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Nuke

Highly radioactive: 1,000 gallons of nuclear waste leak in Washington every year

© Reuters
Six tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are leaking an estimated 1,000 gallons of nuclear waste each year. And with billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts about to occur, the US government may not have the funds to clean up the mess.

Three underground tanks at the Washington-based nuclear reservation were last week found to be leaking at an initially-estimated rate of 300 gallons of waste per year. But Department of Energy investigators this week discovered three additional tanks were leaking, bringing the total estimated annual waste to 1,000 gallons per year.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which was established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, is mostly decommissioned but still holds two-thirds of the nation's radioactive waste in its 177 tanks. The millions of gallons of radioactive material, which still remain from Cold War-era plutonium production, are highly dangerous and are quickly dripping into American soil.

Leaks were discovered years ago, but the Department of Energy said the problem had been solved when it was initially discovered in 2005.
Eye 1

Mind control: Pentagon's DARPA researchers learn to control rat's brain over internet

© Agence France-Presse/Mauricio Duenas
Government mind control may not be as farfetched as it sounds: after 15 years of research, scientists have found a way to transmit information from one brain to another, thereby controlling the thoughts of its test subject.

Scientists have successfully captured the thoughts of a rat in Brazil and electronically transmitted them through the Internet to the brain of a rat in the US. The Brazilian rat had been energetically running around in a lab. When the American rat received the brain waves of its South American counterpart, it immediately began to mimic the behavior - despite the thousands of miles between them, Reuters reports.

Scientists refer to the technique as a "brain link". The $26 million study of brain-machine interfaces was funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which ultimately hopes to have this technology available to humans.

By linking human brains together, scientists believe they can combine brainpower to solve problems that are too difficult for one person to handle alone, Duke University Medical Center neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis told Reuters. Nicolelis refers to this link as an "organic computer", and said scientists will first test it out on monkeys to determine its feasibility.

But not all researchers are excited about the prospect of brain manipulation.
USA

Two U.S. Navy sailors convicted of rape that shocked Japan

© Agence France-Presse/Yoshikazu Tsuno
Civic group members shout slogans and hold placards as they attend a protest over the alleged rape of a local woman by two US servicemen in Okinawa.
Two US Navy sailors have been convicted of raping a Japanese woman in Okinawa while on duty. The rape, which occurred in October, provoked anger among locals and forced the American military to enforce a curfew upon its service members.

The two Americans plead guilty to the charges, admitting to raping the young Japanese woman and robbing her of about $76 in October 2012. The indictment claims that the two sailors "attacked the woman as she walked along a street in central Okinawa just before 4 a.m., choking her and covering her mouth, causing a neck sprain, as they forced her to have sex" with both of them.

The rape dominated Japanese news reports late last year and prompted a reaction from American ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos, who said the US government was "extremely concerned."

"These allegations, given their seriousness, will continue to command my full personal attention," Roos told the New York Times in a statement.

This week, the Japanese court in Naha sentenced 24-year-old Seaman Christopher Browning to 10 years imprisonment and 23-year-old Petty Officer 3rdClass Skyler Dozierwalker to nine years imprisonment. Both of them plead guilty to the charges. Browning is serving a longer sentence for robbing the victim of her cash.
Ambulance

Michigan Gov. Snyder declares Detroit in state of 'financial emergency'

Emergency state 'not hard to justify' says Snyder when faced with recent damning report claiming Detroit close to collapse

The governor of Michigan declared the city of Detroit to be in a state of "financial emergency" Friday and said he would appoint an independent overseer in an attempt to save it from financial ruin.

A state report last week concluded the city was close to financial collapse and experts fear it could become the biggest municipal bankruptcy in US history.

"I believe it's appropriate to declare the city of Detroit in financial emergency based on the review team report," governor Rick Snyder said during a town hall meeting at Detroit's Wayne State University. "It's not hard to justify that conclusion."

Under Michigan law, an outside manager could eventually lead the financially troubled city into bankruptcy, a proceeding that would make Detroit the most populous American city ever to do so. The emergency manager, once named, would have about 18 months to turn the city around before facing re-appointment.
Snakes in Suits

Connecticut lawmaker sorry for telling teen girl he had a 'live snake' under his desk

© via Official Website
A Connecticut lawmaker apologized on Thursday for telling a 17-year-old girl that he had "a snake sitting under my desk" during her testimony at a committee hearing.

"I want to personally apologize to the young lady for the comments that I made," State Rep. Ernest Hewett (D) told The New London Day newspaper after he was stripped of his position as deputy speaker over the remark. Hewett will lose $6,446 in extra pay as a result of losing his position, lowering his salary to that of other state representatives, $28,000.

The unnamed teenager testified on Feb. 20 about the Connecticut Science Center, saying her internship there had helped her overcome her fear of snakes. "I am usually a very shy person, and now I am more outgoing," she told the committee. "I was able to teach those children about certain things like snakes that we have and the turtles that we have," she said. "I want to do something toward that, working with children when I get older."
Sheriff

Cop humiliates Sen. Graham at gun hearing: 'You're wrong' on background checks

At a Senate hearing on gun violence Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was humiliated by a police chief who abruptly interrupted his talking points to insist that he's "wrong" on how enhanced background checks for gun buyers would work.

Echoing the National Rifle Association, Graham argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee that enhanced background checks are not needed because the laws currently on the books are not enforced well enough.

"When almost 80,000 people fail a background check and 44 people are prosecuted, what kind of deterrent is that?" he asked. "I mean, the law obviously is not seeing that as important, if it's such an important issue, why aren't we prosecuting people who fail a background check?"
Light Sabers

Sequestration cuts crisis makes me want to strangle both sides

© Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Speaker of the House John Boehner holds a news conference on the looming sequester in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25th, 2013.
If you can get past how horrifying it is, the looming "sequestration cuts" crisis is fascinating. It's like watching a bunch of gambling addicts play craps by throwing dice into a four-dimensional wormhole. There are so many variables that neither side can possibly know the true outcome of a failure to make a deal - which means the only certainty is that what we're watching is irresponsibility on an epic scale, wherein both of our major political parties seem to prefer government by random outcome over one managed by sensible compromise.

Obviously, most of the problem was originally driven by the intractability of a Republican Party energized politically by its Tea Party base, which preferred the nuclear option of a default or a government shutdown to increased debt and/or new taxes. These fine folks taped sticks of dynamite to their chests and threatened to blow the government, its credit rating and our entire budget mechanism to the moon if we didn't make massive spending cuts - a wild ploy that may not have made a ton of patriotic sense given the catastrophic possibilities of, say, a default, but certainly helped the party solidify its relationship with its base.

Watching the original Republican debt-ceiling warriors furiously shake their fists over this business reminded me of that great line by Claude Rains in Casablanca, when his Captain Renault character tells Humphrey Bogart why he had to be so rough in tossing Rick's nightclub in search of the missing letters of transit. "I told my men to be especially destructive," Rains said. "You know how that impresses Germans."
Yoda

Bradley Manning: the face of heroism

© Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, Maryland.
The 25-year-old Army Private, this generation's Daniel Ellsberg, pleads guilty today to some charges and explains his actions

In December, 2011, I wrote an Op-Ed in the Guardian arguing that if Bradley Manning did what he is accused of doing, then he is a consummate hero, and deserves a medal and our collective gratitude, not decades in prison. At his court-martial proceeding this afternoon in Fort Meade, Manning, as the Guardian's Ed Pilkington reports, pleaded guilty to having been the source of the most significant leaks to WikiLeaks. He also pleaded not guilty to 12 of the 22 counts, including the most serious - the capital offense of "aiding and abetting the enemy", which could send him to prison for life - on the ground that nothing he did was intended to nor did it result in harm to US national security. The US government will now almost certainly proceed with its attempt to prosecute him on those remaining counts.

Manning's heroism has long been established in my view, for the reasons I set forth in that Op-Ed. But this was bolstered today as he spoke for an hour in court about what he did and why, reading from a prepared 35-page statement. Wired's Spencer Ackerman was there and reported:
"Wearing his Army dress uniform, a composed, intense and articulate Pfc. Bradley Manning took 'full responsibility' Thursday for providing the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks with a trove of classified and sensitive military, diplomatic and intelligence cables, videos and documents. . . .

"Manning's motivations in leaking, he said, was to 'spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general', he said, and 'cause society to reevaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore their effect on people who live in that environment every day.'

"Manning explain[ed] his actions that drove him to disclose what he said he 'believed, and still believe . . . are some of the most significant documents of our time' . . . .

"He came to view much of what the Army told him - and the public - to be false, such as the suggestion the military had destroyed a graphic video of an aerial assault in Iraq that killed civilians, or that WikiLeaks was a nefarious entity. . . .

"Manning said he often found himself frustrated by attempts to get his chain of command to investigate apparent abuses detailed in the documents Manning accessed. . . ."
Crusader

Mother Teresa: Anything but a saint...

© Unknown
The myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa is dispelled in a paper by Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal's Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Education.

The paper will be published in the March issue of the journal Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses and is an analysis of the published writings about Mother Teresa. Like the journalist and author Christopher Hitchens, who is amply quoted in their analysis, the researchers conclude that her hallowed image - which does not stand up to analysis of the facts - was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media relations campaign.

"While looking for documentation on the phenomenon of altruism for a seminar on ethics, one of us stumbled upon the life and work of one of Catholic Church's most celebrated woman and now part of our collective imagination - Mother Teresa - whose real name was Agnes Gonxha," says Professor Larivée, who led the research. "The description was so ecstatic that it piqued our curiosity and pushed us to research further."

As a result, the three researchers collected 502 documents on the life and work of Mother Teresa. After eliminating 195 duplicates, they consulted 287 documents to conduct their analysis, representing 96% of the literature on the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity (OMC). Facts debunk the myth of Mother Teresa

In their article, Serge Larivée and his colleagues also cite a number of problems not take into account by the Vatican in Mother Teresa's beatification process, such as "her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception, and divorce."

Comment: Consider the following from Superluminal Communications dated 14 January, 1995:
(T) I want to ask this question, if it has already been asked, somebody stop me, what is the total STO profile? (L) Total lack of concern for self. A: Yes. Q: (L) So, in other words, you don't do anything or think anything in terms of fulfilling or doing for self. You always think in terms of doing or fulfilling for others. (T) Damn, I've got a long way to go then... (Chorus) Don't we all! (J) Was Gandhi? A: No. Q: (T) Mother Theresa? A: No. Political deceptions. Q: (J) Mother Theresa is a political deception?


USA

Army denies requests to reveal results of PTSD study

© AFP Photo
Multiple public information requests for the results of an extensive inquiry into the treatment of soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been denied according to NBC News, but the Army says the results will be made public sooner or later.

The probe centers on Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, where some soldiers claim their PTSD diagnoses have been wrongly changed to save the government money. The review was launched after an Army psychiatrist at Madigan gave a lecture citing a memo that claims veterans suffering from PTSD could get up to $1.5 million in health benefits over their lifetimes.
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