Archive for August 10th, 2008

Alec Baldwin: The Misconception Of Nuclear Power

By- Suzie-Q @ 8:30 PM MST

The Misconception of Nuclear Power

Posted August 10, 2008 | 09:58 PM (EST)

Huffington Post- By Alec Baldwin

On a Connecticut public radio program I listened to recently, two guests discussed their views of the growing energy problem overwhelming the US economy. Both pundits, who are political columnists for national magazines, agreed that in addition to conservation measures and an increase in renewable sources, nuclear power is a card that the US must hold in its hand in order to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and our consumption of fossil fuels. Both speakers agreed that nuclear was a good investment, as it was “clean and had almost no carbon footprint.”

The contractors who build nuclear power plants, the energy companies who operate them and the banks that underwrite the bonds that fund them are hoping to take that misconception straight to the bank.

Nuclear power is viewed as problematic typically due to issues involving public health and safety. Grave concerns linger to this day about how to safely dispose of nuclear waste. Since 9/11, security issues dominate much of the debate. Many who are more in tune with the realities of how nuclear power is actually produced in the US currently worry about catastrophic breaches of reactors. They also state, with real evidence on their side, that no level of exposure to ambient radiation produced every day at utility sites is healthy for humans, particularly pregnant women and young children. However, many are now willing to ignore, or at the very least table, serious action on these issues because of the false notion that nuclear power is clean.

Even opponents of nuclear power get it wrong on this issue. At a forum held at the Time Warner offices in New York, Chairman Richard Parsons hosted then Democratic candidate John Edwards in a conversation that included Edwards’ opposition to expanding America’s nuclear capacity. But even Edwards failed to address the question of “how dirty is the mining and processing of uranium?”

The answer is very dirty. The mining of uranium, like the excavation of any other resource that must be discovered, torn out of the ground and carted away, along with the handling of excess rubble, by heavy equipment, could not be any more polluting. The precious uranium must be taken, by truck, to facilities that themselves require enormous amounts of power in order to process and enrich the radioactive ore into the fissionable material that is used in the reactor that is operated by a utility as a “clean” source of power. The retrieval of any energy resources, whether it be oil, coal or natural gas, requires enormous amounts of energy itself. Even gasoline itself is delivered by trucks that are powered by gasoline. But, along with coal, nothing compares to the mining and processing of uranium. It is an overwhelmingly dirty process on a carbon footprint basis.

Energy companies that are investing in nuclear power by seeking the renewal of the licenses of some of America’s aging reactors are counting on the current economic downturn and War-for-Oil fatigue to make the case not only for status quo nuclear capacity, but also for a major expansion of utility reactors across the country. The claim that nuclear power is clean is a lie. And not only due to the carbon-heavy mining and refinement processes, but also due to the complete and incomprehensible avoidance of what to do with the ever-increasing stockpile of its deadly radioactive waste.

In my next post on this subject, I want to share with you some of the work I have been involved with, since 1996, in closing specific reactors, utility and otherwise, and the politics involved with opposing the nuclear industry and their allies in Washington and state houses across the country. In particular, I would like to tell you about Tom’s River, New Jersey, the home of Excelon’s Oyster Creek reactor, one of the most compromised and dangerous nuclear facilities in the US and what Governor Jon Corzine is doing, and is not doing, to protect the health and safety of the residents of his state.

Read Full Post »

By- Suzie-Q @ 4:10 PM MST

No immunity for security contractors in Iraq

Think Progress- By Amanda at 5:16 pm

One of the most contentious issues surrounding a long-term U.S.-Iraq security agreement is whether private security contractors should receive blanket legal immunity from Iraqi laws. However, buried today in a Washington Post article, reporter Karen DeYoung reveals that negotiators have agreed that security contractors “would be subject to Iraqi law,” a setback for the Bush administration. Negotiators are still working out the dates for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. (HT: The Crypt)

Read Full Post »

Isaac Hayes, Deep-Voiced Soul Icon, Is Dead at 65

anthony @ 22:45 BST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Isaac Hayes, the pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose relentless ”Theme From Shaft” won Academy and Grammy awards, died Sunday afternoon, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said. He was 65.

A family member found him unresponsive near a treadmill and he was pronounced dead an hour later at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, according to the sheriff’s office. The cause of death was not immediately known.

In the early 1970s, Hayes laid the groundwork for disco, for what became known as urban-contemporary music and for romantic crooners like Barry White. And he was rapping before there was rap.

His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show ”South Park.”

Steve Shular, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said authorities received a 911 call after Hayes’ wife and young son and his wife’s cousin returned home from the grocery store and found him collapsed in a downstairs bedroom. A sheriff’s deputy administered CPR until paramedics arrived.

”The treadmill was running but he was unresponsive lying on the floor,” Shular said. (more…)

Read Full Post »

KABOOM! Toronto Fireball Evacuates Thousands…

GEF @ 5:27 PM ET

Propane Fireball Result From Explosion In Toronto

Explosions at a propane facility forced thousands of people to evacuate early Sunday, and witnesses described the sky lighting up in the glow of an enormous fireball before turning black with billowing smoke.

Police said there were only minor injuries, but firefighters were battling blazes at the Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases facility hours later. The series of explosions around 3:50 a.m. EDT also shut down the city’s busiest highways, snarling traffic for thousands of travelers.

Some residents said the blast was so forceful they felt their homes rock as though they had been struck by an earthquake.

“It was just a tremendous explosion and blew all the windows out of the house, just blew the house up, and I just managed to get out of there in time,” said Robert Helman, who was covered in cuts and bruises as he fled his home.

Residents within a one-mile radius were ordered to evacuate immediately, and police brought in buses to take residents out of the area.

About a dozen terrified residents _ some clad in pajamas and housecoats _ found their way on foot to nearby Yorkdale shopping mall, where security offered them water and a place to rest.

While police couldn’t immediately identify how many people would be affected by the evacuation request, census data of that part of Toronto suggests that there could be as many 12,500 people and 5,300 private dwellings in the one-mile area around the explosion.

Toronto fire services division commander Bob O’Hallarn said he saw at least five heavily damaged homes and said it could he hours before residents are allowed back into the neighborhood.

The remaining burning propane tanks at Toronto plant were almost out, he said.

“There was a very large of amount of fire when we arrived,” O’Hallarn said. “It could have been much more serious.”

Read Full Post »

Dog Days Of Summer And Executive Privilege…

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:35 PM MST

Murray Waas: How the President’s claims of executive privilege for the U.S. attorney probe could prove to be cataclysmic for his own party.

Crooks and Liars- By: John Amato on Sunday, August 10th, 2008 at 11:20 AM – PDT

Murray Waas goes into great detail why the Bush administration is making a big mistake using executive privilege and not letting Rove and Harriet testify about the US Attorney Firing scandal.

The dog days of summer, a Summer Olympics, a presidential election– and even other administration scandals have largely drowned out the issue of the firing of the nine U.S. attorneys.

But either this fall, or even before, all of that is almost certain to dramatically change.

And claims of executive privilege by the President of the United States to disallow his top aides to testify on Capitol Hill could prove devastating to his own political party. Republican House and Senate candidates are no doubt going to be damaged by the executive privilege claims becoming a front and center issue just prior to the election. In the end, the President’s continuing claim of executive privilege– whether made for high minded reasons of constitutional law, obstinacy, or for political calculation– could prove to be a last unwanted legacy that George Bush leaves behind for his own political party…read on

As Murray notes earlier in his piece—The Bushies were even overruled by a former Ken Starr and George Bush appointed judge named John Bates on this issue…

Read Full Post »

Afternoon Jukebox… Unbelievable

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:30 PM MST


Read Full Post »

MIA McCane Iraq Anthrax

by Geezer Power…12:00 pm High Noon G:

Well folks, Olbermann is pretty much laying it on the line here, but as you might notice, part of the video was cut out about the apparent suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist who helped the FBI investigate the 2001 mail attacks. Here is what the L A Times has to say about the suicide of Bruce Ivens.

There is also an excellent artical by Glen Greenwald on this. Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News

Yet this unqualified extension of Bu$h & Co. is still a viable candidate for president of the United States. Worse yet, there is a possibility that Lieberman, the other BuSh hugger could be his running mate. For some reason this reminds me of David Kelly, and I’m beggining to wonder if history even enters into the equasion with these corporate sons of she dogs…G:

History Channel Admits Anthrax Attacks were an Inside Job

Read Full Post »

“Swing Counties” Favors Obama

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:30 AM MST

Growing Diversity In “Swing Counties” Favors Obama

STEPHEN OHLEMACHER | August 9, 2008 10:11 AM EST | AP

WASHINGTON — Minority Americans have been flocking to the nation’s “swing counties,” hotly contested areas that could play a crucial role in this year’s election.

That’s got to be good news for Barack Obama, bidding to become the first black president.

Blacks and Hispanics are moving to counties that already were racially diverse, such as Osceola in central Florida and Mecklenberg in North Carolina, home to Charlotte. They also are moving to key counties that remain predominantly white, such as Lake in Northeast Ohio, Lehigh in eastern Pennsylvania and Oakland outside Detroit.

If this year’s election is as close as the past two, demographic shifts in these counties could make a big difference.

The racial changes reflect national trends: 93 percent of all counties are less white than they were at the start of the decade, according to new Census estimates. But the changes are even more profound in swing counties of potential battleground states, counties that were decided by razor thin margins in 2000 and 2004 and could decide statewide winners this year.

“The key this time is there are a fair number of battleground states that are becoming more diverse, and maybe diverse enough to make a difference,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

“The diversity used to be mainly in pretty safe states, like Texas, California and New York,” he said.

The Census Bureau last week released 2007 data on race, age and Hispanic origin for all 3,141 counties in the nation. The Associated Press used the data to analyze 129 key counties in 14 states expected to be the most competitive in this year’s presidential election. Each county was decided by no more than 5 percentage points in the past two elections, and each sits in a state that could go either way this year.

The analysis showed that from 2000 to 2007, minorities made up a growing share of the population in all but 12 of the swing counties. The changes happened among every age group, even seniors, though they were much more pronounced among the young, including those too young to vote.

Obama, who had a white mother and black father, overwhelmingly won the black vote in the Democratic primaries, and he is polling more strongly than Republican John McCain among Hispanics.

Obama also has a big lead among voters younger than 34, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll. But while young voters have increased their turnout in recent elections, they are still less likely to vote than any other age group.

Obama “may be generating excitement,” said Vincent Hutchings, associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan. “But is he generating enough enthusiasm to excite people who lack a formal education and are disproportionately young, and not likely to vote?”

Hutchings said the demographic changes could affect this year’s election, but he expects the impact to be greater in future elections as young minorities, particularly the booming Hispanic population, become older and more politically active.

The Census numbers are based on estimates, and in some counties changes in racial composition are small enough to be statistically insignificant. But the trend is clear: The nation is becoming increasingly diverse, even more so in areas that have been decisive the past two presidential elections.

The AP analysis looked at counties in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Nevada also was analyzed because it is a competitive state this year. None of the state’s counties met the criteria for swing counties in the previous two elections, but each has become more diverse since the decade began.

Some states are more competitive than others, and many of the counties remained overwhelmingly white. But given the closeness of the past two presidential elections, even small changes could make a difference in competitive states.

For example, Lake County, just northeast of Cleveland, is still 92 percent white. But since the start of the decade, the number of Hispanics has grown by 73 percent and the black population has increased by 47 percent. The number of whites has dropped slightly in a county that President Bush narrowly won in 2000 and 2004.

Hillsborough County, N.H., home to Manchester, is still 89 percent white. But the number of Hispanics has grown by 57 percent and the number of blacks has increased by 56 percent. The white population has increased by just 2 percent in a county that Bush barely won twice.

The nation’s minority population has grown through higher birthrates and immigration. As a result, the share of minorities increased between 2000 and 2007 in every state but Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

Nationally, the white population grew by just 2 percent in that time, while the number of blacks increased by 10 percent and the number of Hispanics grew by 29 percent.

In the swing counties examined by the AP, the black population grew by an average of 18 percent and the number of Hispanics increased by 45 percent. The white population on average grew by less than a percent in the 129 counties.

“In many ways demographic differences are the raw material for party politics,” said John Green, director of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

“If the election is close, it could come down to small demographic changes in some areas.”


On The Net:

Census Bureau population estimates: http://www.census.gov/popest/estimates.php

Read Full Post »

New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right

Sudhan @20:01CET

What was an Iraqi politician doing at CIA headquarters just days before he distributed a fake memo incriminating Saddam Hussein in 9/11?

By Joe Conason | Salon.com, August 8, 2008

Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Vice President Cheney and President Bush at a White House press conference on Dec. 14, 2007.

If Ron Suskind’s sensational charge that the White House and CIA colluded in forging evidence to justify the Iraq invasion isn’t proved conclusively in his new book, “The Way of the World,” then the sorry record of the Bush administration offers no basis to dismiss his allegation. Setting aside the relative credibility of the author and the government, the relevant question is whether the available facts demand a full investigation by a congressional committee, with testimony under oath.

When we look back at the events surrounding the emergence of the faked letter that is at the center of this controversy, a strong circumstantial case certainly can be made in support of Suskind’s story.

That story begins during the final weeks of 2003, when everyone in the White House was suffering severe embarrassment over both the origins and the consequences of the invasion of Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. No evidence of significant connections between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the al-Qaida terrorist organization had been discovered there either. Nothing in this costly misadventure was turning out as advertised by the Bush administration.

According to Suskind, the administration’s highest officials — presumably meaning President Bush and Vice President Cheney — solved this problem by ordering the CIA to manufacture a document “proving” that Saddam had indeed been trying to build nuclear weapons and that he was also working with al-Qaida. The reported product of that order was a fake memorandum from Tahir Jalil Habbush, then chief of Saddam’s intelligence service, to the dictator himself, dated July 1, 2001. The memo not only explicitly confirmed that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had received training in Baghdad for “attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy” but also carefully noted the arrival of a “shipment” from Niger via Libya, presumably of uranium yellowcake, the sole export of that impoverished African country.

Very incriminating, very convenient and not very believable. Indeed, it may be hard to imagine that even the CIA at its bumbling worst would concoct such a blatant counterfeit. But there are a few reasons to believe that, too.

On Dec. 14, 2003, the Sunday Telegraph hyped the phony Habbush memo as a front-page exclusive over the byline of Con Coughlin, the paper’s foreign editor and chief Mideast correspondent, who has earned a reputation for promoting neoconservative claptrap. As I explained in a Salon blog post on Dec. 18, the story’s sudden appearance in London was the harbinger of a disinformation campaign that quickly blew back to the United States — where it was cited by William Safire on the New York Times Op-Ed page. Ignoring the bizarre Niger yellowcake reference, which practically screamed bullshit, Safire seized on Coughlin’s story as proof of his own cherished theory about Saddam’s sponsorship of 9/11.

Soon enough, however, the Habbush memo was discredited in Newsweek and elsewhere as a forgery for many reasons, notably including its contradiction of established facts concerning Atta’s travels during 2001.

But the credulous Telegraph coverage is still significant now, because Coughlin identified the source of his amazing scoop as Ayad Allawi. For those who have forgotten the ambitious Allawi, he is a former Baathist who rebelled against Saddam, formed the Iraqi National Accord movement to fight the dictator, and was appointed to Iraq’s interim Governing Council by the U.S. occupation authorities after the invasion.

Although Coughlin quoted Allawi at some length, neither he nor his source revealed how the Habbush memo had fallen into the hands of the Iraqi politician. But the Safire column made an allusion that now seems crucial, describing Allawi as “an Iraqi leader long considered reliable by intelligence agencies.”

Specifically, Allawi was a longtime asset of the Central Intelligence Agency, which had funded his struggle against Saddam for years prior to the invasion. His CIA sponsorship is noted in nearly every news article about Allawi, usually contrasted with the Pentagon sponsorship of his political rival, Ahmed Chalabi, the infamous fabricator of WMD intelligence (and suspected double agent for Iran).

Obviously, Allawi’s relationship with the CIA is worth reconsidering today in light of the charges in Suskind’s book, even though by itself that relationship proves nothing. There is more, however.

On Dec. 11, 2003 — three days before the Telegraph launched its “exclusive” on the Habbush memo — the Washington Post published an article by Dana Priest and Robin Wright headlined “Iraq Spy Service Planned by U.S. to Stem Attacks.” Buried inside on Page A41, their story outlined the CIA’s efforts to create a new Iraqi intelligence agency:

“The new service will be trained, financed and equipped largely by the CIA with help from Jordan. Initially the agency will be headed by Iraqi Interior Minister Nouri Badran, a secular Shiite and activist in the Jordan-based Iraqi National Accord, a former exile group that includes former Baath Party military and intelligence officials.

“Badran and Ayad Allawi, leader of the INA, are spending much of this week at CIA headquarters in Langley to work out the details of the new program. Both men have worked closely with the CIA over the past decade in unsuccessful efforts to incite coups against Saddam Hussein.” (The Web link to the full story is broken but it can be found on Nexis.)

So Allawi was at the CIA during the week before Coughlin got that wonderful scoop. That may not be proof of anything, either, but a picture is beginning to form.

That picture becomes sharper in the months that followed Allawi’s release of the Habbush forgery, when he suddenly returned to favor in Baghdad and eclipsed Chalabi, at least for a while. Five months later, in May 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council elected Allawi as his country’s interim prime minister, reportedly under pressure from the American authorities. Combining subservience to the occupiers with iron-fisted tactics, he quickly squandered any popularity he might have enjoyed, and his INA party placed a humiliating third in the 2005 national elections.

That was the end of Allawi as a politician, yet perhaps he had already served his purpose. And it might be very interesting to hear what he would say today about the Habbush forgery — and his broader relationship to the CIA and the Bush White House — especially if he were to tell his story in a congressional hearing.

Until then there is much more to learn from Suskind’s reporting, including new evidence that Bush and other officials knew there were no WMD in Iraq. Read an excerpt from “The Way of the World” here (where you can also sign up to receive a copy for $1 from Progressive Book Club, which happens to be run by my wife, Elizabeth Wagley).

Read Full Post »

Time out on Cape Cod with Edward Hopper

anthony@ 15:47 BST

Today, I came across this rather lovely piece in the New York Times on Edward Hopper’s depictions of Cape Cod, in which four people connected with the places he painted compare them with his watercolors and describe how they’ve changed through the years.

I spent a day on Cape Cod, or, rather, what was left of it after a somewhat pointless jaunt to Martha’s vineyard (Amity Island in Spielberg’s Jaws) on my visit to the States back in 2004 (an election year). In retrospect, I regret that I spent too much time on that white-painted duck and clapboard idyll (the closest that any place in America comes to being twee), and too little amongst the grassy dunes of the eastern shore of the Cape. It reminded me of the north Norfolk coast here in my native U.K. and, strangely, of driving through Switzerland on its B-roads. And what struck me the most, were the abundant hostas, plants which Siebold secretly smuggled out of Japan, and which Americans in particular have cultivated ever since.

I know, I know. It’s not news, but with all the shit that’s going on in the world, we could all do with some time out with this quintessentialy American painter, who celebrates, with such deceptive simplicity, isolation, whether of people at night in a cafe or of places like a lighthouse on Cape Cod or a lonely filling station by the road at twilight, in an extraordinary part of the world to which I would desperately like one day to return.

Multimedia: Hopper’s Cape Cod

See how the landscapes Edward Hopper painted have changed and hear what they mean to the people who live there. (Related: Article and Panoramic Image.)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: