Category Archives: Crime & Corruption

New draconian police powers curb Press freedoms; Officers allowed to confiscate material from journalists, extract information

Sweeping measures allow officers to demand information from sources

Changes may also see journalists forced to reveal whistleblowers’ identities

Worries over the affect new rules will have on freedom of speech

Straitjacket: There are fears the rules will curtail reporters’ freedom to expose corruption and other wrongdoing, such as the expenses scandal

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 14, 2013

By Jack Doyle

Police are set to be given powers to confiscate confidential material from reporters, sparking fears over press freedom in the UK. File picture

Police are set to be given powers to confiscate confidential material from reporters, sparking fears over press freedom in the UK. File picture

Police are set to be given new powers to seize confidential material from journalists.

In a worrying blow to Press freedom, the changes may also mean journalists will be forced to identify whistleblowers to the police.

Critics said the Home Office proposals, which follow recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, would undermine investigative journalism and free speech.

It is feared that the changes will remove legal protections for anyone who releases material to reporters unless journalists can show their source did not breach confidentiality or act illegally.

The computer disc that contained the details of how MPs had been rampantly fiddling their expenses was technically stolen by a Westminster employee.

Padraig Reidy, of Index on Censorship, said: ‘These measures, if implemented, could have a real effect on journalism, free speech and the entire climate of  freedom in the UK.

‘They grievously undermine the concept of confidentiality between reporters and sources that is essential for investigative journalism.’

Currently, journalists have protection under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) from disclosing material to the police, even if  it had been obtained by a source  acting in breach of confidence or unlawfully.

But during the Leveson inquiry, the police argued those protections should be removed, and the judge agreed.

It raises the prospect that someone who uncovers wrongdoing will not come forward if they risk being named to the police.

In a further attack on PACE, Lord Leveson suggested it could be made easier for the police to seize items belonging to journalists which may be linked to criminality.

Currently a judge can approve  an order forcing media groups to hand over information but, crucially, detectives must first show they  have tried to get the material by other means.

In its response to the Leveson inquiry published on Wednesday, the Home Office accepted his recommendations on reforms to the Act.

But legal experts have warned the changes could undermine long-standing protections from the state.

Gavin Millar QC, an expert in  media law, told the Guardian: ‘These amendments would make it much easier for the police to get orders requiring production of journalistic material. The police would not even have to try to get the evidence in other ways.

‘Journalists will only be able to claim confidentiality by testifying that the source was free to give them the material.

‘This will be impossible for most public interest disclosures by whistleblowers.’

Lord Justice Leveson warned the protections under PACE may have been abused to resist investigators during the phone hacking inquiry.

He called for journalists to respect the Act and not abuse it by ‘invoking it to cover up that which cannot  be justified’.

Yesterday a 51-year-old police officer was arrested by Scotland Yard for allegedly leaking information to a newspaper, even though no money is thought to have changed hands.

The unnamed officer was arrested at 6am at his Wiltshire home on suspicion of misconduct in public office by officers from Operation Elveden.

His is the 107th arrest in connection with the multimillion-pound inquiries into phone and computer hacking and illegal payments to  public officials.

Silvio Berlusconi says bribes are a ‘necessary part of business’ and tells critics to ‘stop moralising’

berlusconi
No crime: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured during a political rally in Rome last week, defended the use of bribes in international negotiations saying they are ‘necessary’ when dealing with third world countries and regimes

Berlusconi defending bribes saying they are not criminal but ‘necessary’

The 76-year-old politician called critics ‘absurd’ and ‘masochist’
    
He said without bribes ‘you cannot be an entrepreneur on a global scale’

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 15, 2013

By Sara Malm

Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies.

The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’.

Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy.

Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract.

The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report.

Silvio Berlusconi compares himself to Benito Mussolini

Silvio Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini for ‘having done good’

Berlusconi defends Mussolini for backing Hitler

‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3.

‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’

The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria.

Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business.

‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.

‘It’s pure masochism.’

Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’.

‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’

His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.

Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.

The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition.

His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister.

Just last month an Italian court granted his defense team’s request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.

Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.

Mr Berlusconi denies all charges.

See also: The Berlusconi Toxic Corruption Data Storage Dump

NATO denies the killings of hundreds of children

NATO rejects UN report on death of Afghan children

The U.N. committee referred to “hundreds” of children killed since 2008 and expressed alarm that the figure had “doubled from 2010 to 2011.”

Associated Press | Feb 8, 2013

By KIM GAMEL

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S.-led international coalition on Friday rejected a U.N. rights group’s concern about reports that U.S. military strikes have killed hundreds of children in Afghanistan during the past four years, saying they are “categorically unfounded.”

The statement by the International Security Assistance Force came a day after the Geneva-based U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said the casualties were “due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force.”

The coalition also dismissed that claim, saying that it takes special care to avoid civilian casualties. The coalition said the number of children who died or were wounded from air operations dropped by nearly 40 percent in 2012 compared with the year before, although it did not give specific figures.

The U.N. was reviewing a range of U.S. policies affecting children for the first time since 2008. The release of the report coincides with an intensifying debate in Washington over U.S. policy on drone targeting and airstrikes.

CIA Director-designate John Brennan faced a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday. His defense of drone strikes to kill terror suspects, including Americans, is causing key lawmakers to consider lifting secrecy from what has become an important weapon in the fight against al-Qaida.

In its report, the U.N. committee told the United States to “take concrete and firm precautionary measures and prevent indiscriminate use of force to ensure that no further killings and maiming of civilians, including children, take place.” Human rights and civil liberties groups applauded the findings.

The U.N. committee referred to “hundreds” of children killed since 2008 and expressed alarm that the figure had “doubled from 2010 to 2011.”

It didn’t provide specific numbers, but a report to the U.N. Security Council last April by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative for Children and Armed Conflict said the number of child casualties blamed on airstrikes conducted by international and allied Afghan forces doubled compared with the last reporting period, with 110 children killed and 68 injured in 2011.

The international coalition acknowledged U.S. forces are sometimes responsible for civilian deaths “despite all efforts to avoid them,” but said the overall number of civilian casualties declined by 49 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year.

It also cited an August report from the U.N. mission in Afghanistan stating that the vast majority of Afghan civilian deaths are caused by the insurgency.

“The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child’s concerns about reports of the death of hundreds of children as a result of attacks and airstrikes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan are categorically unfounded,” the coalition statement said.

“Equally unsubstantiated is their assertion that U.S. forces use indiscriminate force during their operations. Finally, the committee’s assertion that U.S. troops do not exercise precautionary measures is entirely false.”

US media yet again conceals newsworthy government secrets

The Washington Post
The Washington Post this week admitted it was part of an “informal arrangement” to conceal from its readers a US drone base in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Alamy

The collective self-censorship over a US drone base in Saudi Arabia is but the latest act of government-subservient ‘journalism’

The entity that is designed to be, and endlessly praises itself for being, a check on US government power is, in fact, its most loyal servant.

guardian.co.uk | Feb 7, 2013

by Glenn Greenwald

The US media, over the last decade (at least), has repeatedly acted to conceal newsworthy information it obtains about the actions of the US government. In each instance, the self-proclaimed adversarial press corps conceals these facts at the behest of the US government, based on patently absurd claims that reporting them will harm US national security. In each instance, what this media concealment actually accomplishes is enabling the dissemination of significant government falsehoods without challenge, and permitting the continuation of government deceit and even illegality.

One of the most notorious examples was in mid-2004 when the New York Times discovered – thanks to a courageous DOJ whistleblower – that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law. But after George Bush summoned to the Oval Office the paper’s publisher (Arthur Sulzberger) and executive editor (Bill Keller) and directed them to conceal what they had learned, the NYT complied by sitting on the story for a-year-and-a-half: until late December, 2005, long after Bush had been safely re-elected. The “national security” excuse for this concealment was patently ludicrous from the start: everyone knew the US government was trying to eavesdrop on al-Qaida communications and this story merely revealed that they were doing so illegally (without warrants) rather than legally (with warrants). By concealing the story for so long, the New York Times helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans.

The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, in a superb act of journalism, reported in 2005 that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret “black sites” where detainees were interrogated and abused beyond the monitoring scrutiny of human rights groups and even Congress. But the Post purposely concealed the identity of the countries serving as the locale of those secret prisons in order to enable the plainly illegal program to continue without bothersome disruptions: “the Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior US officials.”

In 2011, the New York Times along with numerous other US media outlets learned that the American arrested in Pakistan for having shot and killed two Pakistanis, Raymond Davis, was not – as President Obama falsely claimed – “our diplomat”, but was a CIA agent and former Blackwater contractor. Not only did the NYT conceal this fact, but it repeatedly and uncritically printed claims from Obama and other officials about Davis’ status which it knew to be false. It was only once the Guardian published the facts about Davis – that he was a CIA agent – did the Times tell the truth to its readers, admitting that the disclosure “pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the CIA“.

The NYT, as usual, justified its concealment of this obviously newsworthy information as coming “at the request of the Obama administration, which argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk”. But as the Guardian’s Deputy Editor Ian Katz noted, “Davis [was] already widely assumed in Pakistan to have links to US intelligence” and “disclosing his CIA role would [therefore not] expose him to increased risk”.

predator_drone

And now, yet again, the US media has been caught working together to conceal obviously newsworthy government secrets. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that two years ago, the Obama administration established a base in Saudi Arabia from which it deploys drones to kill numerous people in Yemen. including US citizen Anwar Awlaki and, two weeks, later his 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman. The US base was built after the US launched a December, 2009 cruise missile/cluster-bomb attack that slaughtered dozens of Yemeni women and children.

But the Post admitted that it – along with multiple other US media outlets – had long known about the Saudi Arabia drone base but had acted in unison to conceal it from the US public:

“The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the specific location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

“The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.”

The “other news organization” which the Post references is the New York Times. The NYT – in a very good article yesterday on the role played by CIA nominee John Brennan in US drones strikes in Yemen – reported that Brennan “work[ed] closely with neighboring Saudi Arabia to gain approval for a secret CIA drone base there that is used for American strikes”. As the paper’s Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, explained, the NYT was one of the papers which “had withheld the location of that base at the request of the CIA”, but had decided now to report it. That was why the Post did so.

The existence of this drone base in Saudi Arabia is significantly newsworthy in multiple ways. The US drone program is drenched with extreme secrecy. The assassination of Awlaki is one of the most radical acts the US government has undertaken in the last decade at least. The intense cooperation between the US and the incomparably despotic Saudi regime is of vital significance. As Sullivan, the NYT’s Public Editor, put it in defending the NYT’s disclosure (and implicitly questioning the prior media conspiracy of silence):

“Given the government’s undue secrecy about the drone program, which it has never officially acknowledged the existence of, and that program’s great significance to America’s foreign policy, its national security, and its influence on the tumultuous Middle East, The Times ought to be reporting as much and as aggressively as possible on it.”

As usual, the excuses for concealing this information are frivolous. Indeed, as the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade noted, “the location of several drone bases was published as long ago as September last year on at least one news website, as this item on the North America Inter Press Service illustrates.” Gawker’s Adrian Chen documents numerous other instances where the base had been publicly disclosed and writes:

“In the case of the Saudi drone base, the Times and the Post weren’t protecting a state secret: They were helping the CIA bury an inconvenient story. . . . The fact that the drone base was already reported renders the rationale behind the months-long blackout a farce.”

In an article on the controversy over this self-censorship, the Guardian this morning quotes Dr Jack Lule, a professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University:

“The decision not to publish is a shameful one. The national security standard has to be very high, perhaps imminent danger. The fact that we are even having a conversation about whether it was a national security issue should have sent alarm bells off to the editors. I think the real reason was that the administration did not want to embarrass the Saudis – and for the US news media to be complicit in that is craven.”

The same dynamic drives most of these acts of US media self-censorship. It has nothing to do with legitimate claims of national security. Indeed, none of these facts – once they were finally reported – ultimately resulted in any harm. Instead, it has everything to do with obeying government dictates; shielding high-level government officials from embarrassing revelations; protecting even the most extreme government deceit and illegality; and keeping the domestic population of the US (their readers) ignorant of the vital acts in which their own government is engaged.

There are, of course, instances where newspapers can validly opt to conceal facts that they learn. That’s when the harm that comes from disclosure plainly outweighs the public interest in learning of them (the classic case is when, in a war, a newspaper learns of imminent troop movements: there is no value in reporting that but ample harm from doing so). But none of these instances comes close to meeting that test. Instead, media outlets overwhelmingly abide by government dictates as to what they should conceal. As Greensdale wrote: “most often, they oblige governments by acceding to requests not to publish sensitive information that might jeopardise operations.”

As all of these examples demonstrate, extreme levels of subservience to US government authority is embedded in the ethos of the establishment American media. They see themselves not as watchdogs over the state but as loyal agents of it.

Recall the extraordinary 2009 BBC debate over WikiLeaks in which former NYT executive editor Bill Keller proudly praised himself for concealing information the Obama administration told him to conceal, prompting this incredulous reply from the BBC host: “Just to be clear, Bill Keller, are you saying that you sort of go to the government in advance and say: ‘What about this, that and the other, is it all right to do this and all right to do that,’ and you get clearance, then?” Keller’s admission also prompted this response from former British diplomat Carne Ross, who was also on the program: “It’s extraordinary that the New York Times is clearing what it says about this with the US Government.”

After the Guardian published the truth about Raymond Davis, former Bush DOJ laywer Jack Goldsmith, in 2011, defended the New York Times’ concealment of it by hailing what he called “the patriotism of the American press“. He quoted former Bush CIA and NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden as saying that “American journalists display ‘a willingness to work with us’ . . . but with the foreign press ‘it’s very, very difficult'”. Goldsmith said that while foreign media outlets will more readily report on secret US government acts (he named The Guardian, Al Jazeera and WikiLeaks), US national security journalists with whom he spoke justified their eagerness to cooperate with the US government by “expressly ascrib[ing] this attitude to ‘patriotism’ or ‘jingoism’ or to being American citizens or working for American publications.”

That is the key truth. The entity that is designed to be, and endlessly praises itself for being, a check on US government power is, in fact, its most loyal servant. There are significant exceptions: Dana Priest did disclose the CIA black sites network over the agency’s vehement objections, while the NYT is now suing the government to compel the release of classified documents relating to Obama’s assassination program. But time and again, one finds the US media acting to help suppress the newsworthy secrets of the US government rather than report on them. Its collaborative “informal” agreement to hide the US drone base in Saudi Arabia is just the latest in a long line of such behavior.

Communist party cancels Chinese New Year celebrations to quiet public outrage over extravagance

Beijing_s-Xicheng-_2475233b
Bars and restaurants in the Xicheng District, Beijing, China. Photo: ALAMY

Some of Beijing’s most sumptuous restaurants and hotels are facing an uncertain future after a new Communist Party austerity drive robbed them of their best customers.

Telegraph | Feb 8, 2013

By Malcolm Moore, Beijing

For years, many of Beijing’s finest establishments have paid premium rents to be close to government ministries and state-owned monopolies.

They were rewarded, especially in the month leading up to Chinese New Year, the country’s biggest holiday, with bookings for extravagant banquets for Communist Party officials.

High-end restaurants can rake in more than a third of their annual income in the month leading up to the New Year, which falls on Sunday.

Restaurants like Xiang E Qing, near a hub of government departments in Beijing’s Xicheng district, would normally be full to bursting and loud with carousing, drunk officials.

But this year, the order has gone out for all departments to cancel their celebrations and to demonstrate more humility after public anger that the Party was splurging some £60 billion, the equivalent of the official Defence budget, on “entertaining”.

A waitress said the restaurant had been subdued, “definitely more quiet than usual”. At Shiji Tanfu, which claims recipes passed down from the Qing dynasty, a waitress said that usually its tiny, but exclusive, set of nine private rooms would all be booked out. “But this year, we still have plenty of space,” she said.

Party planners have also seen their blue-chip government clients cancel their New Year parties.

“Our business has dropped by a third,” said a spokesman for Zhaoshun Cultural Communications, a major events planning agency. “Pretty much all the government departments have cancelled and we are thinking of changing our business model”.

Mr Wei, the manager of the Jiutian Heming party planning agency, said all his national-level state-owned companies had called off their parties. “The few that are going ahead have slashed their budgets pretty steeply”.

The gift hamper business is also down. At Tuangouba, a company that delivers nuts, olive oil and organic foods, a spokesman said government clients made up half their sales and that this year was looking bleak indeed.

Meanwhile, delegates to this year’s People’s Congress in Beijing will find that potted plants, flowers, fruit and yogurt have been banned. “We will have buffet lunches, not banquets,” said Liu Weilin, a spokesman for the city.

Perhaps the worst hit are the drinks companies, who make huge sums from lubricating government dinners. “We have had to discount heavily,” said one alcohol wholesaler to the Beijing Evening News. “My clients are mainly the army and the restaurants next to government ministries. But even the army has stopped drinking!” he lamented.

On the day that the army announced it was entering prohibition, the stock market value of Moutai, the most prestigious brand of Chinese spirits, dropped by 12.5 billion yuan (£1.25 billion).

However, enforcing the new austerity outside China’s capital has been more difficult. Xinhua, the official news agency, reported that local governments were still holding lavish parties inside their head offices or discreetly renting out function rooms inside hotels.

“Sometimes the food in these internal canteens is even more expensive than in a five-star hotel,” wrote the Beijing News. “Some big parties have also been broken up into lots of smaller ones, and registered under secret names,” it added.

Meanwhile, to comply with orders not to eat out, some ministries have apparently started building new staff restaurants.

“I was doing some work for a government department recently,” said Xu Hefeng, an employee of the China Real Estate Information Company. “They said since there are orders from the top not to hold banquets, they had decided to build a new canteen, which was astonishingly luxurious.”

UN report says Afghan corruption worth twice government’s revenue

karzai-pointing

The U.N. reports that governmental corruption in Afghanistan costs the country billions of dollars each year.

msn.com | Feb 7, 2013

By Dylan Welch

KABUL – A figure equal to twice the Afghan government’s domestic revenue – $3.9 billion – was gouged from the country by public sector corruption last year, a U.N. report said on Thursday.

This amount is also roughly equal to the annual aid pledged to Afghanistan until 2015 by the international community at last year’s Tokyo Conference.

The report, by the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime, will lead to concerns about the mismanagement of those donor funds by Afghan officials in a country which has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt.

“While corruption is seen by Afghans as one of the most urgent challenges facing their country, it seems to be increasingly embedded in social practices, with patronage and bribery being an acceptable part of day-to-day life,” the report said.

Almost 7,000 Afghans were surveyed last year and they revealed that corruption in the country had risen by 40 per cent since 2009. Half the population had to pay at least one bribe to a public official in 2012, the report said.

U.S.-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly pledged to curb corruption in order to keep attracting aid from international donors as a planned transition from U.S.-led NATO forces to Afghan leadership takes place by the end of 2014.

But capital flight has continued, threatening Afghanistan’s fragile economy and stability. The Afghan central bank estimates that the total amount of cash leaving Afghanistan each year could be as much as $8 billion.

The report found corruption was becoming a way of life in Afghanistan, with 68 percent of those surveyed saying it was acceptable for a civil servant to top up their salary by taking bribes.

However, it found that the percentage of people who paid a bribe had dropped from 59 in 2009 to 50 last year.

In September, Karzai sacked five provincial governors and made changes to almost a third of the country’s 34 provinces in a shakeout of corrupt and inept officials aimed at soothing foreign donors’ fears.

At last year’s Tokyo Conference, delegates from 80 nations and international organizations pledged $16 billion in aid to the country over four years.

Afghanistan is plagued by corruption as a result of more than 30 years of war and nepotism. Last year it was ranked at the bottom of Transparency International’s annual corruption index, sharing the spot with North Korea and Somalia.

U.S. government to allow radioactive waste metals to be ‘recycled’ into consumers products like belt buckles, silverware

Nuclear Action Offering Nuclear Waste Barrels to Province North Holland in Haarlem<br /><br /><br />Nucleaire Actie Aanbieden Kernafvalvaten aan Provincie Noord-Holland in Haarlem

naturalnews.com | feb 7, 2013

(NaturalNews) The federal government is currently in the process of trying to get rid of tens of thousands of tons of radioactive scrap metal it has accumulated over the years from various nuclear testing and wartime activities. And a recent proposal made by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would lift existing restrictions on the recycling and reuse of this nuclear waste, allowing it to be formulated into everyday consumer products like belt buckles, silverware, and even surgical devices used by medical personnel on ill patients.

The shocking proposal comes more than a decade after DOE first tried to foist this growing stock of nuclear waste onto the American public back in the late 1990s. Back in 2000, Congressman Ed Markey from Massachusetts reportedly influenced then-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to reinstate a ban that was temporarily lifted on the unmitigated recycling and reuse of radioactive waste metals in consumer products. But now, DOE is trying once again to secretly dispose of this radioactive waste stock by allowing scrap companies to sell it to consumer product manufacturers.

“A Department of Energy proposal to allow up to 14,000 metric tons of its radioactive scrap metal to be recycled into consumer products was called into question today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) due to concerns over public health,” wrote Rep. Markey in a recent news brief about the issue. “In a letter sent to DOE head Steven Chu, Rep. Markey expressed ‘grave concerns’ over the potential of these metals becoming jewelry, cutlery, or other consumer products that could exceed healthy doses of radiation without any knowledge by the consumer.”

If granted its request, DOE could soon be responsible for triggering the widespread poisoning of the public with even more low-dose radiation via metal-based consumer products. Such products include not only cutlery and jewelry, but also automobiles, city buses, coffee makers, toasters, braces for teeth — practically anything that contains metal could end up being tainted with low-dose radiation as a result of DOE’s efforts.

Many imported consumer products already tainted with radiation

Even though DOE’s proposal has yet to become official policy, American consumers already need to be wary of the safety of metal-based products, particularly those imported from other countries. As we reported last January, domestic merchandise retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond recalled a line of tissue holders produced in India from its stores after learning that the metal used in their production was tainted with radio-isotope cobalt-60. In fact, radioactive goods routinely slip through customs, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is a serious cause for concern.

“India and China were the top sources of radioactive goods shipped to the U.S. through 2008,” explains a March 24, 2012, Bloomberg article about radioactive scrap metal. And there is no indication that things have improved since that time, according to Ross Bartley, a metallurgist who has been tracking radioactive contamination since the early 1990s. In all likelihood, he says, the problem has remained the same or even gotten worse.

Since low-dose radiation has been shown time and time again to cause birth defects, cataracts, cancer, and many other health problems, DOE’s insistence on exposing the public to even more of it is highly disturbing. Perhaps this is at least part of the reason why DOE head Steven Chu recently stepped down from his position at the agency following Rep. Markey’s letter of opposition to the agency’s proposal, not to mention a widespread and growing disapproval among citizens of this serious affront to public health.

Contact DOE and say NO to radioactive poisoning of consumer products

Though DOE insists that the amount of radiation emitted from radioactive waste is “negligible” in terms of being a public health threat, science says otherwise. Cumulative exposure to even low-dose radiation over the course of many months or even years can damage cells, DNA, and even hormone balance. This is why it is important to oppose DOE’s proposal to end the current moratorium on the reuse of radioactive waste metals.

You can contact DOE and urge the agency to keep radioactive metals out of industrial, commercial, and consumer products by emailing: scrap_PEAcomments@hq.doe.gov