Monday, July 17, 2017

In Memoriam: Liu Xiaobo - by A. D. Coleman

From:




In Memoriam: Liu Xiaobo
Chinese poet, dissident, and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo died of acute liver cancer on Thursday, July 13, 2017 while in police custody. At the time of his death he had been released from prison, where he had served almost nine years of an 11-year sentence, and transferred to the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang. There the Chinese authorities kept him under guard until his passing, preventing him from making any final public statement.
Untitled photograph (Liu Xiaobo with doll), ca. 1999, © copyright by Liu Xia, from the “Ugly Babies” series
In 2009 a Chinese court convicted Liu of subversion for his role in co-authoring and disseminating “Charter 08,” which called for the recognition and practice of the democratic freedoms proclaimed in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China. His opposition to the Chinese Communist Party goes back to his leadership role in the events leading up to the Tienanmen Square Massacre of June 4, 1989.
Liu Xia installation with the “Empty Chair,” Hong Kong, June 9, 2012. Photo © 2012 by A. D. Coleman.

 How Liu managed to reach a state of terminal liver cancer while imprisoned and under the presumed supervision and care of the Xi Jinping regime remains unexplained. He is the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in prison since the anti-Nazi German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1938.
 
Lui Xia, “Untitled” (1996-99). Photograph © Liu Xia. 
Predictably, just hours after Liu’s death Donald Trump praised China’s president, Xi Jinping. Trump has yet to acknowledge Liu’s death.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia in an undated photo released by his family.

 Liu Xiaobo’s wife (now his widow), the noted poet and photographer Liu Xia, has been under extralegal house arrest since Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel prize, although she has been neither charged nor convicted of any crime. Chinese officials refuse to acknowledge even the fact of her detention. Chinese authorities allowed her to visit her husband during his last days, under close police supervision; they were never allowed to be alone together.


Untitled photograph by Liu Xia, © copyright 1996.

Liu’s body was cremated and his ashes buried at sea, so that no gravesite exists that could serve as a place of pilgrimage by his supporters.




Liu Xia’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Those close to her fear for her mental and physical health, and her safety. With her husband now dead, she has become de facto the most internationally recognized symbol of opposition to the oligarchy that rules mainland China as a military dictatorship.




(Full disclosure: In 2012-13 I assisted with the international tour of the photography exhibition “The Silent Strength of Liu Xia,” organizing showings in Hong Kong, Taipei, Berlin, Madrid, and Richmond, VA. Toward that end I developed and published the only English-language website devoted to her work, “Liu Xia: Silent Strength.” There you’ll find information about her life and work, including a number of essays about her — one of them by me, “Freedom Reflex: The Photographs of Liu Xia.” The site also includes downloadable pdf files of two catalogs of her work.



With the ascension to power in the PRC of Xi Jinping, my contacts in the circles around Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia asked me to suspend my efforts to circulate the exhibition, and the development of the website, in hopes that the new regime in China would show leniency toward these dissidents. Clearly that has not proved to be the case.

Untitled photograph by Liu Xia from the “Ugly Babies” series, © copyright 1996.





Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ban Hydrofluoric Acid

From:  TRAA


On February 18, 2015, an explosion in the Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) unit at the Torrance ExxonMobil Refinery shook the community and registered 1.7 on the Richter scale. The explosion blasted off a chunk of the ESP the size of fully loaded semi-truck & trailer  (80,000 lb.). Falling from 12 stories up, it accelerated to 60 mph before crashing three feet from the acid settler tank containing  50,000 lb. of volatile and toxic modified hydrofluoric acid (MHF).  At a January 2016 hearing, the federal Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigated and declared this a “near miss” on a catastrophic MHF release.  This information had not been made public by the refinery or the City of Torrance in its report on the explosion; it first came to light from a CBS Evening News expose in September 2015.  According to the United Steel Workers International, “No industrial process risks more lives from a single accident than does… alkylation using HF,” because HF (and MHF) form a ground-hugging dense vapor HF cloud upon release.
“We were really, really lucky… [This was] a near miss [on MHF]… It could have been much more catastrophic… If I were in the community I absolutely would be concerned.”
– US Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Vannessa Allen Sutherland
ExxonMobil has denied CSB’s requests for information on the alkylation unit, where MHF is
used.  This is what they have to hide:  MHF was put in place by the 1990 Torrance-Mobil 
Consent Decree to “significantly reduce” the danger from hydrofluoric acid (HF).  But MHF
is actually 90% HF and almost exactly as deadly. The safety claims made for MHF are bogus,
and the public has been fooled.

According to Vanessa Sutherland, the chairperson of the CSB, hydrofluoric acid (HF) is “one of the most hazardous and deadly chemicals.” With even minimal exposure, HF causes painful, slow-healing chemical burns and damages internal organs and bones. “In worst-case scenarios, at deadly levels, it causes asphyxiation because once inhaled it causes respiratory problems that build up fluid and you ultimately drown,” Sutherland said in an interview with CBS News.  Fluoride ions from HF can penetrate intact skin, enter the bloodstream, and bond with calcium, making it unavailable to the body. This can cause death or permanent organ damage.  Symptoms can be delayed.  For this reason, immediate medical attention is required for even modest exposure.  MORE

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Gentlemen's Club



It is a shocking fact that  after sinking The Gentlemen's Club in oil. Plains All American Pipeline was rescued from allowing the oil in the broken pipeline to also flood into the Los Angeles River.  






THE GENTLEMENS CLUB 5175 San Fernando RD Los Angeles CA 90039


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Monday, May 29, 2017

Tech TalkAt WorkTest and Measurement Differential Lidar Catches "Fugitive" Methane on the Fly

From:  IEEE Spectrum


By Douglas McCormick
Posted 
Image: Steve Karcher, Ball Aerospace
The methane plume imaged from a light aircraft by Methane Monitor: real-time [left] and processed [right].


In 2015, methane accounted for 655 million kilograms  of the 7.1 billion kilograms of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere of the United States alone. The energy sector was responsible for just under half of the methane released, about 279 million kg—lost product with a value of hundreds of millions of dollars.
So detecting leaks from the 2.6 million miles of natural gas pipelines snaking across America is properly both a business and an environmental priority. Air surveillance has reduced serious pipeline leaks by 39 percent since 2009, but there have still been 250 serious incidents in the past 8 years. These include a San Bruno, Calif., pipeline blast that killed eight people in 2010 and the Aliso Canyon leak in 2016—which released about 97 million kilograms of methane, essentially doubling the Greater Los Angeles area’s usual volume of methane emissions from all sources for a three month period.
Until now, efforts to detect what the industry calls “fugitive emissions” have been constrained by the instrument sensitivity and response times. Airborne surveillance required low-flying, slow-moving, expensive-to-run helicopters.
A new approach increases sensitivity and tightens control of timing and synchronization to permit the system to operate at higher speeds and higher altitudes—allowing a shift from helicopters to faster-moving, higher-flying single-engine, fixed-wing aircraft, which are less expensive to own and operate. The innovation earned Ball Aerospace & Technologies engineers Steve Karcher, Phil Lyman, and Jarett Bartholomew the Engineering Impact Award for Energy at NIWeek 2017 in Austin, Tex. The award was presented on 23 May. MORE






Global climate projections help civil engineers plan

From:  The Guardian 

NOTE:  Relevant to the use of Geopolymers

 Spaghetti Junction near Birmingham, England. Photograph: Jason Hawkes/Getty Images

A new study helps civil engineers account for ongoing climate change in infrastructure design

People who work on building infrastructure understand the risks of climate change. As the Earth warms, new stresses are applied to our buildings, bridges, roads, houses, and other structures. Some of the obvious threats to infrastructure are from extreme weather including heat waves, storms, and intense rainfalls. There are some other less obvious threats, and many of the threats vary by location.
Regardless, the planning for infrastructure relies upon a reasonable estimation of future climate changes. To help quantify such an estimate for the civil engineering community, a recent paper was published by the Institution of Civil Engineering Journal of Forensic Engineering (I was fortunate to be a coauthor). The article was prepared with the collaboration of Dr. Michael Mann from Penn State University and Dr. Lijing Cheng from the Chinese Institute of Atmospheric Physics
The paper in question does not uncover new facts. We didn’t discover past warming that wasn’t known. We didn’t create new predictions that were previously uncreated. Rather, we assembled available information to provide a solid basis that can be used for future plans involving infrastructure.  MORE


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Brits Threaten Assange As Swedes Abandon Sex Smear

From:  Justice Integrity Project 



British authorities threatened WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with arrest on a bond-jumping charge last week after their Swedish counterparts gave up trying to investigate Assange on what appears to have been a dubious series of sex claims that have been pending against him for nearly seven years since his 2010 speaking trip to Stockholm.
The British effort, if pursued aggressively with threatened punishment beyond the norm, would further compound a travesty of justice that has already disgraced the Swedish and British legal systems.

The Swedes have wasted vast amounts of taxpayer money for the probe, as have the British in the latter's around-the-clock surveillance of Assange for years cost millions of pounds. The evidence suggest that both nations have undertaken such extraordinary actions to thwart WikiLeaks and not to investigate claims arising out of consensual sex with two Swedish women who invited Assange to sleep with them separately before complaints arose.   MORE


Thursday, May 18, 2017

 The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings

From: The Nation


By Lisa Hajjar
DECEMBER 16, 2014
Reframing the CIA’s interrogation techniques as a violation of scientific and medical ethics may be the best way to achieve accountability.

(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

Human experimentation was a core feature of the CIA’s torture program. The experimental nature of the interrogation and detention techniques is clearly evident in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its investigative report, despite redactions (insisted upon by the CIA) to obfuscate the locations of these laboratories of cruel science and the identities of perpetrators.
At the helm of this human experimentation project were two psychologists hired by the CIA, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They designed interrogation and detention protocols that they and others applied to people imprisoned in the agency’s secret “black sites.”
In its response to the Senate report, the CIA justified its decision to hire the duo: “We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program.” Mitchell and Jessen’s qualifications did not include interrogation experience, specialized knowledge about Al Qaeda or relevant cultural or linguistic knowledge. What they had was Air Force experience in studying the effects of torture on American prisoners of war, as well as a curiosity about whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might work on human enemies. MORE