Published on Sunday, May 22, 2011 by Juan Cole
by Juan Cole
There’s an action alert by a supporter of Rand Paul over at Firedoglake saying that an attempt will be made at 5 pm on Monday in the Senate to extend the misnamed ‘PATRIOT Act’ for four years. There will be an attempt to get unanimous consent for the extension, with just a motion to which there should be no objections.
Rand’s alert says,
“The surveillance state’s ability to snoop through your business records, pry into your library book checkouts, monitor so-called “lone wolfs,” and spy on your personal communications through roving wiretaps will be extended until 2015, which “coincidentally” is not an election year.”
Here is a similarly urgent ACLU alert.
Published on Sunday, May 22, 2011 by the Boston Globe
by Derrick Z. Jackson
ON THE same day President Obama pressed again for peace in the Middle East, the Associated Press reminded us that the United States cannot help itself from flooding the region with the instruments of war, reporting that the nation is “quietly expanding defense ties on a vast scale’’ with Saudi Arabia.
How vast? The part that has been highly publicized is the new $60 billion arms sale made to the Saudis because of the ongoing threat of Iran. The deal sends Saudi Arabia 84 new F-15s and upgrades to 70 F-15s. It also sends them about 180 Apache, Black Hawk, and Little Bird helicopters, as well as anti-ship and anti-radar missiles. In officially announcing the sale last fall, Andrew Shapiro, the US assistant secretary of state for political affairs, said the sales were part of “deepening our security relationship with a key partner with whom we’ve enjoyed a solid security relationship for nearly 70 years.’’
But there are other emerging aspects of the security relationship the Obama administration is not so candid about. The AP also reported on an obscure project to create a special elite security force that would fall under the US Central Command. The force would have up to 35,000 members “to protect the kingdom’s oil riches and future nuclear sites.’’ It would be separate from Saudi Arabia’s military and its national guard and would involve tens of billions of dollars in additional military contracts. But no official of the Pentagon, the State Department, or the Saudi embassy would go on the record to discuss the program.
Published on Sunday, May 22, 2011 by The Japan Times
by Stephen Hesse
Lawyer Tom Twomey knows far more than most of us about the importance of citizen participation in making energy policy. That’s because Twomey has spent four decades keeping a watchful eye on electric power suppliers in New York — and he’s learned that what we don’t know can hurt us.
Certainly, what he’s learned about the hubris and underhand dealings of the U.S. nuclear power industry offers some valuable lessons for Japan. But the most important thing he says he’s come to realize is that the participation of public-interest lawyers and the media is critical to ensure that energy providers prioritize safety. And that applies just as much to Japan as the United States, he insists, even though Japan is a far less litigious society in which citizens shy away from challenging government and big business.
In the following recent interview with The Japan Times, Twomey shares some insights and experiences from his years helping farmers to challenge the U.S. nuclear power industry — and win.
What was the situation you faced in 1974?
In the 1970s, the local utility on Long Island decided that, rather than simply supplying electricity to homeowners and businesses in the area, they would get into the wholesale production of electricity and produce enough power for the entire northeast region of the United States.
Unlike the other coastal areas from Boston to Washington D.C., which are heavily populated, the east end of Long Island is a rural farming area with a relatively small population. It also has easy access to the cooling waters of the Atlantic, since a nuclear plant requires massive amounts of water to keep its reactors from overheating.