Police said Amolik had paid a “supari” to Qureshi and Shettiyer to kill Loharia.
Navi Mumbai police commissioner AK Sharma said Shettiyer had spilled the beans during interrogation. “We arrested both based on what he told us. Investigations are on to find out if someone else is involved,” he said.
Amolik, an encounter specialist with the Maharashtra police, served at Thane, Solapur, Nagpur, and Mumbai before retiring as an inspector in 2011. He was an inspector in Navi Mumbai in 2004 and the CID had arrested him in 2003 in connection with a fake encounter.
“Qureshi has several cases registered against him in Mumbai,” Sharma said. “Qureshi and Amolik know each other for the past several years.”

All three have been booked. A Belapur court on Sunday sent Shettiyer and Amolik to police custody till February 22. Qureshi will be produced in court on Monday.
Additional commissioner Fateh Singh Patel said Amolik told them that he had a fight with Loharia more than a month ago over parking at Sanpada’s Moraj Circle on Palm Beach Road.
“He told us that Loharia had flashed his gun and threatened to kill him. He said he wanted to avenge his insult,” the officer said. “In fact, Amolik told us that he would have killed Loharia that same day if he had a gun. We are trying to find out how much he paid Qureshi and Shettiyer.”
Another officer from the Vashi police station said Shettiyer had told them on Saturday that they killed Lohariya over some property dispute in Kharghar. “After Qureshi and Amolik were arrested he, however, told us that he lied to mislead the investigators. We are questioning many people and trying to find out the real reason behind the murder.”
Loharia’s family conducted his last rites on Sunday evening. One of the family members said they were unhappy with the way the police were investigating the matter. Loharia’s son Sunny Kumar said the crime branch of the Mumbai police should investigate. He has written a letter to the chief minister as well, he said.
“We have given the names of a couple of builders and architects who we feel could be involved,” he said. “On Saturday, I got a call on my mobile phone asking me not to name a particular builder. I have told this to the police, but they seem very casual about it.”

Published Date:  Feb 18, 2013

 

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