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Report Shows The Oil Industry Benefits From $5.3 Trillion in Subsidies Annually
In a new and disturbing report from researchers at the International Monetary Fund, the world's governments are providing subsidies to the highly profitable oil industry to the tune of an astonishing $5.3 trillion in benefits per year.

Most Americans should know by now that Republicans despise ‘entitlements’ that they errantly consider is anything Americans receive; even if it is theirs to begin with. They hate the idea of retired Americans receiving their Social Security and Medicare after paying into them their entire working lives, and they hate Americans working at slave-wage jobs receiving nutrition assistance because they earn too little to survive. What they do not hate, and indeed fight ferociously for, are taxpayer-funded entitlements that go to corporations in the form of tax loopholes and particularly entitlements for the oil industry in the form of subsidies.

According to the oil industry, the very idea of ending billions-of-dollars in taxpayer subsidies for the profitable industry is un-American; a position that Republicans embrace with religious passion. However, it is not just Republicans that believe the oil industry deserves to be paid for being a highly-profitable business; the world’s governments are handing outlandish amounts of the population’s money to the industry that is driving the Earth’s climate catastrophe.

In a new and disturbing report from researchers at the International Monetary Fund, the world’s governments are providing subsidies to the highly profitable oil industry to the tune of an astonishing $5.3 trillion in benefits per year.  Another way of looking at just how much the world pays the oil industry that bears responsibility for decimating the Earth’s environment; imagine they receive $10 million per minute. That is $10 million every minute, every day, of every month, of every year. Those mind-boggling entitlements have grown over the past couple of decades and are increasing every year.

What that also means is that every minute the world’s population is paying $10 million to help the fossil fuel industry pump climate-changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All the while, in America Republicans are either denying that the Earth’s climate is warming, or debating whether global warming is caused by man’s propensity to pump carbon emissions into the atmosphere. If that is not bad enough, Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to preserve America’s billions in oil industry subsidies while crusading to abolish any and all environmental regulations and eliminate efforts to find new and less costly clean energy alternatives. It is true the world’s population will continue depending on fossil fuels for their energy needs long into the future, but that does not mean seeking and developing existing clean and renewable energy sources needs to be put off; particularly when the intent is to create more wealth for the oil industry.

What most Americans may be surprised to learn, if they even care, is that the IMF report revealed that besides the obvious cash “subsidies” being regularly “gifted” to the oil industry of a collective $88 billion from the G-20 nations alone, are the horrific  consequences of burning fossil fuels that very few nations, including the Koch-American government, are even willing to address. These are consequences such as the permanent and prohibitively costly health and environmental impacts affecting both local regions such as air and water pollution, and the more dangerous global consequences such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events wreaking havoc on the entire world.

Actually, it is the effects of pouring billions of tons of climate changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that accounts for nearly three-quarters of the final $5.3 trillion annual figure arrived at by IMF researchers. According to a statement from  Benedict Clements representing the IMF’s fiscal affairs department; “While the large size of our new estimates may be surprising, it is important to put in perspective just how many health problems are linked to energy consumption and air quality.” According to conservative estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), “One in eight global deaths are attributable just to air pollution.” Obviously it does not included the deaths from drought-related food shortages, lack of water, extreme and deadly weather events, or any of the other consequences of anthropogenic global climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. The WHO strongly suggests that even beyond the global climate benefits of the entire world working in concert to eliminate the highly-profitable oil industry’s entitlements, any one nation’s efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground and out of the atmosphere “will carry very significant health and economic benefits at the local level.”

The IMF’s report revealed that ending oil industry entitlements would cut by half the number of deaths attributed to outdoor air pollution alone and save about 1.6 million human lives each year. Besides, the level of money being paid to the oil industry for nothing would be better spent on healthcare, education, and infrastructure improvements and relieve the crushing poverty plaguing third world nations like America and drive robust economic growth. Part of that spending naturally includes investing in more cost-effective and money-saving projects like clean and renewable energy and research and development of more energy-efficient uses for oil and gas.

To his credit, President Obama has made efforts to scale back America’s contribution to destroying the Earth’s climate, and in fact joined Democrats’ one attempt at putting an end to taxpayer-funded entitlements to the oil industry. But this is the Koch brothers’ America and although Republicans will never allow the entitlements to stop flowing to their favorite campaign donors, the President could do much more to alert Americans that while their roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools are crumbling around them, Republicans continue spending taxpayer dollars to bolster the profitable oil industry’s bottom line.

It is noteworthy that although the President did veto the Republican attempt to circumvent his Constitutional authority over the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline, he made peace, at least temporarily, with the Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry by granting them permission to start drilling for oil in the Arctic. Obviously President Obama had a good reason to give big oil more opportunities to wipe out the climate and destroy the pristine Arctic environment, but it is a secret he felt was too dangerous for the American people to learn. He said it was because “we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in the region, so we’re setting the highest possible standards.” However, Americans have witnessed, for far too long, exactly how effective those “highest possible standards” are; especially since the Koch brothers own the federal government.

The President sent a mixed message about his commitment to combat global climate change and committed America to adding to the $5.3 trillion in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry; likely to keep up with other world governments that, like America, will not bother to invest even a fraction of that astounding amount in protecting their population’s health or the environment. If nothing else, it appears that to maintain its status as “exceptional,” America will not be outspent by other governments in providing big oil’s entitlements any more than it will make any significant attempt to combat anthropogenic climate change; not while the Kochs own the government. And make no mistake, the Kochs and big oil do own the government lock, stock, and barrel.

It is a sad state of affairs, but the rest of the world’s population, like the American people, are going to have to come to grips with the tragic fact that they are contributing to the $5.3 trillion annual oil subsidies to destroy the environment and the Earth’s climate whether they like it or not. The lack of outrage in the population informs that obviously, most Americans do like it and that, in itself, is incredibly discouraging.
Nuclear waste: Keep out – for 100,000 years
Few architects have to design anything to last more than 100 years, so how do you build a nuclear waste facility to last for millennia? And what sign do you put on the door? Steve Rose reports
By Steve Rose


Nuclear waste: Keep out – for 100,000 years Few architects have to design anything to last more than 100 years, so how do you build a nuclear waste facility to last for millennia? And what sign do you put on the door?

Ceremonies will be held around the world on Tuesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster but, in truth, Chernobyl is one event we’re in no danger of forgetting. For one thing, the earthquake in Japan has given the world a second Level Seven incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale, refreshing public fears with almost cosmic timing. For another, the legacy of Chernobyl will be remembered for much, much longer than anyone would wish. According to estimates, this area of northern Ukraine will be uninhabitable for decades, if not centuries.

We like to think of our architectural treasures as milestones of human progress. The Egyptian pyramids, say, or the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps we imagine a Planet of the Apes-like scenario where our ruined monuments will stand as testament to our civilisation long after we’re gone. But what will most probably outlive anything else we have ever built will be our nuclear legacy. Whatever its pros and cons as an energy source, one thing that’s non-negotiable about nuclear power is the construction it necessitates. Less than a century after we first split the atom, we’re now coming to appreciate the vast technological, engineering, financial and political resources nuclear technology demands. In terms of scale, complexity and longevity, much of this stuff makes Dubai’s Burj Khalifa look like a sandcastle.

It is too early to know what will be done about Fukushima. A 20km exclusion zone has been imposed and radiation levels will not be brought down to safe levels for at least another six months. Even at Chernobyl, the 1986 accident is by no means dealt with. Immediately afterwards, the Soviets hastily cobbled together the most effective structure they could to contain further radioactive contamination. Unromantically named the Object Shelter, it was a concrete and steel sarcophagus resting on the remains of the ruined reactor. Owing to the high levels of radioactivity, it had been impossible to bolt or weld the Object Shelter together, so within a decade it was on the verge of collapse. Given that 95% of reactor four’s nuclear materials are still inside, another nuclear disaster remains a possibility. Hence the current longer-term plan, called the New Safe Confinement. This €1.6bn (£1.4bn) project calls for the erection of an arch-shaped hangar, bigger than a football pitch and high enough to fit the Statue of Liberty inside. Because of the radiation levels, it must be built 500 metres away then slid over the top of the reactor and the Object Shelter. At 32,000 tonnes, it is just about the heaviest object ever moved.

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“In some ways, this is how the engineers of the pyramids must have felt,” says Eric Schmieman, chief technical adviser on the New Safe Confinement. “The steel structure has a design life of 100 years, so there are very rigorous requirements to demonstrate all the materials will last that long. The Eiffel Tower has been around that long but it’s been protected from corrosion by painting. You can’t repaint this because of the radiation.”

The structure of the New Safe Confinement is carbon steel, protected by inner and outer layers of stainless steel cladding. Its purpose is not to shield radioactive emissions but to prevent the release of radioactive dust and other materials, and to keep out rainwater, which could carry contaminants into the water table. Work is currently proceeding on the foundations, and the arch will be assembled and slid into place by 2015. Then huge, remote-controlled cranes inside will dismantle the Object Shelter and begin retrieving the hazardous materials inside.

The structure will be visible from space, a hulking shell of steel in the midst of a landscape of industrial devastation. By the time it reaches the end of its 100-year life span, it is hoped that all the radioactive material will have been removed, but then comes the problem of where to put it. At the beginning of the nuclear era, the emphasis was very much on the power stations, including Basil Spence’s heroic 1950s design for Trawsfynydd, in Snowdonia. But very little consideration was given to what came after. Those early power stations became obsolete: Trawsfynydd was decommissioned in 1991. What’s more, the industry has so far generated nearly 300,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste, and counting. To be safe, it must be isolated from all living organisms for at least 100,000 years.

Current opinion is that the best thing to do with nuclear waste is put it underground in what is known as a “deep geological repository”. At present, there are no such repositories in operation anywhere. In Britain, all the nuclear waste produced since the 1940s is stored above ground in Sellafield. Preliminary moves have been made towards finding a site in Cumbria but there’s a powerful local resistance to such schemes, and no long-term solution is expected before 2040. In the US, a site was earmarked decades ago at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, 100 miles from Las Vegas, but the Obama administration finally abandoned the scheme last year.

Some countries are further ahead, though. Sweden’s nuclear operation presents itself as a model for the rest of the world, and shows how much effort a fully joined-up operation requires. After cooling on site for a year, spent fuel from Sweden’s three coastal nuclear sites is transported in purpose-built casks, on a specially designed ship, to a central interim storage facility. There, robotic arms transfer the fuel into storage cassettes underwater. These cassettes are then sent to another storage pool 25 metres beneath the facility to cool for at least another 30 years. Then the waste is moved to another plant to seal in copper canisters before it arrives at its final resting place in the geological repository.

Sweden has numerous other nuclear facilities, including the Äspö hard rock laboratory, an underground research laboratory open to visitors. Bizarrely, Äspö’s surface buildings could be mistaken for a traditional farmstead: a collection of buildings in red and white timber. The folksy tweeness only points up how alien the rest of the nuclear landscape is. This is the heaviest of heavy industries, and it is often the least visible: a hidden parallel realm of anonymous industrial facilities, restricted zones, clinical chambers and subterranean vaults.

Sweden has identified a site for its deep geological repository, in Forsmark, but the Finns have been building theirs since 2004. Situated on the northwest coast, a few miles from its Olkiluoto nuclear power stations, it consists of a 5km-long tunnel spiralling 400m down to the bedrock, where a honeycomb of storage vaults fans out. Named Onkalo, whose literal translation is “cavity”, it was the subject of a documentary last year, Into Eternity. Retitled Nuclear Eternity and broadcast on More4 tomorrow, the film fully appreciates the Kubrickian visual aspects of the nuclear landscape and the staggering challenges the project presents to our notions of permanence, history – even time itself. Onkalo will be ready to take waste in 2020, and then will be finally sealed in 2120, after which it will not be opened for 100,000 years. By that time, Finland will probably have been through another ice age. Little trace of our current civilisation will remain. The prospect of designing anything to last even 200 years is unlikely for most architects; the Egyptian pyramids are “only” about 5,000 years old.

Plan like an Egyptian

This longevity poses Onkalo’s custodians, and others in their position, with another unprecedented design issue: what sign should you put on the door? As one expert says in Into Eternity, the message is simple: “This is not an important place; it is a place of danger. Stay away from the site. Do not disturb the site.” But how to communicate with people so far in the future? Put up a sign in a language they don’t understand and they are sure to open it just to see what’s inside. Ancient Egyptians on the pyramid planning committee probably grappled with the same issues. One of the Finns suggests using an image of Munch’s The Scream; another suggests a series of monoliths with pictographs and an underground library explaining the tunnel; another wonders if it is better not to tell anyone Onkalo is there at all. When a team pondered the same issue in the US in the 1990s, they came up with proposals for environments that communicated threat and hostility. They imagined landscapes of giant, spiky, black thorns or menacing, jagged earthworks, or vast concrete blocks creating narrow streets that lead nowhere.

If architecture is about designing spaces for human habitation, this is practically its opposite. These subterranean cities are places no human will ever inhabit or see, places designed to repel life and light. They are a mirror image to our towering achievements above ground and, like the pyramids, they are both monument and tomb. Every nuclear nation is compelled to build them, at great effort and expense, and to continue building them until we find a better way to deal with nuclear waste or a better alternative to nuclear power. Until then, we must live with the thought that in some unimaginable future aeons hence, this could be all that remains to prove our species was ever here.

• This article was amended on 25 April 2011, to correct the translation of the word onkalo. The original article gave its meaning as “hiding place”.

True Stories: Nuclear Eternity, a documentary about Onkalo, is on More4 tomorrow at 10pm.


In this case “the curse of the mummies’ tomb” is all too real. The challenge is that many warnings will be ignored as possibly attempts to fool people so they do not steal something really valuable. “Danger, do not enter” is also exactly what you’d say if you had buried treasure in your tomb and did not want it disturbed. What message can be guaranteed to inspire enough trust that it will be believed by anyone who understands it and simple enough to guarantee that anyone able to penetrate the site will be able to understand it.
There are still ancient scripts for which we have no Rosetta Stone and we are still unable to decipher them.
10 Historical Inventions That Were Patented by Women
Did you know these 10 things were invented by women? This list highlights women inventors and their contributions that changed the world as we know it.

10 Historical Inventions You Probably Didn’t Know Were Patented by Women

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These Brilliant Inventions by Women Changed the World as We Know It

Photo credit: Living Vintage

When you think about great inventors, you likely think of men such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and even Bill Gates. Though these men and others innovated new products that changed our modern lives for the better, they often overshadow brilliant women inventors whose incredible contributions should also be acknowledged and praised.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we decided to showcase some amazing things you might not know were invented by women and we use in our daily lives.

1. Liquid Paper – Bette Nesmith Graham

In the 1950s, Bette Nesmith Graham was an executive secretary at Texas Bank and Trust. Electric typewriters had just hit the scene, but their carbon ribbon used to correct typing errors didn’t work very well. Because of this, secretaries had to retype documents even if just a small mistake was made. But Bette was very bright and used white tempera paint to disguise the errors in her typing. She perfected the formula in her own kitchen and patented her secretarial secret as Liquid Paper in 1958.

2. Square-Bottomed Paper Bag – Margaret Knight

Photo credit: Silicon India

Margaret Knight may have been an ordinary cotton mill worker in the 1860s, but by 1868 she invented a machine that took brown paper bags to the next level. The machine created bags with square bottoms so they could stand upright. We still use these bags today — and the machines based on her idea are still used as well. Not only did she fight to patent this invention and win in 1871, but this innovative woman received over 20 patents and thought up nearly 100 inventions throughout her lifetime.

3. Dishwasher – Josephine Cochran

Photo credit: KPL Bookaneers

In 1886, Josephine Cochran invented something that would leave dishes squeaky clean without ever having to wash and rinse by hand again: the first practical dishwashing machine. We love it to this day, but it wasn’t well received back in 1893 when Josephine presented her invention at the World’s Fair. It wasn’t until the 1950s that people took notice. Once they did, Josephine founded a manufacturer to build the dishwashers which we now know as KitchenAid.

4. COBOL Programming Language – Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Photo credit: Flickr

In 1943, Admiral Hopper joined the U.S. military where she was stationed at Harvard University. While there, she worked on the first large-scale computer in the U.S. – IBM’s Harvard Mark I. And in the 1950s, the compiler was invented by Admiral Hopper — a significant advancement for computer programmers that translates English commands into computer code. Not only that, Admiral Hopper would eventually oversee the development of one of the very first computer programming languages: the Common Business-Oriented Language, or COBOL. She is considered by many as the “mother of the computer.”

5. Windshield Wiper – Mary Anderson

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During Mary Anderson’s first trip to New York City at the start of the 20th century, she noticed that the driver of her tram had to stop quite frequently in order to wipe snow from the front window. This was commonplace at the time. But when Mary returned home, she thought of a way to help her tram driver — and every other driver around the world. Mary invented the very first windshield wiper, an invention made up of a squeegee on a spindle that attached to the inside of a vehicle. All the driver had to do was pull the handle on her contraption and the front window would be cleared. The windshield wiper was patented by Mary in 1903 and a decade later, thousands of cars were sold equipped with her incredibly helpful idea.

6. Bulletproof Vest Material – Stephanie Kwolek

Photo credit: The Best You Magazine

In 1946, Stephanie Kwolek took a position at DuPont to save money for medical school expenses, but in 1964, she still saw herself there — and for good reason. Stephanie was caught up in her research on turning polymers into extra strong synthetic fibers. After trying, trying and trying again, Stephanie came up with a fiber that was as strong as steel which we now know as Kevlar, the material used to make bulletproof vests and other seemingly unbreakable products.

7. Scotchgard Stain Repellent – Patsy Sherman

Photo credit:

1n 1952, Patsy Sherman was hired by 3M Company to work as a research chemist. One of the few women in the field, her specialty was fluorochemicals. While in the lab one day, synthetic latex was spilled by an assistant and it landed on the assistant’s canvas shoes. Patsy and her lab partner were thrilled with what they found out from the spill: the substance wouldn’t wash away and repelled water and oil. Patsy worked on further developments with this discovery over the years and In 1956, Scotchgard was born from what could’ve been overlooked as just a mishap.

8. The Refrigerator – Florence Parpart

Though we know little about the Hoboken, New Jersey housewife named Florence Parpart, we do know that she won a patent in 1914 for an important invention that we use every day in our modern lives — the refrigerator. Her invention went on to replace numerous iceboxes in homes that were equipped with electricity.

9. Paper Coffee Filters – Melitta Bentz

Photo credit: Stumptown Coffee

In 1908, Melitta Bentz was just a German homemaker who was tired of bitter coffee. She sought to fix this problem and create a cleaner-tasting cup of coffee by using a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook and puncturing a brass pot with holes. Not only did this new type of coffee filter and brewing method produce a great-tasting cup o’ joe, but also a more efficient disposal of the coffee grounds. Melitta patented her incredible invention in 1908. The Melitta company is still around today and ran by her grandchildren in Germany.

10. Chocolate Chip Cookies – Ruth Wakefield

Though the chocolate chip cookie was an accidental invention, it’s also one of the most delicious inventions ever created. In 1930, Ruth Wakefield stumbled upon this sweet invention while whipping up a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies for guests inside the kitchen of her inn and restaurant — which was once a toll house. Melted chocolate was needed in the cookie recipe, but Ruth was out of baker’s chocolate. She instead crumbled up a Nestle chocolate bar to add to the batter. The chocolate pieces were meant to melt like baker’s chocolate, but this wasn’t so. Instead those crumbled pieces kept their shape and the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie was invented.

Have you discovered that you’re related to any female inventors while researching your family history? Are you related to any of the inventors we mentioned? Let us know in the comments, and tell their stories on your Crestleaf Family Tree!
Why Audrey Hepburn Could Not Play Anne Frank Onstage
The actress couldn't relive her "painful past" from World War II her son tells PEOPLE

Audrey Hepburn’s Personal Connection to Anne Frank            4.5kSHARES        


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Audrey Hepburn (center) with Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank and his second wife, Fritzi Luca Dotti                

By Liz McNeil


06/23/2015 AT 08:00 PM EDT

  Celebrated for her doe-eyed innocence and iconic chic, there was another side to

Audrey Hepburn

that few people ever saw.  

“Twenty two thousand people died from hunger in Holland during the final months of World War II, my mother escaping death by a hairbreadth,” writes Hepburn’s youngest son

Luca Dotti

in a new memoir,

Audrey At Home

. “She was sixteen years old, stood almost five foot six and weighed eighty-eight pounds.”

The star rarely spoke about her harrowing experiences as a young girl growing up in Holland during the Nazi occupation, or about the deep connection she felt with Anne Frank.

“Two years after the war’s end, she received a manuscript [The Diary of Anne Frank], writes Dotti. "It was the diary of a young girl born, like my mother, in 1929, who had lived for two years hidden in a shelter set up behind a bookshelf in an Amsterdam apartment. Her name was Anne Frank.  Reading the diary stunned my mother because, as she said, ‘That child had written a complete account of what I had experienced and felt.’ ”

Dotti tells PEOPLE that if there’s a word to describe the bond between Anne Frank and his mother it’s “twins.” “My mother never accepted the simple fact that she got luckier than Anne,” he says. “She possibly hated herself for that twist of fate.”

The photo above, which shows Hepburn with Anne Frank’s father, Otto, was taken in Bürkenstock, Switzerland, a mountain resort near where Hepburn and her then-husband Mel Ferrer had a home. Dotti says, “You can easily see in my mother’s eyes the emotional weight of that meeting.”

“In the diary, Mum also found a reference to the execution by shooting of her uncle Otto, one of the first civilians killed by the Germans, on August 15, 1942,” he writes. “ 'The difference is that she remained inside, I could be outside,’ ” Mum said. “It was no small difference and she knew it.”

Her memories, he writes, haunted her for the rest of her life. “When I would go to the station, there were cattle cars packed with Jewish families, with old people and children,” Hepburn once said. “We did not yet know that they were traveling to their deaths. People said they were going to the 'countryside.’ It was very difficult to understand, for I was a child. All the nightmares of my life are mixed in with those images.”

Dotti says his mom knew passages from Frank’s diary by heart, but turned down offers to play her many times. “She didn’t feel she would be able to relive that very painful past,” he writes.

Years later, a close friend, the composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, asked Hepburn to narrate some passages from Frank’s diary for a symphonic work he had written, which she performed on a small tour in the United States and London. Proceeds from all the concerts benefited


, her lifelong passion.

Hepburn, who died January 20, 1993, after battling cancer, was considering several more performances at the end of her life. “Michael Tilson Thomas recalls their last meeting, in spring 1992 at our chalet in Gstaad,” writes Dotti. “Mum had prepared pasta and Michael tried to convince her to schedule some new concerts, the last of which was set for May 1995. These would have brought her back to Holland. Things had almost come full circle for her." 


State lawmakers are facing a decision over whether to purchase and preserve an historic home in the Florida town of Ocklawaha near Ocala. It’s the site of an important battle for the FBI.

On January 16, 1935, J. Edgar Hoover ordered a surprise attack on the infamous Ma Barker gang. Agents had caught one of the Barkers with a map that ultimately led the FBI to the gang’s rented Florida hideout. Most of the gang members left before the FBI raid. They surrounded Ma Barker and her son Fred, who refused to surrender and fought to the death.  

“She was a tough cookie, and didn’t go down without a fight,” said George Albright, a former state lawmaker who is familiar with the history. “It’s the longest gun battle in FBI history.”

Records show the standoff and gun battle played out for more than four hours. One neighbor hid in his stove to dodge the gunfire, while another felt a bullet cut through her hair. The press called it the Battle of Ocklawaha.

The FBI drilled more than 2,000 rounds into the house until Ma Barker and her son Fred stopped shooting back. Agents found the bodies of two of America’s most-wanted gangsters, a scattered fortune in cash, and an arsenal of rifles, pistols and Tommy guns.

Bullet holes still remain in the walls from the 1935 gun battle. And based on pictures taken after the raid, much of the house looks just as it did the day of the battle.

“I would say 85 to 90 percent of what’s in there today are piece by piece what you see in the pictures,” said Albright. “It is an amazing story.”

Albright is Marion County’s tax collector, a former state legislator and history buff, who is trying to preserve this property.

It’s for sale and Albright wants to make sure it is not sold and demolished for condos. He is urging the state to purchase the home and property on Lake Weir, and convert it into a history center and memorial to law enforcement.

“Yes, there was a gangster killed there, but the good guys won. The American people won,” he said.

J. Edgar Hoover called Ma Barker the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the 1930s. Historians say she may have been more of an accomplice, while her sons were the real masterminds. Either way, the gang unleashed a reign of terror across much of the nation. And the Battle of Ocklawaha was a big win for the FBI, and a turning point that helped lead to the demise of the Depression-era gangster movement.

The original owner of the Barker hideout did not realize he had rented it to Ma Barker in 1934. It has been passed down through the owner’s family. Now it’s for sale. The owners have lowered the price to $848,000.

This year, the legislature approved $250,000 to go toward the purchase of this property to preserve it. But that money was vetoed by Gov. Scott.








Scientists Warn Giant Nuclear Sarcophagus in Marshall Islands Is Leaking
One hundred and eleven thousand cubic yards of radioactive debris lie within Runit Dome, a “hulking legacy of years of U.S. nuclear testing” whose fragile structure is vulnerable to breaking from violent weather associated with climate change. - 2015/07/03

Marshall Islands

This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it’s leaking

The Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands is a hulking legacy of years of US nuclear testing. Now locals and scientists are warning that rising sea levels caused by climate change could cause 111,000 cubic yards of debris to spill into the ocean

Coleen Jose, Kim Wall and Jan Hendrik Hinzel on Runit Island

Friday 3 July 2015 06.00 EDT Last modified on Friday 3 July 2015 10.53 EDT

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Black seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.

At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.

Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.

Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to a 2013 report by the US Department of Energy, soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents.

Now locals, scientists and environmental activists fear that a storm surge, typhoon or other cataclysmic event brought on by climate change could tear the concrete mantel wide open, releasing its contents into the Pacific Ocean.

“Runit Dome represents a tragic confluence of nuclear testing and climate change,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who visited the dome in 2010.

“It resulted from US nuclear testing and the leaving behind of large quantities of plutonium,” he said. “Now it has been gradually submerged as result of sea level rise from greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries led by the United States.”

Enewetak Atoll, and the much better-known Bikini Atoll, were the main sites of the United States Pacific Proving Grounds, the setting for dozens of atomic explosions during the early years of the cold war.

The remote islands – roughly halfway between Australia and Hawaii – were deemed sufficiently distant from major population centres and shipping lanes, and in 1948, the local population of Micronesian fishermen and subsistence farmers were evacuated to another atoll 200 km away.

In total, 67 nuclear and atmospheric bombs were detonated on Enewetak and Bikini between 1946 and 1958 – an explosive yield equivalent to 1.6 Hiroshima bombs detonated every day over the course of 12 years.

The detonations blanketed the islands with irradiated debris, including Plutonium-239, the fissile isotope used in nuclear warheads, which has a half-life of 24,000 years.

When the testing came to an end, the US Defence Nuclear Agency (DNA – later the DoE) carried out an eight-year cleanup, but Congress refused to fund a comprehensive decontamination programme to make the entire atoll fit for human settlement again.


The DNA’s preferred option – deep ocean dumping – was prohibited by international treaties and hazardous waste regulations, and there was little appetite for transporting the irradiated refuse back to the US.

In the end, US servicemen simply scraped off the islands’ contaminated topsoil and mixed it with radioactive debris. The resulting radioactive slurry was then dumped in an unlined 350-foot crater on Runit Island’s northern tip, and sealed under 358 concrete panels.

But the dome was never meant to last. According to the World Health Organization, the $218m plan was designed as temporary fix: a way to store contaminated material until a permanent decontamination plan was devised.

Meanwhile, only three of the atoll’s 40 islands were cleaned up, but not Enjebi, where half of Enewetak’s population had traditionally lived. And as costs spiralled, resettlement efforts of the northern part of the atoll stalled indefinitely.

Nevertheless, in 1980, as the Americans prepared their own departure, the dri-Enewetak (“people of Enewetak”) were allowed to return to the atoll after 33 years.

Three years later, the Marshall Islands signed a compact of free association with the US, granting its people certain privileges, but not full citizenship.

The deal also settled of “all claims, past, present and future” related to the US Nuclear Testing Program – and left the Runit Dome under the responsibility of the Marshallese government.

Today, the US government insists that it has honoured all its obligations, and that the jurisdiction for the dome and its toxic contents lies with the Marshall Islands.

The Marshallese, meanwhile, say that a country with a population of 53,000 people and a GDP of $190m – most of it from US aid programs – is simply incapable of dealing with the potential radioactive catastrophe left behind by the Americans.

“It’s clear as day that the local government will neither have the expertise or funds to fix the problem if it needs a particular fix,” said Riyad Mucadam, climate adviser to the office of the Marshallese president.

Today, Runit – the setting for JG Ballard’s short story Terminal Beach – is still uninhabited, but it receives regular stream of visitors heading from neighboring islands to its abundant fishing grounds or searching for scrap metal to salvage.

Approaching the island by boat across from the vast, shallow lagoon – the world’s second largest – the concrete structure is barely visible among the scrubby trees.

Three decades after the Americans’ departure, abandoned bunkers dot the shoreline, and electric cables encased in black rubber snake across the sand.

Nowhere on the beaches or the dome itself is there a warning to stay away – or even an indication of radioactivity.

Enewetak’s senator Jack Ading, who lives in Majuro 600 miles away, doesn’t believe his home atoll is safe: resettlement efforts in Rongelap and Bikini atolls, also affected by testing, had to be aborted in the 1970s due to lingering contamination, despite safety assurances by the US.

“Just close it off,” said Ading, who has called for armed guards to be stationed on the site – or at the very least the construction of a fence.

“If they |the US government] can spend billions of dollars on wars like Iraq, I’m sure they can spend $10,000 for a fence. It’s a small island. Make it permanent for people not to visit Runit Dome and the surrounding area, ever.”

Locals say they know there is “poison” on the island – there is no Marshallese word for contamination – but say that Runit offers one of the few sources of income on the impoverished atol.

The US has yet to fully compensate the dri-Enewetak for the irreversible damage to their homeland, a total amounting to roughly $244m as appraised by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which was established by the US Congress in 1988 to adjudicate claims for compensation for health effects from the testing.

Traditional livelihoods were destroyed by the testing: the US Department of Energy bans the export of fish and copra – dried coconut flesh used for its oil – on the grounds of lingering contamination.

Nowadays, the atoll’s growing population survives on a depleted trust fund from the Compact of Free Association with the US, but payouts come to just $100 per person, according to locals.

Many locals are deeply in debt, and dependent on a supplemental food program funded by the US Department of Agriculture, which delivers shipments of process foods such as Spam, flour and canned goods. The destruction a centuries-old lifestyle have lead to both a diabetes epidemic and regular bouts of starvation on the island.

Those who can afford it have taken advantage of the Compact’s visaless travel benefits and migrated to Hawaii.

“Enewetak has no money. What will people do to make money?” asked Rosemary Amitok, who lives with her husband Hemy on the atoll’s largest island.

The couple eke out a living by scavenging for scrap copper on Runit and other islands on the atoll. For weeks at a time, they camp out in a makeshift tent on the island while Hemy digs for cables and other metal debris.

The sell the salvage for a dollar or two per pound to a Chinese merchant who runs Enewetak’s only store and exports the metal, along with sea shells and sea cucumbers to Fujian in China.

Other – and more worrying – traces of Enewetak’s history have also reached China: according to a 2014 study published in Environmental Science & Technology, plutonium isotopes from the nuclear tests have been found as far a the Pearl River Estuary in Guangdong province.

Many people in Enewetak fear that one day the dome will break open, further spreading highly radioactive debris.

As catastrophic weather events become more frequent, recent studies – including 2013 study of the Runit Dome’s structural integrity carried out by the DoE – have warned that typhoons could destroy or damage the cement panels, or inundate the island.

A 2013 report commissioned by the US Department of Energy to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory acknowledged that radioactive materials are already leaching out of the dome, but downplays the possibility of serious environmental damage or health risks.

“The waste within the dome is at least contained. There aren’t too many concerns for the Runit Dome to pose a threat to local people,” said Terry Hamilton, the scientific director for the Marshall Islands Program of the DoE-commissioned Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Hamilton said that cracks in the concrete were merely the result of long-term drying and shrinkage, but said the DoE was planning to carry out cosmetic repairs in order to restore public confidence.

The DoE insists Enewetak is safe for human settlement today, and says it monitors local residents, groundwater, crops and marine life for radiation. Separate checkups are carried out on those suspected of digging for scrap metal.

Though Enewetak is not allowed to sell its copra and fish, Hamilton insists the produce would satisfy safety standards on the international market.

But locals complain that basic information – including results of their own tests for exposure to plutonium – is not readily accessible to them.

Independent scientists say that salvaging Runit’s scrap metal may expose locals to much higher risks.

“Those guys are digging in the dirt breathing in stuff in hot spots. That has to be hundreds of thousands times higher doses of potential health effects than swimming,” said Ken Buessler, a senior scientist and marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who visited Runit and gathered samples of sediment in the lagoon earlier this year.

In 2012, Barack Obama signed legislation directing the DoE to monitor the groundwater beneath the dome, conduct a visual study of its exterior and submit reports determining whether contamination in the dome poses a health risk to the dri-Enewetak.

In an emailed response to questions, US ambassador to the Marshall Islands Thomas Armbruster said that a recent meeting between the US, the DoE and the Marshall Islands government was “one of the best ever”.

The minister himself remembers that encounter differently.

Tony De Brum was nine years old and living on the atoll of Likiep, when he witnessed the blinding flash, thunderous roar and blood-red skies of Castle Bravo, the most powerful hydrogen bomb ever detonated by the US, which was tested at Bikini Atoll on 1 March 1954.

Now the Marshall Islands minister of foreign affairs, he has since emerged as a voice for small island nations in international climate negotiations and leading advocate on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. De Brum is spearheading an ambitious lawsuit against the world’s nuclear powers, including the US, at the International Court of Justice.

“We asked the Americans, are you going to put a sign on the dome that says ‘Don’t come here because you might get exposed’?” he said.

“Our president asked: ‘Are you going to put a sign up so that the birds and turtles also understand?’”

The US has never formally apologized to the Marshall Islands for turning it into an atomic testing ground. When the UN special rapporteur on human rights and toxic waste, Calin Georgescu, visited the Marshall Islands in 2012 he criticized the US, remarking that the islanders feel like ‘nomads’ in their own country. Nuclear testing, he said, “left a legacy of distrust in the hearts and minds of the Marshallese”.

“Why Enewetak?” asked Ading, Enewetak’s exiled senator during an interview in the nation’s capital. “Every day, I have that same question. Why not go to some other atoll in the world? Or why not do it in Nevada, their backyard? I know why. Because they don’t want the burden of having nuclear waste in their backyard. They want the nuclear waste hundreds of thousands miles away. That’s why they picked the Marshall Islands.”

“The least they could’ve done is correct their mistakes.”

This article is part of a multimedia project produced by The GroundTruth Project