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Uranium mine troubles Native American groups – Features – Al Jazeera English

Uranium mine troubles Native American groups – Features – Al Jazeera English.

The project would be built on a mountain considered sacred by Navajos and Pueblos in New Mexico.

 Last updated: 09 Feb 2014 13:14

Mounds of radioactive waste dot the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation in the US state of New Mexico. The earthen monoliths contain contaminated material from the more than 250 abandoned uranium minesthat once provided the raw materials for the US nuclear complex.

As the Cold War ended, so did the demand for uranium. Yet growing international investment in nuclear energy has led to the prospect of renewed uranium mining in New Mexico, including the controversial newRoca Honda mine located on Mount Taylor, an area considered sacred by the Navajo and Pueblopeoples of the southwestern United States.

“If developed, Roca Honda will be a huge underground mine with tremendous impacts,” said environmental attorney Eric Jantz. “This mine could destroy people’s water, land, their places of worship – all for the purposes of funnelling profits to a Canadian company that is in turn selling it to Korea.”

The Roca Honda project, operated by Energy Fuels, is one of four proposed New Mexico uranium mines in the permitting stage, said Jon J Indall, an attorney representing the four mining companies ready to begin operations in the coming years. “The market is a bit sluggish now, but these operations are poised to catch the next upswing.”

The prospect of renewed uranium development has triggered a contentious debate in New Mexico, a state still reeling from the radioactive contamination caused by uranium mining and the economic decline that followed the exit of the industry from the country’s third-poorest state.

“These four projects have the potential to provide 1,000 jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue,” Indall told Al Jazeera. “This, all for a state whose economy is not exactly booming.”

Navajo opposition

But many from the Navajo Nation vehemently oppose the return of an industry that left hundreds of abandoned and un-reclaimed mines, mill sites and waste piles on indigenous lands. These continue to contaminate water, soil, livestock and housing, causing heath problems for an impoverished and historically marginalised native community.

Larry King, a former miner and member of the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), said: “People still talk about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Church Rock, where I am from, had the largest radioactive accident in US history, and 19 abandoned mines that remain today, [are] poisoning our community. But no one talks about this, they talk about new mining instead.” 

Oh God yes, this economy needs [uranium mining] bad! Things have changed… I think a lack of education has people still thinking uranium mining is dangerous.

– Jack Farley, miner

Beginning in the 1950s, thousands of Native Americans like King found work in New Mexico’s uranium mines. They were often poorly paid, unprotected and uninformed about the dangers of uranium dust inhalation and chronic radiation exposure.

Nadine Padilla, the director of the MASE coalition, an organisation formed in 2008 by communities affected by mining, spoke to Al Jazeera about what she said were the health effects caused by the mining. “Every day I see people with kidney disease, respiratory problems, and many women fighting various forms of cancer. People still live in houses made with radioactive material from the mills… Baca, where my family is from, has one of the most polluted groundwater systems in the state.”

But others from the region welcome the return of the industry. When asked about his thoughts on new uranium mining projects, Jack Farley, who has worked as a miner for 28 years, exclaimed, “Oh God yes, this economy needs it bad! Things have changed. When I worked there were no laws. I worked 500-1,000 working levels of radiation – that’s 999 times what is allowed now. But I think a lack of education has people still thinking uranium mining is dangerous.”

Health and controversy

The harmful effects of exposure to radon, a radioactive gas often found in uranium mines, are well-known. Yet an absence of health studies or environmental monitoring have led to a poor understanding of the effects of the uranium legacy on the Navajo Nation.

“Part of the reason is that these are marginalised communities, low income, communities of colour, indigenous communities,” said Jantz. “They don’t have the political power or the resources it takes to get the federal government or state government to do the basic science behind the health costs of uranium mining.”

The Church Rock Uranium Monitoring Project (CRUMP) began in 2003 to assess the effects of the 1979 tailings dam failure, which released 1,100 tons of radioactive waste into the Puerco River, and other abandoned mines. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at the infamous Church Rock mine, “residents graze sheep, cattle and horses, and collect herbs around the area. Due to the proximity of the residents to the mine site, this mine was identified as the highest priority for cleanup by US EPA and Navajo Nation EPA of over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.”

King said, “Even before the ’79 spill, contamination from untreated mine watering would flow through our community. After the dam break, it only continued. Kids used to play in the wash, in the mine waste – there were no fences, no signs. I used to graze our sheep where the mines were.”

The CRUMP finding showed contamination of numerous wells and springs in the communities in and around Church Rock, as well as dangerous radon levels in homes made with contaminated materials – equivalent to a lifetime cancer risk of smoking one to two packs of cigarettes a day.

A more comprehensive health study, still under way, found that of the 1,300 people surveyed, “those people living closer to waste site were more likely to have hypertension, auto-immune disease, while people who had history of exposure during active mining had an additional likelihood of kidney disease”, as principal investigator Johnnye Lewis told Al Jazeera.

[Marginalised communities] don’t have the political power or the resources it takes to get the federal government or state government to do the basic science behind the health costs of uranium mining.

– Eric Jantz, environmental lawyer

In response to the contamination, the Navajo Nation enacted a moratorium on uranium mining in 2005, as well as a ban on transporting uranium across reservation land.

Now, the prospect of new mining projects has created a rift within the country’s largest Native American reservation, as certain chapters and officials have come out in support of new uranium projects.

A new bill sponsored by Navajo Council Delegate Leonard Tsotsi has allowed Uranium Resources, Inc to construct a “demonstration project” that would extract uranium ore in the Church Rock chapter. The legislation, seemingly at odds with the uranium ban, has been endorsed by chapter president Johnny Henrie as well as a number of other prominent Navajo officials. Henrie was unavailable for comment for this article.

Some, including Navajo activist Leona Morgan, assume foul play. “These are old tactics from the past, divide-and-conquer. Today, companies target families who have rights to lease their land, they target politicians and offer them something. Right now, everyone is wondering what Leonard Tsotsi and these pro-uranium families are getting.”

King, who lives just across the road from the proposed mine, agreed with Morgan’s assessment. “These men are supposed to protect the community. But you show them a little green, and that changes.”

Increased demand?

In the end, the prospect of new uranium mining will likely have less to do with the internal controversy than with global economic factors related to the growth of the nuclear energy industry.

According to a January 3 report by the World Nuclear Association, there are 435 operable reactors in the world right now, 71 reactors under construction, 172 planned, and another 312 have been proposed.

As Curtis Moore, the director of investor and public relations at Energy Fuels, told Al Jazeera, “There is clearly significant growth in the industry. We’re going to have to get the uranium from somewhere. There is certainly a probability some will come from New Mexico.”

The controversy over renewed mining is far from over, but Curtis believes it comes down to economy. “Uranium mining has gotten a bad rap in the past. But the bottom line is that these projects create jobs, they create tax revenues, they provide clean nuclear energy for the world.”

But King remains sceptical. “Clean has not been my experience.”

Barclays’ Busted For Stealing, Selling Confidential Financial Data Of Thousands Of Clients | Zero Hedge

Barclays’ Busted For Stealing, Selling Confidential Financial Data Of Thousands Of Clients | Zero Hedge.

n recent months, the attention of the public has been consumed by concerns over private data abuse by such public spy agencies as the NSA, as well as what personal financial information may have been intercepted by rogue hacker black hats who in the past two months have been blamed for millions in credit card privacy breaches. However, so far there have been two major loose ends in the story of personal data collection (and abuse): just how web search browsers and cookie-based advertising companies collect everything there is to know about the particular interests and desires of any given individual, and just as importantly, how banks abuse client confidentiality by taking the secret financial data of their clients less than seriously.

Today, one of these loose ends got some much needed public exposure after the Daily Mail, of all places, reported that it had been approached by a whistleblower, who revealed that in one of the biggest breaches of bank secrecy, bailed out Barclays had stolen and sold the confidential personal and financial data of up to 27,000 clients to the highest market bidder, in most cases rogue traders who had seen Glengarry Glen Ross one too many times, and who would then use Jordan Belfort-inspired tactics to sell money losing investment products to those unlucky thousands who had entrusted their data to the bank.

Is this the case of yet another “Snowden” growing a conscience and exposing the fraud he had witnessed for all to see? For the time being, it sure looks like it:  “This is the worst [leak] I’ve come across by far,’ said the  former commodity broker and whistleblower. ‘“But this illegal trade is going on all the time in the City. I want to go public to stop it getting bigger.”

From the Mail:

Barclays Bank is reeling from an unprecedented security breach after thousands of confidential customer files were stolen and sold on to rogue City traders.

In the worst case of data loss from a British High Street bank, highly sensitive information, including customers’ earnings, savings, mortgages, health issues and insurance policies, ended up in the hands of unscrupulous brokers. The data ‘gold mine’ – also containing passport and national insurance numbers – is worth millions on the black market because it allowed unsuspecting individuals to be targeted in investment scams.

Barclays last night launched an urgent investigation and promised to co-operate with police.

It is not clear how the records were stolen, but the bank could face an unlimited fine if found guilty of putting customers’ details at risk.  The leak was exposed by an anonymous whistleblower who passed The Mail on Sunday a memory stick containing files on 2,000 of the bank’s customers.

He claimed it was a sample from a stolen database of up to 27,000 files, which he said could be sold by shady salesmen for up to £50 per file.

Of course, Barclays has had its share of legal troubles in recent years, having been exposed as the first bank in the still growing Libor-rigging scandal for which is was fined GBP290 million, and now this data loss, which is a breach of its obligations under the Data Protection Act to keep personal information secure, will almost certainly cost its many more hundreds of millions in legal fees and damages.

The sources of the breached and stolen files was data collected from customers who had sought financial advice from the bank, and passed on their details during meetings with an adviser. The consultations included filling out questionnaires – or ‘psychometric tests’ – which revealed their attitude to risk. That information could be exploited to persuade victims to buy into questionable investments.

One could call them, the “Glengarry leads”, and an example of one is shown below:

But while Barclays collecting detailed data about its clients is perfectly normal, what it did next is criminal:

The whistleblower first became aware of the Barclays leads in September when the boss of the brokerage firm asked him to sell them to other traders. ‘The obvious question I asked was, “These are fantastic leads, why are you not using them yourself?”

‘He replied, “We have – sell it as secondary data.” He had got all he could out of them. New, they were worth £50 per file. He asked us to sell for £8.’

The whistleblower showed the leads to a select group of brokers ‘who thought they were amazing’, but eventually decided not to sell.

‘My conscience got the better of me. It was all just so wrong,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t a broker myself at this stage, but I had a business link to the firm.’

Between December 2012 and September 2013 the firm persuaded victims to buy rare earth metals that did not exist, it is claimed. The whistleblower estimates up to 1,000 people could have been ‘scammed’.

Then the party was over as quickly as it started:

When the investors began to suspect they were being fleeced he said the boss chose to ‘shut the trading floor’.

His orders were to get rid of the evidence, to show that we were never there. We bleached the desks so his DNA was not in the office. We destroyed his laptop and 15 bags of paperwork. We wiped the computers. During this fiasco he asked me, “Have you got the Barclays leads?” I said, “No, I haven’t, they must have been destroyed”. ‘But I kept them because I thought the whole thing had gone too far. I want to stop it now, to tell people what was happening.’

Alas, the burning down of the crime scene was not enough, and now that Barclays has been exposed, the damage control begins:

Barclays said in a statement: ‘We are grateful to The Mail on Sunday for bringing this to our attention and we contacted the Information Commissioner and other regulators on Friday as soon as we were made aware. ‘Our initial investigations suggest this is isolated to customers linked to our Barclays Financial Planning business, which we ceased  in 2011.

‘We will take all necessary steps to contact and advise those customers as soon as possible so that they can also ensure the safety of their personal data. ‘Protecting customers’ data is a top priority and we take this issue extremely seriously. This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator.

‘We would like to reassure all of our customers  that we have taken every practical measure to ensure that personal and financial details remain as safe and secure as possible.’ The Mail on Sunday has arranged to pass on the data to the Information Commissioner’s Office. A spokesman said: ‘We’ll be working with The Mail on Sunday this week as well as working with the police.’

That’s not all: we also learn that the legacy of the Wolf of Wall Street is alive and well. So alive in fact, he has been in ongoing consultations on how to cold call clients about which the sellers already knew everything in advance:

 Brokerages want to hire people who are money-oriented, articulate and who speak the Queen’s English. Their ideal is the young, hungry white guy. They want the most aggressive person, very manipulative and bullish, almost like a New York broker in the 1980s.

In the first interview they would ask: ‘Do you **** whores and sniff coke? Do not come and work here if you don’t.’ They might even ask the interviewee to sing a song. They want to see if they can bend them over a barrel and get them to do what they want. Out of 10,000 brokers, 9,000 will be earning below the minimum wage. The majority will never succeed. The successful ones do not have a moral compass.

Most people drop out after a couple of years because they burn out but I know old school brokers who’ve done it since the 1980s. 

We got trained by Jordan Belfort, the real-life Wolf of Wall Street. It cost £38,000 for an hour’s conference call with him from New York. Three different firms took part and there were 40 brokers in the room, sitting around a phone.

He’s big on ‘rapport building’. He shows how to apply pressure in the right places – how to manipulate people in a controlled way. In all cases, brokers try to find the person’s motive for investing. When trust is established  it’s very easy to make the ale or ‘load’ a client with a commodity. Loaders are a breed of broker and some can earn 40 per cent a deal on just the commission.

A lot of contracts between broker and investor include ‘exit confirmation’ – the date when the return on investment is expected. But in many cases those clauses are a lie. A month or two before the exit strategy is due, the firm winds up and disappears.

The owners – criminals in sharp suits – will set up shop, trade for a bit, then the company will close, only for the brokers to open another one.

The next day they ring the same clients, but with different voices on the end of the phone. You might use a different name – nobody uses their real name. Many on the Barclays list were born in the 1930s. Old people are perfect targets because they are more trusting and they haven’t got long left. You hope they die before your exit strategy comes up.

Hopefully this anecdote serves to illustrate the link between insolvent but bailed out and cash-strapped banks, boiler rooms, and criminal salespeople.

Finally, it goes without saying, that if this is happening in the UK it most certainly taking place in the US as well. And as a follow up – while the general public has every right to be concerned about how its private data is being abused by public spy entities such as the NSA, perhaps it is time to inquire just how it may be abused not only by private banks such as Barclays, but by all those private corporations who interact daily with the countless users who share their data on the Internet assuming that it won’t be used in a criminal fashion by virtually everyone.

Japan hit by heaviest snow in decades – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Japan hit by heaviest snow in decades – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Severe weather kills seven people, injures 1,000 and leaves tens of thousands without electricity.

Last updated: 09 Feb 2014 07:00

Further snowfall is expected on Sunday in the northern part of the country [AP]
At least seven people have been killed and 1,000 injured as parts of Japan suffered their worst snowfall in decades.Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by snow-linked accidents and car crashes, according to state televiasion channel NFK and the AFP news agency.

As much as 27cm of snow was recorded in Tokyo by late Saturday, the heaviest fall in the capital for 45 years, according to meteorologists.

The northeastern city of Sendai recorded 35cm of snow, the heaviest in 78 years.

Further snowfall is expected on Sunday in the northern part of the country, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

More than 20,000 households are without electricity on Sunday, while airlines have cancelled nearly 300 domestic flights a day, AFP reported.

Nearly 5,000 people were stranded at Narita airport on Saturday as traffic linking the airport to the capital was disrupted, NHK said.

In central Aichi prefecture, a 50-year-old man died after his car slipped on the icy road and rammed into an advertisement steel pole, a local rescuer said.

5-minute video: US ‘leaders’ JOKE about OBVIOUS War Crimes, war lies, war murders: Arrest them Washington’s Blog

5-minute video: US ‘leaders’ JOKE about OBVIOUS War Crimes, war lies, war murders: Arrest them Washington’s Blog.

5-minute video courtesy Realist Report 

In this 5-minute video, Presidents Bush and Obama, Secretary of State and presidential-hopeful Ms. Clinton, presidential-hopeful has-been John McCain, and former Secretary of State and Bush family friend James Baker all joke about:

These psychopaths mock our veterans by allowing their growing homelessness and suicides, despite obvious solutions available for everyone’s full-employment and health care.

These criminals continue a long history of lie-began US Wars of Aggression since the US invaded Mexico; despite Abraham Lincoln’s powerfully accurate rhetoric of President Polk’s lies to steal half of Mexico at the expense of US military and Mexican civilian lives. The most decorated US Marine general in his day also warned all Americans of this fact of lie-started wars for US oligarch plunder.

What can we do as American free citizens, with a tremendous heritage to speak against our own government when they violate basic lawful behavior?

Easy: arrest them for the OBVIOUS War Crimes.

Then arrest their bankster friends for crimes equally OBVIOUS for massive fraud and looting.

And then arrest their lying corporate media pals who “cover” these lies and crimes from us.

Speak now, or forever hold back from peace, justice, and truth.

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