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bananas's Journal
bananas's Journal
October 8, 2015

Nuke plant never addressed 1992 safety advisory

Source: WCVB

Emergency shutdown procedures reviewed this week after oversight discovered

Operators of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth have put workers on fire watches after acknowledging that it never addressed a federal safety advisory dating back more than two decades.

The Cape Cod Times reported Wednesday that Pilgrim officials were reviewing emergency shutdown plans this week when they discovered the oversight.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned U.S. nuclear plants in 1992 that in the unlikely event of a fire in a control room, systems could short-circuit and prevent a remote reactor shutdown.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan says until the underlying problem is corrected, workers are being stationed at two locations to watch for any sign of fire.


Read more: http://www.wcvb.com/news/nuke-plant-never-addressed-1992-safety-advisory/35713692

October 8, 2015

Iran lobbied for Russian campaign in Syria, officials say

Source: Associated Press

Iran played an integral role leading up to Russia's move to launch its air campaign in Syria and play a stronger role in Iraq, with one of Tehran's most powerful generals meeting for three hours with President Vladimir Putin to push for intervention, Iraqi government officials tell The Associated Press.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force, went to Moscow in August with the message that Russian airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria were imperative, said the two senior officials, who were later briefed on the meeting. Soleimani and Putin reviewed maps and surveillance photos and shared intelligence, all suggesting the militant group would expand its reach to Russia's doorstep in the Caucuses if Moscow didn't act, the two officials said.

The meeting also covered plans to create a joint intelligence-sharing center between Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia in Baghdad, which began operating later the same month. Soleimani also met with senior Russian military officials during his visit, the officials said. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the secret meeting,

The Iranian role points to the powerful influence of the country, which is the strongest backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is close to the Shiite-led leadership in Iraq's U.S.-backed government. Russia's dive into the Mideast's conflicts marks a shifting of alliances, particularly with Iraq, where officials have grumbled that the U.S.-led coalition's air campaign against ISIS has not been as effective as they hoped and the prime minister has said he'd welcome Russian airstrikes.


Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/iran-lobbied-for-russian-campaign-in-syria-officials-say/

October 8, 2015

At least one US military jet diverted over Syria to avoid Russian warplanes, Pentagon confirms

Source: Daily Mail

  • U.S. aircraft are still flying attack and other missions daily over Syria
  • Pentagon said they couldn't confirm how many diversions have taken place
  • Four Russian warships in Caspian Sea launched 26 strikes on ISIS targets
  • Russian defense minister insists the missiles did not hit any civilian area
  • U.S. NATO chief praises Russia's 'impressive' military presence in Syria

The Pentagon says at least one U.S. military aircraft changed its route over Syria recently to avoid coming dangerously close to Russian warplanes.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, says he could not provide details, including the number of times this has happened.

He says U.S. aircraft are still flying attack and other missions daily over Syria. But he acknowledges that the air operations have had to be adjusted since the Russians began flying.

Davis says this highlights the Pentagon's interest in talking further to Russian officials about ways to avoid accidents and potential unintended conflict in the sky over Syria.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3264177/At-one-military-jet-diverted-Syria-avoid-Russian-warplanes-Pentagon-confirms.html

October 7, 2015

Families Of Teens Who Died After Hypnosis By Principal Will Get $600,000

Source: Huffington Post

The Sarasota County School District in Florida has agreed to pay $200,000 to each of three families whose teens died after a principal hypnotized them.

It's the end to a bizarre case that started in April 2011, when North Port High School Principal George Kenney admitted that he hypnotized 16-year-old Wesley McKinley. The teen died by suicide a day later.

A subsequent investigation found Kenney had hypnotized up to 75 students and staff at the school for various reasons, according to the Herald-Tribune. Two of those students were Marcus Freeman, 16, and Brittany Palumbo, 17. They both died earlier that year, Freeman in a car crash and Palumbo by suicide.


The Herald-Tribune reports on Freeman:

Kenney hypnotized Freeman, a quarterback for the North Port High football team, to help him concentrate and not worry about pain during games, according to court documents. Kenney began to teach Freeman how to hypnotize himself.

After a painful dentist visit on March 15, 2011, Freeman drove home with his girlfriend. His girlfriend said that during the ride Freeman got a strange look on his face and veered off of Interstate 75 near Toledo Blade Boulevard. Freeman later died from his injuries; his girlfriend survived.

McKinley was found dead in his room on April 8, and his roommate said that he'd been hypnotized by Kenney at least three times, including the day of the suicide.

According to the Herald-Tribune, Palumbo's parents said Kenney diagnosed her with anxiety and hypnotized her to help improve her SAT scores. Her parents said she died by suicide not long after finishing her college applications, according to ABC Action News.


Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/teens-died-after-principals-hypnotism_56156093e4b0fad1591a6f04
October 7, 2015

Iran's supreme leader bans negotiations with the United States

Source: Reuters

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday banned any further negotiations between Iran and the United States, putting the brakes on moderates hoping to end Iran's isolation after reaching a nuclear deal with world powers in July.

Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic, already said last month there would be no more talks with the United States after the nuclear deal, but has not previously declared an outright ban.

His statements directly contradict those of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who says his government is ready to hold talks with the United States on how to resolve the conflict in Syria, where the two countries back opposing sides.

"Negotiations with the United States open gates to their economic, cultural, political and security influence. Even during the nuclear negotiations they tried to harm our national interests.," Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/07/us-iran-us-talks-idUSKCN0S10P220151007

October 7, 2015

Coastal Commission approves nuclear storage facility at San Onofre

Source: Fox 5 San Diego

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to grant Southern California Edison a 20-year permit for an expanded nuclear waste storage facility at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County.

Officials at Rosemead-based Edison, which operates and is the majority owner of the idled nuclear plant, said the current 14-year-old storage area is nearing capacity.

SCE estimated that it will need up to 80 more steel-and-concrete-encased canisters, a technology known as dry storage. About two-thirds of San Onofre's used fuel is currently stored on site in steel-lined, concrete storage pools known as wet storage.

Environmental groups argued that it makes no sense to store the spent fuel right next to the shoreline in an earthquake-prone area.


Read more: http://fox5sandiego.com/2015/10/06/coastal-commission-approves-nuclear-storage-facility-at-san-onofre/

October 7, 2015

Disaster plan developed for use if St. Louis landfill fire reaches buried nuclear waste

Source: Associated Press

Beneath the surface of a St. Louis-area landfill lurk two things that should never meet: a slow-burning fire and a cache of Cold War-era nuclear waste, separated by no more than 1,200 feet.

Government officials have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smoldering embers ever reach the waste, a potentially "catastrophic event" that could send up a plume of radioactive smoke over a densely populated area near the city's main airport.

Although the fire at Bridgeton Landfill has been burning since at least 2010, the plan for a worst-case scenario was developed only a year ago and never publicized until this week, when St. Louis radio station KMOX first obtained a copy.

County Executive Steve Stenger cautioned that the plan "is not an indication of any imminent danger."


Read more: http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2015/10/06/disaster-plan-developed-in-case-fire-reaches-nuclear-waste

October 5, 2015

U.S. enforcement of Iran arms embargo slipped during nuclear talks: sources

Source: Reuters

Addressing concerns that a landmark nuclear deal reached this year could boost Iran's military power, the Obama administration reassured critics that it would maintain and enforce its remaining tough sanctions against the country.

Yet the U.S. government has pursued far fewer violations of a long-standing arms embargo against Iran in the past year compared to recent years, according to a review of court records and interviews with two senior officials involved in sanctions enforcement.

The sharp fall in new prosecutions did not reflect fewer attempts by Iran to break the embargo, the officials said. Rather, uncertainty among prosecutors and agents on how the terms of the deal would affect cases made them reluctant to commit already scarce resources with the same vigor as in previous years, the officials said.


"Any actions that are taken in connection with sanctions violations pertaining to Iran may have serious impacts on the ongoing negotiations and U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives," wrote the official, whose name was redacted in the email.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/05/us-iran-sanctions-enforcement-insight-idUSKCN0RZ09O20151005

October 5, 2015

It's time to leave the nuclear hall of mirrors


It's time to leave the nuclear hall of mirrors

Deterrence isn’t enough to keep us safe: the prospect of a nuclear accident alone justifies ridding the world of these weapons. Britain should lead the way

David Shariatmadari
Monday 5 October 2015 06.00 EDT

“Nuclear weapons can wipe out life on Earth, if used properly.” Despite being found in the liner notes of a Talking Heads album, this is the sentence I think best captures the bizarre contradictions of the atomic age. Human beings have manufactured bombs explicitly designed to unleash destructive forces equivalent to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of TNT. Deploy them and millions die; civilisation as we know it could disappear. And yet, they’re not actually supposed to be used. In fact, their proper function is to remain in the ground, or at sea, or in the air. Launch, fire or drop ‘em and the whole system has failed. Is there any other device so intricately constructed in order to decrease the likelihood of its own use?

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn, a man with at least a chance of being entrusted with the launch codes for 225 British warheads, stated that he would never press the nuclear button. I asked philosopher Jonathan Glover, whose book Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century, includes a study of the Cuban missile crisis, about the comments. He confirmed most analyses so far. “On the assumption that if he’s PM he has full say, that would indeed get rid of any deterrence”. In other words, were Corbyn to gain power, those weapons would become immediately impotent. His shadow defence secretary, Maria Eagle, called the remarks “unhelpful”.

Corbyn had let the air out of the nuclear balloon, given the game away. Despite what David Cameron said yesterday: “There are circumstances in which its use would be justified” – the truth is that no one is going to press the big red button – not Cameron, not George Osborne, Theresa May or whoever follows him. To do so would either be grossly disproportionate (against a non-nuclear state) invite our own destruction (against a nuclear-armed one) or be grossly immoral (a futile retaliation against civilians). But the important thing isn’t to say so.

What Corbyn’s intervention did was immediately change the strategic value of Trident. He may not have got his debate on the question of its renewal at party conference, but that didn’t matter: he’d realised a simple way of pursuing unilateral disarmament was to use a handful of magic words.


October 5, 2015

Global nuclear facilities 'at risk' of cyber attack

Source: BBC

The risk of a "serious cyber attack" on nuclear power plants around the world is growing, warns a report.


Published by the influential Chatham House think tank, the report studied cyber defences in power plants around the world over an 18-month period.


Unfortunately, research carried out for the study showed that the UK's nuclear plants and associated infrastructure were not well protected or prepared because the industry had converted to digital systems relatively recently.


There was a "pervading myth" that computer systems in power plants were isolated from the internet at large and because of this were immune to the kind of cyber attacks that have dogged other industries.

However, it said, this so-called "air gap" between the public internet and nuclear systems was easy to breach with "nothing more than a flash drive". It noted that the destructive Stuxnet computer virus infected Iran's nuclear facilities via this route.

The researchers for the report had also found evidence of virtual networks and other links to the public internet on nuclear infrastructure networks. Some of these were forgotten or simply unknown to those in charge of these organisations.

Already search engines that sought out critical infrastructure had indexed these links making it easy for attackers to find ways in to networks and control systems.


Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34423419

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