Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 23

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 23
"We're sitting on our blessed Mother Earth from which we get our strength and determination, love and humility, all the beautiful attributes that we've been given. So turn to one another; love one another; respect one another; respect Mother Earth; respect the waters-because that's life itself!"
--Phil Lane, Sr. YANKTON SIOUX
Our entire point of view can be altered by making one change to align with the principles of the Great Spirit. Let's say we decide to become respectful. As we become respectful, our attitude will change. We will automatically draw into our lives knowledge about the other principles of the Great Spirit such as love, appreciation, trust, beauty, and peace of mind. By focusing on these principles, we will let go of selfishness, self centeredness, self pity, dishonesty, and fear. You focus on respect, you get respect; you focus on love, you get love; you focus on the Red Road, you get peace of mind.
Great Spirit, let me learn the lessons of respect.

Friday, November 22, 2013

One Day at a Time...

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 22

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 22
"It's the most precious know absolutely where you belong. There's a whole emotional wrapping-around-of-you here. You see the same rock, tree, road, clouds, sun -- you develop a nice kind of intimacy with the world around you. To be intimate is to grow, to learn...[it] is absolutely fulfilling. Intimacy, that's my magic word for why I live here."
--Tessie Maranjo, SANTA CLARA PUEBLO
Every human being, to be mentally healthy, must have the feeling of belonging. When we have a sense of belonging we can be intimate. We can feel. We can connect. If we cannot develop this feeling of belonging, then we will feel lost of disconnected. To be disconnected from life is like walking around during the day not knowing the Sun exists. To have the feelings of intimacy is warm, glowy, joyful, loving, and connected. The feeling this Elder is talking about is available to everyone.
Great Spirit, let me be intimate.

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 10

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 10
"The battle for Indian children will be won in the classroom, not on the streets or on horses. The students of today are our warriors of tomorrow."
--Wilma P. Mankiller, CHEROKEE
The world is constantly changing. One of the strengths of Indian people has been our adaptability. In today's world, education is what we need to survive. We need doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists. We can become these things and still live in a cultural way. We need to live in two worlds; the educated world and the Indian cultural world. Education will help protect our land, our people's health, and provide knowledge for our people. We must teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Also, we must teach the language, the culture, the ceremony, and the tradition of our people.
Creator, let me remember You are my teacher.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lakota Prayer

Chief Spotted Elk

Hold On...

This is Totally Your Grandma’s Social Movement: Women in Indigenous Nationhood Struggles by Annita Lucchesi

This is Totally Your Grandma’s Social Movement: Women in Indigenous Nationhood Struggles by Annita Lucchesi

Any indigenous decolonization movement we build will fail if it doesn’t directly engage and dismantle colonial patriarchy and violence against indigenous women. It seems as if this would be obvious considering women make up over half the population of most (if not all?) nations, and yet too much of the activism I’ve seen regarding indigenous nationhood totally disregards issues such as these, as if nationhood isn’t distinctly a “women’s issue,” and “women’s issues” aren’t issues for the rest of the community.
How is indigenous nationhood a “women’s issue”? For starters, we make up over half the population of our nations, and a nation isn’t really all that democratic or sovereign if it still adheres to a socio-political structure defined by patriarchal violence imposed by colonizers, much less does not represent or include the specific needs of the majority of its citizens in its vision for the future. Moreover, in many nations, women have historically held leadership positions (formally and informally); how decolonized are we really if we “return” to an indigenous social & governmental structure that doesn’t acknowledge women’s rightful place in community leadership? Do we expect our nations to be healthy communities with empowered and respected women if we don’t put in the groundwork of creating decolonization movements in which indigenous women are actively empowered and respected by their relations in the struggle?
Indigenous sovereignty has been mapped on indigenous women’s bodies from the beginning of colonial occupation. Gendered and sexual violence has been a key strategy used by European colonizers for centuries, and continues to be used as such through the present. The US government, for example, has a long history of targeting Native women in their efforts to exterminate Native peoples—from the removal of woman leadership and forcible indoctrination of Native men into colonial patriarchy, to the torture, sexual assault, and sexualized mutilation the US military perpetrated on Native women at massacres like Sand Creek, to the forced sterilization of thousands of Native women at the hands of IHS, the US government has always understood that the way to attack the health and survival of our nations was by attacking our women. Another clear example of how Native sovereignty has been mapped on Native women’s bodies is the recent fight for the Violence Against Women Act, which just narrowly passed with its new provisions for special tribal jurisdiction over cases of violence against Native women. VAWA’s opposition expressed concern that granting Native nations jurisdiction over a fraction of the cases of violence against Native women could be a devastating blow to US colonial authority sovereignty, while supporters of the tribal provisions heralded VAWA’s passage as a landmark moment in tribal sovereignty; in both perspectives then, we see that Native women’s bodies are understood as a major battleground for nationhood.
What would it mean for our nationhood movements to explicitly recognize Native women’s complex role in sovereignty struggles, historic and contemporary? To recognize that Native nationhood is a practice that Native women engage in every day? Even outside our more abstract figurative role in sovereignty-related legislation, Native women have been at the frontlines of every Native rights protest, teach-in, occupation, court case, and press conference I’ve seen or heard of. Native women reproduce our nations by raising children, running households, teaching in schools and cultural institutions, performing and passing on ceremonies, keeping our traditional arts alive and thriving, and building and maintaining community support networks. I want to see us celebrate the women who wove baskets banned by a colonial regime, the women who made women’s shelters out of their own homes, the women who taught their ancestral languages to their children, the women who fought through years in a colonial education system and miles of red tape to create tribal education programs. Our nationhood movement is nothing without women like them.
So here’s my challenge to Native folks fighting for indigenous sovereignty: remember that this IS your grandma’s social movement. Debra White Plume, a Native woman powerhouse in the sovereignty struggle, has said that a true leader is someone who carries their people in their heart; don’t forget that over half your people are women! Women that are not only forced to survive specific gendered colonial violence, but that are strong capable community leaders in their own rights! For that reason, stepping up and being a leader—carrying your people in your heart—requires each one of us to be mindful that fights for indigenous nationhood and decolonization are, fundamentally, “women’s issues.” Our nations will be crippled and toxic until we actively fight violence against Native women, as well as empower and respect Native women as nation-builders and community leaders.

Charles Littleleaf Native American

Long ago in Indian history, there came a tornado which picked up a great herd of Buffalo. Some Indian men witnessed all of this from the top of a hill. They said the Buffalo were flying in the air like birds.

As the tornado came toward them, they dismounted from their horses and offered a pipe ceremony toward the sky. Their prayers were heard and the tornado abruptly changed its direction, leaving them in awe of what they had just witnessed.

This country has always had its share of natural weather phenomena, and we have no other alternative but to try and survive, accepting all that is upon us. We do not consider these things to be a disaster but a great part of nature.

When storms subside, we find ourselves to be stronger and more appreciative that some of us are spared. We give thanks to our Creator for bringing us a new day with life and a new sun.

May our tears of today be dried with the gentle winds of tomorrow.


Elder's Meditation of the Day November 20

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 20
"Money cannot buy affection."
--Mangas Coloradas, APACHE
In these modern times we put too much emphasis on material things and on money. We believe that money is power. If we have money, people will respect us. If we have money, people will admire us. If we have money, we can have anything we want. Maybe we can purchase anything in the material world, but we cannot purchase anything in the Unseen World. The Unseen World is not for sale. It can only be given away. Love, affection, admiration, trust, respect, commitment -- these must be earned or given away. If we use these things from the Unseen World, we are using real power.
My Creator, let me demonstrate Your power today. Let me be loving to all I meet.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

You can call me anything you want... Just don't call me late for Dinner

The Mess Gets Worse at Hanford's Nuclear Site---Posted: 11/18/2013 8:07 am

The Mess Gets Worse at Hanford's Nuclear Site

The government's multi-billion-dollar effort to clean up the nation's largest nuclear dump has become its own dysfunctional mess.
For more than two decades, the government has worked to dispose of 56 million gallons of toxic nuclear and chemical waste stored in underground, leak-prone steel tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Site in southeastern Washington State.
But progress has been slow, the project's budget is rising by billions of dollars, and a long-running technical dispute has sown ill will between members of the project's senior engineering staff, the Energy Department and its lead contractors.
The waste is a legacy of the Cold War, when the site housed nuclear reactors churning out radioactive plutonium for thousands of American atomic bombs. To clean up the site -- the largest such environmental undertaking in the country -- the Department of Energy (DOE) started building a factory 12 years ago to encase the nuclear leftovers in stable glass for long-term storage.
But today, construction of the factory is only two-thirds complete after billions of dollars in spending, leaving partially constructed buildings and heavy machinery scattered across the 65-acre desert construction site, 12 miles from the Columbia River.
Technical personnel have expressed concerns about the plant's ability to operate safely, and say the government and its contractors have tried to discredit them, and in some cases harassed and punished them. Experts also say that some of the tanks have already leaked radioactive waste into the groundwater below, and worry that the contamination is now making its way to the river, a major regional source of drinking water.
Don't miss a single Center for Public Integrity investigation on national defense and military spending.
Some lawmakers say Hanford has been an early -- and so far dismaying -- test of whether Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, previously an MIT physics professor, can turn the problem-plagued Energy Department around through improved scientific rigor and better management of its faltering, multi-billion dollar projects. They have accused his aides of standing by while a well-known whistleblower was dismissed last month.
Meanwhile, DOE officials are now considering spending an extra $2 billion to $3 billion to help make the wastes safer for treatment. Doing so would delay the cleanup's completion for years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated in December. DOE is already strapped for cash, due to the impact of the budget sequestration, likely to take billions of dollars out of its budget.
In an Oct. 9 letter to Moniz, Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., demanded that he take new steps to ensure that the project's technical and safety experts are well-treated. Four organizations have reviewed their complaints, he said, and "all have agreed that the project is deeply troubled, and all have affirmed the underlying technical problems."
On Nov. 14, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told DOE's nominee for general counsel at a Senate confirmation hearing that he worries "the message is out department-wide that when you speak truth to power and come forward and lay out what your concerns are, you face these kinds of [retaliation] problems." If that's true, Wyden said, "I think it's going to be very detrimental to the safety agenda."
A troubled past
Government officials and environmental activists agree that Hanford needs to be cleaned as soon as possible. But the timetable keeps slipping: Almost 25 years ago, DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington agreed to start turning the waste into glass by 2011. But in 2010, the deadline was extended to 2019 with a completion date of 2047.
The project's problems mirror those afflicting many of the Energy Department's largest engineering projects. The estimated cost of cleaning up Hanford ballooned from $4.3 billion in 2000 to $13.4 billion in 2012, according to GAO's December report. The DOE halted much of the construction last year due to technical problems, and Moniz announced last month that the agency is likely to miss three more project deadlines.
The GAO has long criticized the project's "fast-track" approach, in which workers -- operating under a single, overarching contract -- have simultaneously been developing technology, designing the treatment plants, and undertaking construction. The approach is meant to ease the integration of technologies and help ensure the projects meet its legal deadlines. But the GAO says it has led to cost increases and delays.
On Sept. 30, DOE's inspector general issued an audit stating that Bechtel, the project's prime contractor, had repeatedly made design changes to plant equipment without a required safety review. DOE inspector general Gregory Friedman called the problems "systemic."
That report came 13 months after Gary Brunson, who was then the plant's engineering division director at DOE, told superiors in a memo that Bechtel had made at least 34 technical decisions that were incorrect, infeasible, unverified, unsafe, or too costly, according to a copy. He called for the company's removal from its role as design manager. Frank Russo, Bechtel's plant director at the time, responded that the issues were not new and had all been addressed in concert with the department.
DOE's Office of Environmental Management responded with assurances that Bechtel has already started to address these shortcomings, and promised to monitor the company's actions. Although Bechtel has completed many impressive engineering projects, it is not new to construction snafus. Bechtel paid $352 million to settle a government lawsuit after panels of a tunnel in Boston's enormously complex and expensive "Big Dig" highway project collapsed in 2006.
But Hanford's problems extend beyond the missed deadlines, budget troubles and critical watchdog reports. Employees and independent agencies say that DOE and contractor officials overseeing the project have created a workplace climate that discourages employees from raising grave technical and safety concerns.
Many of the concerns center on the danger that liquid and solid or semi-solid radioactive wastes could settle to the bottom of tanks and piping during treatment in sufficient quantities to start a chain reaction, explode, and release deadly radiation.
But engineers and scientists working on the project have alleged that project supervisors have relentlessly pushed to shorten testing and "close" technical issues related to the mixing of the wastes by deadlines -- meeting their benchmarks to gain financial rewards -- before solutions had really been found.
DOE offers this explanation: When an issue is "closed," says Carrie Meyer, a DOE spokesperson at Hanford, it means that the agency and its contractors have developed a credible plan to resolve any remaining problems. Speaking of the challenges of keeping the wastes adequately mixed, she said "there's no way you would solve an issue of that magnitude" quickly.
In hindsight, she said, using the word "closure" "was not a good way to characterize it."
The firing of a prominent critic
The most prominent of those alleging retaliation for raising concerns about the project's safety is Walter Tamosaitis, the project's former research and technical manager for URS, the prime subcontractor to Bechtel. He was dismissed in October, sparking new controversy.
Donna Busche, a URS employee and manager of environmental and nuclear safety at the plant who worked with Tamosaitis, described him as "extroverted," "tenacious" and "aggressive but not in a negative way" -- someone who was "very forthright in conversations, [saying] that, 'This needs to be addressed.'"
Tamosaitis's troubles began after a 2010 meeting with Bechtel and URS managers, at which he turned over a list of unresolved technical issues that he said could affect the plant's safety. Two days later, URS, acting under orders from a Bechtel executive, pulled him from the project, according to a legal complaint Tamosaitis filed in federal court in November 2011.
His claims that managers repeatedly spurned safety warnings and resolved technical problems too slowly led to an investigation by department's nuclear safety board. In June 2011, it affirmed that department and contractor officials on the project had instilled a culture that deterred employees from reporting their concerns.
Board chairman Peter Winokur said in an April 1, 2013, letter to Wyden that the department has "vigorously tackled this issue but progress in changing any organizational culture is historically slow." On Sept. 27, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman told the board that his department needed more time to assess if workers were deterred from reporting problems at other sites and find solutions.
After Tamosaitis's forced departure from the plant, he was assigned to a non-supervisory post in URS's main office in downtown Richland. But five days after Poneman's letter, URS managers told Tamosaitis -- a 44-year company veteran with a Ph.D. in engineering -- to clean off his desk there and leave that day. URS insisted -- as a condition of receiving severance pay -- that he give up the lawsuit he filed against the company. He refused.
In an interview with the Center, Tamosaitis, 66, said the layoff was "clearly retaliatory." Tamosaitis said he was particularly surprised by URS's decision, because three months earlier, he had met with Moniz to discuss his concerns about the plant's design and safety culture. Moniz had promised at his April confirmation hearing to meet whistleblowers at Hanford.
"He was very receptive," Tamosaitis said of the 20-minute meeting. "I was optimistic that, yes, indeed changes would be made." Tamosaitis was also encouraged by a memo Moniz sent to department heads in September stating DOE must "foster a safety conscious work environment" that does not "deter, discourage, or penalize employees for the timely identification of safety, health, environmental, quality or security issues."
After Tamosaitis's dismissal, Markey and Wyden each sent angry letters to Moniz stating that it appears little has changed. Tamosaitis's "termination within days of your pledge can only be seen as perpetuating a culture that would plunge DOE employees and contractors who dare to raise safety issues into the deep freeze or worse," Wyden wrote in his Oct. 9 letter.
DOE officials did not respond to requests by the Center for comment about the letters or the dismissal. Wyden spokesperson Keith Chu said Moniz has not replied to the senator's letter.
URS spokesperson Pamela Blum declined to say if DOE officials had contacted URS about Tamosaitis's firing or Moniz's June meeting with Tamosaitis. "There is very robust oversight of this project -- including daily communication with our client -- but our practice is not to discuss the specifics of our interactions," she said.
Blum said in an emailed statement that, "While we will not comment on specific employee matters, in recent months URS has reduced employment levels in our federal sector business due to budgetary constraints." The company, she wrote, "encourages its employees to raise concerns about safety, which remains the company's highest priority." She also said URS asks all laid-off employees to sign severance agreements absolving the company from legal claims.
Tom Carpenter, executive director of the Hanford Challenge, a nonprofit in Seattle that has assisted Hanford whistleblowers, said URS "created the conditions" to lay off Tamosaitis. "He was turned into a symbol by them that this is what happens to people who raise concerns," Carpenter said. "It'll be a cold day indeed when someone tries to follow in his footsteps."
Attack of the whistleblower
Hanford's technical challenges have long bedeviled its workers and managers.
DOE scrapped its first three plans to dispose of the waste, now stored in 177 massive tanks, before hiring Bechtel in 2000. The department finally decided to build a 12-story pretreatment facility to divide the low- and high-level radioactive wastes and pump them into separate plants, where they would be mixed with molten glass, and then poured and sealed into thick steel canisters.
Engineers are still struggling to find a way to ensure that wastes flowing into the pretreatment facility and the two separate plants - which have a consistency ranging from a broth-like liquid to a peanut butter-like sludge -- are kept evenly mixed. Otherwise, the plutonium or uranium they contain - materials that can cause a chain reaction -- could settle together and cause what's known as a criticality accident, a burst of lethal radioactivity and heat. Hydrogen gas bubbles could also develop, become trapped in the waste, and explode.
According to the GAO's December report, project engineers have struggled to design compressed-air, pulse jet mixers, because the technology has never been used to treat waste with large solids like those at Hanford.
Moreover, many of the new mixing tanks will be located in sealed chambers called "black cells" where radiation levels will be so high that workers will be unable to enter for at least 40 years. So the equipment must be able to operate without maintenance for that period. But some experts have raised concerns that the wastes will corrode the tanks and pipes more quickly than that.
After the GAO first expressed concerns about the plant's design, Tamosaitis was appointed in October 2005 to head a study of it. More than 50 consultants participated, and they identified 28 unresolved technical issues. By October 2009, DOE had resolved 27 of the issues, but one remained: how to keep the wastes well-mixed.
In his legal complaint against URS and DOE, Tamosaitis said Bechtel's plant director at the time, Frank Russo, pressed to "close" the issue by the Energy Department's June 30, 2010, deadline. Meeting that goal would make Bechtel and URS eligible for millions of dollars in performance incentive fees. It was also expected to bring an additional $50 million in congressional funding.
In a June 30 email to Bechtel president David Walker, Russo said he told DOE officials that "a clear way to kill momentum within the project and with Congress re funding would be to declare m3 [the mixing issue] as not complete." The next day Russo again mentioned the funding in an email to Walker, saying, "Declare failure and high probability that the $50 mil goes away." Copies of the emails were filed with the complaint.
But Tamosaitis said he and other experts repeatedly raised their design concerns with Bechtel and URS managers. For example, in March 2010, Bechtel decided the pulse jet mixers only needed to move the waste around the bottom of the tanks, not force it toward the top. This approach, Tamosaitis said, increases the risk of plutonium particles collecting at the bottom and triggering an uncontrolled nuclear reaction.
He compared it to stirring corn kernels in a pot: The cook has to make sure the corn is suspended in the water, not burning at the bottom.
Bechtel engineering managers responded by saying they would consider improving the design once the issue was deemed "closed," Tamosaitis said in his legal complaint."They were trying to justify their design," Tamosaitis said, "but their design led to safety issues."
Critically, in March 2010, Don Alexander, a senior Energy Department scientist at the plant, met with Bechtel, URS and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory managers and told them the material they had used to test the mixing of thicker, jello-like materials was not representative of the plant's actual waste. In late April, Tamosaitis's complaint alleges, Bechtel officials pushed back and "launched an effort to show that no testing was needed."
After Alexander documented his concerns in a report, Russo directed Tamosaitis to put together a team of "top flight PhD's" to discredit Alexander's paper, according to a grievance Alexander filed with an employee union in August 2011. "Walt [Tamosaitis] knew my issues were technically correct and never submitted a paper."
Bechtel spokesperson Suzanne Heaston responded that "in designing and constructing this complex facility, it is part of our process, when questions arise, for us to engage the appropriate expertise to address, respond and resolve issues."
Similar disputes recurred repeatedly that spring, as management officials struggled to meet their deadline. At one point, Perry A. Meyer, a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory staff scientist at the time who now works for the safety board, wrote a June 16 e-mail for the record relating "three potential threats I have heard" from managers towards technical staff.
In his e-mail, Meyer wrote that Tamosaitis reported he would be fired if the laboratory turned in a letter suggesting flawed test results, according to a copy. "He would like us to send the letter anyway, as he agrees with our concerns," Meyer wrote, referring to Tamosaitis. The letter was indeed sent to Bechtel on June 25. Meyer declined to speak for this article.
At a June 30 meeting, the day of the deadline, Tamosaitis gave Bechtel and URS managers a list of 50 unresolved technical items that Bechtel had requested as part of what officials depicted in documents as a "clean out your drawers" effort.
A day later, Tamosaitis sent an email to Meyer and two other experts warning that Bechtel and DOE officials were likely to announce that all the mixing issues were being closed. Tamosaitis wrote that he anticipated an additional test "will go by the wayside."
Then, on the next day, a URS executive, acting on orders from Bechtel's Russo, told Tamosaitis to turn in his badge and cellphone, and escorted him off the Hanford site. Tamosaitis said he was not given a reason for his removal that day.
Tamosaitis's federal court complaint includes emails that show Russo ordered his removal after communicating with Dale Knutson, DOE's project director of the plant at the time. "Walt [Tamosaitis] does not speak for DOE," Knutson said in an email to Russo. "Use this message as you see fit to accelerate staffing changes."
Russo, after receiving Knutson's email, sent a message to URS plant manager URS plant manager William Gay, stating that "Walt is killing us. Get him in your corporate office tomorrow." Gay responded, "He will be gone tomorrow," according to copies of the messages.
URS reassigned Tamosaitis to a non-supervisory position, unaffiliated with the waste treatment plant, in the basement of its Richmond office. For 16 months, he worked alongside copy machines, Tamosaitis said.
Bechtel, URS and the Energy Department say that Tamosaitis's removal had nothing to do with the technical concerns he expressed. In its response to a complaint Tamosaitis filed with the Department of Labor, Bechtel said Tamosaitis was demeaning to coworkers on multiple occasions.
Russo told the court in a deposition that he never saw Tamosaitis's list of unresolved issues before transferring him. He said Tamosaitis had prior performance issues and was being reassigned anyway. Blum, a URS spokeswoman, said the basement office was the only available space at the time.
Tamosaitis's lawsuits have yet to bear fruit. Judge Craig Matheson of Benton County Superior Court dismissed his case against Bechtel in January 2012 without comment. Then, Judge Lonny Suko of the Eastern Washington U.S. District Court dismissed his lawsuits against DOE and URS partly because Tamosaitis had not waited a full year for the Department of Labor to act on his case, a step the judge said was required by applicable statutes.
In his October 2012 decision regarding URS, he said Bechtel, not URS, ordered Tamosaitis's removal, his pay had not been reduced, he had turned down URS offers of meaningful work elsewhere, and he had declined another office space. Tamosaitis said he was never offered a comparable position and URS only offered to move him to another office in the basement or to a cubicle on the first floor.
In his May 2012 ruling to dismiss DOE, Suko, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2003, said. "It is necessary to read quite a bit into Knutson's [of DOE's] email to describe it as a 'directive' to specifically remove Dr. Tamosaitis."
A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard his appeal of the case against DOE and URS on Nov. 7. A ruling is pending.
Going public with dissident views
Even if Tamosaitis's firing resulted from an employment dispute, his complaint that rushed DOE and contract officials pushed aside safety and technical criticisms -- and those who raised them -- is supported by independent reports.
The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety board's report concluded that his removal "sent a strong message to other WTP project employees that individuals who question current practices ... are not considered team players and will be dealt with harshly." It said Bechtel was behind Tamosaitis's removal from the plant, and URS carried it out without considering the message it sent to other employees.
DOE's Office of Health, Safety and Security, in a separate 2012 study, said it had found a "definite unwillingness and uncertainty among employees about the ability to openly challenge management decisions" at the Hanford plant.
At the direction of then-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in 2011, Bechtel selected seven nuclear industry experts -- including Nils Diaz, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and three others who had worked at the NRC, plus two former DOE contractors -- to conduct its own study. The panel concluded in November 2011 that while "there is no widespread reluctance on the part of DOE, URS and BNI [Bechtel] project personnel to raise safety and technical issues," managers had not addressed technical issues as quickly as they should have. It did not specify what those issues were.
Gerald Garfield, an attorney who specializes in energy and public utility law and was a member of the review team, told reporters on Dec. 1, 2011 that Tamosaitis's public battle against plant management created "further anxiety and uncertainty" among people working on the project. But he depicted this mostly as a public relations problem, caused by inadequate advocacy by the government and its contractors.
Because officials did not explain their side of the story, he said, it led to speculation "that this was simply a situation where an individual had been treated very badly, and there was no justification....It emerged that there was an explanation...and I think when that was expressed by management, we were told by people on the project at least that it helped reduce anxiety."
Other project managers say that raising safety and technical concerns has provoked retribution, however. Busche, a URS employee and the plant's manager of environmental and nuclear safety, filed a lawsuit against Bechtel and URS in February claiming the companies retaliated against her for raising concerns about design and other safety issues -- an allegation that the companies deny.
In her complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, Busche said that she was seen as a "roadblock to meeting deadlines." URS and Bechtel officials excluded her from meetings and belittled her authority, she alleged; they deny it.
Busche says her troubles escalated after she questioned DOE's judgment at an Oct. 7, 2010, safety board hearing about how much radiation might escape in the event of an accident at the plant. Board officials had expressed concern that DOE's calculations underestimated the threat, but Ines Triay, then DOE's assistant secretary for environmental management, defended the calculations.
When a board member asked Busche if she supported DOE's method, Busche replied, "Short answer, no," according to a transcript of the hearing. Afterwards, Triay told Busche if her "intent was to piss people off, [she] did a very good job," according to Busche's complaint.
Triay, now executive director of the Applied Research Center at Florida International University, did not respond to requests for comment. Busche's lawsuit is ongoing.
Cleaning up the mess
In August 2010, the department announced that all the mixing design issues were closed. As a result, Bechtel and URS received more than $4 million in bonus funds. Congress also allocated $50 million in additional annual funding for fiscal years 2011 and 2012, according to GAO.
But problems persisted. In 2011, Alexander expressed new concerns that the mixing vessels could erode and spring leaks. Energy officials in late 2011 ordered Bechtel to demonstrate its pulse jet mixers would work properly, according to GAO. By that point, Bechtel had built 38 tanks with pulse jet mixers and installed 27 of them in the project's pretreatment and high-level waste facilities -- but it was not able to verify that all the tanks worked as designed and met safety requirements, the GAO said in its report.
Last year, the department halted construction on both the pretreatment plant and the high-level waste plant as it worked to resolve technical problems, including ensuring that the wastes are adequately mixed. Tamosaitis cited this move as proof that his technical concerns were valid.
Some independent experts have been urging the department to conduct further, small-scale mixing tests to avoid any accidents. Alexander said DOE and contract officials are planning a full-scale test to ensure the mixing vessels work appropriately. He said in a telephone interview that he's pleased that the project is "doing what needs to be done."
In an effort to restart the plant's construction, Secretary Moniz told Washington State officials in a Sept. 24 report that his department and its contractors are working to settle lingering questions about the mixing of high-level waste slurries, among other issues. He said officials want to start encasing some low-level waste in glass while resolving other problems with the high-level waste treatment.
Bechtel spokesperson Jason Bohne said in a statement that Bechtel's "focus remains on safely designing and building the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant to the highest nuclear safety standards. We remain committed to working with DOE to achieve the permanent solution for Hanford's aging tank waste."
Tamosaitis meanwhile says he is sorting through his papers and figuring out what to do next. "I want an environment where the foot soldiers can raise issues without fear they're going to be put in a basement office for 16 months and then laid off," he said. "This issue is a heck of a lot bigger than me."

The Center for Public Integrity is a non-profit, independent investigative news outlet. For more of its stories on this topic go to

Doggie Language

Thank You

A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 19

Elder's Meditation of the Day November 19
Where there is vision, the people live. They are made rich in the things of the spirit; and then, as the logical next step, they are rich in human life.
--Phil Lane, Sr., YANKTON SIOUX
Since the beginning of time, Indian people have been blessed with the ability and knowledge of the vision. The vision determines our future. The concept is, we move toward and become that which we think about. We have known that all visions are about the Great Spirit. They should include God's will in every area of our lives. We should have visions about our people, about healthy relationships, about helping others, about being happy, about being educated. Each day we should renew our vision. We should ask the Creator to give us a vision of what He wants us to be and where He wants us to go in our lives. We should be the seekers of vision.
Great Spirit, give me a vision to follow today. Let me do Your will.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS November 18, 2013 - 9:37 am EST

PINE RIDGE, South Dakota — A school on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is implementing a new curriculum designed to teach students the rapidly disappearing Lakota language.
The Red Cloud Indian School near the town of Pine Ridge has been working for six years with the American Indian Studies Research Institute at Indiana University to develop the curriculum that includes software and textbooks for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Fewer than 6,000 people in the world are believed to speak Lakota fluently.
"In some ways, this project is about preserving the language," Red Cloud Executive Director Robert Brave Heart told the Rapid City Journal ( ). "But it's about more than that; it's about the students and their identity. . We believe it's about building a good positive identity."
The effort began after a school review determined that its Lakota language program was ineffective, in part because of poorly trained teachers and a lack of teaching materials. The newly developed curriculum will not stop at the school.
"The next step is helping the parents, guardians and grandparents learn along with the students," Brave Heart said.

Monday, November 18, 2013

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** Mass Disenrollment Posted by MattRemle on Nov 19, 2013 in Featured, Press Release

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde by Mia Prickett

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde by Mia Prickett

Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
Grand Ronde, OR – Up to 1,000 members (nearly 20% of the membership) of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon will be receiving letters of potential disenrollment, resulting in what could be the largest termination of American Indian citizenship in United States history.
15 members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde have already been disenrolled, and 79 cases are pending the outcome of hearings scheduled for December. These are the result of the second wave of disenrollment letters that were sent out in September. Tribal Council refuses to discuss the matter, with Tribal Councilman Toby McClary publicly stating that he did not want to disclose the details and incite panic within the membership.
The Grand Ronde Tribal Council’s mass disenrollment efforts contribute to a national Indian disenrollment epidemic, with disenrollment “expanding throughout Native America, with Native nations in at least seventeen states engaging in this practice,” according to leading tribal political scientist, David Wilkins (Indian Country Today).
Mass tribal disenrollments have broken out in Washington State and California and now Oregon (Seattle Times; New York Times).
The disenrollment proceedings stemmed from an illegal audit of the Tribe’s membership rolls by an outside auditing firm based in New Mexico and include nine sets of parameters, including dual enrollment, lineal descent, blood quantum, adoption and paternity.
One of the families facing disenrollment are the descendants of Chief Tumulth, who was a signatory of the seminal 1855 Kalapuya Treaty (also known as the Treaty of the Willamette Valley and the Dayton Treaty). Tumulth was the first chief of the Watlala Band of Chinook Indians, or “Cascade Indians,” whose ceded lands extended from Cascade Locks west to Ft. Vancouver on both sides of the Columbia River, following the Sandy River into Portland including Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Columbia Gorge.
“We are appalled that our own tribe, our own relatives, are claiming that we are some how no longer Grand Ronde. We descend directly from a tribal Chief, a man who signed the Treaty that would later establish the Grand Ronde Reservation,” stated family spokesperson, Mia Prickett.
This all comes after Grand Ronde aggressively exploited Chief Tumulth’s indigenous ties to the Columbia Gorge in efforts to fend off other Oregon tribes from engaging in traditional and commercial activities in the area.
“What my entire family is now facing is nothing short of cultural genocide,” continued Prickett. “Grand Ronde was terminated by the federal government in the early 1950s. And now our own people are seeking to eliminate our tribal existence.”
After President Ronald Reagan restored the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1983, Chief Tumulth’s direct descendants applied for membership and were unanimously approved for Grand Ronde citizenship. By 1994, the 7th generation of Tumulth’s family was enrolled as Grand Ronde members.
Now thirty years later, upon the eve of the 30th Restoration Celebration, the Grand Ronde Tribal Council seeks to disenroll the entire family. The Tribe has commissioned videos that run on a loop at Spirit Mountain Casino, in both the lobby and hotel rooms, which reference the family and Chief Tumulth. The family is also highlighted in several tribal publications that span from the Tribal Newsletter, Smoke Signals, to slicks on ceded lands and tribal history and even on informational brochures at Multnomah Falls.
Most recently, Grand Ronde received a prestigious award for conservation efforts in the Gorge, related to the Tribe’s stewardship of Chief Tumulth’s ceded lands. Present at this private gala was Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.
Chief Tumulth’s direct descendants are involved with the tribe on several levels, including being members of the Canoe Family, teaching the tribal language Chinuk Wawa, and participating in ceremonies as drummers. Other family members include World War II Veteran, Lt. Colonel Carroll Grenia; Chuck Williams, published photographer and author of “Bridge of the Gods, Mountains of Fire”; Gorge conservationist Valerie Alexander; and Medical Doctor Lise Alexander.
“This isn’t just about me and my family. This is about the other 900 tribal members who will find a letter of potential disenrollment in their mailbox. This is about all of us,” concluded Prickett.

The Facts about Horse Slaughter--The Humane Society

The Humane Society of the United States

The Facts about Horse Slaughter

Separate fact from fiction on the issue of slaughtering U.S. horses for food
  • An injured horse is already suffering terribly in a slaughterhouse-bound trailer. The USDA
Supporters of horse slaughter put forth many arguments to support their position.
But if you look at the facts, you'll see the truth: The slaughter of horses for meat is not only unnecessary and inhumane but it is also harmful in many ways.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions about horse slaughter. Once you learn the cruel truth, you'll understand why we must fight to ban horse slaughter in the U.S.

  1. Is it possible to conduct commercial horse slaughter in a humane manner?

  2. Will allowing horse slaughter in the U.S. have a negative financial impact on taxpayers?

  3. Is horsemeat safe for human consumption?

  4. Can the federal government ensure the safety of horsemeat?

  5. Has ending horse slaughter in the U.S. led to fewer options for the disposal of horses, causing neglect and abandonment?

  6. Are there any other ways to address an overpopulation of horses?

  7. Will horse slaughter plants stimulate the local economy?

Is it possible to conduct commercial horse slaughter in a humane manner?

No. Horse slaughter, whether in U.S. or foreign plants, was never and cannot be humane because of the nature of the industry and the unique biology of horses.
Slaughter is a brutal and terrifying end for horses, and it is not humane. Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water, or rest in crowded trucks. They are often seriously injured or killed in transit.
Horses are skittish by nature (owing to their heightened fight or flight response), which makes accurate stunning difficult. As a result, horses often endure repeated blows and sometimes remain conscious during dismemberment—this is rarely a quick, painless death. Before the last domestic plant closed in 2007, the USDA documented in the slaughter pipeline rampant cruelty violations and severe injuries to horses, including broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and gaping wounds.
The answer is not to return to subjecting our horses to abuse and unacceptable conditions at plants in the U.S. but to ban both horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughteraltogether and to provide our horses with decent lives and, when necessary, humane deaths.

Will allowing horse slaughter in the U.S. have a negative financial impact on taxpayers?

Yes. It will divert precious financial resources away from U.S. products and food safety. The authority to fund horse slaughter inspections was restored last year, and the USDA has been asked to process applications to provide inspection of horse slaughter facilities. The many millions of tax dollars necessary to conduct these inspections would be diverted away from food safety programs in place to protect Americans—just to enable a practice that 80 percent of the U.S. public opposes.
And the cost will soon rise. The overwhelming evidence that drugs administered to U.S. horses are dangerous to humans has pushed the European Union to the verge of tightening the requirements for lifetime regulation of horses sent to slaughter. These regulations would require onerous and ever-evolving USDA oversight—and additional taxpayer expense—to ensure compliance. At a time when funding for many vital programs for Americans is being cut, it is outrageous that Congress would spend tax dollars on horse slaughter.

Is horsemeat safe for human consumption?

No. U.S. horsemeat is dangerous to humans because of the unregulated administration of numerous toxic substances to horses before slaughter. In the U.S., horses are raised and treated as companion animals, not as food-producing animals. Unlike animals raised for food, the vast majority of horses destined for slaughter will have ingested, or been treated or injected with, multiple chemical substances that are known to be dangerous to humans, untested on humans, or specifically prohibited for use in animals raised for human consumption. Because of concerns about the health threats of drug-laced American horsemeat, the EU, a primary importer of North American horsemeat, requires that American horses presented for slaughter at EU approved plants be accompanied by medical records verifying that the animal was never administered toxic drugs. Horses are gathered from random sources at various stages in their life, and there is no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption.

Can the federal government ensure the safety of horsemeat?

No. The USDA has no system in place to track horses’ lifetime medical histories, and the reputation of the entire U.S. meat industry is at risk. Testing random samples of horsemeat overlooks the fact that every single horse has a unique, unknown past. Unlike animals raised for food, horses do not spend their lives being prepared for the food chain. Every horse is a pet, riding companion, race horse, show pony, or work partner. Each may be a single patient to any number of vets, transferred by any number of owners, and has a unique life story. Relying on random-sample testing of horsemeat is inadequate at best and dangerous at worst.

Has ending horse slaughter in the U.S. led to fewer options for the disposal of horses, causing neglect and abandonment?

No. Horse neglect and abandonment cannot logically be attributed to the closure of U.S slaughter plants because the number of U.S. horses sent to slaughter has not decreased since domestic slaughter ceased in 2007. Horses are still being sent to slaughter, across our borders in Canada and Mexico. The slaughter option still exists, so any increase in neglect or abandonment can only be attributed to other economic factors. Any downturn in the horse market is clearly related to the economic downturn that began the same year that the last slaughter plant closed and continues today. Historically, all animals—dogs, cats, horses, and even farm animals raised for food—face greater chances of neglect in a poor economy.

Are there any other ways to address an overpopulation of horses?

Yes. There are several ways to address homeless horse issues. We can limit overbreeding, provide shelter, and expand adoption work. More than 160,000 horses were sent to slaughter last year alone, and a vast majority of them would have been good candidates for new homes. The USDA documented that 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and are able to live out a productive life. These horses could be sold, donated, or otherwise rehomed; however, kill buyers regularly outbid legitimate horse owners and rescues at auctions. Using the USDA’s finding, the number of horses sent to slaughter that may require humane euthanasia is a fraction of a percent of the entire horse population.
The idea of slaughtering companion animals is unacceptable to the American people and will never be embraced. A 2012 national poll found that 80 percent of Americans support a ban on horse slaughter for human consumption. There are countries that consume dogs, cats, and other pets as food, but we do not allow our dogs and cats to be exported for food purposes, even though pet overpopulation is a well-documented problem. Horse slaughter enables and perpetrates overbreeding, neglect, and irresponsibility. As long as breeders can sell their unwanted horses to slaughter, they will be rewarded for overbreeding—and they will continue.  Horse slaughter is purely a function of supply and demand, not a disposal service.

Will horse slaughter plants stimulate the local economy?

No. Horse slaughter plants have proved to be economic and environmental nightmares for the communities that house them. These plants pollute local water, decrease property values, permeate the air with a foul stench, drain local economies, and damage the environment. The last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. did nothing to bolster local economies, offering only a few low-paying, dangerous jobs.
Long before the plants closed in 2007, they had worn out their welcome. For example, in 2005, the city council of Kaufman, Texas, home to the Dallas Crown facility, voted unanimously to implement termination proceedings against the plant. Paula Bacon, mayor of Kaufman, stated, “As a community leader where we are directly impacted by the horse slaughter industry, I can assure you the economic development return to our community is negative.” Attracting new business was difficult for communities burdened with the presence of a horse slaughter plant because of the negative stigma. Real estate values also plummeted. The minimal financial contributions of horse slaughter facilities are vastly outweighed by the enormous economic and development-suppressing burden they present.