Archive for February, 2007

Entry for February 27, 2007

February 27, 2007

I’m on my way to the Dumas Center to see Joanne V. Gabbin , founder of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at JMU, after tutoring over at VWCC, so this will be brief.

I received an email with the “news” that impeachment was off the table according to Conyers and Pelosi, citing a February 13 article from Tom Flocco’s website. It had been forwarded from someone so spitting mad that he couldn’t even spell, saying to throw all the bums out.

I’ll be writing on this, but before I go, I thought I’d post links for those interested–

More later.

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/02/27/the_bipartisan_empire.php

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Security of nuclear power reactors (2/26/07)

February 26, 2007

The cover art is from from Cobb Again (Wild & Woolley, 1978, Out of print) by LA-born artist Ron Cobb, who now lives in Australia.

In the October 26, 2006 Federal Register, the NRC announced proposed rule RIN 3150–AG63 amending security regulations related to the physical protection of nuclear power reactors. The deadline for public comments which was extended from January 9 until February 23 has now been extended again until March 26. See “Power Reactor Security Requirements (RIN 3150-AG63): Rulemaking Text and Other Documents ” and Fact Sheet on Safety and Security Improvements at Nuclear Plants.

The public hearing cancelled February 14 due to weather will take place March 9, 2007 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, at NRC headquarters, in the One White Flint North building, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. Registration begins at 8 a.m. You may also call into the telephone bridge line. To preregister call 301-415-2589 or send an e-mail to ljr2@nrc.gov by March 6.

There are several ways to submit written comments. In each case, reference the RIN 3150–AG63 and remember these will become part of the public record.

  • Snail mail the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
    Washington, DC 20555–0001, Attn:
    Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.
  • E-mail SECY@nrc.gov. If
    you do not receive a reply e-mail
    confirming receipt call (301) 415–1966.
  • Use the NRC’s rulemaking Web site: http://ruleforum.llnl.gov.
    Questions to Carol Gallagher (301) 415–5905 or e-mail CAG@nrc.gov.
  • Use the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
  • Hand deliver comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays. Telephone (301) 415–1966).

To receive NRC newsreleases, subscribe here.

"One Last Party for Molly"

February 25, 2007

The Melancholy Ramblers and others played at the Scholz Garten while friends shared beer and barbecue on February 4, after Molly Ivins’s funeral in a photo by the Austin American-Statesman’s Larry Kolvoord which accompanied Patrick George’s February 5 article, “One Last Party for Molly.”

Back on September 15, 2006, Alternet published Ivins’s “Remembering Ann Richards” about a long-ago political do at the Garten:

everybody who was anybody was there meetin’ and greetin’ at a furious pace. A group of us got the tired feet and went to lean our butts against a table at the back wall of the bar. Perched like birds in a row were Bob Bullock, then state comptroller, moi, Charles Miles, the head of Bullock’s personnel department, and Ms. Ann Richards. Bullock, 20 years in Texas politics, knew every sorry, no good sumbitch in the entire state. Some old racist judge from East Texas came up to him, “Bob, my boy, how are you?”

Bullock said, “Judge, I’d like you to meet my friends: This is Molly Ivins with the Texas Observer.”

The judge peered up at me and said, “How yew, little lady?”

Bullock, “And this is Charles Miles, the head of my personnel department.” Miles, who is black, stuck out his hand, and the judge got an expression on his face as though he had just stepped into a fresh cowpie. He reached out and touched Charlie’s palm with one finger, while turning eagerly to the pretty, blonde, blue-eyed Ann Richards. “And who is this lovely lady?”

Ann beamed and replied, “I am Mrs. Miles.”

On September 26, 2006, when Howard Dean arrived at the Garten to campaign for Democrats in his 50 state strategy for the Novemer Election, Democratic Party politics sure had changed.

At the Statesman, you can find a photo gallery with additional shots by Rodolpho Gonzalez (who took the photo from yesterday’s entry) and Kolvoord. You can also find audio files of tributes by :

Sheila Lennon, who is features and interactive producer of projo.com, the Web site of

The Providence [RI] Journal has compiled reports on the memorial from Austin bloggers at her blog, Subterranean homepage news, which she started in 2002.

Kinky Friedman, who graciously admits that he didn’t always agree with Ivins had eulogized her February 4 in the Los Angeles Times as essay as

a truth-seeking missile.

Meanwhile Theresa Alexander had this tale to offer about Ivins at the public memorial at the Texas Observer:

Everyone who knew her has a favorite “Molly” anecdote. For me it was the one she described to a group of her friends in Dallas about the endless summer of tracking and reporting legislative elections in South and West Texas (late seventies, early eighties?). Almost every meal was in some diner or other served by waitresses with teased peroxide up-dos and huge starched, folded handkerchiefs hanging out of their pockets or cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Once when she feeling very tired and hungry she ordered the usual fare – meat and potatoes – thinking that she hadn’t eaten a non-fried vegetable in weeks. There was, however, a healthy-sized portion of parsley garnishing the plate. Out of desperation she popped it in her mouth — at which point the gum-chewing waitress admonished her: “Why, hon, if I’d a-knowed you was gonna eat that I’da washed it.”

Joseph Burgess wrote in:

I live in Kentucky, where the bottom-of-the-deck political climate rivals that of Texas, where many folks can trace their family trees back to some ancestor getting run out of the Bluegrass state for various crimes and misdemeanors. What Molly Ivins wrote and said showed that she and I — born four years before she was — shared pretty much the same political and social outlooks. For much more than a decade I have read her columns and exclaimed — “damned right!”

In trying to sum up Ivins, whom he knew only through he writings, he called her

the lately late progressive and idealistic champion of little folks, of poor folks, of set-upon-by-the-rich-and-powerful folks, of forgotten folks, of ordinary folks, of shortchanged folks, of Constitutional rights and guarantees, of justice and fairness, and more — . . . the lampooner and harpooner of the five-percenters, the fixers, the neo-John Birchers, the neo-Gilded Agers, the neo-Robber Barons, the grifters and grafters, the chicken-hawks, the political humbugs, the anti-Constitutionalists and pro-corporatists, the new-world-order ideologues, the self-servers, the power-grabbers, and worse who have gained so much ascendancy in recent years.

Gary Hart (yes, the former Senator) even signed in on the page, rather than with the celebrities here. There’s also a collection of Ivin’s work. When I look at Ivin’s August 21, 1970 essay for the Observer, “South towards home” and realize that she had been a news reporter in Minneapolis and just three years out of school, prior to returning to Texas, I’m amazed at just how good a columnist she was from get-go.

*

One fan on the tribute page talks about how he would email Ivins with his reactions to her columns and she would always write him back. I have been reading her essays since the eighties and I never wrote her, not once, not even after I had been lucky enough to hear her lecture at Radford University March 21, 2001.

So, Molly Ivins, this post is truly for you. Your words continue to bring your voice alive from the page and we write back to you, even though you vanished from our realm. You live on in your effect on us as we struggle to continue your work.

And if there is an afterlife, as Bill Moyers describes it as “that great Purgatory of Journalists in the Sky,” I picture so much potential contained in our thoughts and our love for you that our energy travels out to whereever you may be.

As invisible as electrons, our energy travels out, even as tangible contact is never again possible.

Entry for February 25, 2007

February 25, 2007

The Melancholy Ramblers and others played at the Scholz Garten while friends shared beer and barbecue on February 4, after Molly Ivins’s funeral in a photo by the Austin American-Statesman’s Larry Kolvoord which accompanied Patrick George’s February 5 article, “One Last Party for Molly, ”

Back on September 15, 2006, Alternet published Ivins’s “Remembering Ann Richards” about a long-ago political do at the Garten:

everybody who was anybody was there meetin’ and greetin’ at a furious pace. A group of us got the tired feet and went to lean our butts against a table at the back wall of the bar. Perched like birds in a row were Bob Bullock, then state comptroller, moi, Charles Miles, the head of Bullock’s personnel department, and Ms. Ann Richards. Bullock, 20 years in Texas politics, knew every sorry, no good sumbitch in the entire state. Some old racist judge from East Texas came up to him, “Bob, my boy, how are you?”

Bullock said, “Judge, I’d like you to meet my friends: This is Molly Ivins with the Texas Observer.”

The judge peered up at me and said, “How yew, little lady?”

Bullock, “And this is Charles Miles, the head of my personnel department.” Miles, who is black, stuck out his hand, and the judge got an expression on his face as though he had just stepped into a fresh cowpie. He reached out and touched Charlie’s palm with one finger, while turning eagerly to the pretty, blonde, blue-eyed Ann Richards. “And who is this lovely lady?”

Ann beamed and replied, “I am Mrs. Miles.”

On September 26, 2006, when Howard Dean arrived at the Garten to campaign for Democrats in his 50 state strategy for the Novemer Election, Democratic Party politics sure had changed.

At the Statesman, you can find a photo gallery with additional shots by Rodolpho Gonzalez (who took the photo from yesterday’s entry) and Kolvoord. You can also find audio files of tributes by :

Sheila Lennon, who is features and interactive producer of projo.com, the Web site of
The Providence [RI] Journal has compiled reports on the memorial from Austin bloggers at her blog, Subterranean homepage news, which she started in 2002.

Kinky Friedman, who graciously admits that he didn’t always agree with Ivins had eulogized her February 4 in the Los Angeles Times as essay as

a truth-seeking missile.

Meanwhile Theresa Alexander had this tale to offer about Ivins at the public memorial at the Texas Observer:

Everyone who knew her has a favorite “Molly” anecdote. For me it was the one she described to a group of her friends in Dallas about the endless summer of tracking and reporting legislative elections in South and West Texas (late seventies, early eighties?). Almost every meal was in some diner or other served by waitresses with teased peroxide up-dos and huge starched, folded handkerchiefs hanging out of their pockets or cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Once when she feeling very tired and hungry she ordered the usual fare – meat and potatoes – thinking that she hadn’t eaten a non-fried vegetable in weeks. There was, however, a healthy-sized portion of parsley garnishing the plate. Out of desperation she popped it in her mouth — at which point the gum-chewing waitress admonished her: “Why, hon, if I’d a-knowed you was gonna eat that I’da washed it.”

Joseph Burgess wrote in:

I live in Kentucky, where the bottom-of-the-deck political climate rivals that of Texas, where many folks can trace their family trees back to some ancestor getting run out of the Bluegrass state for various crimes and misdemeanors. What Molly Ivins wrote and said showed that she and I — born four years before she was — shared pretty much the same political and social outlooks. For much more than a decade I have read her columns and exclaimed — “damned right!”

In trying to sum up Ivins, whom he knew only through he writings, he called her

the lately late progressive and idealistic champion of little folks, of poor folks, of set-upon-by-the-rich-and-powerful folks, of forgotten folks, of ordinary folks, of shortchanged folks, of Constitutional rights and guarantees, of justice and fairness, and more — . . . the lampooner and harpooner of the five-percenters, the fixers, the neo-John Birchers, the neo-Gilded Agers, the neo-Robber Barons, the grifters and grafters, the chicken-hawks, the political humbugs, the anti-Constitutionalists and pro-corporatists, the new-world-order ideologues, the self-servers, the power-grabbers, and worse who have gained so much ascendancy in recent years.

Gary Hart (yes, the former Senator) even signed in on the page, rather than with the celebrities here. There’s also a collection of Ivin’s work. When I look at Ivin’s August 21, 1970 essay for the Observer, “South towards home” and realize that she had been a news reporter in Minneapolis and just three years out of school, prior to returning to Texas, I’m amazed at just how good a columnist she was from get-go.

*

One fan on the tribute page talks about how he would email Ivins with his reactions to her columns and she would always write him back. I have been reading her essays since the eighties and I never wrote her, not once, not even after I had been lucky enough to hear her lecture at Radford University March 21, 2001.

So, Molly Ivins, this post is truly for you. Your words continue to bring your voice alive from the page and we write back to you, even though you vanished from our realm. You live on in your effect on us as we struggle to continue your work.

And if there were an afterlife, as Bill Moyers describes it as “that great Purgatory of Journalists in the Sky,” I picture so much potential contained in our thoughts and our love for you that our energy travels out to whereever you may be.

As invisible as electrons, our energy travels out, even as tangible contact is never again possible.

Entry for February 24, 2007

February 24, 2007

The photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez from the Austin American-Statesman and picked up by AP, is of Molly Ivin’s niece, the literary agent Margot Maley Hutchison (email, bio).

Looking at Hutchison laugh. as she tells stories about her aunt at the February 4 memorial service, I’d have like to have heard what she said. The stuff the press recounted was pretty bland. Maybe I can ask Pogoer, a fellow Ivins fan, who being in Austin actually stopped on by the church.

Hutchison, named after Molly’s mother, is the daughter of Molly’s sister, Sara. You can find video and the story from KVUE, Austin about the church service, and video, story from News 8 Austin about the party afterwwards at Scholz Garten, where Molly infamously had crashed a no-press party for Clinton by borrowing a tee shirt from the owner’s daughter and serving the Prez a beer. The Texas Observer has a tribute site up and Ron Weddington, who litigated Roe v. Wade with his then-wife Sarah, recounts this story:

Molly’s audacious pursuit of a story was illustrated when just-elected Bill Clinton had a luncheon with politicians, movie stars and big contributors in January, 1993 at the famous Austin watering hole, Scholz Garten. The press was excluded and Molly was beside herself as she sat outside the banquet room with those of us who hadn’t been invited. I suggested that she pose as a waitress, never dreaming she would do it.

But she did. The proprietor’s daughter, Stacy Bales, provided a Scholz’s tee shirt and a tray of beer and Molly managed an interview with Bill before security escorted her out. (Not one of the Secret Service’s finer moments)

Molly later quoted Bill as saying that he felt like a dog who had been chasing a car and then caught it. What to do now?

There are no separate permalinks per entry, so I can’t even begin to tell you how to find it online.

*

I hadn’t planned to write about Molly Ivins again, until I stopped by Aldon Hynes’s blog Orient Lodge and found a post based, in part, on our email back and forth: “Random Stuff: Media, Games, Wind, Coal and psychology” that mentions resources I provided him on MTR. While there I read his “Amanda Update” about the John Edward’s campaign’s blogmaster who quit after being assailed by the right.

My take on the situation made me think of Ivins and I posted the following as a comment on her entry at Salon.com.

*

Although I’m a progressive activist who blogs regularly and has enjoyed some of Shakespeare’s Sister’s and Atrios’s posts, I’m not an avid follower of all the stylish blogs, referring more regularly to the more fact-based, say Confined Spaces and Secrecy News . And after reading a few entries at Pandagon, I’ll admit to preferring the less coarse, but equally hard-hitting non-blog writing of the late Molly Ivins.

So, this whole debacle with the R’s could have blown over without my noticing it, like a tornado over in the next county. Then I read an entry by a colleague who’s involved himself in political blogmastering, albeit he’s from a generation older than the 30-somethings and he’s more scruffy than the khaki-wearers that Marcotte writes about as being the guys whom folks imagine when they think of bloggers who join campaigns.

Marcotte writes she was aware the she “didn’t exactly fit the image.” My question: how is that image to change if folks like Marcotte quit, allowing themselves to be driven out of a job by the “noise machine.”

My advice: toughen up, gal! Your narrative leaves me wondering what candidate would want to stand behind someone only to have her quit?

Remember, the New York Times‘s Abe Rosenthal had to fire Molly Ivins to get her out of the big boys club. And she bragged forever after about not having shown “due respect and deference to the great dignity” of that paper. Her offense? She had called a chicken slaughtering festival in New Mexico a “gang pluck.”

More on Ivins tomorrow…

Chicken Pluck

February 24, 2007

The photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez from the Austin American-Statesman and picked up by AP, is of Molly Ivin’s niece, the literary agent Margot Maley Hutchison (email, bio).

*

Looking at Hutchison laugh as she tells stories about her aunt at the February 4 memorial service, I’d have like to have heard what she said. The stuff the press recounted was pretty bland. Maybe I can ask Pogoer, a fellow Ivins fan, who being in Austin actually stopped on by the church.

Hutchison, named after Molly’s mother, is the daughter of Molly’s sister, Sara. You can find video and the story from KVUE, Austin about the church service, and video, story from News 8 Austin about the party afterwwards at Scholz Garten, where Molly infamously had crashed a no-press party for Clinton by borrowing a tee shirt from the owner’s daughter and serving the Prez a beer. The Texas Observer has a tribute site up and Ron Weddington, who litigated Roe v. Wade with his then-wife Sarah, recounts this story:

Molly’s audacious pursuit of a story was illustrated when just-elected Bill Clinton had a luncheon with politicians, movie stars and big contributors in January, 1993 at the famous Austin watering hole, Scholz Garten. The press was excluded and Molly was beside herself as she sat outside the banquet room with those of us who hadn’t been invited. I suggested that she pose as a waitress, never dreaming she would do it.

But she did. The proprietor’s daughter, Stacy Bales, provided a Scholz’s tee shirt and a tray of beer and Molly managed an interview with Bill before security escorted her out. (Not one of the Secret Service’s finer moments)

Molly later quoted Bill as saying that he felt like a dog who had been chasing a car and then caught it. What to do now?

There are no separate permalinks per entry, so I can’t even begin to tell you how to find it online.

*

I hadn’t planned to write about Molly Ivins again, until I stopped by Aldon Hynes’s blog Orient Lodge and found a post based, in part, on our email back and forth: “Random Stuff: Media, Games, Wind, Coal and psychology” that mentions resources I provided him on MTR. While there I read his “Amanda Update” about the John Edward’s campaign’s blogmaster who quit after being assailed by the right.

My take on the situation made me think of Ivins and I posted the following as a comment on her entry at Salon.com.

*

Although I’m a progressive activist who blogs regularly and has enjoyed some of Shakespeare’s Sister’s and Atrios’s posts, I’m not an avid follower of all the stylish blogs, referring more regularly to the more fact-based, say Confined Spaces and Secrecy News . And after reading a few entries at Pandagon, I’ll admit to preferring the less coarse, but equally hard-hitting non-blog writing of the late Molly Ivins.

So, this whole debacle with the R’s could have blown over without my noticing it, like a tornado over in the next county. Then I read an entry by a colleague who’s involved himself in political blogmastering. He’s from a generation older than the 30-somethings and he’s more scruffy than the khaki-wearers that Marcotte writes about as being the guys whom folks imagine when they think of bloggers who join campaigns.

Marcotte writes she was aware the she “didn’t exactly fit the image.” My question: how is that image to change if folks like Marcotte quit, allowing themselves to be driven out of a job by the “noise machine.”

My advice: toughen up, gal! Your narrative leaves me wondering what candidate would want to stand behind someone only to have her quit?

Remember, the New York Times‘s Abe Rosenthal had to fire Molly Ivins to get her out of the big boys club. And she bragged forever after about not having shown “due respect and deference to the great dignity” of that paper. Her offense? She had called a chicken slaughtering festival in New Mexico a “gang pluck.”

More on Ivins tomorrow…

Entry for February 23, 2007

February 23, 2007

Photo from Apollo Alliance’s 2004 report, “New Energy for America.”Here’s a draft of this month’s submission to the New River Free Press. You’ll recognize part of it from earlier entries. I’ll add hyperlinks to the new stuff soon.

Noam Chomsky wrote in Old Wine in New Bottles: A Bitter Taste “[A]ll [the leaders of the “conservative revolution”] understand very well that democracy is a nuisance to be ignored as long as possible, and that free enterprise means that the public pays the costs under various guises, bearing the risks if things go wrong, while profit is privatized.”

The nuclear energy industry pushed for federal funding and assumption of liability, despite longstanding opposition to nuclear power on the part of the general public. Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010), unveiled in 2002 established a private industry-government “cost-shared effort to identify sites for new nuclear power plants, develop and bring to market advanced nuclear plant technologies, evaluate the business case for building new nuclear power plants, and demonstrate untested regulatory processes leading to an industry decision in the next few years to seek Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval to build and operate at least one new advanced nuclear power plant in the United States.”

Given the rhetoric of the nuclear energy industry and its astroturf group, the Clean and Safe Coalition, [see NRFP May 2006?) I was unsurprised by Bush’s new acknowledgement of global warming in his 2007 State of the Union Address included a reference to oil independence, this time with a nod towards global climate change: “Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists…We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power… “

His FY 2008 budget bears out my suspicion that Bush admits the deleterious effects of carbon emissions to advance the interests of the nuclear [power industry. Michelle Boyd’s ( Legislative Director for Public Citizen) February 5 analysis identifies $1.3 billion proposed for nuclear power, while keeping solar funding flat, cutting wind and weatherization budgets and eliminating geothermal funding. “Yet it is unlikely that we will see any new reactors before 2017 – if ever. Meanwhile, significant efficiency measures and renewable energies could be implemented in the next few years if federal policies supported them.” (See http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2376)

Besides cost, nuclear waste and proliferation remain problematic. The Yucca Mountain disposal repository for spent power reactor fuel was originally slated to open in 1998. Project management problems and opposition by the State of Nevada will delay the opening until 2017, if plans are approved this year. The industry presses for reprocessing nuclear waste in the interim, even though India used the first plutonium it extracted as part of a U.S.-supported reprocessing program to explode a nuclear device in 1974. President Ford, said in October 1976, “I have concluded that the reprocessing and recycling of plutonium should not proceed unless there is sound reason to conclude that the world community can effectively overcome the associated risks of proliferation.”

In “Managing Spent Fuel in the United States: The Illogic of Reprocessing,” Princeton professor Frank von Hippel writes, “The extra cost to deal with just the spent fuel that has already accumulated in the United States was estimated in 1996 by a U.S. National Academy of Sciences study as “likely to be no less than $50 billion and easily could be over $100 billion.”

If there were no link between nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons, weapons might fall solely within the province of the Department of Defense. And yet, DoD’s share of the Reliable Replacement [NuclearWarhead (RRW) program is $30 million for FY 2008, while the Department of Energy’s share is $89 million, a 220 percent increase from FY 07.

And then there are problems of groundwater contamination. On January 16, 2007, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research wrote the Environmental Protection Agency criticizing the lack of current standards for plutonium and other radioactive materials. And Brice Smith writes about how many plant would be needed “to significantly impact future carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants?”

In Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change, Smith calculated that according to a 2003 MIT study, “The Future of Nuclear Power” and calculated “one new reactor [would need to] to come online somewhere in the world every 15 days on average between 2010 and 2050. “Despite the increase in nuclear power envisioned under the global growth scenario, the proportion of electricity supplied by nuclear power plants would increase only slightly, from about 16 percent to about 20 percent. As a result, fossil fuel-fired generation would also grow and the emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, from the electricity sector would continue to increase.”
He argues “It is time to move on from considering the nuclear option and to begin focusing on developing more rapid, robust and sustainable options.

“Just as the claim by Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss that nuclear power would one day be “too cheap to meter” was known to be a myth well before ground was broken on the first civilian reactor in the United States, and just as the link between the nuclear fuel cycle and the potential to manufacture nuclear weapons was widely acknowledged before President Eisenhower first voiced his vision for the “Atoms-for-Peace” program, a careful examination today reveals that the expense and vulnerabilities associated with nuclear power would make it a risky and unsustainable option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions…
“Nuclear power is a uniquely dangerous source of electricity that would create a number of serious risks if employed on a large scale. It is very unlikely that the problems with nuclear power could be successfully overcome given the large number of reactors required for even modestly affecting carbon dioxide emissions.”

In a January 17 statement, the Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists justified advancing its famed Doomsday Clock another two minutes, so that it’s hands now stands at five minutes before midnight (the figurative time when humankind will obliterate itself): “The international community faces a dilemma: How to mitigate climate change without increasing the dangers of nuclear materials proliferation.”

And yet, in January Joe Lieberman (I-CT), proposed giant subsidies for the nuclear industry, all in the name of reducing global warming, This, his third try at passage of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (S. 280), gained 9 co-sponsors included John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The bill would authorize more than $3.7 billion in federal subsidies for new nuclear power plants including subsidies for engineering and design costs, loans and loan guarantees for building three new plants, and direct financial awards for new projects. Many of these provisions were enacted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provided more than $13 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to the nuclear industry. S.280 also includes extensive subsidies for new coal plants.

Here, in Virginia, Dominion Power has almost finished the application process to build two additional reactors at its North An
na Plant in Louisa County. The company has pushed through a General Assembly bill to “re-regulate” the power industry in a “hybrid model” which weakens the f capacity of the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to set rates and approve construction. SCC Chairman Ted Morrison told the House Commerce and Labor Committee February 19 that the measure was a “Rube Goldberg concoction….I have no doubt, if you pass this bill, rates are going to be higher in Virginia than they need to be.”

It seems a better answer than Bush’s or Lieberman’s or Dominion’s can be found in Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030, edited by the American Solar Energy Society’s Charles F. Kutscher. The January 31, 2007 report estimated a reduction of 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions annually in the U.S. would come from :

  • Energy efficiency .688
  • Concentrating solar power .063
  • Photovoltaics .063
  • Wind .181
  • Biofuels .058
  • Biomass .075
  • Geothermal .083

Renewable energy “has the potential to provide approximately 40% of the U.S. electric energy need projected for 2030 by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).” After reducing the electricity projection by taking advantage of energy efficiency, “renewables could provide about 50% of the remaining 2030 U.S. electric need.”

The Apollo Coalition, a project of the Institute for America’s Future (publishers of the online journal, TomePaine.com), seeks to unite together labor leaders, environmentalists, progressive business leaders, and community members to work for change in energy policy on the local and state level. Its 2004 report posits that “public and private investment in clean energy technologies such as solar and wind power…and highly efficient American made cars, will create a new generation of high wage manufacturing and construction jobs, capture growing markets of the future, reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports, create a resilient energy system, strengthen our cities and rural communities, bolster national security, and clean up our environment.”

It is time to ask Governor Tim Kaine to veto the Dominion’s plan and resume real regulation and incentives for clean energy, energy efficiency and good jobs.

It is time to ask Congress, if nuclear energy is really clean and safe, much less economical, or whether we would we be better served by investing in clean renewables and efficiency to stop our dependency on oil, gas and coal.

Entry for February 22, 2007

February 22, 2007

Photo from New Zealand Department of Fisheriew via China Daily.

When I was a student in Williamsburg, squid sold for 39 cents a pound, about 10 cents more than chicken backs, which, after all were just about all bone, skin and fat. It was enough to turn one to vegetarianism. The squid I cooked were little fellers, maybe four inches long. nothing like the guy (gal?) pictured above, a sample of the

Colossal squid, known by the scientific name Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni…estimated to grow up to 46 feet long and have long been one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep ocean.

This one, is estimated to have tipped the scales at at least 990 pounds, although “only” 39 feet long. Calimari, anyone?

*

An update about John Borowski’s quest to debunk corporate polluters greenwashed curriculum handouts at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference: Gary Wheeler, the Executive Director of NSTA is denying his resistance to help spread the word on “An Inconvenient Truth” but Borowski questions his veracity. And Laurie David, after citing John in her Washington Post op-ed is proving to be of little help according to his December 29 article in Counterpunch, “Laurie David and Me: Curb Your Environmentalism.”

Entry for February 21, 2007

February 21, 2007

Promotional postcard from the film “Waging a Living,” by Public Policy Productions’s Roger Weisberg (email),which first aired on the PBS program P.O. V. in September of 2006.

In an interview iwth POV, Weisberg said,

the words “working poor” ought to be an oxymoron. The idea that you can work full time and still be poor in this society is a real crime. And the numbers of working poor have risen so dramatically. Since 1977, there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of people working full time who are still poor.

The Virginia Interfaith let me know last Thursday, February 15, that thanks Delegate Ken Plum (D-Reston–email) bringing the matter up for reconsiderationafter its tabling that date and the votes of 12 other members, the Commerce and Labor Committee reported out SB 1327 (already passed 31-8 in the Senate), which would have raised the Virginia minimum wage to $6.50 an hour.

I was saddened to read yesterday that the motion to refer the bill to Appropriations passed, thus effectively killing the bill. I was especially disappointed to learn that those voting for the motion included Delegates Hargrove, Purkey Jones and Tata, all of whom had voted for the bill in Committee and that Delegate Johnson did not vote, after supporting the measure in Committee. I am puzzled as to why folks would vote “yea” for such a legislative maneuver, rather than vote on the bill.

At the 2004 Republican ConventionFormer U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said,

Our opponents have a way of confusing compassion with dependency. We believe true compassion encourages and empowers Americans to be responsible and take control of their own lives.

It is a disgrace, if thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others to keep the minimum wage low, a person works full-time or more and still is consigned to poverty. I fail to understand how some can talk of “compassionate conservatism” and continue to promote policies to force more and more working people into the category of the “have nots.” It makes me think of the critique of linguist George Lakoff:

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps — if you can afford the boots.

I hope Congress will act to raise the minimum wage, although both houses have made concessions to bussiness in the form of tax cuts, rather than pass a “clean” bill. I would have preferred that Virginia had joined the ranks of those states ahead of the federal government on this issue. And I sure wish there had been a final alert on Thursday from the Center asking us to write our Delegates to support the measure on the floor, especially since the motion to refer to Appropriations was likely. Maybe this is a good step for other items that make it out of committee?

Okay, we lost for this year. Now is the time, not later, to write our Delegates, as well as Morgan Griffith and the members of Commerce and Labor and Appropriations, expressing dismay or support depending on their position and asking for an explaination of their thinking, if they voted “yea” or the motion or “nay” on the bill. If the bill does not pass Congresss, it is time to start a dialogue to change hearts and minds, and if not that, then representation, by taking part in candidate forums, etc. It’s time for a more progressive General Assembly, Attorney Genral and Lt. Governor. It’s time to start working on a network of support to elect a progressive for the next Governor.

And while we’re at it why not a living wage, rather than a minimum wage.

Entry for February 20, 2007

February 20, 2007
Today, Steven Aftergood had an interesting post on Secrecy News — 02/20/07: RULING IN AIPAC CASE INTERPRETS ESPIONAGE ACT NARROWLY
In part, he wrote,
In another important observation, the judge wrote that “testimony
that disclosures of alleged NDI were viewed by defendants, or their contacts in the diplomatic establishment, as beneficial to the United States’ interests is exculpatory.” (p. 13)

Similar reasoning would imply that if a news organization published classified information in the belief that doing so was beneficial to the United States, that would take it beyond the scope of the Espionage Act’s prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.


I wrote back letting him know the ruling is better than I had expected from Judge Ellis.
The first paragraph seems to refer to material the administration wants leaked. I asked Steven how it would apply to the press uncovering something that the administration does not want leaked. Disclosure beneficial to the administration v. to the U.S. may be different, as in the case of the NSA warrantless wiretaps, Pentagon papers, etc.
His reply:
i believe it refers to the state of mind of the reporter. if the reporter believes the disclosure is beneficial, even mistakenly, then he or she will not have the required intent to cause harm to the United States. anyway, that’s how i read it.
I wrote again, commenting on the part about the defendents acting with “knowledge that the disclosures were illegal.” This flies in the face of the doctrine that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” and that such ignorance usually mitigates punishment, not guilt.
I’m not a lawyer, so have written my friend Barry and my housemate Misty to ask about their takes. Meanwhile Steven wrote back with some context:
in order to address defense arguments that the espionage act is unconstitutionally broad, the judge last august piled on requirements that the prohibited actions must be “knowing and willful.” in this case, i guess you could say, ignorance of the law *would* be an excuse.