The Pentagon has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years so that researchers can study the body movements of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, in hopes of predicting future behavior. An article published by USA Today reporter Ray Locker on Thursday and corroborated by documents discovered by RT provides rare insight into a scarcely-discussed military effort that for years has relied on the expertise of body movement analysts to interpret the nonverbal projections of Putin and other heads of state.
“US policymakers are seeking any advantage they can find,” Locker reported. In order to accomplish as much, he added, the United States Office of Net Assessment — a division of the Dept. of Defense — has since at least 1996 employed Naval War College research fellow Brenda Connors: one of only a few movement pattern analyst practitioners in the world to be sanctioned by the Motus Humanus organization, according to the military school’s Dr. Mary Raum. Locker wrote that since 2009, Connors has worked on the ONA’s Body Leads project, an effort he believes has cost the Pentagon at least $300,000 in the last five years as officials have ramped up efforts to gather foreign intelligence.
‘The CIA have proven themselves over and over again to be able to come up with some utterly terrifying ideas and programmes. Whether it involves the overthrow of democratically elected governments, drugs, murder and assassination attempts, experimenting on people without their knowledge using biological and chemical agents. The list is virtually endless. There are so many options that whittling it down to just five was quite tricky, but here’s our take on the five most terrifying CIA operations ever, including (in no particular order): MKUltra, PBSUCCESS, Operation CHAOS, the Phoenix Programme and Operation Northwoods.’ (Truthloader)
Housing and consumer activists warn that Wall Street is about to crash the housing market — again. The activists said they are particularly concerned about the growing number of companies looking to issue bonds backed by rental properties — bonds that a coalition of groups described as “eerily like” those mortgage-backed securities that helped fuel the last housing bubble.
“We are poised to experience another crisis if federal regulators fail to recognize and take corrective action to address red flags that are all too familiar,” more than 75 housing and consumer groups wrote in a letter Tuesday to federal bank and housing regulators. The 2008 housing crisis happened because banks were willing to give even risky borrowers a mortgage, driving home prices to unsustainable peaks. Those mortgages got sold into bonds that defaulted once homebuyers stopped making their monthly payments.
This time, gun-shy bankers are hard-pressed to give anyone but the most stellar borrowers a mortgage, said the groups, which include California Reinvestment Coalition and the National Consumer Law Center. Yet, home prices are rising again. That’s because Wall Street investors with deep pockets and the ability to pay cash for homes are muscling out ordinary buyers in places hard-hit by the housing crisis, like Phoenix and Atlanta. Once these wealthy investors have bought the homes, they flip them into rentals — often covering up large issues like plumbing and mold with cosmetic fixes.
- AIPAC and Friends Explain Themselves
- Crisis over Crimea steals thunder from AIPAC conference
- Kerry at AIPAC: US Will Never Fail Israel
- Netanyahu: ‘I think it’s time to recognize a Jewish State. We’ve only been there 4000 years.’ (Video)
- Israel must make tough choices for peace, Obama says
- Mark Regev: ‘Israeli’s want peace more than anyone else’
- AIPAC divisions more pronounced than ever
- Israel Lobby AIPAC Down, But Not Out – Yet
- Zionist Movement: How AIPAC is severing its historical roots, and weakening its influence
- AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 (Video)
- Is Elliott Abrams Hoping to Succeed Abe Foxman at the ADL?
- ‘NY Times’ and ‘LA Times’ run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
- The Illusion of AIPAC’s Invincibility
- Business boycott: Israelis feeling the pinch
- Sourcewatch: American Israel Public Affairs Committee
Edward Snowden ripped the blinds off the surveillance state last summer with his leak of top-secret National Security Agency documents, forcing a national conversation about spying in the post-9/11 era. However, there’s still no concrete proof that America’s elite intelligence units are analyzing most Americans’ computer and telephone activity — even though they can. Los Angeles and Southern California police, by contrast, are expanding their use of surveillance technology such as intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification and military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime. Information on the identity and movements of millions of Southern California residents is being collected and tracked.
In fact, Los Angeles is emerging as a major laboratory for testing and scaling up new police surveillance technologies. The use of military-grade surveillance tools is migrating from places like Fallujah to neighborhoods including Watts and even low-crime areas of the San Fernando Valley, where surveillance cameras are proliferating like California poppies in spring. The use of militarized surveillance technology appears to be spreading beyond its initial applications during the mid-2000s in high-crime areas to now target narrow, specific crimes such as auto theft. Now, LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff are monitoring the whereabouts of residents whether they have committed a crime or not. The biggest surveillance net is license plate reading technology that records your car’s plate number as you pass police cruisers equipped with a rooftop camera, or as you drive past street locations where such cameras are mounted.
- Florida Cops’ Secret Weapon: Warrantless Cellphone Tracking
- Bank Of America Works With Feds To Spy On Activists
- Fusion center director: We don’t spy on Americans, just anti-government Americans
- Florida Fusion Center Monitored BP Protests, Ron Paul Events, Code Pink
- DHS ‘fusion centers’ portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions
- ACLU Calls for Hearings on Fusion Centers Following Senate Report
- Fusion Center Declares Nation’s Oldest Universities Possible Terrorist Threat
- Tennessee Fusion Center Puts ACLU On Terror List
- Texas Fusion Center’s Secrets Revealed
- Fusion Centers: Implementing the Control Grid
- Missouri Information Analysis Center: The Modern Militia Movement
The West is blinking in disbelief – Vladimir Putin just invaded Ukraine. German diplomats, French Eurocrats and American pundits are all stunned. Why has Russia chosen to gamble its trillion-dollar ties with the West? Western leaders are stunned because they haven’t realized Russia’s owners no longer respect Europeans the way they once did after the Cold War. Russia thinks the West is no longer a crusading alliance. Russia thinks the West is now all about the money.
Putin’s henchmen know this personally. Russia’s rulers have been buying up Europe for years. They have mansions and luxury flats from London’s West End to France’s Cote d’Azure. Their children are safe at British boarding and Swiss finishing schools. And their money is squirrelled away in Austrian banks and British tax havens. Putin’s inner circle no longer fear the European establishment. They once imagined them all in MI6. Now they know better. They have seen firsthand how obsequious Western aristocrats and corporate tycoons suddenly turn when their billions come into play. They now view them as hypocrites—the same European elites who help them hide their fortunes.
One of the more vivid political talking points to come out of Washington in the midst of Russia’s military incursions into Ukraine is that Russian President Vladimir Putin carried out such provocative actions because Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” on Syria and commence with a bombing campaign this past fall signaled to Putin he would not face consequences. “I really believe that when Vladimir Putin looks around the world—sees what happened in Syria when the red line turned pink and the president didn’t act,” Republican Senator John McCain told CNN, “I think he’s emboldened and he’s acting.”
The Wall Street Journal, similarly, put it down to “Western weakness,” arguing “it’s no coincidence that Mr. Putin asserted himself in Ukraine not long after Mr. Obama retreated in humiliating fashion from his ‘red line’ in Syria.” The truth is, anyone who actually believes Putin took military action in Ukraine because Obama backed away from his plans to bomb Syria illegally, doesn’t know anything about international relations.
First of all, the most immediate parallel to Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Ukraine’s semi-autonomous peninsula, is Russia’s 2008 military action in Georgia, another former Soviet state that was leaning too far West for Moscow’s comfort. Following violent skirmishes, Russian forces occupied Georgia’s separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This happened during the George W. Bush administration, which was so willing to use military force that it invaded Iraq on trumped up pretexts and in violation of international law. If Moscow were taking its cues based on Washington’s willingness to use force, surely it would have held back in Georgia for fear of retaliation from the Bush administration.
Whenever the United States fails to act with violence abroad—a rarity, mind you—you have politicians and pundits howling about America’s “credibility” being at stake. If other countries see us backing down, goes the thinking, they won’t properly fear U.S. power and therefore they’ll be unrestrained in their actions. Actually, the technical political science literature has largely put the “credibility” argument to rest. “There’s little evidence that supports the view that countries’ record for keeping commitments determines their credibility,” write two scholars who have studied the concept.
The United States plans to expand military cooperation with Poland and Baltic states to show “support” for its allies after Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said Wednesday. ”This morning the Defense Department is pursuing measures to support our allies,” including expanded aviation training in Poland and increasing the US role in NATO’s air policing mission over Baltic countries, Hagel told lawmakers.
NATO’s top commander and head of the US European Command, General Philip Breedlove, also planned to confer with Central and Eastern European defense chiefs, Hagel said. ”This is a time for wise, steady, and firm leadership,” Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“It is a time for all of us to stand with the Ukrainian people in support of their territorial integrity and sovereignty, and their right to have a government that fulfills the aspirations of its people.” At the same hearing, General Martin Dempsey, the US military’s top-ranking officer, said he had spoken to his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov earlier Wednesday, urging “restraint.”
‘Hundreds of students demand President Obama reject the Keystone XL pipeline deal, but Obama has already fast tracked the southern half of the pipeline which is currently delivering Canadian tar sands to Texas refineries.’ (The Real News)
‘On Sunday, 398 opponents of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline were arrested in front of the White House in what could be the largest youth sit-in on the environment in a generation. Students from more than 80 colleges rallied at Georgetown University and then marched to the White House, wearing mock “hazmat suits” and holding banners with slogans like “Keep your oil out of my soil” and “Even Voldemort Hates Tar Sands.” President Obama is expected to issue a decision in the next few months on the pipeline, which would transport 830,000 barrels of crude every day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. gulf coast. We speak to American University student Deirdre Shelly about why she was arrested on Sunday and the growing student-led movement to convince universities, colleges and cities to divest from fossil fuel companies.’ (Democracy Now!)
We spent much of the eighties resisting Ronald Reagan’s new Cold War, and his new nuclear weapons of all shapes and sizes. We pushed back against his giant ‘defense’ budgets and countered his harrowing rhetoric. We knew Star Wars was a scam, and the MX missile a danger. We grimaced at his appointments to key policymaking positions, and scoffed at his insincere arms control efforts.
In the end, we prevailed (after a sort). We get much of the credit for preventing planetary incineration that seemed frighteningly close at the time (Gorbachev deserves some too). Professional activists, Plowshares heroes, and a handful of stalwart others stayed in the anti-nuclear weapons movement trenches. Although nukes were not abolished with the end of the Cold War, most of the rest of us nonetheless moved on to fight other evils, and to work on one or more better world construction projects.
It’s time to return. President Obama released his FY 2015 budget on Tuesday, March 4. Ready for this? It asks for considerably more money (in constant dollars) for nuclear weapons maintenance, design and production than Reagan spent in 1985, the historical peak of spending on nukes: $8.608 billion dollars, not counting administrative costs. The Los Alamos Study Group crunched the numbers for us.
Journalist Barrett Brown Wins a Victory in His Case as Government Dismisses Charges Related to Link-Sharing
Journalist Barrett Brown has won a huge victory. The government has moved to dismiss all of the counts related to his sharing of a link to a file from the private intelligence firm, Stratfor, that was already publicly available to others.
The government dismissed one count of trafficking in “stolen authentication features” count and ten counts of “aggravated identity theft” for transferring and possessing without lawful authority the means of identification for multiple individuals. It had claimed that by sharing the link Card Verification Values (CVVs) of credit cards, the card holders’ names, their user names for online account access and address, phone numbers and email address information had been exposed.
From the government’s dismissal motion:
…The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, by and through the undersigned Assistant United States Attorney, files this Motion to Dismiss Count One and Counts Three through Twelve in the original Indictment and in the Superseding Indictment in the above entitled and numbered cause…
Gerald Celente calls the Western media “presstitutes,” an ingenuous term that I often use. Presstitutes sell themselves to Washington for access and government sources and to keep their jobs. Ever since the corrupt Clinton regime permitted the concentration of the US media, there has been no journalistic independence in the United States except for some Internet sites.
Glenn Greenwald points out the independence that RT, a Russian media organization, permits Abby Martin who denounced Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine, compared to the fates of Phil Donahue (MSNBC) and Peter Arnett (NBC), both of whom were fired for expressing opposition to the Bush regime’s illegal attack on Iraq. The fact that Donahue had NBC’s highest rated program did not give him journalistic independence. Anyone who speaks the truth in the American print or TV media or on NPR is immediately fired. Russia’s RT seems actually to believe and observe the values that Americans profess but do not honor.
I agree with Greenwald. Greenwald is entirely admirable. He has intelligence, integrity, and courage. He is one of the brave to whom my just published book, How America Was Lost, is dedicated. As for RT’s Abby Martin, I admire her and have been a guest on her program a number of times. My criticism of Greenwald and Martin has nothing to do with their integrity or their character. I doubt the claims that Abby Martin grandstanded on “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” in order to boost her chances of moving into the more lucrative “mainstream media.” My point is quite different. Even Abby Martin and Greenwald, both of whom bring us much light, cannot fully escape Western propaganda.
The Central Intelligence Agency is under investigation for allegedly spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, panel Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein confirmed Wednesday. The CIA is prohibited from spying on Americans, and spying on members of Congress and their staff would raise particular concerns about the separation of powers. Congress created the House and Senate Intelligence committees in the 1970s to oversee the CIA, the National Security Agency, and other spy agencies after uncovering a slew of spying abuses.
The CIA’s internal watchdog, its inspector general, is reviewing whether CIA agents hacked into the computers of Senate staffers who were involved in producing a report critical of the agency’s now-defunct detention and interrogation program, The New York Times reported Wednesday. According to McClatchy, the inspector general’s office has asked the Justice Department to investigate the case. The committee worked on the 6,300-page interrogation report for years. The report, which remains classified, concluded that brutal interrogation techniques produced little valuable intelligence. Last June, the CIA responded with its own 122-page report challenging particular facts and the conclusion of the Senate’s document. Ending the interrogation program was one of President Obama’s first acts in office.
Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat and member of the Intelligence panel, wrote a letter to Obama on Tuesday, urging him to support declassification of the full report. Udall referred vaguely to the CIA’s alleged spying on the committee. “As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the Committee in relation to the internal CIAreview, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy,” Udall wrote. “It is essential that the Committee be able to do its oversight work—consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers—without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today.”
Today RT America anchor Liz Wahl resigned on air, claiming she disagrees with the channel’s editorial stance. And here’s what I have to say about it. These days it takes a lot of courage to work for RT. Never before have I seen RT and its journalists bullied like this. See for yourselves what they did to poor Abby. First, she openly voiced disagreement with Russia’s stance on air – and was virtually made an American hero. But then Abby reminded everyone how much she disagrees with America’s stance as well, adding she takes pride in working at RT, where she is free to express her views. Less than an hour passed before Abby had her name dragged through something I have difficulty finding a decent name for this late at night. The US mainstream media even went as far as claiming we had orchestrated the whole thing as a publicity move. They labeled Abby a conspiracy theorist, bringing to light her past as an activist. In less than 24 hours, they first sang her praises and then excoriated her. All of this in front of her colleagues, including Liz Wahl. How do you think they felt watching that?
Yesterday I spent quite some time explaining to a New York Times correspondent why I consider Russia’s position to be right. I’m Russian. I support my country and I will fight for the truth for as long as it takes. Neither Abby, nor Liz, nor many other employees are Russian nationals, but foreign. And now their country is likening my country to Nazi Germany. For many years they have worked for RT in good faith, proving every day that a voice that stands out from the mainstream media can be beautiful and strong, attract an audience that grows daily. These are the people who were the first to tell their country about the Occupy movement, who were detained at protest rallies, handcuffed for hours and then tried in court for doing their job. These are the people who were outraged by US hypocrisy in Syria, Libya – you can finish the list yourself – and reminded the world who used chemical weapons most often, even resorting to nuclear bombs. These are the people who did things the Western mainstream media would have never done. But those were peaceful times. And now we’ve got a genuine war going on – no, thank God, it’s not in Crimea. It’s a media war. Every single day, every single hour the guys who work for us are told, “You are liars, you are no journalists, you are the Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece, you’ve sold yourselves to the Russians, it’s time you quit your job, and everybody is laughing at you, so change your mind before it’s too late.”
Listening to the US media, even the most diligent news junkie would find it difficult to know that the U.S. State Department played not only a vital role in the violence and chaos underway in Ukraine but was also complicit in creating the coup that ousted democratically elected President Viktor Yanuyovch. Given the Russian Parliament’s approval of Putin’s request for military troops to be moved into Crimea, Americans uninformed about the history of that region might also be persuaded that Russia is the aggressor and the sole perpetrator of the violence.
Let’s be clear about what is at stake here: NATO missiles on the adjacent Ukraine border aimed directly at Russia would make that country extremely vulnerable to Western goals and destabilization efforts while threatening Russia’s only water access to its naval fleet in Crimean peninsula, the Balkans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East – and not the least of which would allow world economic dominance by the US, the European Union, the IMF, World Bank and international financiers all of whom had already brought staggering suffering to millions around the globe.
The fact is that democracy was not a demand on the streets of Kiev. The current record of events indicates that protests of civil dissatisfaction were organized by reactionary neo-Nazi forces intent on fomenting a major domestic crisis ousting Ukraine’s legitimate government. As events continue to spiral out of control, here is the chronology of how the coup was engineered to install a government more favorable to EU and US goals.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has dismissed reports Kiev is allegedly in talks with the United States over a possible deployment of missile defense systems in Ukraine. ”There are no negotiations on this issue and there’s not even a hint of them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Eugene Perebiynis was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying Wednesday. Perebiynis said Kiev and Washington were in talks on possible financial aid to Ukraine, with no strings attached. Earlier in the day, local media, citing Ukrainian ambassador to Belarus Mykhailo Yezhel, reported missile systems were on the table as part of the aid talks. Yezhel served as Ukrainian Defense Minister from 2010 to 2012 under the leadership of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
- Ukrainian Ambassador: U.S. missile defense in Ukraine in exchange for financial aid is on negotiating table
- Russia stations missiles near border with Poland, Lithuania
- Moscow: missiles in western Russia legitimate
- From 2012: NATO Launches Missile Defense Shield
- From 2012: Russia Threatens Preemptive Strike if NATO Builds Missile Defense Shield
- From 2012: NATO Interested in Missile Defense Cooperation with Ukraine
- From 2008: Ukraine Ready To Work With West On Missile Defense
Russia said on Tuesday that it would retaliate if the United States imposed sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. ”We will have to respond,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. “As always in such situations, provoked by rash and irresponsible actions by Washington, we stress: This is not our choice.”
US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine is not a sign of Russian strength but rather a reflection of the deep concern Russia’s neighbors have about Moscow’s meddling. In remarks to reporters, Obama ridiculed Putin’s justification for any Russian military action in the Crimearegion of southern Ukraine.
Russia’s incursion (invasion if you prefer) into Crimea, with prospects for movement into Eastern Ukraine, is the culmination of US/NATO policy since 1991. The unraveling of the USSR and its Soviet bloc (the Warsaw Pact) dismantled the largest empire in modern history. Even more striking, it was the most peaceful dissolution of a major empire in history. The fact that an empire stretching over a dozen time zones that included hundreds of ethnic groups with concrete historical and contemporary grievances with each other broke up without a bloodbath is nothing short of a miraculous – and a reflection of the destruction of spirit and even of economic understanding that marked the distortions of Stalinism, neither capitalist nor socialist but a bureaucratic collectivism whose final stage proved to be kleptocracy.
Part of the reason that this went off with such little violence was due to the mutual desire of President George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War’s threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Gorbachev for his part recognized that the Warsaw Pact nations needed to be let go, in order to free resources to build up a more middle class consumer economy. Demilitarization was to be achieved by disarmament, all the more remarkable in view of the largest human losses suffered in world history from military invasion had occurred just two generations earlier. Germany became the focus, pending its reunification in1990. It had invaded its neighbors every generation or so since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In World War II it laid waste to the USSR and left 25 million of its people dead. Other East European nations, including Romania (and, along with victims of Stalinist oppression, e.g., the Baltics and Ukrainians, welcomed the Nazis and fought against Russia). The NATO alliance thus remained the main threat that had held the Soviet Union together
So Russia had vital security concerns that could only be met by assurances that NATO would not move into the Warsaw Pact states, where so much Soviet blood had been shed in World War II. President George H. W. Bush (#41) made assurances that if the Soviets were to dissolve the Warsaw Pact, Russia must be assured that the NATO would not fill the vacuum. But his successor, Bill Clinton, broke this promise by quickly taking the former Warsaw Pact states into NATO, and then moved into territory formerly occupied and incorporated into the USSR with the Baltics. It should have been foreseen – and probably was inevitable – that these new entrants wanted NATO, given their own experience with Soviet occupation. But the eagerness of a triumphalist United States to surround Russia militarily rather than disarm led Russian leaders to feel betrayed by the US breaking its word.
The top ten recipients slated to receive US foreign assistance in 2014 all practice torture and are responsible for major human rights abuses, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other major human rights organizations. The violators and degree of aid they are expected to receive are: 1. Israel – $3.1bn, 2. Afghanistan – $2.2bn, 3. Egypt – $1.6bn, 4. Pakistan – $1.2bn, 5. Nigeria – $693m, 6. Jordan – $671m, 7. Iraq – $573m, 8. Kenya – $564m, 9. Tanzania – $553m, 10. Uganda -$456m.
Each of the listed countries are accused of torturing people in the last year, and at least half are reported to be doing so on a massive scale. Financial support for such governments could violate existing US law mandating that little or no funding be granted to a country that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture.” The United States remains a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture, ratified in 1994. That the top ten recipients of US assistance all practice torture calls into serious question the Obama administration’s overall stance on and understanding of fundamental human rights.
A leading principle of international relations theory is that the state’s highest priority is to ensure security. As Cold War strategist George F. Kennan formulated the standard view, government is created “to assure order and justice internally and to provide for the common defense.” The proposition seems plausible, almost self-evident, until we look more closely and ask: Security for whom? For the general population? For state power itself? For dominant domestic constituencies? Depending on what we mean, the credibility of the proposition ranges from negligible to very high. Security for state power is at the high extreme, as illustrated by the efforts that states exert to protect themselves from the scrutiny of their own populations.
In an interview on German TV, Edward J. Snowden said that his “breaking point” was “seeing Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress” by denying the existence of a domestic spying program conducted by the National Security Agency. Snowden elaborated that “The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public.” The same could be justly said by Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and other courageous figures who acted on the same democratic principle. The government stance is quite different: The public doesn’t have the right to know because security thus is undermined – severely so, as officials assert.
The Marshall Islands marks 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll Saturday, with angry exiled residents saying they are too fearful ever to go home. Part of the intense Cold War nuclear arms race, the 15-megaton Bravo test on March 1, 1954 was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It vaporised one island and exposed thousands in the surrounding area to radioactive fallout. As those who remember that terrifying day and younger generations gather in the Marshall Islands’ capital of Majuro to commemorate the anniversary, many exiles refuse to go back to the zones that were contaminated, despite US safety assurances. ”I won’t move there,” Evelyn Ralpho-Jeadrik, 33, said of her home atoll, Rongelap, which was engulfed in a snowstorm of fallout from Bravo and evacuated two days after the test. ”I do not believe it’s safe and I don’t want to put my children at risk.”
People returned to live on Rongelap in 1957 but fled again in 1985 amid fears — later proved correct — about residual radiation. Rongelap, one of more than 60 in a necklace of coral islands, has been cleaned up as part of a US-funded $45 million programme, but Ralpho-Jeadrik has no intention of going back. ”I will be forever fearful. The US told my mother it was safe and they returned to Rongelap only to be contaminated again,” she said. It is not just their homes which have been lost, says Lani Kramer, 42, a councilwoman in Bikini’s local government, but an entire swathe of the islands’ culture. ”As a result of being displaced, we’ve lost our cultural heritage — our traditional customs and skills, which for thousands of years were passed down from generation to generation,” she said. Bikini islanders have lived in exile since they were moved for the first weapons tests in 1946, when Kramer’s own grandparents were evacuated. When US government scientists declared Bikini safe for resettlement, some residents were allowed to return in the early 1970s. But they were removed again in 1978 after ingesting high levels of radiation from eating local foods grown on the former nuclear test site.
It appears that at least one police department in Florida has failed to tell judges about its use of a cell phone tracking device because the department got the device on loan and promised the manufacturer to keep it all under wraps. But when police use invasive surveillance equipment to surreptitiously sweep up information about the locations and communications of large numbers of people, court oversight and public debate are essential. The devices, likely made by the Florida-based Harris Corporation, are called “stingrays,” and unfortunately this is not the first time the government has tried to hide their use.
So the ACLU and ACLU of Florida have teamed up to break through the veil of secrecy surrounding stingray use by law enforcement in the Sunshine State, last week filing a motion for public access to sealed records in state court, and submitting public records requests to nearly 30 police and sheriffs’ departments across Florida seeking information about their acquisition and use of stingrays (examples here and here).
Also known as “cell site simulators,” stingrays impersonate cell phone towers, prompting phones within range to reveal their precise locations and information about all of the calls and text messages they send and receive. When in use, stingrays sweep up information about innocent people and criminal suspects alike.