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China is world's worst jailer of the press; global tally second worst on record


China is world's worst jailer of the press; global tally second worst on record

More than 200 journalists are imprisoned for their work for the third consecutive year, reflecting a global surge in authoritarianism. China is the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2014. A CPJ special report by Shazdeh Omari

Published December 17, 2014

The Committee to Protect Journalists identified 220 journalists in jail around the world in 2014, an increase of nine from 2013. The tally marks the second-highest number of journalists in jail since CPJ began taking an annual census of imprisoned journalists in 1990, and highlights a resurgence of authoritarian governments in countries such as China, Ethiopia, Burma, and Egypt.

China’s use of anti-state charges and Iran’s revolving door policy in imprisoning reporters, bloggers, editors, and photographers earned the two countries the dubious distinction of being the world’s worst and second worst jailers of journalists, respectively. Together, China and Iran are holding a third of journalists jailed globally—despite speculation that new leaders who took the reins in each country in 2013 might implement liberal reforms.


Hacker posts nuclear plant blueprints

Source: Korea Joon Gang Daily

The design blueprints of nuclear reactors and other parts of the nation’s two largest nuclear power plant complexes were leaked, raising alarm about lax protection of sensitive information that could be used by terrorists.

Blueprints of Korea’s nuclear reactors, as well as detailed explanations on how to manage the control software at the Gori and Wolseong nuclear power plants, was posted on a blog on the nation’s biggest Web portal site Naver on Monday. The blog is run by a user who goes by the nickname “Who am I?”


Additional hacked information posted on the blog included test results for thyroid cancer for residents living around the Gori reactor, as well as some personal information of about 10,800 current and former KHNP employees.


“If these reactor blueprints and system manuals are leaked, we could be faced with a situation where someone posing as an employee could log onto the main reactor control system and commit a terrorist act,” said an official from the National Information Security Service.


“Why did we attack the control system? Because we don’t want to suffer disasters like the Fukushima accident,” wrote the blogger. “Nuclear power is not a safe source of energy anymore. People living near the nuclear power complex have filed a class action suit claiming that they have been suffering from thyroid cancer.”

The blogger claimed that the hacker put over 16,200 pieces of malicious code into KHNP’s system and is planning another attack on Christmas.

Read more: http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2998752&cloc=joongangdaily|home|newslist1

Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work?


Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work?
Associated Press
By ROBERT BURNS 9 hours ago

Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years — repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps — the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide.

Less certain is whether it will find all the right fixes, apply them fully and convince a doubting force of launch officers, security guards and other nuclear workers that their small and narrow career field is not a dead end.

The stakes are huge.

The nation's strategy for deterring nuclear war rests in part on the 450 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand ready, 24/7, to launch at a moment's notice from underground silos in five states.


Costa Rica's Franklin Chang pushes space agenda in Washington


Costa Rica’s Franklin Chang pushes space agenda in Washington
Larry Luxner
December 10

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Costa Rican astronaut-turned-businessman Franklin Chang Díaz warns that NASA and the United States may get left behind as European and Asian rivals pursue their own well-funded space programs with excitement and imagination.

Chang, who holds the world record for number of times in space (seven) and number of space walks (three), visited Washington last week to promote his own venture, Ad Astra Rocket Co. The Houston-based company, with subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Germany, is developing plasma technology for space travel, as well as renewable energy sources Chang says are crucial for helping the world end its addiction to fossil fuels.


“Most people don’t even know that astronauts have been living in space since 1999 aboard the ISS,” he complained. “But the excitement of exploration has to give way to the real business at hand: the expansion of humans into space. I’m not just talking about space tourism, but mining, research, resettling, everything. We don’t want to wait until the planet becomes uninhabitable. By the time that happens, we won’t be able to do anything. My point is, humanity has to move out into space in a big way – and not just as a select group of astronauts or cosmonauts.”


But winning a contract with NASA is like “pulling teeth,” said the spaceman.

“My own agency that I love dearly has been a difficult nut to crack. For our little company, getting into space is essential. If we don’t do that, we’re dead,” Chang said, explaining the reason for his frequent trips to Washington.

“The Chinese are moving forward to develop this technology as well. They’re smart people and they’ve read all our papers, which are public documents. They have a space station and they’ve asked me if they can test our rockets. If the ISS isn’t available, the only other remaining option is the Chinese. We can’t do anything sitting in the lab. Investors will just walk away, and this technology will disappear from the United States.”


DIA: North Korea Planned Attacks on US Nuclear Plants

Source: Washington Free Beacon

North Korea dispatched covert commando teams to the United States in the 1990s to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in a conflict, according to a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report.

The DIA report, dated Sept. 13, 2004, reveals that five units of covert commandos were trained for the attacks inside the country.

According to the report, the “Reconnaissance Bureau, North Korea, had agents in place to attack American nuclear power plants.”


The report indicates that power plants would be targeted for attack “in the event of hostilities between the United States and DPRK” – the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.


But the DIA report is the first intelligence document indicating North Korea had planned attacks inside the United States and dispatched agents for the operations.

Disclosure of the report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, comes amid threats by presumed North Korean agents to conduct September 11-style terrorist attacks against U.S. movie theaters.


A second DIA document reveals that an American defector identified only as “Jackson” and as a former Air Force officer was working inside North Korea for the Reconnaissance Bureau.


Read more: http://freebeacon.com/national-security/dia-north-korea-planned-attacks-on-us-nuclear-plants/

China's nuclear giant grabs majority stake in UK wind farms

Source: Mining.com

State-owned China General Nuclear Power (CGN) is acquiring an 80% stake in three UK wind farms from French utility Electricite de France (EDF), in a deal worth about $157 million.

The deal marks CGN's first big acquisition of onshore wind generating capacity in the west and, according to the Chinese group, it will be the "beginning of concrete co-operation between CGN and EDF in Europe,” Recharge News reported.

The move, analysts agree, may help the talks involved in construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear project, which EDF plans to build by 2023.


CNG, China’s largest nuclear firm, currently generates 55% of the country output from 11 plants.


Read more: http://www.mining.com/chinas-nuclear-giant-grabs-majority-stake-in-uk-wind-farms-92303/

Note: Nuclear is only 2% of China's electricity, CNG generates 55% of that, roughly 1% of China's electricity.

China, People's Republic of

Electricity Production Share in 2013

Annual Electrical Power Production
Total Electricity Production (including Nuclear) 5245110.00 GW.h (Gross, 2013)
Nuclear Electricity Production 110710.00 GW.h (Gross, 2013)

Kinematics Dress by Nervous System - 3D Printed by Shapeways

Kinematics Dress by Nervous System - 3D Printed by Shapeways
Published on Dec 9, 2014

Nervous System has created the first dress with Kinematics, their unique 4D printing system that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. The Museum of Modern Art has acquired the dress along with the software that created it for their permanent collection. Composed of thousands of interlocking components, the dress was 3D printed as a single folded piece at the Shapeways factory in New York City and required no assembly. This was made possible by Nervous Systems' Kinematics system which combines design generation, customization, and simulation to enable the production of large flexible structures by 3D printing.

For more information, visit http://n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com/projects/sets/kinematics/

Dress created by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Nervous System
Worn by Lana Briscella
Filmed & edited by Andrew Robertson & Passerby Films
Filmed at Shapeways Factory in New York City
Music by Joseph Fraioli
Special thanks to Duann Scott

Plans for Nuclear Rockets in the Wake of Recent Space Accidents - By Karl Grossman


Plans for Nuclear Rockets in the Wake of Recent Space Accidents
By Karl Grossman

The recent crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo and explosion on launch three days earlier of an Antares rocket further underline the dangers of inserting nuclear material in the always perilous space-flight equation--as the U.S. and Russia still plan.


And in recent times, solar power has been increasingly shown to be practical even to generate on board electricity for missions far out in space. On its way to Jupiter now is NASA's Juno space probe, chemically-propelled and with solar photovoltaic panels generating all its on board electricity. When Juno reaches Jupiter in 2016 it will be nearly 500 million miles from the Sun, but the high-efficiency solar cells will still be generating power.


Among other ways of propelling spacecraft, discussed at a Starship Congress last year in Texas was a system using orbiting lasers to direct beams on to a spacecraft. The magazine New Scientist said "beam sails are regarded as the most promising tech for a starship."

A scientist long-involved in laser space power research is Geoff Landis of the Photovoltaics and Space Environment Branch at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland who, in a 2002 NASA publication, "The Edge of Sunshine," wrote: "In the long term, solar arrays will not have to rely on the Sun. We're investigating the concept of using lasers to beam photons to solar arrays. If you make a powerful enough laser and can aim the beam, there's really isn't any edge to sunshine--with a big enough lens, we could beam light to a space-probe halfway to alpha-Centauri!"

Has Torture Killed More Americans Than it Saved? - by Martin Hellman


Has Torture Killed More Americans Than it Saved?
December 10, 2014

The release yesterday of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of what the CIA has called “enhanced interrogation techniques” drew predictable partisan responses, with many Democrats condemning the use of torture and Republicans saying that extraordinary times necessitated extraordinary means to protect American lives. But lost in the noise is an important question: Did these enhanced interrogation techniques play a role in killing thousands of Americans? Here’s why I believe that happened:

Colin Powell’s February 2003 speech to the UN was a key element in the Bush administration’s building public support for its invasion of Iraq. There was just one problem. Powell’s contention that “Iraq provided training in these weapons (of mass destruction) to al Qaeda,” was based on false information obtained by torture. Two years later, in a Barbara Walters interview, when Powell was asked if that speech will tarnish his record, he replied:

Of course it will. It’s a blot. I’m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff at the time, sees his own participation in crafting that speech in even harsher terms:

My participation in that presentation at the UN constitutes the lowest point in my professional life. I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That’s not a very comforting thing.

Initially, Wilkerson and Powell didn’t believe Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein was involved with al Qaeda. It just didn’t make sense. al Qaeda is a fundamentalist religious group, so a secular leader like Saddam was anathema to them. In the 2007 video documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, Wilkerson explains the role that torture played in bringing him and Powell around to the administration’s point of view:

The moment al Libi was water-boarded, he started blurting things out. Well, rather than questioning what he was saying and going into it in detail to see if what he was saying could be corroborated, they immediately stopped and ran off to report what al Libi had said – and ended the torture. And, bang, it gets up to the highest decision-makers.

And all of a sudden Colin Powell is told, “Hey, you don’t have to worry about your doubts anymore, because we’ve just gotten confirmation that there were contacts between al Qaeda and Baghdad.”

If Powell and Wilkerson had known that water-boarding had been used to extract this new information – they only learned that later – they would have seen it in a very different light. So torture is partly responsible for a war which has killed thousands of Americans, leading to the title of this post: “Has torture killed more Americans than it saved?”

Even if claims that enhanced interrogation saved some American lives turn out to be true, we also need to ask how many it has cost. If we pursue that question, I believe we will find that such methods are unjustified on extremely pragmatic as well as moral grounds.

Japan's PM Shinzo Abe counts on landslide victory in election

Source: Deutsche Welle

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reported to be counting on a landslide victory in Sunday's parliamentary election despite expected low voter turnout.

It's projected his ruling coalition could return to power with an even bigger majority, giving him the power to pursue an ambitious agenda of political and economic reforms.

With Japan's economy back in recession, the government's popularity ratings have dropped. Election campaign finance scandals have also affected Abe's Cabinet.

However, the prime minister is still the main candidate for the leadership because of Japan's leaning towards a one-party political system, historic voter apathy, and a lack of alternatives.


Read more: http://www.dw.de/japans-pm-shinzo-abe-counts-on-landslide-victory-in-election/a-18127667
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