Saturday, March 8, 2014

USS Taylor Heads for Repairs Following Grounding

(Jan. 8, 2014) The guided-missile frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) departs Naval Station Mayport in Florida for a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. U.S. Navy Photo

(Jan. 8, 2014) The guided-missile frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) departs Naval Station Mayport in Florida for a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. U.S. Navy Photo

The USS Taylor on Friday departed the Turkish port of Samsun for the first time since the February 12 grounding that left the ship with a damaged propeller.

The U.S. Navy said that the Taylor left with the assistance of a tug from Donjon Towing Company and is headed for Naval Support Activity Souda Bay in Greece for repairs. The repairs will include the replacement of the propeller blades and propeller hub, which were damaged when the ship went aground as it was preparing to moor.

The USS Taylor was one of the two security vessels that the U.S. had on standby in the Black Sea during the Sochi Olympic Games.

Taylor’s commanding officer was subsequently relieved duty last week due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the navy said in a statement.

Repairs are expected to take several weeks before the ship is able to continue its scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operations, the navy said.

This is Taylor’s final deployment as the ship is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2015.

A primer: Military nuclear wastes in the United States

A primer: Military nuclear wastes in the United States

Robert Alvarez


A senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, Robert Alvarez served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department's secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and...


Research, development, testing, and production of US nuclear weapons occurred at thousands of sites in nearly every state, as well as Puerto Rico, the Marshall Islands, Johnston Atoll, and Christmas Island in the Pacific. Between 1940 and 1996, the United States spent approximately $5.8 trillion dollars to develop and deploy nuclear weapons. As a result, the nuclear weapons program created one of the largest radioactive waste legacies in the world—rivaling the former Soviet Union's.

US nuclear weapons sites—many of them under the aegis of the Energy Department—constitute some of the most contaminated zones in the Western hemisphere, and attempts to remediate those sites are now approaching their fifth decade. It is the most costly, complex, and risky environmental cleanup effort ever undertaken, dwarfing the cleanup of Defense Department sites and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program. Long-term liability estimates range from approximately $300 billion to $1 trillion. Site remediation and disposition of radioactive detritus are expected to continue well into this century. After that, long-term stewardship of profoundly contaminated areas will pose a challenge spanning hundreds of centuries.

Research, development, testing and production of nuclear weapons by the United States created:

The human health legacy of the US nuclear weapons program is also quite significant. As of February 2014, more than 100,000 sick nuclear weapons workers have received more than $10 billion in compensation following exposure to ionizing radiation and other hazardous materials. 

Even today, the radioactive waste from the dawn of the nuclear age remains a significant challenge to public health in highly populated areas. For instance, in 1973 a large amount of uranium processing wastes, generated to make the first nuclear weapons at the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in St. Louis, was illegally dumped in a municipal landfill in a nearby suburb.  The landfill is experiencing the latest of at leasttwo subsurface fires over the past 21 years and lies on a floodplain approximately 1.2 miles from the Missouri River.

The dump contains the largest single amount of thorium 230 in the country and possibly the world. With a half-life of more than 75,000 years, it is comparable in toxicity to plutonium. Even though these concerns were repeatedly raised with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the agency issued a Record of Decision in 2008 that allows for “in place disposal” of these wastes, subject to institutional controls and with a cap over radiologically contaminated areas. Lost in this process is an important warning by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 that "engineered barriers and institutional controls—are inherently failure prone.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some MT missile launch officers embarrassing to nation - The Montana Standard

CAs a former Strategic Air Command (SAC) missile launch officer with the 10th Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base, I find the current scandalous situation not only heart-breaking, but a total embarrassment to Malmstrom AFB, the Air Force, and by association, the state of Montana and our nation. Having to decertify and place on administrative leave over 50 percent of the currently assigned missile launch officer cadre is beyond my comprehension. The Air Force Academy’s code of conduct states: “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” As a commissioned officer you raise your right hand to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. What part of these criteria is not to understand? Cheating on war order proficiency exams, or not reporting cases of known cheating, compromises not only officer integrity, public trust, but possibly national security as well. When the Secretary of the Air Force and the Commander of the Global Strike Force make immediate and unplanned visits to the missile command bases, you know there are serious problems simmering within the force.
The ongoing investigation should be fully and completely evaluated from the top levels of command down to the squadron level. Punishments should be fair and swift. If this results in careers being ruined or cut short, so be it. City administrators for the city of Great Falls should demand base emphasis on ethics and morality.
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Russia successfully tests RS-12M Topol ICBM

Russia successfully tests RS-12M Topol ICBM. 52328.jpeg
Source: Pravda.Ru
On Kapustin Yar range ground in the Astrakhan region, Russia tested RS-12M "Topol" intercontinental ballistic missile.

According to the press service of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Defense Ministry, the launch took place at 22:10. The missile successfully hit the training target in Kazakhstan, located on Sary-Shagan range ground.

Officials from the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation explained that the goal of the launch was to test the prospective combat equipment of intercontinental ballistic missiles. It was also said that Kapustin Yar range ground was a unique site as it is only test trajectories and measurement system of this particular range ground make such tests possible.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate: From the Bunker in Berlin to the National Archives

According to Bullock, Hitler was an opportunis...
According to Bullock, Hitler was an opportunistic adventurer devoid of principles, beliefs or scruples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate: From the Bunker in Berlin to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

by  on March 4, 2014

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher and is the first piece in a four-part series.
The National Archives and Records Administration plans to place Adolf Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate (National Archives identifier 6883511on exhibit beginning March 21, 2014.  This series of posts traces these documents from the time of their creation to their first exhibition at NARA in 1946.
In The Washington Post on April 28, 1946, there appeared a list of things going on in Washington, D.C. At the National Archives, it was noted, one could see the World War II surrender documents and the “last documents signed by Hitler, including his marriage certificate and will.”  A year beforehand, those documents had not even been created, and even four months earlier the documents were still hidden in German hands. The travels of the Hitler documents from his bunker in Berlin to the National Archives a year later began in Berlin in late April 1945 with the Russian forces on the verge of capturing the city.
The marriage certificate of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun (double-click to enlarge):
certificate1certificate 2
On the evening of April 28, 1945, deep in his underground bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler, Germany’s Reich Chancellor and President, had a lot on his mind. News arrived during the day that there had been an uprising in upper Italy, Mussolini had been arrested by the Partisans, armistice negotiations were being initiated by commanders in Italy, as well as news of an attempted coup in Munich. Russian forces were only some 1,000 yards from the bunker and news had arrived that day the German Ninth Army ordered to break through the Russian-encircled capital of the Reich to rescue Hitler would most not likely to be able to accomplish their mission. Still, Hitler held a slim hope that General Wenck’s Twelfth Army, heading towards Potsdam and then into Berlin to rescue him, would succeed. Nevertheless, Hitler knew that he soon would have to commit suicide. Before doing so, he desired to marry his long-time mistress Eva Braun and write his final political testament and personal will. As the evening progressed, Hitler received confirmation that Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was negotiating with the western allies. This news led Hitler, around 11pm, to having Eva Braun’s brother-in-law, SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hermann Fegelein, Himmler’s Liaison to Hitler, executed for desertion and treason.
Hitler’s secretary, 25-year-old Gertrude Junge, tried that evening to sleep for an hour. Sometime after 11pm she woke up. She washed, changed her clothes, and thought it must be time to drink tea with Hitler, the other remaining secretary (31-year-old Frau Gerda Christian), and Hitler’s vegetarian cook (25-year-old Fraulein Constanze Manzialy), a nightly occurrence.When she opened the door to Hitler’s study, Hitler came toward her, shook her hand and asked “‘Have you had a nice little rest, child?’” Junge replied “Yes, I have slept a little.” Thereupon he said, “Come along, I want to dictate something.” This was between 11:30pm and midnight.
They went into the little map, or conference, room near Hitler’s quarters. She was about to remove the cover from the typewriter, as Hitler normally dictated directly to the typewriter, when Hitler said “Take it down on the shorthand pad.” She sat down alone at the big table and waited. Hitler stood in his usual place by the broad side of the table, leaned both hands on it, and stared at the empty table top, no longer covered that day with maps. For several seconds Hitler did not say anything. Then, suddenly he began to speak the first words: “My political testament.” As Hitler began speaking, she had the impression that he was in a hurry. “In tones of indifference, almost mechanically, the Fuehrer,” Junge would later observe, “comes out with the explanations, accusations and demands that I, the German people and the whole world know already.”
After finishing his political testament, according to Junge, Hitler paused a brief moment and then began dictating his private will. Hitler’s personal will was shorter. It explained his marriage, disposed of his property, and announced his impending death.
The dictation was completed. Hitler had not made any corrections on either document.  He moved away from the table on which he had been leaning all this time, and “suddenly there is an exhausted, hunted expression in his eyes.” Hitler said, “Type that out for me at once in triplicate and then bring it in to me.” Junge felt that there was something urgent in his voice, and thought the most important, most crucial document written by Hitler was to go out into the world without any corrections or thorough revision. She knew that “Every letter of birthday wishes to some Gauleiter, artist, etc., was polished up, improved, revised–but now Hitler had no time for any of that.”
Junge took her notepad and typewriter across the hall to type up the political and personal wills. The room she used was next to Joseph Goebbels’ private room.  There she began typing up her shorthand notes of the two documents, knowing that Hitler wanted her to finish as fast as possible. As she began typing the wedding at this point had not taken place.
The next item of business was the Hitler-Eva Braun marriage. Once Junge departed the conference, guests began entering to attend the wedding ceremony. In the meantime Hitler was in his sitting room with a few people, trying to get the wedding ready in a dignified way, while the conference room was turned into a registry office and set up for the wedding ceremony.  SS-Major Heinz Linge (Hitler’s valet since 1935) began getting things ready for the post-wedding ceremony, including gathering up food and drink for Hitler’s inner circle.
Meanwhile, Josef Goebbels, in his capacity of Gauleiter of Berlin, knew of someone authorized to act as a registrar of marriage who was still in Berlin, fighting with the Volkssturm.  He was a 50-year-old municipal councilor named Walter Wagner. A group of SS men was dispatched across the city to bring him back. Wagner appeared shortly before 1am April 29 in the uniform of the Nazi Party and the arm-band of the Volkssturm. The ceremony took place in the small conference room or map room, probably at some point between 1am and 2am.  Hitler and Eva Braun left their apartment hand in hand and went into the conference room. Hitler’s face was ashen, his gaze wandered restlessly. Eva Braun was also pale from sleepless nights. Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda, and Martin Bormann, head of the Nazi Party Chancellery and private secretary to Hitler, were waiting for them in the antechamber.
In the conference room Hitler and Eva greeted the functionary who had taken up his position at the table. Then they sat down in the first two chairs, and Bormann and Goebbels too went to their assigned places. The door was closed. The two parties declared that they were of pure Aryan descent and were free from hereditary disease. In a few minutes the parties had given assent, the register had been signed, and the ceremony was over. When the bride came to sign her name on the marriage certificate she began to write “Eva Braun,” but quickly struck out the initial letter B, and corrected it to “Eva Hitler, nee Braun.” Bormann and Goebbels and Wagner also signed the register as witnesses. The ceremony lasted no longer than ten minutes.
Bormann opened the door again when Hitler and Eva were signing the license. Hitler then kissed Eva’s hand. They went into the conference passage where they shook hands with those waiting.  They then withdrew into their private apartments for a wedding breakfast. Shortly afterwards, Bormann, Goebbels, Frau Goebbels, and Hitler’s two secretaries, Frau Gerda Christian and Frau Junge, were invited into the private suite. Junge would not come right away as she was typing across the hall. Wagner lingered for some 20 minutes at the reception. He munched a liverwurst sandwich, had one or two glasses of champagne, chatted with the bride, and headed back to the front lines.
For part of the time General of Infantry Hans Krebs, Lt. Gen. Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Lt. Col. Nicholaus von Below (Hitler’s Luftwaffe Adjutant since 1937) came in and joined the party, as did Werner Naumann (State Secretary in Ministry of Propaganda since 1944), Arthur Axmann (Reich Youth Leader since 1940), Ambassador Walter Hewel (permanent representative of Foreign Ministry to Hitler at Fuehrer headquarters since 1940), Heinz Linge (Hitler’s valet), SS-Major Otto Guensche (personal adjutant to Hitler), and Fraulein Manzialy, the vegetarian cook. There they sat for hours, drinking champagne and tea, eating sandwiches, and talking. Hitler spoke again of his plans of suicide and expressed his belief that National Socialism was finished and would never revive (or would not resurrect so soon again), and that death would be a relief to him now that he had been deceived and betrayed by his best friends.
While Junge was busy typing the two documents, the wedding took place and the party had begun.  At some point during the party Junge stopped her typing and walked across the corridor to the room where the party was taking place to express her congratulations to the newlyweds and wish them luck. She stayed for less than fifteen minutes and then returned to her typing.
And during the time she was typing, Hitler left the party and came in three times in order to ask how far she had gotten. According to Junge, Hitler would look in and say “Are you ready?” and she said, “No my Fuehrer, I am not ready yet.”  Bormann and Goebbels also kept coming to see if she was finished.  Not only did these comings and goings make Junge nervous and delay the process, but being upset about the whole situation, Junge made several typographical errors. Those were only crossed out in ink.
Also complicating the finishing of the typing was that the names of some appointments of the new Doenitz government needed to be added to the political testament. During the course of the wedding party, Hitler discussed and negotiated the matter with Bormann and Goebbels. While she was typing the clean copies of the political testament from her shorthand notes, Goebbels or Bormann came in alternately to give her the names of the ministers of the future government, a process that lasted until she had finished typing the three copies.  
Towards 5am, Junge finished typing the three copies each of the political testament and personal will. They were timed at 4am as that was when she had begun her typing of the first copy of the political testament.  Just as she finished, Goebbels came to her and wanted the documents, almost tearing the last piece of paper from the typewriter. She gave them to Goebbels without having a chance to review the final product because Goebbels was in such a hurry. She asked Goebbels whether they still wanted her. Goebbels said “no, lie down and have a rest.” Junge went into one of the room where there were sleeping accommodations and lay down. At that point Eva Braun had already retired and the wedding party had ended or just about to end. Goebbels, meanwhile, took the copies of the documents to Hitler.  
The documents were ready to be signed. First Hitler asked Goebbels and Bormann whether everything was correct. Apparently they answered in the affirmative. The personal will was signed by Hitler and signed by the witnesses: Bormann, Goebbels, and von Below. The political testament was also signed at the same time by Hitler and the witnesses Goebbels, Bormann, Burgdorf, and Krebs.  After signing the wills, sometime before 6am, Hitler retired to rest.
Junge believed that Hitler would send the documents out by courier and then his suicide would only be a question of a short time. He only wanted to wait, she thought, for a confirmation that the wills had arrived at their destination before committing suicide.  By 6am with her work completed, Junge slept for some hours in the bunker and then retreated to the shelter room of the New Chancellery, which she shared with Frau Christian, Miss Krueger (Bormann’s secretary), and three Reich Chancellery secretaries.
The marriage certificate in translation:

Bibliographic information will furnished at the end of the final post in this series.
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Storage tanks may leak, report says

English: Nuclear Waste Container coming out of...
English: Nuclear Waste Container coming out of Nevada Test Site on public roads, March 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Storage tanks may leak, report says | The Columbus Dispatch

SPOKANE, Wash. — While one of the newer double-walled nuclear-waste storage tanks at a Washington state complex has leaked, six others have “significant construction flaws” that could lead to additional leaks, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
The 28 double-walled tanks at the Hanford nuclear-waste complex hold some of the worst radioactive waste at the nation’s most-contaminated nuclear-weapons site.
One of those giant tanks was found to be leaking in 2012. But subsequent surveys of the other double-walled tanks performed for the U.S. Department of Energy found at least six shared defects with the leaking tank that could lead to future leaks, the documents said. Thirteen additional tanks also might be compromised, according to the documents.
Questions about the storage tanks jeopardize efforts to clean up radioactive waste at the southeastern Washington site. The Hanford cleanup already costs taxpayers about $2 billion a year.
“It is time for the Department (of Energy) to stop hiding the ball and pretending that the situation at Hanford is being effectively managed,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote in a letter on Friday to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Energy Department officials in Richland said the agency continues to make thorough inspections of the tanks and has increased the frequency of those inspections.
Hanford contains 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. The waste is stored in 177 underground tanks, many of which date to World War II and are single-walled models that have leaked. The 28 double-walled tanks were built from the 1960s to the ’80s.
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