Category Archives: Video

Pentagon whistleblowers face a stacked deck


John Crane, who investigated whistleblower complaints for the Pentagon for a quarter-century, and author Mark Hertsgaard talk with Democracy Now! about the stacked deck faced by would-be whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

With Mark Hertsgaard, who details Crane’s allegations in a new book, Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden, Crane talks about the story of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and the Pentagon’s notoriously abysmal record of investigating abuses reported by employees.

Given such a record, Edward Snowden could realistically expect no action on his discovery of massive illegal surveillance of American citizens, leaving him only one sure out for exposing what he had found.

From Democracy Now!:

Part 1: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks

Part 2: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks

Part 3: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks

From the transcript:

JOHN CRANE: Yes, yes. I think that in terms of when you think whether or not you should be a whistleblower, that you’re concerned about whether or not the system works. And there are various statistics out there, from the IG DOD semi-annual report, for instance, that in regard to the way the IG even investigates senior officials, over a two-and-a-half-year period, regarding senior officials in the Army, that the IG DOD received 482 allegations, accepted 10 allegations, substantiated one allegation.

AMY GOODMAN: Of 404, the Inspector General’s Office in the Pentagon, in the Department of Defense—

JOHN CRANE: Substantiated one, which is 0.2 percent. The Army, however, also investigating senior officials, under IG DOD oversight, they had 372 allegations. They investigated all 372 allegations. They had 102 substantiated. They had a 27 percent substantiation rate. So, this is a very major statistical anomaly. Why does the Army, looking at the same group of senior officials, have a 27 percent substantiation rate versus the IG with a 0.2 percent?

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to the case of Tom Drake.

JOHN CRANE: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: You allege documents were destroyed.

JOHN CRANE: I don’t allege that. Documents were destroyed. Because when the IG DOD—

AMY GOODMAN: You said you don’t allege that, that in fact you know that documents were destroyed.

JOHN CRANE: Because that is what the IG DOD said. Documents were destroyed according to a standard document destruction policy. And that was a statement that they made to the Department of Justice in regard to the Drake trial, because Drake’s attorneys wanted to find exculpatory information. The IG DOD response was, it just doesn’t exist.

AMY GOODMAN: It had existed.

JOHN CRANE: It had existed, and it should have existed.

MARK HERTSGAARD: Yeah, they made sure it didn’t exist.

Warming Pacific is starving seal, sea lion pups


A brief report from Agence France-Presse:

Marine center fights to save California seals and sea lions

Program notes:

The warming Pacific Ocean is causing thousands of California Sea Lions and Elephant Seal pups to starve. A few lucky ones are rescued and nursed back to health by veterinarians, along with an army of 1200 volunteers at the Marine Mammal Center.

John Oliver tackles presidential primaries


And, of course, finds the whole process confusing, corrupt, and absurd.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Primaries and Caucuses

Program note:

Primaries and caucuses are a surprisingly undemocratic part of the democratic process. John Oliver discusses our convoluted system for choosing presidential nominees.

The Empire Files: Turning troops into lab rats


In the latest episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin turns her critical gaze to aother national shame: The exploitation of America’s military as experimental subjects of testing on everything from nerve gasses and biological warfare agents to mind-altering drugs and nuclear weapons.

Not only does America’s military brass treat soldiers as experimental animals; they also deny what they’ve done and refuse to pay the medical treatments needed to alleviate the miseries they’ve induced.

And they’ve been doing it for more than a century, as she searingly documents.

What marks this episode as particularly notable is the dramatic change of format, evidence of Martin’s skills as a visual artist [you can see some of her painting and photography here]. The result is a new fusion, and, we hope, a measure of things to come.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Used & Betrayed – 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats

Program notes:

On Memorial Day, politicians will speak at ceremonies all over the country and repeat their favorite mantra: “Support the troops.”

This pledge is hammered into the American psyche at every turn. But there is a hidden, dark history that shows that the politicians are in fact no friend to service members–but their greatest enemy.

An easy way to prove this truth is to look at how they so quickly betray and abandon their soldiers after purposely ruining their lives, and even after using them as literal lab rats.

In this disturbing chapter of The Empire Files, Abby Martin documents decades of experimentation on US troops—from nuclear tests to psychotropic drugs—as well as knowingly exposing them to deadly poisons, from sarin gas to Agent Orange.

Most damning is that the hundreds of thousands of veterans seeking help from the government for the side-effects are always met with lies and denial.

FOLLOW // @EmpireFiles // @AbbyMartin // @telesurenglish

LIKE // facebook.com/TheEmpireFiles

Original music by Anahedron

Rallies across the world: March Against Monsanto


Narch agagaist Monstanto protesters in Mtubatuba, South Africa today.

March against Monsanto protesters in Mtubatuba, South Africa today.

Monsanto, the folks who brought you Roundup and all those patented Roundup Ready genetically modified crops they peddle, was the target and marches and rallies in more than 400 cities across the global today by folks angry at the firm’s control of so much of the world’s food supplies.

Big Agra’s been in a state of flux of late, with major mergers in the offing, as BBC News reported Thursday, when Bayer announced it wanted to buy the company:

There has been speculation for some months that Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, could become a target for either Bayer or BASF.

Bayer, which has a market value of about $90bn, is the second-largest producer of crop chemicals after Syngenta.

Monsanto, which has a market capitalisation of $42bn, attempted to buy Swiss rival Syngenta last year.

However, Syngenta ended up accepting a $43bn offer from ChemChina in February, although that deal is still being reviewed by regulators in the US.

Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto is expected to be bigger in value than the ChemChina-Syngenta deal.

More from Reuters:

Deutsche Bank analysts said a deal could shift Bayer’s center of gravity to agriculture, accounting for about 55 percent of core earnings, up from roughly 28 percent last year excluding the Covestro chemicals business Bayer plans to sell.

That would have a negative impact on sentiment among Bayer’s healthcare-focused investor base, the bank said.

Bayer, which has a market value of $90 billion, said the merger would create “a leading integrated agriculture business”, referring to Bayer’s push to seek more synergies from combining the development and sale of seeds and crop protection chemicals.

Most of the major agrichemical companies are aiming to genetically engineer more robust plants and custom-build chemicals to go with them, selling them together to farmers who are struggling to contend with low commodity price.

And, just for the fun of it, some voideos from around the world and an image or two.

First, the march in Saarbrücken, Germany, from Heidi Schmitt:

March against Monsanto, 21.05.2016 in Saarbrücken

On to Paris, via Ruptly TV:

France: Parisians rally against Monsanto

Program notes:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Paris on Saturday for the ‘March against Monsanto,’ in a demonstration against multinational agrochemical corporation. Protesters held banners reading: “GMO/Pesticides = the next sanitary scandal” and “GMO no thanks.”

The activists are protesting against Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) products and the alleged monopoly that Monsanto has in the food supply market.

Saturday’s march will mark the fourth annual ‘March against Monsanto.’ The march is set to take place in over 400 cities in more than 40 countries around the world.

Then off to Innsbruck, Austria with Klaus Schreiner:

2016 Monsanto Marsch Innsbruck

And then back to France and a march in Bordeaux from Gilbert Hanna:

Contre Monsanto and CO à Bordeaux marche internationale

Next, Amsterdam, via kafx:

March against Monsanto

And an image from Basel, Switzerland, via GM Watch:BLOG Monsanto Basel

Then to Toronto, via SupportLocalScene:

March Against Monsanto 2016 at Yonge & Dundas

Program notes:

Yonge and Dundas sees the Millions March Against Monsanto 2016 marching in downtown Toronto, Canada, May 21st 2016.

Next, an image form New York by Alex Beauchamp:

BLOG Monsanto NYC

Then to Japan with Ruptly TV:

Japan: Thousands protest against Monsanto in Tokyo

Program notes:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Tokyo for the ‘March against Monsanto’ on Saturday, in a demonstration against multinational agrochemical corporation.

Finally, via GM Watch, a scene from China:

BLOG Monsanto Taipei

And the rain-drenched earth below. . .


Another of those marvelous 4K videos from NASA, this time depicting global precipitation patterns as discerned by satellites over the course of a year.

The images are both compelling and informative, so set the video to full screen, click on that YouTube gear knob and set it to your screen’s highest resolution, then prepared to be awed.

From NASA:

NASA’s Global Tour of Precipitation in Ultra HD [4K]

Program notes:

Precipitation [falling rain and snow] is our fresh water reservoir in the sky and is fundamental to life on Earth. This video shows the most detailed and worldwide view of rain and snowfall ever created and uses satellite measurements from the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, or GPM, a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency [JAXA]. Tracking precipitation from space with satellites provides information of where, when, and how much it rains and snows anywhere in the world and gives insight into the behavior of our weather, climate, and ecological systems.

To download near real-time global precipitation data visit: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=4285

For more information on GPM visit: http://pmm.nasa.gov/GPM

This video is an abridged 2-D version of a Science On a Sphere production, a film that is projected onto a spherical screen developed by NOAA. On this platform, audiences can view the film from any side of the sphere and can see any part of Earth. The film concludes with near real-time global precipitation data from GPM, which is provided to Science On a Sphere roughly six hours after the observation.

To download this movie formatted for a spherical screen, visit NOAA’s official Science On a Sphere website below:
· Narrated film: http://sos.noaa.gov/Datasets/dataset….
· Near real-time global precipitation data: http://sos.noaa.gov/Datasets/dataset….

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng
Music credit: ‘Tides’ by Ben Niblett and Jon Cotton, ‘Developing Over Time’ by Ben Niblett and Jon Cotton from the KillerTracks catalog.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/deta…

Colorado homeowners win big nuke cash award


Why? Because a plant producing plutonium cores for America’s nuclear weapons program was run by corporate executives who failed to protect the workers and the public from what became a $7 billion catastrophic radioactive waste disaster.

The huge settlement awarded nearby homeowners will be added onto the $7 billion already spent to clean up the mess.

From the Denver Post:

Thousands of homeowners who lived downwind of the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant and the operators of the controversial facility have settled a lawsuit to the tune of $375 million, more than a quarter century after the legal action was first filed.

The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge, brings to an end a 26-year legal saga that began when homeowners living east of Rocky Flats accused the plant’s operators, Rockwell International Corp. and Dow Chemical Co., of devaluing their properties due to plutonium releases from the plant.

The lawsuit, which included as many as 15,000 homeowners in an area largely encompassing neighborhoods surrounding Standley Lake, was first filed in 1990.

In court papers filed Wednesday, the lawsuit was described as “quite possibly the largest docket of any District of Colorado case to date.”

Accompanying the article is this map of the area of contamination.

CD0520BROOMFIELD

But don’t expect the companies to foot the bill, at least if they have their own say, reports Seeking Alpha:

The companies said ROK’s [Rockwell’s] share of the settlement was $244M and Dow’s was $131M, but they expect the Energy Department to repay them in full; the Energy Department says it is liable for some claims, but it is not yet clear if it would be the full amount.

So what happened at Rocky Flats?

It’s a story we followed, since we lived within 40 miles of the site for eight years during our youth and often drove by the plant when it was in operation.

Here’s the Wikipedia summary of the contamination problem, and it’s remarkably accurate:

The Rocky Flats Plant, a former U.S. nuclear weapons production facility located about 15 miles northwest of Denver, caused radioactive (primarily plutonium, americium, and uranium) contamination within and outside its boundaries. The contamination primarily resulted from two major plutonium fires in 1957 and 1969 (plutonium is pyrophoric and shavings can spontaneously combust) and from wind-blown plutonium that leaked from barrels of radioactive waste. Much lower concentrations of radioactive isotopes were released throughout the operational life of the plant from 1952 to 1992, from smaller accidents and from normal operational releases of plutonium particles too small to be filtered. Prevailing winds from the plant swept airborne contamination south and east, into populated areas northwest of Denver.

The contamination of the Denver area by plutonium from the fires and other sources was not publicly reported until the 1970s. According to a 1972 study coauthored by Edward Martell, “In the more densely populated areas of Denver, the Pu contamination level in surface soils is several times fallout”, and the plutonium contamination “just east of the Rocky Flats plant ranges up to hundreds of times that from nuclear tests.” As noted by Carl Johnson in Ambio, “Exposures of a large population in the Denver area to plutonium and other radionuclides in the exhaust plumes from the plant date back to 1953.”

Weapons production at the plant was halted after a combined FBI and EPA raid in 1989 and years of protests. The plant has since been shut down, with its buildings demolished and completely removed from the site. The Rocky Flats Plant was declared a Superfund site in 1989 and began its transformation to a cleanup site in February 1992. Removal of the plant and surface contamination was largely completed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Nearly all underground contamination was left in place, and measurable radioactive environmental contamination in and around Rocky Flats will probably persist for thousands of years. The land formerly occupied by the plant is now the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Plans to make this refuge accessible for recreation have been repeatedly delayed due to lack of funding and protested by citizen organizations. The Department of Energy continues to fund monitoring of the site, but private groups and researchers remain concerned about the extent and long-term public health consequences of the contamination. Estimates of the public health risk caused by the contamination vary significantly, with accusations that the United States government is being too secretive and that citizen activists are being alarmist.

For an excellent report on events at the plant and the scale of the cleanup, see this 25 March 2000 Denver Post report by Mark Obmascik.

Among the challenges of the then-ongoing cleanup he noted:

  • Finding 1,100 pounds of plutonium that somehow became lost in ductwork, drums and industrial gloveboxes. The amount of missing plutonium at Rocky Flats is enough to build 150 Nagasaki-strength bombs.
  • Cleaning 13 “infinity rooms” – places so radioactive that instruments go off the scale when measurements are attempted. One infinity room is so bad that managers welded its door shut in 1972. Another room was stuffed with plutonium-fouled machinery and then entombed in concrete.
  • Trucking out dangerous materials. In the next two years, an estimated 16,000 pounds of highgrade plutonium must be moved through metro Denver to South Carolina. On top of that, to meet the planned 2006 cleanup completion date, Rocky Flats must ship out more than three truckloads of radioactive waste each day; the plant now moves only two truckloads a week.

By the time the federal government announced completion of the site cleanup on 13 October 2005, costs had soared to $7 billion.

For more background, here’s a 1996 video by nuclear physicist Dr. Thomas B. Cochran, Senior Scientist of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Nuclear Program, prepared during the litigation and posted by YouTube by user r3VOLt23:

Nuclear Weapons Plant: Malpractices at Rocky Flats

Program notes:

Tom Cochran is a nuclear physicist and an expert in the process of manufacturing nuclear weapons. He is Director of the Nuclear Program at the National Resources Defense Council and served on boards for the DOE and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He was asked to analyze some of the practices at Rocky Flats for the class-action lawsuit, Merilyn Cook et al vs. Rockwell International Corporation and the Dow Chemical Company. (1996)