Published on Monday, June 27, 2011 by Associated Press
by Jeff Donn
BUCHANAN, N.Y. – As America’s nuclear power plants have aged, the once-rural areas around them have become far more crowded and much more difficult to evacuate. Yet government and industry have paid little heed, even as plants are running at higher power and posing more danger in the event of an accident, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Populations around the facilities have swelled as much as 4 1/2 times since 1980, a computer-assisted population analysis shows.
But some estimates of evacuation times have not been updated in decades, even as the population has increased more than ever imagined. Emergency plans would direct residents to flee on antiquated, two-lane roads that clog hopelessly at rush hour.
And evacuation zones have remained frozen at a 10-mile radius from each plant since they were set in 1978 — despite all that has happened since, including the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan.
Meanwhile, the dangers have increased.
Three Energy Developments That Are Changing Your Life
By Michael T. Klare
Posted on June 5, 2011, Printed on June 27, 2011
Here’s the good news about energy: thanks to rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions worldwide, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that global oil demand will not grow this year as much as once assumed, which may provide some temporary price relief at the gas pump. In its May Oil Market Report, the IEA reduced its 2011 estimate for global oil consumption by 190,000 barrels per day, pegging it at 89.2 million barrels daily. As a result, retail prices may not reach the stratospheric levels predicted earlier this year, though they will undoubtedly remain higher than at any time since the peak months of 2008, just before the global economic meltdown. Keep in mind that this is the good news.
As for the bad news: the world faces an array of intractable energy problems that, if anything, have only worsened in recent weeks. These problems are multiplying on either side of energy’s key geological divide: below ground, once-abundant reserves of easy-to-get “conventional” oil, natural gas, and coal are drying up; above ground, human miscalculation and geopolitics are limiting the production and availability of specific energy supplies. With troubles mounting in both arenas, our energy prospects are only growing dimmer.
Here’s one simple fact without which our deepening energy crisis makes no sense: the world economy is structured in such a way that standing still in energy production is not an option. In order to satisfy the staggering needs of older industrial powers like the United States along with the voracious thirst of rising powers like China, global energy must grow substantially every year.
- By Deborah Dupre, Human Rights Examiner
- June 25, 2011 10:12 am ET
Martial Law provision goes to Senate
A noted human rights group spokesperson has stated that the mandatory military detention provision that the Senate Armed Services Committee secretly discussed and passed this week, is what martial-law states, not democracies do.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote this week redefined rules for detaining terrorism suspects, including giving power to military judges to review cases of prisoners in Afghanistan and mandating military detention for important Qaeda suspects even captured on United States soil according to The New York Times.
The Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program senior counsel for Human Rights Watch, Andrea Prasow said “mandatory military detention is what martial-law states do, not democracies” reported The Times.
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.
The Times reported Friday that “the vote took place in a closed session and the text of the legislation has not been made public.”
Posted on Jun 27, 2011
By Chris Hedges
I visited the Hartford Courant as a high school student. It was the first time I was in a newsroom. The Connecticut paper’s newsroom, the size of a city block, was packed with rows of metal desks, most piled high with newspapers and notebooks. Reporters banged furiously on heavy typewriters set amid tangled phone cords, overflowing ashtrays, dirty coffee mugs and stacks of paper, many of which were in sloping piles on the floor. The din and clamor, the incessantly ringing phones, the haze of cigarette and cigar smoke that lay over the feverish hive, the hoarse shouts, the bustle and movement of reporters, most in disheveled coats and ties, made it seem an exotic, living organism. I was infatuated. I dreamed of entering this fraternity, which I eventually did, for more than two decades writing for The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and, finally, The New York Times, where I spent most of my career as a foreign correspondent.
Newsrooms today are anemic and forlorn wastelands. I was recently in the newsroom at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and patches of the floor, also the size of a city block, were open space or given over to rows of empty desks. These institutions are going the way of the massive rotary presses that lurked like undersea monsters in the bowels of newspaper buildings, roaring to life at night. The heavily oiled behemoths, the ones that spat out sheets of newsprint at lightning speed, once empowered and enriched newspaper publishers who for a few lucrative decades held a monopoly on connecting sellers with buyers. Now that that monopoly is gone, now that the sellers no long need newsprint to reach buyers, the fortunes of newspapers are declining as fast as the page counts of daily news sheets.
Working America labors under the weakest protections from abusive management in the developed world, by far. We take it as a given that our bosses can fire us for any reason (with a few exceptions like discrimination on the basis of race or gender), or no reason at all – a notion that would shock and appall working people in most advanced economies.
But corporate America doesn’t want the very modest protections that do exist in this country to be enforced. Even as companies lay claim to many of the Constitutional rights of citizenship, they want to be held above the rule of law when it comes to their employees.
This desire lays at the heart of a recent barrage of assaults on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a New Deal agency that for over 75 years has been tasked with enforcing the very modest protections for organized workers afforded by the National Labor Relations Act. The agency, according to former NLRB general counsel Fred Feinstein, “has the stated purpose of encouraging private-sector collective bargaining, protecting employees’ right to form a union to improve working conditions and preventing retaliation for exercising these rights.” He adds that passage of the law “helped the U.S. climb out of the Great Depression and encouraged the growth of a vibrant middle class for much of the last century.”
By MICHAEL HUDSON
The fight for Europe’s future is being waged in Athens and other Greek cities to resist financial demands that are the 21st century’s version of an outright military attack. The threat of bank overlordship is not the kind of economy-killing policy that affords opportunities for heroism in armed battle, to be sure. Destructive financial policies are more like an exercise in the banality of evil – in this case, the pro-creditor assumptions of the European Central Bank (ECB), EU and IMF (egged on by the U.S. Treasury).
As Vladimir Putin pointed out some years ago, the neoliberal reforms put in Boris Yeltsin’s hands by the Harvard Boys in the 1990s caused Russia to suffer lower birth rates, shortening life spans and emigration – the greatest loss in population growth since World War II. Capital flight is another consequence of financial austerity. The ECB’s proposed “solution” to Greece’s debt problem is thus self-defeating. It only buys time for the ECB to take on yet more Greek government debt, leaving all EU taxpayers to get the bill. It is to avoid this shift of bank losses onto taxpayers that Angela Merkel in Germany has insisted that private bondholders must absorb some of the loss resulting from their bad investments.
The bankers are trying to get a windfall by using the debt hammer to achieve what warfare did in times past. They are demanding privatization of public assets (on credit, with tax deductibility for interest so as to leave more cash flow to pay the bankers). This transfer of land, public utilities and interest as financial booty and tribute to creditor economies is what makes financial austerity like war in its effect.
Preparing for the 2012 Farm Bill
By Rady Ananda
Global Research, June 24, 2011
Plutocrats aimed another weapon at the nation’s poor and at small and midsized farmers, this time thru the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill, H.R. 2112, which the House passed on June 16. The 82-page bill returns some federal spending to 2006 levels and others to 2008 levels.
Now being reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, the final version of HR 2112 will lay the terrain on which the 2012 Farm Bill will be crafted. The House Agriculture Committee began preparatory hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill this week, reports NSAC.
Key sections provide deep cuts to domestic food programs, threatening food banks, low-income seniors, women and children, and farmers markets supported by WIC vouchers issued thru the Women, Infants and Children program .
HR 2112 also made deep cuts to rural development, conservation and eco-remediation programs, and to local and regional food system development programs. This can be seen as nothing other than a punitive response to the growing local food sovereignty movement.
Let’s say an abuse-ridden childhood has left you with PTSD that sparks panic whenever you hear shouts, even on TV. Or let’s say a bad accident has saddled you with crippling anxiety and chronic pain. Now let’s say that you could ease — or even cure — these woes with prescription psiloscybin. Prescription ecstasy. Prescription LSD.
If a growing phalanx of scientists get their way, those prescriptions could be yours within 10 years. Research into the medical benefits of psychedelic drugs is booming. An April conference on the subject at Great Britain’s University of Kent featured lectures on such topics as “Ketamine Psychotherapy” and “Ayahuasca in the Contemporary World.”
Leading this wave is the Boston-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), whose executive director Rick Doblin spoke at that conference. MAPS researchers have spent 15 years conducting international clinical trials whose results indicate that LSD and psilocybin counteract depression and anxiety and are effective pain-management tools while MDMA (ecstasy) conquers fear. Just this month, the Israeli Ministry of Health approved a new MAPS study using MDMA to treat PTSD.
“Time is on our side,” Doblin says. “The world is full of aging baby boomers who are looking forward to psychedelic retirement and psychedelic hospice.
Sometimes the American Left won’t recognize its own success. Despite disappointment over President Barack Obama’s overall handling of the Afghan War, his announcement that he is reversing the escalation and beginning a drawdown is a significant development suggesting that Afghanistan won’t become “another Vietnam” as the Left had feared.
Indeed, Obama’s speech Wednesday night could be compared to John F. Kennedy’s tentative moves at a similar point in his presidency to begin backing away from a major expansion of the Vietnam War, a process that was reversed only after Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.
Clearly, Kennedy and Obama made initial foreign policy mistakes, largely due to their selection of advisers. Kennedy retained too much of the Republican military brass – the likes of Gen. Curtis LeMay – and brought in too many of his own “best and brightest” war hawks – such as the Bundy brothers.
Similarly, Obama surrounded himself with a mix of Republican holdovers from George W. Bush’s administration, such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus, and Democratic neocon-lites, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
And, much as Kennedy bowed to his hawkish advisers when he approved the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba early in his presidency, Obama let himself be boxed in by Gates, Petraeus and Clinton in regards to a sizable escalation of the war in Afghanistan. For both presidents, this was part of the learning curve, but Kennedy and Obama seemed to have benefitted from the negative experience.