“I Am Chelsea Manning. I Am a Female”: Manning Announces Gender Transition

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Manning Announces She Will Live as a Woman

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/gender/bradley-manning-im-chelsea-manning

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.”

By Rod Bastanmehr
August 22, 2013

One day after being sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning announced he would henceforth live a a woman, no doubt a challenging path to pursue while serving a long prison sentence.

Early this morning, Manning’s lawyer appeared on the Today show to read an exclusive statement from Manning announcing that he is slated to begin hormone therapy in a push towards gender reassignment, and would like to be referred to as Chelsea Manning by the media at large, and with feminine pronouns. This comes, of course, a week after the Army released a black-and-white photo (or, as the young ones call it, a #selfie) of Manning in wig and make-up as part of Manning’s defense case documents. The photo was leaked to the press, and has since added an entirely new dimension to Manning’s case, namely the role that the army played in Manning’s own narrative of self-discovery, with army private Paul Adkins expressing a belief that Manning viewed a career in the military as the chance to “get rid of [gender questioning] .”

With his trial over, and sentence determined, speculation will inevitably turn to how gender reassignment will go for Manning in prison.  Manning’s lawyer has said that his client plans to pursue hormone therapy on-site, even though Fort Leavenworth doesn’t offically provide therapy or sex-reassignment surgery on site (Manning has said he is not pursuing sexual reassignment surgery, for now). The leaked photo may have possibly made a significant dent in showing the level of emotional and psychological stress Manning was under while she was in the military, [that the subject line of the email Manning sent containing the photo read “My Problem” says it all.)

Engaging in typical masculine (or, in the case of the army, culturally “hyper-masculine”) behavior and endeavors as a way of combating the personal and psychological toll that comes with questioning one’s gender, is, according to transgendered author Jennifer F. Boylan, typical. As she wrote in a piece written yesterday for Psychology Today, “Many of trans women—like Manning—immerse themselves in super-masculine activities in an attempt to shake off their inner sense of womanhood. As is the case with virtually all women born trans, ‘immersion therapy; didn’t cure [Manning’s] problem; it only made things worse.”

Manning’s statement is a provocative one for a culture that is still attempting to sort out its more complicated opinions regarding the Manning case, and it is also a powerful show of progress and personal growth. Yet there is something strange in the way Manning’s announcement is being used as a justification for what are, largely, acts of protest that should be sparking more moral outrage than we’ve been seeing. Manning’s struggle with gender identity definitely colors the nuances of the case by citing a trend in the culture that explains Manning’s more complicated relationship with the Army, but the debate regarding the leak isn’t illuminated any further. And of course, the war crimes that Manning exposed, aren’t even being discussed. What we need is an understanding that Manning may have broken the law, but with the intention to reveal what are far more egregious crimes. That is a discussion that is not happening. His struggles with gender dysphoria are another matter, and an important one at that.

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Chelsea Manning: “Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society”

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‘Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society’

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/21-7

by Bradley Manning

The following is a rush transcript by Common Dreams of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday following the announcement of his 35-year prison sentence by a military court:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.  It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.  We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture.  We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government.  And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.  When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few.  I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States.  It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.  When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.  I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Domonique Newburn, Transgender Woman, Found Dead In Apartment

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/domonique-newburn-dead_n_3790775.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

By Posted: 08/21/2013

A transgender woman was found dead in her Fontana, Calif. home Tuesday, and witnesses say they saw the suspect take clothes, a computer and the victim’s car to get away.

Police found Domonique Newburn’s body at around 4:30 p.m. after responding to domestic disturbance reports. Inside, they came across a grisly scene: there was blood on the porch and the door was left wide open, reports CBS Los Angeles. The position of Newburn’s body also indicated to investigators that she appeared to be trying to escape through a front window before she died, reports KTLA in the video above.

Now Fontana police are on the hunt for Newburn’s car, a black 2004 Mercedes C240, hoping it will lead to the suspect seen leaving her apartment. The license plate is 7AAY925 and the suspect was described as a “bare-chested” African American man in his late 20s or early 30s, reports CBS Los Angeles.

The San Bernardino County coroner’s office said that Newburn had sustained trauma and was pronounced dead at 4:38 p.m. An autopsy to determine cause of death is pending.

Newburn was an actress on a 2010 web reality series called “Hollywood Houseboys,” a show about four gay friends trying to make it in the entertainment industry. On the show’s site, Newburn wrote that she was born “Daymond” but began cross dressing when she was 22 years old. She also wrote that she was beginning hormone shots and hoped to have gender reassignment surgery and “be the first trans-gender to one day have a hit song on iTunes.”

Ryan Hope, executive producer of the show, released this statement to The Huffington Post:

We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our sister, Domonique Newburn. Domonique was an amazing person whose spirit transcended gender. When we set-out to document our lives for reality-television…we never once wished to make headlines like this. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with her family.

Fontana Police are asking that anyone with information about the case contact them.

See Also:

CBSLA: Coroner Identifies Transgender Woman Found Murdered In Her Fontana Apartment

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Russian Transgender Woman Beaten In Public Park Caught On Tape

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/russian-transgender-woman-beaten_n_3779723.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

By Posted: 08/20/2013

A horrifying new video hit the web this weekend, documenting what appears to be a brutal attack on a Russian transgender woman by five men after she had allegedly been ambushed in a public park.

In the video, the victim is repeatedly beaten and kicked over the entirety of her head and body while being dragged around the park by the men for several minutes, at one point by her underwear. The title of the video reportedly translates roughly to a reference of the transgender woman as a “homosexual” and then continues by saying “view from 16 years old.” It is unclear whose age to which the number 16 refers.

The woman appears to escape towards the end of the video and the viewer can then see one of the men rifling through the contents of her purse. At least one bystander is present throughout the attack, though no attempt is made to stop the men.

This terrifying video is unfortunately not the first of its kind to emerge following Russia’s passage of anti-gay “propaganda” legislation. As previously reported, a disturbing trend among Russian social media involves anti-gay and anti-trans Russian hate groups luring young gay and trans individuals through the Internet into a real life meeting. The self-proclaimed “vigilantes” then beat, torture and humiliate the young victims while filming the attack, and then post the video on popular Russian social media sites.

Russia’s violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and state-sanctioned discrimination through anti-gay “propaganda laws” have come under international scrutiny over the past several months. This cross-cultural backlash against the country is has gained even more attention due to the imminent approach of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and claims that LGBT athletes, attendees and coaches will be held accountable to the country’s anti-LGBT legislation during the games.

(WARNING: Contains Graphic Imagery)
If the video above is unavailable, a slideshow of several screenshots is provided below.

For Video go to:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/russian-transgender-woman-beaten_n_3779723.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

See Also:

America Blog: Russians film brutal video of attack on transgender woman

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George Takei & A Transgender War Veteran Speak Out Against Bigoted San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan

From Liberals Unite:  http://samuel-warde.com/2013/08/george-takei-a-transgender-war-veteran-speak-out-against-embattled-councilwoman-elisa-chan/

Creative Commons Permission

Whoever is doing Councilwoman Alisa Chan’s damage control needs a lesson on ‘how-to.’ You may remember Chan as the embattled San Antonio politician who was secretly recorded by an ex-staffer last week while gay bashing.  She was heard on audio saying comments like she believes being gay is a choice and that gay people should not be allowed to adopt children.

In her first statement regarding the gaffe, if you can call it that, her office released a statement Monday morning wherein Chan had this to say:

“The comments from the staff meeting on May 21 were and are my personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is unfortunate that a former member of my District 9 Council team betrayed the trust of my staff members and me. I will fight, I will always fight for our freedom of speech especially in a private setting. I plan to hold a press conference this week to address this issue.”

At today’s press conference things went from bad to worse for Chan.  She offered no apology for her comments but instead said; “Political correctness will not win the day.” She also said when talking about “them” being disgusting, was in reference to pedophilia and bestiality.

Glad she cleared that up.

Chan continued chirping away while this little ditty came spewing out of her;   ”I stand strong in my First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech and our right to privacy. As an immigrant, I consider this to be the greatest privilege of being a U.S. citizen.”

I guess when Chan was studying up on the Constitution she missed somethings like not all speech is free. Actually what she did say during working tax paying salary hours is not free speech. It’s not a platform she is running on or a conversation in private with a friend, therefore, not free speech. It’s just plain old hate speech.

With San Antonio being the number one city for LGBT families makes me wonder why someone who is so outspoken about not liking ‘them’, why do they continue to work and live there?  Surely there must be some horrible area where more bigots live that would be more appropriate. The way things are going for Chan it’s only a matter of time before she is ousted, thankfully.

People like Chan are the exact reason San Antonio needs a non-discrimination-ordinance. The measure, which is expected to pass, would ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.

It won’t however stop racists from booing and thumping their bibles at an openly gay war hero who was at a council meeting to talk about how important the NDO is for LGBT and our military.  Besides being a huge LGBT community, it’s also  a very large military community as well.  The fact Eric Alva lost his leg stepping on a land mine didn’t seem to matter to these fine folk. Only thing missing were the pitch forks.

Lucky for the hard working war veterans and the LGBT community they are surrounded by wonderful people like Ana Alicia PerezAna is a friend of mine, and I’m proud to be a part of her life.  If there is a cause that needs tending too, or a person in need, you’ll always find Ana there.  She is what’s correct in our world. Ana had this to say referencing Chan:

“She is entitled to her own opinions. However, she is not entitled the right to discriminate against or cause harm to others based on those opinions. Religious liberty is one of our nation’s most cherished values. It guarantees us the freedom to hold any belief we choose and the right to act our beliefs– but it does not allow us to harm or discriminate others. Additionally, the very fact that we have people on the opposition booing a gay veteran and people referring to the LGBT community as queers, combined with Councilwoman Chan calling the LGBT community disgusting and preferring children remain orphans to being adopted by LGBT people is WHY we need a non-discrimination ordinance”.

Ana proudly supports her LGBT and military friends, including one of her closest friends, Eric Alva, and goes out of her way to be heard at all events, meetings and even being public on Facebook  about her private life. Besides losing her fiancée in Iraq a decade ago, Ana married another military man, Justin Ingram and had two children with him.  Ana and Justin are no longer together but co-parent as mommy and mommy. Justin now goes by the name of Jennifer and is transgender.

When I spoke to Jenny she had this to say about Chan and the NDO:

“Unfortunately, there are many people with the same personal views as Councilwoman Chan, that even though given the facts, still choose ignorance and to discriminate based off of things that just really aren’t true. The San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance at least allows us to know that our tax dollars are not being used for that baseless discrimination and that everyone is equal in the laws and views of our government. Being transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a choice, yet people would still try to hurt us physically, mentally, or financially just because of how nature and God made us. The ordinance reinforces that we are equals, and helps reduce the possibility of losing a job that our own tax dollars paid for, being denied a place to live that everyone else can live at, that we can eat anywhere or stay at a hotel that anyone else can, and that we can’t be turned away just because of how we were born and who we are”.

Even people like George Takei are talking about Chan and posted this on his massive fan based Facebook page:

“It’s always disappointing when Asian Americans in leadership positions fall short. Personally, I find this woman’s actions repugnant. San Antonio, it’s time to dump your trash and make sure the likes of Elisa Chan are never reelected.

The Japanese American Citizen’s League was the very first minority civil rights organization to support marriage equality for LGBT’s back in 1996. I call on Asian American leaders and organizations to condemn Chan’s behavior and her ugly political cynicism.”

While people like Chan can nauseate us all, we can also be grateful that people like Jennifer, Ana, Eric, George and a whole host of others that are outspoken and not afraid to speak out publically against such an injustice!

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Focus on the Family says protections for trans students makes teachers into ‘identity keepers’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/07/focus-on-the-family-says-protections-for-trans-students-makes-teachers-into-identity-keepers/

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Evangelical advocacy group Focus on the Family wants to mobilize California members to speak up against a state bill that would protect transgender students from discrimination and allow them greater access to school activities based on their identified gender.

Think Progress reported on Wednesday that the group’s California affiliate, the California Family Alliance (CFA), released a statement urging members to call on Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to veto Assembly Bill 1266, which was passed by both the state Senate and Assembly in July 2013.

“This bill will create further chaos as teachers will be forced to become identity keepers for a small number of children confused about their identity,” the CFA’s statement read. “That confusion will be exacerbated as thousands of unsuspecting students will suddenly find themselves face to face with opposite sex peers in their bathrooms, changing rooms and showers.”

But 16-year-old Ashton Lee, who has become an advocate for the bill, said in a July 2013 interview with the Sacramento Bee that AB 1266 would actually reduce confusion among transgender students.

“It’ll help me so much at school, and people like me, and it will make it so much easier to graduate and be who we are and be accepted and understood,” Lee told the Bee. “It’s just going to make it so much easier.”

According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD), the bill actually allows students to use school facilities and take part in school programs, including athletics, in a fashion “consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

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Free Trade…Jobs Promised & Jobs Lost

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Bradley Manning’s sentence: 35 years for exposing us to the truth

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/21/bradley-manning-sentence-birgitta-jonsdottir

This was never a fair trial – Obama declared Manning’s guilt in advance. But Manning’s punishment is an affront to democracy

theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 August 2013

As of today, Wednesday 21 August 2013, Bradley Manning has served 1,182 days in prison. He should be released with a sentence of time served. Instead, the judge in his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland has handed down a sentence of 35 years.

Of course, a humane, reasonable sentence of time served was never going to happen. This trial has, since day one, been held in a kangaroo court. That is not angry rhetoric; the reason I am forced to frame it in that way is because President Obama made the following statements on record, before the trial even started:

President Obama: We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate … He broke the law.

Logan Price: Well, you can make the law harder to break, but what he did was tell us the truth.

President Obama: Well, what he did was he dumped …

Logan Price: But Nixon tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for the same thing and he is a … [hero]

President Obama: No, it isn’t the same thing … What Ellsberg released wasn’t classified in the same way.

When the president says that the Ellsberg’s material was classified in a different way, he seems to be unaware that there was a higher classification on the documents Ellsberg leaked.

A fair trial, then, has never been part of the picture. Despite being a professor in constitutional law, the president as commander-in-chief of the US military – and Manning has been tried in a court martial – declared Manning’s guilt pre-emptively. Here is what the Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg had to say about this, in an interview with Amy Goodman at DemocracyNow! in 2011:

Well, nearly everything the president has said represents a confusion about the state of the law and his own responsibilities. Everyone is focused, I think, on the fact that his commander-in-chief has virtually given a directed verdict to his subsequent jurors, who will all be his subordinates in deciding the guilt in the trial of Bradley Manning. He’s told them already that their commander, on whom their whole career depends, regards him [Manning] as guilty and that they can disagree with that only at their peril. In career terms, it’s clearly enough grounds for a dismissal of the charges, just as my trial was dismissed eventually for governmental misconduct.

But what people haven’t really focused on, I think, is another problematic aspect of what he said. He not only was identifying Bradley Manning as the source of the crime, but he was assuming, without any question, that a crime has been committed.

This alone should have been cause for the judge in the case to rethink prosecutors’ demand for 60 years in prison. Manning himself has shown throughout the trial both that he is a humanitarian and that he is willing to serve time for his actions. We have to look at his acts in light of his moral compass, not any political agenda.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/21/bradley-manning-sentence-birgitta-jonsdottir

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From Spying on “Terrorists Abroad” to Using Massive Surveillance to Suppress Domestic Dissent: When We Become the Hunted

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18292-from-spying-on-terrorists-abroad-to-using-massive-surveillance-to-suppress-domestic-dissent-when-we-become-the-hunted

By Mark Karlin
Wednesday, 21 August 2013

If you’re wondering why the ongoing revelations about the development and use of a massive public and private surveillance complex should be of concern to you, read what Michael German, senior policy counsel for the ACLU (and former FBI agent), says about the new book, Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance:

Heidi Boghosian’s ‘Spying on Democracy’ is the answer to the question, ‘If you’re not doing anything wrong, why should you care if someone’s watching you?’ It’s chock full of stories about how innocent people’s lives were turned upside-down by public and private-sector surveillance programs. But more importantly, it shows how this unrestrained spying is inevitably used to suppress the most essential tools of democracy: the press, political activists, civil rights advocates and conscientious insiders who blow the whistle on corporate malfeasance and government abuse.

Truthout recently spoke with Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, about the ever-expanding government/corporate surveillance state.

Mark Karlin: Aren’t we at a juncture in history where we’ve arrived at a perfect storm for nearly unrestricted surveillance in the United States? We have the political cover of keeping America “safe from terrorism” to justify the surveillance state. We have technology so advanced that few people cannot be monitored and tracked unless they are hermits hidden in caves. We have a corporate sector that increasingly depends on data mining for marketing and increasing profitability. And we have a rising tide of rebellion against the financial status quo, which the state has an interest in suppressing on behalf of the economic elites.

Heidi Boghosian: The confluence of circumstances enabling mass surveillance has the potential to permanently imperil Americans’ civil liberties. How we respond will determine whether we continue to function as a democracy.

Several other factors add to the urgency of this challenge: The Obama administration is on the defensive after Edward Snowden’s disclosures and will likely invest even more resources to protect its perpetual “war on terror” campaign and the corporate partners that profit from this manufactured war. As the public, and certain legislators, express apprehension about mass surveillance, the executive branch and the NSA may enact more stringent measures to fortify and safeguard their highly sophisticated spying infrastructure.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18292-from-spying-on-terrorists-abroad-to-using-massive-surveillance-to-suppress-domestic-dissent-when-we-become-the-hunted

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‘Sending a message’: what the US and UK are attempting to do

From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/21/sending-message-miranda-gchq-nsa

State-loyal journalists seem to believe in a duty to politely submit to bullying tactics from political officials

theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 August 2013

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on Monday night disclosed the remarkable news that UK authorities, several weeks ago, threatened the Guardian UK with prior restraint if they did not destroy all of their materials provided by Edward Snowden, and then sent agents to the basement of the paper’s offices to oversee the physical destruction of hard drives. The Guardian has more details on that episode today, and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes interviewed the Guardian’s editor-in-chief about it last night. As Rusbridger explains, this behavior was as inane as it was thuggish: since this is 2013, not 1958, destroying one set of a newspaper’s documents doesn’t destroy them all, and since the Guardian has multiple people around the world with copies, they achieved nothing but making themselves look incompetently oppressive.

But conveying a thuggish message of intimidation is exactly what the UK and their superiors in the US national security state are attempting to accomplish with virtually everything they are now doing in this matter. On Monday night, Reuters’ Mark Hosenball reported the following about the 9-hour detention of my partner under a terrorism law, all with the advanced knowledge of the White House:

One US security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government’s detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks.”

I want to make one primary point about that. On Monday, Reuters did the same thing to me as they did last month: namely, they again wildly distorted comments I made in an interview – speaking in Portuguese, at 5:00 am at the Rio airport, waiting for my partner to come home after finally being released – to manufacture the sensationalizing headline that I was “threatening” the UK government with “revenge” journalism. That wasn’t remotely what I said or did, as I explained last night in a CNN interview (see Part 2).

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/21/sending-message-miranda-gchq-nsa

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Climate Change is Worse than You Have Ever Imagined

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International Alarms Go Up as Fukushima Alert Level Raised

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/21-0

Regulators acknowledge that crisis is worsening amid constant flow of bad news at crippled nuclear plant

Jon Queally

In the most serious action since the nuclear plant was first damaged in 2011, Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority is on the verge of raising the international alarm—and the official threat level—over the spiraling crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

By elevating the severity status from level 1 to level 3 on the eight-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), the NRA has made a clear indication that the situation is worsening more than two years after the initial disaster and following recent reports of newly discovered leaks of highly radioactive water from several sources.

As Reuters reports, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday it viewed the situation at Fukushima “seriously” and was ready to help if called upon, while nearby China said it was “shocked” to hear contaminated water was still leaking from the plant, and urged Japan to provide information “in a timely, thorough and accurate way”.

Shunichi Tanaka, head of the NRA, told reporters that the plant has become an amusement park’s house of horror, with newly discovered leaks and and repeated failings by the plant’s owner TEPCO to make meaningful progress in the cleanup.

“I don’t know if describing it this way is appropriate, but it’s like a haunted house and, as I’ve said, mishaps keep happening one after the other,” he told reporters. “We have to look into how we can reduce the risks and how to prevent it from becoming a fatal or serious incident.”

As the Japan Times reports:

The NRA said about 300 tons of highly radioactive water has leaked from tank No. 5 in the H4 area of the damaged plant. In total, it said, the nuclear materials released into the environment has been estimated at several thousand terabecquerels, converted into radioactive molybdenum 99.

“This is comparable to level 3, given the standards for the radiation barriers and management of a facility,” the NRA said in a document released Wednesday.

Raising the severity rating would be one of the most serious actions taken since the March 11, 2011, mega-quake and tsunami led to three reactor meltdowns.

“I’m concerned most about how such tanks with high levels (of radioactive water) are increasing rapidly,” said Tanaka, referencing more than 1,000 water storage tanks now spread out around the crippled facility.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/21-0

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By 2050, flooding could cost the world’s coastal cities over $60 billion a year

From Grist: http://grist.org/news/by-2050-flooding-could-cost-the-worlds-coastal-cities-over-60-billion-a-year/

By Claire Thompson
21 Aug 2013

In 2005, flooding caused $6 billion worth of damage globally. By 2050, we could be hit with 10 times that much in losses — and that’s only if the world’s biggest coastal cities make significant investments to mitigate risk. If we do nothing, costs could soar to $1 trillion.

These sobering statistics come from a new study in Nature Climate Change which identifies the 20 coastal metropolises that stand to lose the most when (not if) major flooding occurs in the future. Sea-level rise, subsidence (the land sinking), and increasingly strong storms — all related to climate change — increase the risk of flooding. But much of the growing price tag of future flood losses is thanks to the growing numbers of people crowding along the world’s coasts.

Time reports:

[T]he most immediate threat is the sheer increase in people—and their property—put in harm’s way in coastal cities. In the U.S. 87 million people now live along the coast, up from 47 million people in 1960, and globally six of the world’s 10 largest cities are on the coast. Of the $60 to $63 billion in flood risk the Nature Climate Change study estimates the world’s cities will face by 2050, $52 billion is due to economic and population growth—the rest is due to sea level rise and land use change.

The study looks not only at which cities will face the highest absolute costs as a result of increased flooding, but also at which will see the largest relative increase in average annual damages, and which had the highest losses as a percentage of GDP in 2005. In terms of absolute losses, Miami and New York — places with large populations and high concentrations of wealth — face the most risk among cities in developed nations. In fact, in 2005, New York, Miami, and New Orleans accounted for 31 percent of total damage costs across all 136 cities studied (perhaps Katrina had something to do with that).

This chart of relative increases in average annual losses (AAL) includes some places that may not be accustomed to thinking of themselves as particularly flood-prone, but are going to have to adapt fast: Houston and Tel Aviv, for instance, are facing at least a 50 percent increase in AAL, while Alexandria, Egypt, and Barranquilla, Colombia, could see 100 percent increases or more.

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/news/by-2050-flooding-could-cost-the-worlds-coastal-cities-over-60-billion-a-year/

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Dead dolphins might be trying to tell us something

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/21/dead_dolphins_might_be_trying_to_tell_us_something/

“When our bottlenose dolphins are not healthy, it may very well indicate that our ecosystem is not healthy”


Up and down the East Coast, dolphins are dying at a rate seven times higher than usual. Right now, it seems likely that an infectious pathogen’s to blame, Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, told CNN. Pesticides and other environmental toxins could also be playing a role in the deaths, of which there have been 228 as of yesterday.

Classified by the NOAA as an Unusual Mortality Event, and the most worrying aspect isn’t what’s causing it, but rather what it might mean. Dying dolphins, according to Barco, are sending humans a warning:

“Bottlenose dolphins are a higher-order predator. They’re often referred to as ‘ocean sentinels of health.’ So when our bottlenose dolphins are healthy, it would probably indicate that we have a fairly healthy ecosystem. When our bottlenose dolphins are not healthy, it may very well indicate that our ecosystem is not healthy,” she said.

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