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Thirteen nuclear waste workers in New Mexico test positive for radiation exposure

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By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) – Thirteen workers have tested positive for radiation exposure tied to an accidental release earlier this month of high levels of radiation in an underground nuclear waste repository in New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday.

No workers were underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in southeastern New Mexico when air sensors half a mile below surface in an ancient salt formation triggered an alarm on February 14 indicating excessive amounts of radioactive particles.

The plant is a repository for so-called transuranic waste shipped from federal nuclear laboratories and weapons sites. The waste includes discarded machinery, clothing and other items contaminated with plutonium or other radioisotopes heavier than uranium.

Particles emitted from the decay of those radioactive elements can harm humans if inhaled or ingested.

Managers of the government site near Carlsbad initially said that none of the 139 employees working above ground when the release happened were exposed to radioactive contaminants based on external testing of their skin and clothing.

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But analyses released on Wednesday of biological samples lifted from the workers showed that 13 of them were in fact exposed to radioactive particles, Joe Franco, manager of the U.S. Energy Department field office that oversees the plant, said in a statement.

“It is premature to speculate on the health effects of these preliminary results or any treatment that may be needed,” he said. He did not give details on the level of contamination detected in the biological samples.

Franco added that continued sampling and monitoring at the site indicated that contamination of surface air in and around the facility was likely at very low levels and not a threat to humans or the environment.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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A historian explains why 2019 marks the beginning of the next 74-year cycle of American history

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A century ago, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. argued that history occurs in cycles. His son, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., furthered this theory in his own scholarship. As I reflect on Schlesinger’s work and the history of the United States, it seems clear to me that American history has three 74-year-long cycles. America has had four major crisis turning points, each 74 years apart, from the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to today.

The first such crisis occurred when the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787 to face the reality that the government created by the Articles of Confederation was failing. There was a dire need for a new Constitution and a guarantee of a Bill of Rights to save the American Republic. The founding fathers, under the leadership of George Washington, were equal to the task and the American experiment successfully survived the crisis.

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Self-preservation fuels the Democratic base’s lurch to the left — before the rich take it all

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In 2016 all the corporate news media outlets, NPR included, predicted that Trump would lose. They just did not recognize the discontent in America’s rust belt because the economic dislocation that had, and continues to define life there, was just not part of their personal frame of reference.

They thought the country was several years into a recovery and the national aggregate unemployment data they had commissioned confirmed it. But nobody lives or votes in the aggregate. And it wasn’t until Trump flipped the 200 counties that Obama had carried twice, that the corporate news media started paying some attention.

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Experts discuss the distorted impeachment debate at a propaganda forum — and how real debate can untangle it

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“Would you be upset if the Democratic nominee called on China to help in the next presidential election?” That’s the concrete question we should ask ourselves about Robert Mueller's report and the issue of impeachment, according to University of California, Santa Cruz, social psychologist Anthony Pratkanis, speaking at a recent Zócalo Public Square event, “Is Propaganda Keeping Americans From Thinking for Themselves?

This was a week before President Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, apparently welcoming foreign interference in the 2020 election. Impeachment wasn’t the ostensible subject of the event — which also featured Texas A&M historian of rhetoric Jennifer Mercieca and UCLA marketing scholar and psychologist Hal Hershfield — but it was never far from mind.

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