D.C. meltdown: Congress dragging feet on radioactive waste ban

If you’re holding your breath over EnergySolutions’ plan to import low-level radioactive waste from Italy, you might as well exhale. The company’s proposal, and a proposed law to ban foreign waste, are going nowhere fast.
EnergySolutions’ licensing request is bogged down at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where officials have yet to decide if a public hearing will be held before they rule.
A U.S. District Court trial that will decide if a regional waste compact’s ban on the plan will stand won’t be held until September – of 2009.
And the federal legislation that could settle the debate by banning imported waste is mired in a House committee as members of Congress, weighed down with campaign contributions from EnergySolutions and its executives, drag their feet as the recess draws near.
From Italy to Utah, from the United Kingdom to the beltway, the world is watching, waiting and wondering if the United States will foolishly allow itself to become a dumping ground for the planet’s low-level radioactive waste.

It’s a pressing issue, in large part due to EnergySolutions’ international aspirations. In addition to seeking to import 20,000 tons of radioactive waste from Italy’s decommissioned nuclear power industry – the majority of the waste would be recycled at the company’s Tennessee facility with about 1,600 tons destined for its dump in Utah – EnergySolutions has made overtures to a member of Parliament about importing low-level radioactive waste from the United Kingdom.
And the company won’t take no for an answer, filing a federal lawsuit questioning the long-standing authority of the board of the Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management, which voted down the company’s request in May.
Congress could, and should, make the court case moot, and pre-empt the NRC decision, by approving legislation to ban imported radioactive waste. If a foreign country has the expertise to operate a nuclear power plant, it can surely design a facility to store its own radioactive waste.
EnergySolutions is a private business, but it provides an essential public service. The company’s disposal facility in Tooele County is the only remaining repository for 36 states, handling more than 90 percent of the nation’s low-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.
That’s why it’s essential that Congress acts, and quickly, to preserve our dwindling disposal space for domestic waste.


Exposing Bush’s Historic Abuse of Power

Exposing Bush’s Historic Abuse of Power

by Tim Shorrock

The last several years have brought a parade of dark revelations about the George W. Bush administration, from the manipulation of intelligence to torture to extrajudicial spying inside the United States. But there are growing indications that these known abuses of power may only be the tip of the iceberg. Now, in the twilight of the Bush presidency, a movement is stirring in Washington for a sweeping new inquiry into White House malfeasance that would be modeled after the famous Church Committee congressional investigation of the 1970s.

While reporting on domestic surveillance under Bush, Salon obtained a detailed memo proposing such an inquiry, and spoke with several sources involved in recent discussions around it on Capitol Hill. The memo was written by a former senior member of the original Church Committee; the discussions have included aides to top House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, and until now have not been disclosed publicly.

Salon has also uncovered further indications of far-reaching and possibly illegal surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency inside the United States under President Bush. That includes the alleged use of a top-secret, sophisticated database system for monitoring people considered to be a threat to national security. It also includes signs of the NSA’s working closely with other U.S. government agencies to track financial transactions domestically as well as globally.

The proposal for a Church Committee-style investigation emerged from talks between civil liberties advocates and aides to Democratic leaders in Congress, according to sources involved. (Pelosi’s and Conyers’ offices both declined to comment.) Looking forward to 2009, when both Congress and the White House may well be controlled by Democrats, the idea is to have Congress appoint an investigative body to discover the full extent of what the Bush White House did in the war on terror to undermine the Constitution and U.S. and international laws. The goal would be to implement government reforms aimed at preventing future abuses — and perhaps to bring accountability for wrongdoing by Bush officials.

“If we know this much about torture, rendition, secret prisons and warrantless wiretapping despite the administration’s attempts to stonewall, then imagine what we don’t know,” says a senior Democratic congressional aide who is familiar with the proposal and has been involved in several high-profile congressional investigations.

“You have to go back to the McCarthy era to find this level of abuse,” says Barry Steinhardt, the director of the Program on Technology and Liberty for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Because the Bush administration has been so opaque, we don’t know [the extent of] what laws have been violated.”

The parameters for an investigation were outlined in a seven-page memo, written after the former member of the Church Committee met for discussions with the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Common Cause and other watchdog groups. Key issues to investigate, those involved say, would include the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance activities; the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of extraordinary rendition and torture against terrorist suspects; and the U.S. government’s extensive use of military assets — including satellites, Pentagon intelligence agencies and U2 surveillance planes — for a vast spying apparatus that could be used against the American people.

Specifically, the ACLU and other groups want to know how the NSA’s use of databases and data mining may have meshed with other domestic intelligence activities, such as the U.S. government’s extensive use of no-fly lists and the Treasury Department’s list of “specially designated global terrorists” to identify potential suspects. As of mid-July, says Steinhardt, the no-fly list includes more than 1 million records corresponding to more than 400,000 names. If those people really represent terrorist threats, he says, “our cities would be ablaze.” A deeper investigation into intelligence abuses should focus on how these lists feed on each other, Steinhardt says, as well as the government’s “inexorable trend towards treating everyone as a suspect.”

“It’s not just the ‘Terrorist Surveillance Program,’” agrees Gregory T. Nojeim from the Center for Democracy and Technology, referring to the Bush administration’s misleading name for the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. “We need a broad investigation on the way all the moving parts fit together. It seems like we’re always looking at little chunks and missing the big picture.”

A prime area of inquiry for a sweeping new investigation would be the Bush administration’s alleged use of a top-secret database to guide its domestic surveillance. Dating back to the 1980s and known to government insiders as “Main Core,” the database reportedly collects and stores — without warrants or court orders — the names and detailed data of Americans considered to be threats to national security.

According to several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations, Main Core in its current incarnation apparently contains a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies. One former intelligence official described Main Core as “an emergency internal security database system” designed for use by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution or the imposition of martial law. Its name, he says, is derived from the fact that it contains “copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.”

Some of the former U.S. officials interviewed, although they have no direct knowledge of the issue, said they believe that Main Core may have been used by the NSA to determine who to spy on in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Moreover, the NSA’s use of the database, they say, may have triggered the now-famous March 2004 confrontation between the White House and the Justice Department that nearly led Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI director William Mueller and other top Justice officials to resign en masse.

The Justice Department officials who objected to the legal basis for the surveillance program — former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey and Jack Goldsmith, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel — testified before Congress last year about the 2004 showdown with the White House. Although they refused to discuss the highly classified details behind their concerns, the New York Times later reported that they were objecting to a program that “involved computer searches through massive electronic databases” containing “records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans.”

According to William Hamilton, a former NSA intelligence officer who left the agency in the 1970s, that description sounded a lot like Main Core, which he first heard about in detail in 1992. Hamilton, who is the president of Inslaw Inc., a computer services firm with many clients in government and the private sector, says there are strong indications that the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance operations use Main Core.

Hamilton’s company Inslaw is widely respected in the law enforcement community for creating a program called the Prosecutors’ Management Information System, or PROMIS. It keeps track of criminal investigations through a powerful search engine that can quickly access all stored data components of a case, from the name of the initial investigators to the telephone numbers of key suspects. PROMIS, also widely used in the insurance industry, can also sort through other databases fast, with results showing up almost instantly. “It operates just like Google,” Hamilton told me in an interview in his Washington office in May.

Since the late 1980s, Inslaw has been involved in a legal dispute over its claim that Justice Department officials in the Reagan administration appropriated the PROMIS software. Hamilton claims that Reagan officials gave PROMIS to the NSA and the CIA, which then adapted the software — and its outstanding ability to search other databases — to manage intelligence operations and track financial transactions. Over the years, Hamilton has employed prominent lawyers to pursue the case, including Elliot Richardson, the former attorney general and secretary of defense who died in 1999, and C. Boyden Gray, the former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush. The dispute has never been settled. But based on the long-running case, Hamilton says he believes U.S. intelligence uses PROMIS as the primary software for searching the Main Core database.

Hamilton was first told about the connection between PROMIS and Main Core in the spring of 1992 by a U.S. intelligence official, and again in 1995 by a former NSA official. In July 2001, Hamilton says, he discussed his case with retired Adm. Dan Murphy, a former military advisor to Elliot Richardson who later served under President George H.W. Bush as deputy director of the CIA. Murphy, who died shortly after his meeting with Hamilton, did not specifically mention Main Core. But he informed Hamilton that the NSA’s use of PROMIS involved something “so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem,” Hamilton told me. He added, “I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core.” Hamilton also provided copies of letters that Richardson and Gray sent to U.S. intelligence officials and the Justice Department on Inslaw’s behalf alleging that the NSA and the CIA had appropriated PROMIS for intelligence use.

Hamilton says James B. Comey’s congressional testimony in May 2007, in which he described a hospitalized John Ashcroft’s dramatic standoff with senior Bush officials Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card, was another illuminating moment. “It was then that we [at Inslaw] started hearing again about the Main Core derivative of PROMIS for spying on Americans,” he told me.

Through a former senior Justice Department official with more than 25 years of government experience, Salon has learned of a high-level former national security official who reportedly has firsthand knowledge of the U.S. government’s use of Main Core. The official worked as a senior intelligence analyst for a large domestic law enforcement agency inside the Bush White House. He would not agree to an interview. But according to the former Justice Department official, the former intelligence analyst told her that while stationed at the White House after the 9/11 attacks, one day he accidentally walked into a restricted room and came across a computer system that was logged on to what he recognized to be the Main Core database. When she mentioned the specific name of the top-secret system during their conversation, she recalled, “he turned white as a sheet.”

An article in Radar magazine in May, citing three unnamed former government officials, reported that “8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect” and, in the event of a national emergency, “could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and even detention.”

The alleged use of Main Core by the Bush administration for surveillance, if confirmed to be true, would indicate a much deeper level of secretive government intrusion into Americans’ lives than has been previously known. With respect to civil liberties, says the ACLU’s Steinhardt, it would be “pretty frightening stuff.”

The Inslaw case also points to what may be an extensive role played by the NSA in financial spying inside the United States. According to reports over the years in the U.S. and foreign press, Inslaw’s PROMIS software was embedded surreptitiously in systems sold to foreign and global banks as a way to give the NSA secret “backdoor” access to the electronic flow of money around the world.

In May, I interviewed Norman Bailey, a private financial consultant with years of government intelligence experience dating from the George W. Bush administration back to the Reagan administration. According to Bailey — who from 2006 to 2007 headed a special unit within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence focused on financial intelligence on Cuba and Venezuela — the NSA has been using its vast powers with signals intelligence to track financial transactions around the world since the early 1980s.

From 1982 to 1984, Bailey ran a top-secret program for President Reagan’s National Security Council, called “Follow the Money,” that used NSA signals intelligence to track loans from Western banks to the Soviet Union and its allies. PROMIS, he told me, was “the principal software element” used by the NSA and the Treasury Department then in their electronic surveillance programs tracking financial flows to the Soviet bloc, organized crime and terrorist groups. His admission is the first public acknowledgement by a former U.S. intelligence official that the NSA used the PROMIS software.

According to Bailey, the Reagan program marked a significant shift in resources from human spying to electronic surveillance, as a way to track money flows to suspected criminals and American enemies. “That was the beginning of the whole process,” he said.

After 9/11, this capability was instantly seen within the U.S. government as a critical tool in the war on terror — and apparently was deployed by the Bush administration inside the United States, in cases involving alleged terrorist supporters. One such case was that of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Oregon, which was accused of having terrorist ties after the NSA, at the request of the Treasury Department, eavesdropped on the phone calls of Al-Haramain officials and their American lawyers. The charges against Al-Haramain were based primarily on secret evidence that the Bush administration refused to disclose in legal proceedings; Al-Haramain’s lawyers argued in a lawsuit that was a violation of the defendants’ due process rights.

According to Bailey, the NSA also likely would have used its technological capabilities to track the charity’s financial activity. “The vast majority of financial movements of any significance take place electronically, so intercepts have become an extremely important element” in intelligence, he explained. “If the government suspects that a particular Muslim charitable organization is engaged in collecting funds to funnel to terrorists, the NSA would be asked to follow the money going into and out of the bank accounts of that charity.” (The now-defunct Al-Haramain Foundation, although affiliated with a Saudi Arabian-based global charity, was founded and based in Ashland, Ore.)

The use of a powerful database and extensive watch lists, Bailey said, would make the NSA’s job much easier. “The biggest problems with intercepts, quite frankly, is that the volumes of data, daily or even by the hour, are gigantic,” he said. “Unless you have a very precise idea of what it is you’re looking for, the NSA people or their counterparts [overseas] will just throw up their hands and say ‘forget it.’” Regarding domestic surveillance, Bailey said there’s a “whole gray area where the initiation of the transaction was in the United States and the final destination was outside, or vice versa. That’s something for the lawyers to figure out.”

Bailey’s information on the evolution of the Reagan intelligence program appears to corroborate and clarify an article published in March in the Wall Street Journal, which reported that the NSA was conducting domestic surveillance using “an ad-hoc collection of so-called ‘black programs’ whose existence is undisclosed.” Some of these programs began “years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach.” Among them, the article said, are a joint NSA-Treasury database on financial transactions that dates back “about 15 years” to 1993. That’s not quite right, Bailey clarified: “It started in the early ’80s, at least 10 years before.”

Main Core may be the contemporary incarnation of a government watch list system that was part of a highly classified “Continuity of Government” program created by the Reagan administration to keep the U.S. government functioning in the event of a nuclear attack. Under a 1982 presidential directive, the outbreak of war could trigger the proclamation of martial law nationwide, giving the military the authority to use its domestic database to round up citizens and residents considered to be threats to national security. The emergency measures for domestic security were to be carried out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army.

In the late 1980s, reports about a domestic database linked to FEMA and the Continuity of Government program began to appear in the press. For example, in 1986 the Austin American-Statesman uncovered evidence of a large database that authorities were proposing to use to intern Latino dissidents and refugees during a national emergency that might follow a potential U.S. invasion of Nicaragua. During the Iran-Contra congressional hearings in 1987, questions to Reagan aide Oliver North about the database were ruled out of order by the committee chairman, Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye, because of the “highly sensitive and classified” nature of FEMA’s domestic security operations.

In September 2001, according to “The Rise of the Vulcans,” a 2004 book on Bush’s war cabinet by James Mann, a contemporary version of the Continuity of Government program was put into play in the hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when Vice President Cheney and senior members of Congress were dispersed to “undisclosed locations” to maintain government functions. It was during this emergency period, Hamilton and other former government officials believe, that President Bush may have authorized the NSA to begin actively using the Main Core database for domestic surveillance. One indicator they cite is a statement by Bush in December 2005, after the New York Times had revealed the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, in which he made a rare reference to the emergency program: The Justice Department’s legal reviews of the NSA activity, Bush said, were based on “fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government.”

It is noteworthy that two key players on Bush’s national security team, Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington, have been involved in the Continuity of Government program since its inception. Along with Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s first secretary of defense, both men took part in simulated drills for the program during the 1980s and early 1990s. Addington’s role was disclosed in “The Dark Side,” a book published this month about the Bush administration’s war on terror by New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer. In the book, Mayer calls Addington “the father of the [NSA] eavesdropping program,” and reports that he was the key figure involved in the 2004 dispute between the White House and the Justice Department over the legality of the program. That would seem to make him a prime witness for a broader investigation.

Getting a full picture on Bush’s intelligence programs, however, will almost certainly require any sweeping new investigation to have a scope that would inoculate it against charges of partisanship. During one recent discussion on Capitol Hill, according to a participant, a senior aide to Speaker Pelosi was asked for Pelosi’s views on a proposal to expand the investigation to past administrations, including those of Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. “The question was, how far back in time would we have to go to make this credible?” the participant in the meeting recalled.

That question was answered in the seven-page memo. “The rise of the ’surveillance state’ driven by new technologies and the demands of counter-terrorism did not begin with this Administration,” the author wrote. Even though he acknowledged in interviews with Salon that the scope of abuse under George W. Bush would likely be an order of magnitude greater than under preceding presidents, he recommended in the memo that any new investigation follow the precedent of the Church Committee and investigate the origins of Bush’s programs, going as far back as the Reagan administration.

The proposal has emerged in a political climate reminiscent of the Watergate era. The Church Committee was formed in 1975 in the wake of media reports about illegal spying against American antiwar activists and civil rights leaders, CIA assassination squads, and other dubious activities under Nixon and his predecessors. Chaired by Sen. Frank Church of Idaho, the committee interviewed more than 800 officials and held 21 public hearings. As a result of its work, Congress in 1978 passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which required warrants and court supervision for domestic wiretaps, and created intelligence oversight committees in the House and Senate.

So far, no lawmaker has openly endorsed a proposal for a new Church Committee-style investigation. A spokesman for Pelosi declined to say whether Pelosi herself would be in favor of a broader probe into U.S. intelligence. On the Senate side, the most logical supporters for a broader probe would be Democratic senators such as Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who led the failed fight against the recent Bush-backed changes to FISA. (Both Feingold and Leahy’s offices declined to comment on a broader intelligence inquiry.)

The Democrats’ reticence on such action ultimately may be rooted in congressional complicity with the Bush administration’s intelligence policies. Many of the war on terror programs, including the NSA’s warrantless surveillance and the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” were cleared with key congressional Democrats, including Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Rockefeller, and former House Intelligence chairwoman Jane Harman, among others.

The discussions about a broad investigation were jump-started among civil liberties advocates this spring, when it became clear that the Democrats didn’t have the votes to oppose the Bush-backed bill updating FISA. The new legislation could prevent the full story of the NSA surveillance programs from ever being uncovered; it included retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that may have violated FISA by collaborating with the NSA on warrantless wiretapping. Opponents of Bush’s policies were further angered when Democratic leaders stripped from their competing FISA bill a provision that would have established a national commission to investigate post-9/11 surveillance programs.

The next president obviously would play a key role in any decision to investigate intelligence abuses. Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate, is running as a champion of Bush’s national security policies and would be unlikely to embrace an investigation that would, foremost, embarrass his own party. (Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s spokesman on national security, declined to comment.)

Some see a brighter prospect in Barack Obama, should he be elected. The plus with Obama, says the former Church Committee staffer, is that as a proponent of open government, he could order the executive branch to be more cooperative with Congress, rolling back the obsessive secrecy and stonewalling of the Bush White House. That could open the door to greater congressional scrutiny and oversight of the intelligence community, since the legislative branch lacked any real teeth under Bush. (Obama’s spokesman on national security, Ben Rhodes, did not reply to telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.)

But even that may be a lofty hope. “It may be the last thing a new president would want to do,” said a participant in the ongoing discussions. Unfortunately, he said, “some people see the Church Committee ideas as a substitute for prosecutions that should already have happened.”

Tim Shorrock is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in many publications in the United States and abroad, including The Nation, Salon, Mother Jones, Harper’s, Inter Press Service.

ACLU Secures Religious Freedom for American Indians at Wyoming Prison

ACLU Secures Religious Freedom for American Indians at Wyoming Prison
Corrections Officials Had Refused to Allow Northern Arapaho Man
Access to Eagle Feathers Crucial to Religious Prayers
RAWLINS, Wyoming – July 30 – Corrections officials at the Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP) have agreed to allow American Indian prisoners access to eagle feathers for use in their traditional Indian religious practices. According to a court order, prison officials must allow American Indian prisoners to posses up to four eagle feathers in their individual cells, as well as a feather fan comprised of more than four feathers that can be used in group religious activities and stored elsewhere at WSP. The case settles a lawsuit filed earlier this year in which the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wyoming represented Andrew John Yellowbear, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe incarcerated at WSP since 2006. Yellowbear claimed that his religious freedom was being violated by WSP officials who refused to allow him to possess eagle feathers – the single most sacred religious symbol to the tribe and most American Indians. “The fact that officials at WSP will now ensure that American Indian prisoners have access to eagle feathers is a great victory for religious freedom,” said Stephen Pevar, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program who, along with Jennifer Horvath, staff attorney for the ACLU of Wyoming, represented Yellowbear. “The feathers are used to communicate prayers to the Creator and to receive answers to prayers. Denying Mr. Yellowbear these highly spiritual feathers was akin to denying Catholics access to a rosary or crucifix.” Prison officials had previously allowed Yellowbear to have only one feather. That feather was confiscated after Yellowbear filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming last January challenging the prison’s policy and asking that he be allowed to possess 10 feathers – the maximum number of loose feathers the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide under federal regulations. The lawsuit raised claims under the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which bars states from imposing a substantial burden on a prisoner’s exercise of religion unless it furthers a compelling interest and is the least restrictive means available. Other American Indian prisoners at WSP have in the past been permitted to possess entire eagle wings for religious purposes, and corrections officials provided no evidence of security problems that have arisen as a result of the possession of multiple eagle feathers. “Religious freedom is too precious a right to be capriciously denied to individuals who are at the mercy of prison officials,” said Horvath. Shortly after he arrived at WSP in July of 2006, Yellowbear applied to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife for permission to have bald eagle feathers shipped to him from the National Eagle Repository in Colorado. The application was approved in March 2007, but despite this approval both WSP’s warden and the director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections have not allowed Yellowbear access to any eagle feathers from the repository. Bald eagles, removed from the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2007, are nonetheless protected by federal law, which stipulates that only individuals who are enrolled in a federally recognized American Indian tribe are legally authorized to obtain eagle feathers for religious or spiritual use. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife can grant American Indians permission to possess eagle feathers for religious purposes. The federal court order in the Yellowbear case will allow American Indians to make use of this opportunity. Additional information about the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program can be found online at: www.aclu.org/racialjustice/index.html Additional information about the ACLU of Wyoming can be found online at: www.aclu-wy.org

Native Americans as Early Land Managers

Guest Post today by :

Dustin Detweiler

NAS 331 Fall 2007

Marlon Sherman

Midterm Discussion

1. What role might lightning have played?

Lightning played the role of ally, locksmith, and educator. These roles are exemplified by lightning making knowledge from the universe accessible to the people. Just as lightning taught Benjamin Franklin how to protect buildings from lightning damage, lightning taught Indigenous people about the benefit of fire. I like to think of lightning as a locksmith because the knowledge of fire has always been stored in plants. Fire is part of sun contained within the plants. Energy from the sun, gathered by plants is stored in the bonds of organic molecules. Lightning unlocked the secrets of fire when it acted as activation energy to start the combustion reaction between organic matter and oxygen. In the years following a lightning fire, Indigenous people could compare the life within the burned area to the surrounding unburned area and the burned area’s pre-fire state. Noticing the benefits of fire on plant growth, Native people began to practice burning. In some cases the frequency of fires could be related to the intensity of the fires. Lightning seemed to befriend people by showing them ways to live a healthier and safer life.

2. Know and discuss techniques and reasons for Native plant cultivation.

Indigenous people used several techniques to cultivate plants. Pruning changed the structure of the plant and increased seed and fruit production according to M. Kat Anderson. Pruning often removed dead plant material that may be susceptible to insect infestation. The removal of dead material made room and light available to new growth. New growth increased fruit yield and/or produced long straight shoots that could be used in basket making. Pruning also made oak branches stronger and prevented deformed plant growth caused by snow damage. Oak trees not damaged by snow produced more acorns. Pomo people generated valuable weaving material by pruning narrow leafed willow to stimulate rhizome growth. Pruning of prickly pear fruits properly would yield double the fruit during the next fruiting cycle. Coppicing plants produced the long straight shoots highly valued by basket makers. Fire produced disturbances similar to pruning and coppicing, but also added nutritional content to the soil. Burned areas provided excellent grazing habitat for grazing animals like deer and elk. Fire also acted as a pesticide, burning larvae on the ground and smoking out the insects in the trees. Digging for roots, tubers and rhizomes aerated the soil and prevented plant crowding.

3. How are cultivation and basket making related?

Cultivation was used to produce high quality basket making materials. Without Indigenous people’s care and labor, plants left on their own did not produce the long straight shoots needed for basket making. Digging and removing under ground rhizomes prevented crowding of the rhizomes. If these plant parts are allowed to grow uninterrupted, they become crooked and fragile; something hard for a basket maker to work with. Coppiced plants would send up long and straight shoots cherished by Native people for basket making. Burning not only increased the number of plants, but increased the growth of many plants used in baskets. Without cultivation techniques practiced by Indigenous people, basket making would have been hard to accomplish and would have drastically altered the cultures with in ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />California.

4. Discuss horticultural methods of basket makers. Is this agriculture?

The 2004 Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines agriculture as “farming, husbandry”. Farming is defined as using land to grow crops. Crops are typically plants harvested by people. The same dictionary defines horticulture as, “the art and science of growing plants”. Indigenous people developed an art and science to grow, enhance and propagate useful wild and indigenous plants. Harvesting methods often scattered the seeds of some plants, while intentional sowing of seeds was often practiced. Agriculture uses the sowing of seeds to produce a crop. It looks to me like Indigenous seed sowing is indistinguishable from agriculture. Basket makers would also dig for roots and rhizomes. Indigenous people quickly noticed the difference between how plants grew where digging took place and how they grew without digging. In essence the practice of digging served as multitasking. The people would till the soil while harvesting the desired plant parts. Tilling is practiced by agriculture today, so again Indigenous horticultural methods seem indistinguishable from agriculture. Much like agriculture today, basket makers burned areas to increase and enhance plants used for basket weaving. Horticultural techniques of basket makers are a form of agriculture.

5. What are some assumptions that authors might unconsciously express, and why should we be aware of a writer’s culture or educational background?

Authors can unconsciously express racial prejudice. If a non-Indian is writing about Indians, Euro-Centric racism tends to belittle Native peoples in ways unconscious to the reader. Racist views of Indian people tend make them out as a people not capable of the ‘great’ achievements of Western culture and often ignore the great achievements and contributions Native peoples of the Americas have offered. A large part of football fans today probably have no clue that one of the greatest athletes in America, who became the first president of what was later known as the NFL, was a Sac and Fox Indian named Jim Thorpe (just had to mention his name, since I am from the Carlisle area and would love to hear more discussion on Thorpe in Native American circles). If an author lacks a thorough understanding of the culture being depicted by words, then the author can produce conclusions which are false. A researcher who imposes himself and questions upon Native American people can get misleading and often erroneous answers to his interrogation. Often the answers that are given can be used to hide information people would rather not share and in some cases are prohibited to share by cultural traditions.

Climate shift smogs up the nuclear discussion

Climate shift smogs up the nuclear discussion
July 31, 2008


What does Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the environmental affairs and tourism minister, have in common with nuclear power? The public renaissance of both the man and the industry is based almost entirely on climate change.

Van Schalkwyk’s notable role – globally, to help secure a climate change pact and at home, to place global warming at the centre of policy making – will likely save his legacy from one associated exclusively with a dead political party.

Climate change has also been a godsend to the image of the nuclear power industry, enabling it to divert the public imagination away from an association with the Cold War and safety concerns following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.

Nuclear’s newfound favour lies in its claim of clean energy status, based on the absence of greenhouse gas emissions in generating nuclear energy.

The comparison crossed my mind when Van Schalkwyk, announcing a far-reaching framework for South African policy on climate change this week, was asked by a Radio 702 journalist whether climate change was a useful tool for governments to stampede populations into nuclear futures.

The question comes amid fears from anti-nuclear lobbyists that the state may be attempting to short-circuit the kind of public consultation required in a 1998 white paper on energy ahead of decisions to construct new nuclear power stations.

A recent Sapa report said Eskom and the departments of public enterprises and minerals and energy had enlisted the help of a brand consulting firm to boost the image of nuclear power. They apparently hope to employ prominent “nuclear ambassadors” ahead of Eskom’s massive nuclear programme, which aims to generate a quarter of electricity from nuclear by 2025.

Van Schalkwyk’s response to the question toed the official line: nuclear power is part of government policy and has potential to help deal with global warming. “We understand that there are challenges with regard to nuclear, but it is clear that the trend globally is back to nuclear,” he said, to murmurs of dissent from some in the audience.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are 35 nuclear power plants under construction – more than half of which are in China, India and Russia – while several more are being conceptualised.

So what was the murmur of dissent about? It probably relates to the massive cost overruns that have become the norm for nuclear power plants, causing concern among decision makers at a time when the cost of renewable sources of energy are declining.

It’s unclear what Eskom’s nuclear ambitions may end up costing taxpayers and electricity users, but last year University of Greenwich energy policy professor Steve Thomas put the bill at R400 billion – excluding decommissioning costs, which are generally estimated at about three-quarters of capital costs.

Haziness also surrounds the costs of the experimental pebble bed modular reactor project. According to the Democratic Alliance, one 165-megawatt unit will cost R20 billion, of which R8 billion has already been paid. This could easily cover the costs of Eskom’s proposed R6 billion, 100MW solar demonstration plant (for which it has not yet secured funding).

If nuclear power is such a financially feasible option to combat climate change, the government must be fully transparent about the costs, so that a meaningful comparison can be made between the price of nuclear versus renewable energy. To do otherwise suggests there is something to hide.

Van Schalkwyk would create a truly lasting legacy were he to champion this kind of transparency.

Discover Lessons From Canada on Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel & High-Level Radioactive Waste in a Comprehensive Comparative Report

Discover Lessons From Canada on Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel & High-Level Radioactive Waste in a Comprehensive Comparative Report

DUBLIN, Ireland–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/c2c492/nuclear_waste_on_i) has announced the addition of the “Nuclear Waste on Ice: Lessons From Canada on Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel & High-Level Radioactive Waste” report to their offering.

U.S. Nuclear Power is Stymied:

The United States has spent more than $6 billion on the Yucca Mountain repository, and debate still rages over when or whether it will open. In contrast, Canada is close to settling on a course for burying its nuclear waste that promises none of the divisiveness that the Yucca Mountain project has spawned.

What can we learn from Canada?

This exclusive report compares and contrasts Canadas central waste depository plan with that of the United States. You’ll find out how Canadas Nuclear Waste Management Organization has built incentives and flexibility into its plan, and how it plans to overcome the political resistance to a central nuclear waste depository that has plagued the Yucca Mountain project for so long.

This useful report gives you the tools to:

  • Understand thoroughly one of the most current solutions to the nuclear waste disposal problem.
  • Learn about the pros and cons Canada has faced in its approach.
  • Apply the lessons from Canada’s approach to strategies used in the United States that affect your organization.

Who will benefit from this report?

  • Power plant owners and operators
  • State and regional policy makers
  • Environmental law attorneys
  • State and regional regulators
  • Energy consultants

Order your copy today!

Executive Summary:

The battle over Yucca Mountain in Nevada has dominated the nuclear waste picture in the United States for years. Even supporters of burying U.S. nuclear waste in this high-level mountain repository note that limited funding leaves the project in a vulnerable state. Opponents are cherishing the slowdown. Yucca Mountain is a dying beast, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has fought locating the repository in his home state for years. I hope that this cut in funding will help drive the final nail into its coffin.

In contrast to the fiery battles in the United States, Canadas debate on the long-term disposal of nuclear waste is a more measured exercise. In summer 2007, after years of study, Canadas national government settled on a process for longterm management of nuclear waste. Known as adaptive phased management, the process is viewed as both a technical and a management framework to gradually make tough decisions about the location of spent nuclear fuel. Moreover, supporters note that the Canadian government embarked on the process after extensive public debate with everything from public hearings to online electronic dialogues. The goal is to develop a process that is open, transparent, inclusive and that is built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity and respect for Canadians and their environment, said Gary Lunn, Canadian minister of natural resources, in announcing the 2007 decision.

Nuclear Waste on Ice explores Canadas more successful strategies for handling nuclear waste and explains how these strategies can be applied to other countries.

Key Topics Covered:

  • How the U.S. & Canadas Nuclear Industries Differ
  • Adaptive Phased Management: What Is It?
  • How NWMO Is Dealing With Opposing Views
  • Next Steps: What the Future Holds for APM
  • Afterword: NWMOs Annual Report Shows Progress

Companies Mentioned:

  • Nuclear Waste Management Organization
  • Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
  • University of British Columbia in Vancouver
  • Energy Probe
  • Northwatch
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • Hydro Quebec
  • U.S. National Academy of Sciences
  • U.S. National Research Council
  • Royal Roads University in British Columbia
  • Canadian Nuclear Association
  • Sierra Club of Canada
  • Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
  • Assembly of First Nations
  • Greenpeace
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/c2c492/nuclear_waste_on_i

Reid: Yucca Mountain dump site has history of seismic activity

Reid: Yucca Mountain dump site has history of seismic activity

Posted: var wn_last_ed_date = getLEDate(“Jul 30, 2008 3:21 PM EST”); document.write(wn_last_ed_date);July 30, 2008 01:21 PM

Updated: var wn_last_ed_date = getLEDate(“Jul 30, 2008 5:09 PM EST”); document.write(wn_last_ed_date);July 30, 2008 03:09 PM

Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke today about the potential for grave consequences at Yucca Mountain if an earthquake ever struck in the area of the proposed nuclear dump site.

In light of yesterday’s California earthquake felt in southern Nevada, Reid highlighted the fact that the Yucca Mountain site has a history of major seismic activity, increasing the already serious risk of a deadly radioactive release from containers not proven to be safe.

Reid also noted that the Department of Energy still has no emergency response plan in place for Yucca Mountain, which could prove tragic if an earthquake occurred.

He said this is another reason why the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should not docket for review the DOE’s proposal.