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Investigate the Pentagon * Mobile Chernobyl * World Tribunal Axed

08 May 2002


1) Investigate the Pentagon
2) Can Navy sonar hurt whales?
3) Governor turns away plutonium-hauling trucks?
4) Bush Renounces World Tribunal Pact


This is a busy week on Capitol Hill as Congress votes on Yucca Mountain, Defense Department environmental exemptions, and the Farm Bill conference report. Please call and try to reason with your Representatives on these and other issues. Item 1 lays a few facts on the line about the totalitarian nature, control, and misuse of the Pentagon budget. Congress is apparently easily manipulated, and real security, peace, humanity, and our environment, suffers tremendously.

Item 2 is more than about just sonar and whales, but also about the possibility of many additional environmental exemptions connected with the Defense Bill. The full House will consider the $383.4 billion National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4546) for fiscal year 2003 as early as today. The measure is $4 billion more than the administration had requested. There is strong support from the administration and Capitol Hill to increase defense spending. Some in the Defense Department have used the momentum as an opportunity to exempt certain military activities from the nation's most important environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Yet, while there may be support for more defense spending, there is also overwhelming opposition from the American public for exempting the Defense Department from environmental statutes.

In fact, a recent poll of 1,002 registered voters found that 85 percent believe the Defense Department should follow the same environmental and public health laws as other agencies and individuals. Existing laws already afford the Defense Department flexibility to balance environmental protection and military readiness by allowing exemptions on a case-by-case basis in the interest of national security. Rep. James Maloney (D-Conn.) indicated he will offer an amendment to strike the two exemptions when H.R. 4546 reaches the floor. Check with the following address to the website of the League of Conservation Voters for updates: http://www.lcv.org/index.asp . Also, see at end of this item for actions that you can take to help sway Congress ASAP.

Item 3 just shows how sloppy things can become when shipping around toxic plutonium materials. Let's call and pray that Yucca doesn't begin a whole new mess load of toxic shipments. Please help stop threatening Mobile Chernobyl's. The governor of South Carolina should not be the only one concerned about the military's toxic stuff being moved around our vicinity, country, our world.

Item 4 should come as no surprise: The US Bush administration has announced its opposition to an international criminal court and is expected to declare that the signing of the document by the Clinton administration is no longer valid.

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Please note that Flyby News last issue, which included a Toronto Star OPED article, "Canada could prevent weaponization of space," was featured today as the top link (at the left menu) of Yahoo.com's National Missile Defense webpage, see: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/US/Missile_Defense_System/

Please help stop the expansion of the arms race before it happens. Help encourage your Reps. to co-sponsor H.R. 3616, Space Preservation Act of 2002. We also need a Senator to introduce it as a Bill and to encourage world leaders to support the ban on space-based weapons.
For an online fax system in support of this, and for more information, visit:
http://www.peaceinspace.com
A new Kucinich video on this subject is available. Interested?
Contact: Carol Rosin < rosin@west.net > or info@peaceinspace.com

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1) Investigate the Pentagon


Like Harry Truman, We Should Investigate the Pentagon
by Gary Ferdman and Myriam Miedzian

Fact:

Pentagon and General Accounting Office analysts agree that year after year the Department of Defense loses track of a quarter of its budget-an amount in excess of the entire annual federal budget for education.

Fact:

No congressional investigation of the Pentagon budget is planned.

Fact:

President Bush's 2002 Pentagon budget calls for a $48 billion increase which would bring the total 2003 budget to $396.8 billion.

Fact:

Our 2002 defense budget is much larger than the defense budgets of Russia and China plus all potential adversaries combined.

Fact:

Since the 1960's we have spent $130 billion on missile defense. The proposed 2003 budget includes another $7.7 billion. Pentagon plans call for hundreds of billions to be spent in future years.

Fact:

According to our intelligence community the least likely means of delivery of a weapon of mass destruction is long range missile. A substantial number of scientists many of whom have worked for the Pentagon believe that a missile defense system would be ineffective and would lead to a new escalation of nuclear weapons. Our allies are opposed to it and to the breaking of the ABM treaty that it requires.

Fact:

For decades the Pentagon has spent $30 to $35 billion annually to maintain a nuclear arsenal of at least 10,000 warheads.

Fact:

Experts such as Paul Warnke, Chief negotiator of the 1979 Salt II treaty, and Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense have taken the same position as Richard Garwin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a key contributor to the first U.S. hydrogen bomb that "no conceivable threat requires the U.S. to keep more than a few hundred survivable warheads."

Fact:

The Pentagon still spends tens of billions on Cold War weapons systems such as F-22 fighter jets and new nuclear weapons.

Fact:

The cold war with the USSR has been over for more than twelve years.

Fact:

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and other weapons manufacturers are amongst the largest contributors to political candidates; for years they have spent even more than Enron to buy political influence.

Fact:

The above facts are well known to members of Congress, but a vast majority of Americans are unaware of them.

Question:

Why has not one Democratic Senator taken real leadership in opposing any increase in Pentagon spending and exposing the waste and political pork that perpetuates a bloated budget bearing little relationship to our nation's true military needs?

For the complete story, published May 7, 2002 by CommonDreams.org, see:
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0507-08.htm

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Related Story from ASSOCIATED PRESS

House Panel OKs Defense Spending Plan
Wed May 1,1019 PM ET

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A House panel adopted a military spending blueprint Wednesday that matches President Bush's proposal for the largest boost in defense in two decades. The legislation raises troop levels and pay, provides for a new generation of stealth jet fighters and adds billions to fight terrorism.

"We did remarkably well," said House Armed Services Chairman Bob Stump, R-Ariz., after a 57-1 vote by panel members late in the evening sent the measure to the House floor for expected
consideration next week. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., was the only lawmaker not in support.

The $383 billion authorizes national defense spending by the Defense and Energy departments for the budget year that begins Oct. 1. Congressional appropriators must write separate
appropriations legislation before the money can be spent.

It roughly matches the Bush administration's defense spending proposal, minus a $10 billion reserve fund that the White House proposed for future war costs.

For the complete story, inquire:
http://www.ap.org

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2) Can Navy sonar hurt whales?

Activists poised to block new device seen as harmful to marine mammals

Can Navy sonar hurt whales?
By EMILY C. DOOLEY
A high-tech sonar system unveiled by the Navy could harm whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, environmentalists say. The new sonar uses sound waves and microphones to detect submarines at distances 10 times farther away than standard sonar equipment. Environmentalists believe the noise could affect whale health and behaviors, such as migratory patterns and breeding.

Acknowledging the system could affect "small numbers" of marine mammals, the Navy has filed for a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service to use the technology for the next five years. If the system is approved, the Navy would have the right to "incidentally harass or harm marine species."

A decision by the Fisheries Service is expected within the next few weeks, according to agency spokeswoman, Connie Barclay. Military officials and environmental activists, meanwhile, are debating the risks involved with the new technology.

"It's virtually impossible to know what the baseline response behavior will be," said Joe Johnson, civilian project manager for the Navy's new sonar program.

The Navy's Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System, or SURTASS, has a string of underwater microphones that detect noise from submarines and other underwater hazards. The new system uses Low Frequency Active (LFA) enhancement, which broadcasts sounds so the Navy can listen to underwater echoes bouncing off vessels.

Activists worry the decibel levels will hurt marine life. "(The Navy) said, 'We tested it and it's safe,' but they never tested at the full level," said Marsha Green, a professor with Albright University and a member of Ocean Mammal Institute. "I think they were clearly trying to deceive people.."

..Environmental exemption sought
Meanwhile, a bill to exempt the Department of Defense from several environmental laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, is being discussed on Capitol Hill.

"It's very disturbing," said Peter Borelli, executive director of the Center for Coastal Studies. "I think (the military is) trying to see how far 9/11 carries them.'

The environmental provisions are part of a House bill that authorizes fiscal 2003 spending for the Department of Defense. A committee on Tuesday removed exemptions from Superfund and Clean Air acts, but other exemptions remained. The Armed Services Committee debated the bill yesterday. The Cape's lawmakers are not encouraged by the measure.

"It's an attempt to undo a great deal of progress in a wholesale way," said Steve Schwadron, a senior aide for U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, who represents the Cape and islands.

"We need to defend the nation - period," Schwadron said. "We just need to do that in a responsible fashion. There is no need to sacrifice the environmental protection aspects of this in order to ensure we have proper training."

When it comes to marine mammals the act makes it harder to file lawsuits, Schwadron said. It also changes definitions, making it harder to prove something is harassment, Young said. "That's a pretty potent combination," Schwadron said. "The last thing we need is a whole statutory overhaul that releases everybody from their obligations."

If approved, the proposed legislation could clear the way for the sonar program.
"Without it, the Navy cannot proceed," Schwadron said. "With it, the Navy can get through this obstacle."

For the complete article, posted at the Cape Cod Times, 02 May 2002, see
http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/archives/2002/may/2/cannavy2.htm
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One short but positive news segment on military exemption issues and LFA Sonar on Pacifica's WBAI New York broadcast of Democracy Now! hosted by Amy Goodman, this morning May 6th. Mentioned was the house vote this week and how important it is to call congressional reps this week.

DN is broadcast at Pacifica stations, check for broadcast times, webcast also at:
http://www.democracynow.org

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WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please Please Please KEEP MAKING THOSE FAXES, E-MAILS, and PHONE CALLS!!! (Things are moving so quickly that even Congress is outstripping snail mail....)

The ONLY REASON Congress has balked at placing these anti-environmental "riders" in the Defense Authorization Bill so far is because the public and the media are getting angry about this
outrageous, un-democratic action. Some of them are feeling the heat -- THEY ALL NEED TO FEEL THE HEAT!

Call the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative's or Senator's office.

TheNatural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has set up an action alert page where you can e-mail an immediate message to your Representative on this issue. Take advantage of it by going to: http://www.nrdc.org/action/default.asp

(1) Oppose ANY attempt to weaken environmental reviews and environmental laws for military activities.

(2) Support the concept that National Security must include a healthy global environment, or the US will be more vulnerable than ever to enemies within and without our society.

(3) Oppose deployment of Low Frequency Active (LFA) Sonar, and urge an environmental review of all Navy soundblasting with intense active sonars that pose a threat to marine life. Point out that there are alternatives to LFA Sonar that do not harm the environment.

(4) Oppose any attempt to circumvent the legislative process (such as attaching an amendment that exempts the military from environmental laws to the Defense Authorization Bill!!). This issue needs full deliberation by Congress, not end-run gamesmanship.

Thanks for your help! Keep contacting your legislators!

For more information on this issue, contact:

Mark J. Palmer
Assistant Director
International Marine Mammal Project
Director
Wildlife Alive
Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133

(415) 788-3666 x139
(415) 788-7324 (fax)

mpalmer@mother.com
www.earthisland.org

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3) Governor turns away plutonium-hauling trucks?

TheState.com
South Carolina's Homepage
Posted Mon, May. 06, 2002

Hodges' war on plutonium move igniting political, PR meltdown

U.S. plan to dispose of six tons of toxic bomb-making residue threatened as
governor balks

By CHARLES SEABROOK
Cox News Service

ROCKY FLATS, Colo. - At the peak of the Cold War, 8,000 workers labored around the clock in top-secret buildings west of Denver to build the deadliest devices ever invented - thermonuclear bombs.

Now, with Russia and the United States cutting their nuclear arsenals, the Rocky Flats site - once one of the world's most dangerous bomb plants - will shut down by 2006. Its grounds will become a wildlife refuge.

First, though, the government must level hundreds of buildings and remove huge volumes of highly radioactive material left from decades of making hydrogen bombs.

Crews are sending tons of this waste to disposal, storage and recycling sites around the country.

However, the most dangerous material - more than six tons of heavily guarded plutonium suitable for use in H-bombs - is destined for the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, near Aiken. There, if all goes according to plan, it would be recycled into fuel for electric generating reactors.

Plutonium shipments to SRS could begin anytime after May 15.

But getting the substance across the South Carolina border is becoming a political and public relations headache.

Gov. Jim Hodges vows to use state troopers - even lie down in the road himself if necessary - to turn away plutonium-hauling trucks, unless he is convinced the feds won't leave the plutonium in his state permanently.

At the U.S. Justice Department, lawyers are looking at whether to send federal marshals along with the shipments to South Carolina, and studying the law about whether Hodges can block the shipments.

So far, the Energy Department's promises have left Hodges unconvinced. "The federal government is asking us to take them at their word," Hodges said. "Given their track record, that's not good enough."

On Wednesday, the governor sued the Energy Department, asking a federal court to block the plutonium shipments until Washington studies the impact on public health and the environment.

Hodges' stance has thrown the Energy Department, and some people in Colorado, into a tizzy.

If the plutonium does not begin moving out of Colorado soon, the department will miss its 2006 deadline for closing Rocky Flats, the agency says.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says he fears the Russians might lose interest in cutting weapons if the United States cannot show it is making progress in getting rid of its nuclear material.

In Colorado, Denver's newspapers have called Hodges "silly" and likened him to a Confederate rebel. U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who introduced the bill to make Rocky Flats a wildlife refuge, says Hodges will be to blame if plans fall apart.

His press secretary has referred to Hodges, a Democrat, as an "Elmer Fudd."

Allard and Hodges are running for re-election, raising the possibility that their battles have as much to do with politics as protecting their states from nuclear hazards.

STATES CHALLENGE FEDS

The plutonium from Rocky Flats is just the first part of more than 34 tons of the radioactive metal - enough to make thousands of H-bombs - that will be shipped to SRS from Energy Department sites over the next several years. Much of the plutonium is from dismantled bombs. Russia has agreed to dispose of a similar amount of the material.

The plutonium shipped to SRS would be reprocessed into a fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. When that fuel is spent, it would be disposed at a planned repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

To reprocess the plutonium, the Energy Department plans to spend $3.8 billion to build and operate two massive structures at SRS. Hodges' fear is that the structures won't be built, and the plutonium will sit indefinitely.

RAIDED BY THE FBI

The cleanup and closure of the 6,500-acre Rocky Flats facility, once one of the world's filthiest bomb factories, will set the tone for other such projects to come, nuclear experts say.

At a cost of more than $7 billion, the Rocky Flats effort is one of the biggest public works projects in the nation's history and the first of its kind - the complete dismantling of a major nuclear weapons plant - in the world.

The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission began building Rocky Flats in 1951. The facility took plutonium, produced by reactors at SRS and the government's Hanford plant in Washington state, and turned it into plutonium "pits," or triggers for nuclear bombs.

A hollow sphere that varies in size from a grapefruit to a soccer ball, a plutonium pit explodes with the power of the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima during World War II. But in thermonuclear weapons, the pit serves mainly as a starter - the pit is a compact atomic bomb that detonates the larger hydrogen bomb. Pits made at Rocky Flats can trigger weapons 600 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Declassified reports reveal that Rocky Flats made about 70,000 pits in 36 years. Manufacturing at the site halted in 1989, when the FBI raided the factory for alleged environmental crimes. An Energy Department contractor paid more than $18 million in fines.

Because of the numerous environmental and safety deficiencies, Rocky Flats never resumed operations. In 2000, the Energy Department signed a contract with Kaiser-Hill, an environmental restoration company, to clean up the site, tear down its hundreds of structures, and close it down by the end of 2006.

Energy Department officials say they are now about a third of the way through the cleanup. Grassy areas and piles of rubble now mark the spots where some of the plant's support buildings and laboratories once stood.

Nearly every day, tractor-trailer rigs loaded with radioactive waste in huge shipping casks depart for the various storage sites around the country.

"We have more than 700 buildings here, large and small, and every one of them will be decontaminated and torn down," said Pat Etchart, a Rocky Flats spokesman as he drove a visitor through the complex recently.

Some of those buildings cover the equivalent of three football fields and have walls more than 5 feet thick. Tearing down such massive structures would be a major feat under even ordinary circumstances.

But the dismantling job becomes immensely more complex when workers must dress out in bright yellow moon suits and follow precise, detailed safety steps to protect themselves from nuclear materials and radiation.


For the complete story, see:
http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/news/3207533.htm

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4) Bush Renounces World Tribunal Pact

Bush Renounces, Reverses Clinton on World Tribunal Pact
By NEIL A. LEWIS

May 5, 2002

WASHINGTON | The Bush administration has decided to renounce formally any involvement in a treaty setting up an international criminal court and is expected to declare that the signing of the document by the Clinton administration is no longer valid, government officials said today.

The full article is posted at following two URL addresses:

http://truthout.com/docs_02/05.05C.Tribunal.Pact.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/05/international/05TRIB.html

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