U.S. nuclear secrets thrown out with the trash – for 20 years


Erik Schelzig/AP

In June 2014, a worker at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee was surprised to find U.S. nuclear secrets inside a trash bag marked for disposal along with standard rubbish. Taking a closer look, the worker found 19 more documents in the bag that were either marked classified or were later determined to contain information that should have been labeled secret.

A dozen more bags of trash sat nearby, awaiting transport to an open landfill where Y-12 workers routinely dump garbage with no bearing on national security. When employees of Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC, the contractor responsible for running the site at that time, poked inside two of these additional bags, they found more top-secret documents…

Many of the records discovered that day detailed how the department’s employees and contractors worked with nuclear explosive materials, such as highly-enriched uranium, housed at the Y-12 complex. But it quickly got worse: Further investigation by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees such work, led officials to conclude that nuclear secrets had been thrown away with lax security at the Tennessee plant for more than 20 years…

When the Energy Department investigated the items plucked from the trash, it determined some of the documents had never been reviewed by the staff responsible for making classification decisions. Those that had been reviewed were erratically categorized, according to the NNSA’s notice of violation to Babcock & Wilcox. Some were marked at higher or lower classification levels than the information warranted. Others were designated classified when they held no sensitive information, according to the notice of violation.

The documents that genuinely did contain high-consequence secrets were vulnerable to theft throughout their journey from the nuclear site and at the disposal location for unclassified waste. And they were not “destroyed beyond recognition” to assure they wouldn’t be recovered, as the Energy Department requires, according to the notice of violation. Since 2005, they were transported by a truck driver without clearances to an unprotected landfill; before then, it’s unclear where they went, but the notice says that no special precautions were taken even then for discarding the classified material…

Protection of nuclear materials and secrets at Y-12 has been under scrutiny since July 28, 2012, when an 82-year-old nun and two more peace protestors penetrated the security perimeter and advanced far enough to scrawl graffiti on a storage vault full of weapon-grade nuclear materials.

RTFA for droll answers to simple questions. This would all be good for a laugh at incompetence excepting that the other end of this two-headed-snake is the end which bites ordinary workers, researchers, individuals who are targeted for political reasons. The usual mishandling of craptastic classified materials then becomes as important as life itself — to petty bureaucrats and politicians.

Amazon warranties cover zombie apocalypse

When the zombie apocalypse is upon us, you’ll want to know: Who’s got your back? It turns out shopping giant Amazon has our backs if you are a customer of its Amazon Web Services…Here’s a recently uncovered section of the Service Terms:

57.10 Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization…

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control – as noted in Amazon’s AWS Service Terms – has a Zombie Preparedness website to help you cope in case of an outbreak. It includes a Zombie Blog…helpful Preparedness 101 Zombie Posters for classrooms, and a free-to-download graphic novella titled Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.

Just in case your local nutball militia hasn’t already committed to defending you against every fearfilled bit of insanity populating their tiny little minds.

Amazon has got your back.

Discovering a little extra protein in a package of salad mix

As meat production depletes the world’s resources and compounds the changing climate, eating insects and other creepy crawlies might well be in all our futures. But one Australian woman came closer than the rest of us when she brought home a sizeable spider in her bag of salad greens.

Zoe Perry posted the video of the huntsman shifting around within the “Italian style salad” bag…to Woolworths’ Facebook page on last Thursday night.

Earlier that day, Woolworths and its fellow supermarket giant, Coles, had recalled several brands of lettuce mix linked to a gastro outbreak in Victoria.

Perry wrote:

Hi Woolworths,

Shopping as per usual for Italian style salad mix … get it home … Mum goes to open the packet and we are greeted by …

Is this what’s actually behind the ‘salmonella’ callbacks?

Kind regards,

An arachnophobic family

…Woolworths said in a reply that the supermarket chain was “very concerned about this … and take incidents like this very seriously”, and encouraged Perry to message her phone number.

Commenters responding to the video are divided over the spider’s right to be inside the bag of salad greens, and its right to live once outside of it…

The fate of the spider is not known.

Thanks, Mister Justin

NASA Visions of the Future

venus
Click to enlarge

Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future. Click on the thumbnails…to learn more and download a free poster sized image.

Fourteen space travel posters are now available free for downloading and printing.

Zombies vs Vampires — legal battle between corrupt medical labs

Right now a dead, bankrupt and corrupt laboratory company is suing an active, morally bankrupt lab company. No matter who eventually wins the court battle all of us — patients, Medicare, insurance companies, not to mention our entire health and legal systems — will lose.

Health Diagnostics Laboratory is the zombie lab company. After raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in a few short years for its owners and others, HDL went out of business last year. The reason: the company’s business model was illegal and unethical.

The company bribed doctors to order unnecessary tests — lots of unnecessary tests. Then it told patients that they would not be billed for the tests. This is also illegal.

But in its heyday the company reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from Medicare and insurance companies.

True Health Diagnostics is the vampire lab company. When HDL went out of business this new company bought its remaining assets and adopted its business model of bribing doctors to order their tests and not collecting the patients’ portion of the bill. (Despite the company’s denials, True Health appears to have close connections with at least some of the major figures involved with HDL.)

Late last year the surviving legal remnant of HDL began efforts to collect from patients on some of the bills on which the company had promised, in writing, never to collect…

Patients panicked when they suddenly found themselves faced with thousands of dollars in bills. Naturally many of them called their doctors to complain, and many of the doctors complained to their True Health sales reps, since in many cases this was the same person.

True Health in turn panicked. It threatened to sue HDL. If doctors and patients believed that there was even a small chance that patients would be held responsible for thousands of dollars for their tests then their entire sleazy business model would topple like a house of cards. So the company sent letters to doctors, telling the doctors to tell their patients to ignore the letters.

This did not sit well with HDL, which then sued True Health…

I have no idea how the legal issues here will be resolved. I don’t know if patients who were promised they would never receive a bill can be held responsible for those bills because those promises were illegal. This kind of situation is exactly why we have so many lawyers but so little justice.

But I do know this: the one thing missing in the battle of the zombie lab versus the vampire lab is justice.

The responsible figures — the HDL leaders, its salesmen, and, especially, the doctors who ordered and profited from all these unnecessary tests — are not being held responsible. Many of the same doctors and salesman who participated in the earlier HDL scheme are now participating in the True Health scheme…

We’ll probably never know how many hundreds of millions of dollars were made by the HDL executives and salesmen and the doctors who participated in their scheme. And unless people start going to jail there will be no incentive to stop more schemes like this. Civil suits, by the government or by private insurance companies, will simply be viewed as the cost of doing business.

Gotta love self-regulating, self-policing crafts, trades, industries. Seems to me a great deal of what is involved here is plain and simple fraud. Some of it must have crossed state lines. If states won’t act responsibly – well, that’s why we have federal attorneys.