NRA boss asked for luxury mansion as “protection” after Florida shooting


It takes lots of money to make me feel safeJose Luis Magana/AP

❝ The chief executive of the National Rifle Association asked the nonprofit organisation buy him a luxury mansion last year after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions…Wayne LaPierre told associates he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after 17 people were gunned down last year in Parkland, Florida, sources said.

❝ Mr LaPierre and his wife, Susan, rejected an upscale high rise in Dallas with numerous security features in favour of a 10,000-square-foot French country-style estate with lakefront and golf course views in Westlake, Texas, on the market for about $6m, according to emails and text messages.

Obviously, it costs a great deal to make a miserable low-life creature like Wayne LaPierre feel “safe”.

When the marketing department makes safety decisions


Click to enlargeMichael Tewelde/AFP

❝ The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

❝ The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing’s marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

That was a really sensible way to save on training costs, eh?

Thanks, Tom

Our Fake President isn’t convinced that small doses of radiation harm you

❝ …AP reports that the Trump administration is quietly seeking to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on radiation exposure. The story took a closer look at a rule the EPA proposed back in April called “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” When it was released, most coverage focused on the proposal’s potential limitation of what studies the EPA could and could not use in decision-making. It essentially demanded the EPA not use any studies based on data that isn’t publicly available.

…The transparency rule is hiding another agenda. Paragraphs scattered throughout the document make it clear that the proposed rule is meant to re-evaluate the science behind “the dose response data and models that underlie what we are calling ‘pivotal regulatory science.'” That jargon means the EPA wants to challenge the assumptions that underlie its current guidelines on toxic exposure.

❝ …Data shows that the higher the dose of radiation you receive, the more severe the consequences—in other words, that the response to doses is linear. The more radiation, the more health effects.

Because it’s much harder to accurately measure small doses of radiation in large populations over long periods of time, there isn’t much data available on the lower end. Still, most scientists agree that the relationship stays the same for small amounts of ionizing radiation: Small doses increase the aggregate risk of cancer by a relatedly small amount…

Trump and his flunkies want to remove safety measures currently in place. After all, they cost money which could be spent elsewhere. Like on golf trips.

I’ve noted here recently that early days in my working life were spent in metals testing labs. And some of that work involved materials used in nuclear power plants. I didn’t mention there were a number of folks I worked with BITD who were former researchers close-up and personal with nuclear radiation. The emphasis was on FORMER because pretty much every year they were updated on what was currently the new acceptable level of “safe” radiation over time. That dose became lower every year as scientific understanding increased. Most of them joked that the “new” dangerous levels were lower than levels they were exposed to as “safe” just a year or two previous. What else could they do? They had worked their way down to the labs where I worked because there was no radiation exposure at all. And they refused to accept the risk of continued exposure.

When you’re dealing with radioactive materials with a half-life measured in hundreds of years or more – which is only accumulative – the only result is a shortened lifespan. How much is that paycheck worth, then?

An insider’s perspective on Fukushima — and everything after

❝ The meltdown of the reactors at Fukushima Daichi has changed how many people view the risks of nuclear power, causing countries around the world to revise their plans for further construction and revisit the safety regulations for existing plants. The disaster also gave the world a first-hand view of the challenges of managing accidents in the absence of a functional infrastructure and the costs when those accidents occur in a densely populated, fully developed nation.

❝ Earlier this week, New York’s Japan Society hosted a man with a unique perspective on all of this. Naomi Hirose was an executive at Tokyo Electric Power Company when the meltdown occurred, and he became its CEO while he was struggling to get the recovery under control. Ars attended Hirose’s presentation and had the opportunity to interview him. Because the two discussions partly overlapped, we’ll include information from both below.

NAOMI HIROSE:

❝ “We learned that safety culture is very important. We saw that we were probably a little arrogant. We spent a huge amount of money to improve the safety of that plant before the accident. We thought that this was enough. We learned that you never think this is enough. We have to learn many things from all over the world. 9/11 could be some lessons for nuclear power stations—it’s not just nuclear accidents in other countries, everything could be a lesson.”

I spent a fair piece of my early days in metals testing laboratories. Mostly non-ferrous metals — including zirconium which was used at the time in heat exchangers of nuclear power plants. I had an ongoing interest in nuclear generated power for decades and, frankly, though it’s still a viable option with appropriate regulations, testing and management, the whole process is now simply too expensive to be considered rationally…especially when compared to renewable sources whether they be solar, wind or wave power, geothermal.

Taking a knee — Republican Style

Pretty much everyone in the family of my father’s generation worked in some part or other of the gun industry for a spell. Part of growing up in the Arsenal of America. We worked every category from machinist to prototype gunsmith, secretary to plant manager. The industry didn’t rely then on the death and destruction of American citizens. The NRA existed to provide safe hunting, safe shooting. Not like today — as a lobbyist for paranoid households and individuals armed to the teeth to “protect” themselves against damned near every other kind of American out there in the dark.

Most expensive fighter ever — F-35 Ejection Seats will only harm a couple dozen pilots 1st year in service

❝ The F-35 fighter jets’ flawed ejection seats, which Air Force officials said in May had been fixed, still pose a “serious” risk that will probably injure or kill nearly two dozen pilots, according to an internal Air Force safety report that service officials withheld from the press.

The F-35 Joint Program Office — which runs the $406.5 billion initiative, the most expensive weapons program in history — has declined to try to save those lives by conducting less than a year’s worth of additional testing that would cost a relatively paltry few million dollars, the report shows…

❝ Specifically, the 2015 tests indicated 98 percent “probability of fatal injury” for pilots weighing less than 135 pounds when ejecting from the original seat when the jet was too low to the ground to cushion the force of the ejection by the smaller parachute, according to the internal documents.

For pilots weighing up to 165 pounds, there was a nearly one in four chance of fatal injury, the documents showed. In Air Force press releases, that was described merely as “elevated” risk

❝ New F-35s will have the somewhat improved seats, but all but four of the 235 jets that pilots are flying today have yet to be modified…

But, the military-industrial complex is making a boatload of money. Which do you think counts more with the Pentagon or Congress. Profits or pilots?

Cubans are 15 TIMES LESS LIKELY TO DIE from Hurricanes Than Americans


Click to watch this production from Democracy NOW

One of the Caribbean islands hardest hit by Hurricane Irma was Cuba, where 10 people died. Irma hit Cuba’s northern coast as a Category 5 storm. It was the deadliest hurricane in Cuba since 2005, when 16 people died in Hurricane Dennis.

Cuba has long been viewed as a world leader in hurricane preparedness and recovery. According to the Center for International Policy, a person is 15 times as likely to be killed by a hurricane in the United States as in Cuba. Meanwhile, Cuba has already sent more than 750 health workers to Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti.

Read the transcript of a discussion with Elizabeth Newhouse, director of the Center for International Policy’s Cuba Project. She has taken numerous delegations from the U.S. to Cuba to see how the Cubans manage disaster preparedness.

U.S. Military Marches Toward Energy Independence


Hill AFBOfficial White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The U.S. is at a transformative moment in electricity. And the military is helping us move toward a new era of independence.

❝ The U.S. electrical grid was ranked by the National Academy of Engineering as the greatest achievement of the 20th century, and it was this vast infrastructure that helped to power our economy, enhance our communities and light up our lives. But the centralized power grid is not perfect, and it faces an array of risks from natural disasters to human and cyber attacks.

As electricity becomes more and more critical in our lives, wide-ranging blackouts won’t just be a personal annoyance — they could cripple our economy. A diversified energy portfolio that includes renewable generation creates a more resilient grid. A recent draft of a report from the Department of Energy also concluded that wind and solar energy create a more reliable grid.

❝ The added security provided by renewables is why everyone — from the military to Fortune 100 companies — is finding ways to use clean reliable distributed power systems to support their operations.

RTFA to learn how this understanding makes sense. Moving forward.

Let’s shut these radiation alarms off! They keep disturbing our research.

❝ …Government scientists didn’t know they were breathing in radioactive uranium at the time it was happening. In fact, most didn’t learn about their exposure for months, long after they returned home from the nuclear weapons research center where they had inhaled it.

The entire event was characterized by sloppiness, according to a quiet federal investigation, with multiple warnings issued and ignored in advance, and new episodes of contamination allowed to occur afterward. All of this transpired without public notice by the center.

Here’s how it happened: In April and May 2014, an elite group of 97 nuclear researchers from as far away as the U.K. gathered in a remote corner of Nye County, Nev., at the historic site where the U.S. had exploded hundreds of its nuclear weapons. With nuclear bomb testing ended, the scientists were using a device they called Godiva at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center to test nuclear pulses on a smaller and supposedly safe scale.

But as the technicians prepared for their experiments that spring — under significant pressure to clear a major backlog of work and to operate the machine at what a report called Godiva’s “upper energy range” — they committed several grievous errors, according to government reports.

❝ The machine had been moved to Nevada nine years earlier from Los Alamos, N.M. But a shroud, descriptively called Top Hat, which should have covered the machine and prevented the escape of any loose radioactive particles, was not reinstalled when it was reassembled in 2012.

Also, because Godiva’s bursts tended to set off multiple radiation alarms in the center, the experimenters decided to switch the alarm system off. But because the alarms were connected to the ventilation and air filter system for the room, those were shut off as well. The only ventilation remaining was a small exhaust fan that vented into an adjacent anteroom where researchers gathered before and after experiments.

What could go wrong?

RTFA for the whole event. Read the whole article and realize this single example of careless handling, monitoring or dangerous materials isn’t rare. Sloppiness, an absence of concern for the safety of nuclear workers – from techs to supremos – is as bad as you might expect from agencies run by beancounters instead of folks concerned first and foremost with safety.