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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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Fukushima ‘ice wall’ looking more like a dirt Slurpee

Fukushima ice wall failureSkeptics of the plan to build a massive ice wall around Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility didn’t have to wait particularly long for their first “I told you so.”

TEPCO, the nominal operator of the battered plant, announced Tuesday that while construction on the network of pipes, pumps, and compressors has begun on what is intended to be a huge ice barrier to prevent mountain runoff from mixing with radioactive water inside the facility, attempts to form a smaller ice wall around already-contaminated water are failing.

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The new oil crisis: Exploding trains

New oil crisisCommunities throughout the U.S. and Canada are waking up to the dark side of North America’s energy boom: Trains hauling crude oil are crashing, exploding and spilling in record numbers as a fast-growing industry outpaces the federal government’s oversight.

In the 11 months since a runaway oil train derailed in the middle of a small town in Quebec, incinerating 47 people, the rolling virtual pipelines have unleashed crude oil into an Alabama swamp, forced more than 1,000 North Dakota residents to evacuate, dangled from a bridge in Philadelphia and smashed into an industrial building near Pittsburgh. The latest serious accident was April’s fiery crash in Lynchburg, Virginia, where even the mayor had been unaware oil was rolling through his city.

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Alex Baer: Freedom's Just Another Word

FreedomSituation Report:  I steamed my eyelids open again with real coffee, a nice treat for a weekday.  This idle, schedule-less time is a gift from my era.  It is a gift from the same chunk of time that decided a long while ago that I was not only economically redundant, but execrably so, and so, I was added to the Shoals of the Doomed & Adrift -- and then expertly excreted from the highly-lauded realm of competitive, cutthroat capitalism and into the murky lagoons and mired holding ponds of Excess Capacity.

In economics, as in most other areas of America life since, oh, 1960, it's best to fog and cloud the real issues, and all-too-human effects, with cold, distancing euphemisms.  So, the Shoals of the Shredded & Damned are magically converted -- presto! -- to Excess Capacity.  Language is very much like statistics:  What is revealed is routine; what is concealed is essential.

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Conservation group: Over 20,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2013

elephants poachedThe Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a major wildlife conservation group, reported poaching of African elephants remains high, with over 20,000 illegally killed in 2013.

The group's report shows an increase in seizures of ivory, particularly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and Secretary-General John Scanlon said organized crimes and African insurgent militias are heavily involved in the illegal ivory trade.

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Will Fracking Cause Our Next Nuclear Disaster?

frackingThe idea of storing radioactive nuclear waste inside a hollowed-out salt cavern might look good on paper. The concept is to carve out the insides of the caverns, deep underground, then carefully move in the waste. Over time, the logic goes, the salt will move in and insulate the containers for thousands of generations.

"The whole game is to engineer something that can contain those contaminants on the order of tens of thousands of years," Tim Judson, the executive director of the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS), told Truthout. NIRS is intended to be a national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues, according to Judson.

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Hundreds more fatalities if Keystone XL isn’t built? Not exactly

Keystone XL pipeline reportOn Friday, the State Department revised its January report on the environmental impacts of building or not building the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, including the number of potential injuries and fatalities if Canadian oil would move by rail instead.

The New York Times reported that the revisions projected “hundreds more fatalities and thousands more injuries than expected over the course of a decade.”

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Greenpeace Erects Fracking Site at UK Prime Minister's Estate

GreenpeaceAs British Prime Minister David Cameron prepared for the announcement of a controversial new fracking law in the UK, Greenpeace activists gave the leader a taste of his own policy early Wednesday when they set up a mock fracking operation at his country estate.

Police were called after the activists, wearing hard hats and day-glo vests, erected security fencing around Cameron's cottage in the Cotswold hamlet of Dean, Oxfordshire. Signs were posted that read: "We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home," and ordered complaints to be directed to the PM's office.

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