Sunday, January 13, 2013

PNN - Democracy with a Human Face



 PNN 1/13/13   (Listen Here)

RWS                   7pm - 7:10pm 

Sue Howai         7:10 - 7:32 pm 

Mark Pafford     7:35 - 8:00 

Jeff Clemmons  8:02 - 8:25pm

Sky Nelson        8:25 - 9pm   -  live


Events
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1. Let's have a large show of support for 
a Move To Amend resolution at the Lake Worth City Commission! 

PRESS RELEASE

“Slavery is the legal fiction that people are property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction the property is a person.”
 William Meyers 

Tuesday 1/15/12
Lake Worth City Hall 6 N Dixie Highway Lake Worth FL
6pm Commission Meeting
Phone Contact: Linda Weil 561-729-1939
Email contact: Joni Albrecht albrechtmd@earthlink.net

The Lake Worth City Commission ( at their regular 6pm meeting at City Hall) will be voting on a resolution supporting an amendment to the US Constitution that would return constitutional rights to people only and prevent corporations from being given the same rights as humans as was done in the 2010 Supreme Court decision "Citizen's United vs FEC".
Such resolutions have been passed by hundreds of local governments around the US as well as an increasing number of states
This past summer, the US Conference of Mayors passed such a resolution at their meeting in Orlando.
The Move to Amend coalition has been working on a grassroots level towards an amendment that bans corporate personhood and states that money is not speech. The Palm Beach affiliate of MTA has been working to get supportive resolutions here in Palm Beach County.

In the last election we saw the powerful forces of large corporations trying to wrest our democracy from our hands.
Anyone who believes in democracy cannot let this continue. Our government is given privileges and responsibilities by us,
If corporations are given rights, they will control our government. This would not be a democracy: .Constitutional rights are meant for "We the People" and have no party affiliation.. An amendment to the constitution is the only way we can preserve this. 
We hope you can join us to witness the important discussion on Tuesday in Lake Worth and the vote to follow. 

2. Humanists of the Treasure Coast
Pot Luck Dinner and Get Together
Saturday, January 19, 6:30 p.m.
416 14th Avenue
Vero Beach, FL
Information or directions:  772-257-6774

3. Progressive Coalition Annual Mtg - January 27th
    Lake Mary Marriott  - Everyone Welcome  
    www.progressivedemcaucusfl.org/

4. LegiCamp 2013
LegiCamp 2013 is the third annual gathering of progressives which is held for the purpose of organizing actions for the Florida Legislative Session. The "unconference" format of scheduling sessions is based on the interests of attendees. Presenters will pitch their ideas to the group, and sessions will be planned according to those interests. Each session will be dedicated to planning specific legislative actions.
Saturday, February 9, 2013 
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)
Orlando, FL (Venue TBA)
LegiCamp is hosted by Florida Progressives, a coalition which in 2011 organized the collective actions known as Awake the State.
To Register go to legicamp.com

NEWS
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0. March 6th: Legislative Session 2013 Starts.
1. Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary - Opposed By Wm Black
President Obama is facing criticism for nominating another former Wall Street executive to become treasury secretary. On Thursday, Obama tapped his own chief of staff, Jack Lew, to replace Timothy Geithner. Lew was an executive at Citigroup from 2006 to 2008 at the time of the financial crisis. He served as chief operating officer of Citigroup’s Alternative Investments unit, a group that bet on the housing market to collapse.
Lew has also long pushed for the deregulation of Wall Street. From 1998 to January 2001, he headed the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton. During that time, Clinton signed into law two key laws to deregulate Wall Street: the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.
On Thursday, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont criticized Lew’s nomination, saying, quote, "We don’t need a treasury secretary who thinks that Wall Street deregulation was not responsible for the financial crisis."
At a press conference at the White House Thursday, President Obama praised Jack Lew’s record.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Jack has the distinction of having worked and succeeded in some of the toughest jobs in Washington and the private sector. As a congressional staffer in the 1980s, he helped negotiate the deal between President Reagan and Tip O’Neill to save Social Security. Under President Clinton, he presided over three budget surpluses in a row. So, for all the talk out there about deficit reduction, making sure our books are balanced, this is the guy who did it—three times. He helped oversee one of our nation’s finest universities and one of our largest investment banks. In my administration, he’s managed operations for the State Department and the budget for the entire executive branch. And over the past year, I’ve sought Jack’s advice on virtually every decision that I’ve made, from economic policy to foreign policy.
AMY GOODMAN: For more on the nomination of Jack Lew, as well as other news about Wall Street, we’re joined by two guest. William Black, author of  The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One_, he’s associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, former senior financial regulator. His recent article for the  Huffington Post is called "Jacob Lew: Another Brick in the Wall Street on the Potomac."
We’re also joined by Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for  Rolling Stone magazine, his latest  piece, "Secrets and Lies of the Bailout," which we’ll talk about in a bit, author of  Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History.

WILLIAM BLACK: Well, on financial matters, Jack Lew has been a failure of pretty epic proportions, and he gets promoted precisely because he is willing to be a failure and is so useful to Wall Street interests. So, you’ve mentioned two of the things in terms of the most important and most destructive deregulation under President Clinton by statute. But he was also there for much of the deregulation by rule, and a strong proponent of it, and he was there for much of the cutting of staff. For example, the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, lost three-quarters of its staff, and that huge loss began under Clinton. And the whole reinventing government, Lew was a strong supporter of that. And, for example, we were taught—instructed by Washington that we were to refer to banks as our "clients" in our role as regulators and to think of them as clients.

He goes from there to Wall Street, where he was a complete failure. You noted that part of what Citicorp did was bet that housing would fall. That was actually one of their winning bets. But they actually made a bunch of losing bets, as well. And the unit that he was heading would have not been permissible but for the deregulation of getting rid of Glass-Steagall under President Clinton. And you saw, as an example of Citicorp, why we shouldn’t be doing this. Why would we create a federal subsidy where all of us, through the U.S. government, are on the hook for Citicorp’s gambling on financial derivatives for its own account, you know, running a casino operation? That makes absolutely no public policy sense.
Then he comes into the Obama administration, and he was disastrously wrong. He tried very hard to impose austerity on the United States back in 2011, which is—he wanted, you know, the European strategy, which has pushed the eurozone back into recession, and Spain, Greece and Italy into Great Depression levels of unemployment.
And this is the guy, after all of these failures, who also is intellectually dishonest. He will not own up to his role and deregulation’s role and de-supervision’s role in producing this crisis—and not just this crisis, but the Enron-era crisis and the savings-and-loan debacle.
4. Lew Opposed by Sen. Sanders
Bernie Sanders campaigned, hard, for Barack Obama's reelection.
But the independent senator from Vermont is not going to rubber-stamp the president's selection of Jack Lew, a supporter of banking deregulation who has passed back and forth through the revolving door from Wall Street to Washington, as the nation's 76th Secretary of the Treasury.
While Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, he represents the people who elected him. And he swears an oath to a Constitution that requires -- not "allows," requires -- the legislative branch of the federal government to check and balance the executive branch.
One of the Senate's most vital duties is that of providing "advice and consent" on presidential nominations. A president has broad leeway when it comes to naming members of the Cabinet -- arguably broader leeway than in the naming of lifetime appointees to the federal judiciary. But that leeway is not such that senators can or should simply approve every nominee. Advice should be given, and at times consent should be denied -- not just by partisan foes of the sitting president but, sometimes, by allies of that president.
In the hyper-partisan environment of today's Washington, it is common for members of the party caucus affiliated with the president to go along with any pick the president makes. But there are times when principle must prevail over partisanship.
Sanders, who has a history of breaking with Democratic and Republican presidents on economic-policy issues, says Jack Lew is the wrong candidate for the Treasury post being vacated by Tim Geithner, whose bias in favor of Wall Street was such that his 2009 nomination was opposed by Sanders, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold and West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.
Here's how Sanders explains his opposition to the Lew nomination:
"Jack Lew is clearly an extremely intelligent person and I applaud his many years of public service to our country. I believe that he will be confirmed by the Senate. Unfortunately, he will be confirmed without my vote. At a time when the middle class is collapsing and millions of workers are unemployed, I do not believe he is the right person at the right time to serve in this important position.
"As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.  
"We don't need a treasury secretary who thinks that Wall Street deregulation was not responsible for the financial crisis.  We need a treasury secretary who will work hard to break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions so that Wall Street cannot cause another massive financial crisis.
"We don't need another treasury secretary who believes in "deficit neutral' corporate tax reform. We need a treasury secretary willing to fight to make sure that large, profitable corporations pay their fair share in taxes to reduce the deficit and create jobs.
"We don't need a treasury secretary who will advise the president that he should negotiate with the Republicans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We need someone who is going to strengthen these programs.
"We don't need another treasury secretary who believes that NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China have been good for the American economy. We need someone in the White House who works to fundamentally re-write our trade policy to make sure that we are exporting American goods, not American jobs."
5. FUKUSHIMA NEWS
Bend Bulletin
More than a year and a half since the nuclear crisis, much of Japan's post-Fukushima cleanup remains primitive, slapdash and bereft of the cleanup methods lauded by government scientists as effective in removing harmful radioactive cesium from the

6. CROOKED CLEANUP: Environment Ministry failed to act on Asahi tip-off

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Environment Ministry officials in December received details and photographic evidence of shoddy decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture, but they dithered on taking action by citing “manners” and the need to confirm the information.
New Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara has also been slow to react since The Asahi Shimbun ran its first story on the issue on Jan. 4.
Asahi Shimbun reporters, who witnessed slipshod work at 13 locations between Dec. 11 and 18, visited the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration, which is responsible for overseeing decontamination work around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, on Dec. 25.
The reporters told a senior representative that general contractors instructed workers to dump potentially contaminated vegetation and not to bother with the proper recovery of water used for cleaning.
The journalists explained about the 13 locations and dates and showed photographs taken at the sites.
The office representative said it is a matter of “manners.”
“It appears that workers (dumped vegetation) not out of malice but because they removed more radioactive materials than they had expected,” the representative said.
The same day, Asahi Shimbun reporters met with two senior officials at the Environment Ministry in Tokyo and provided the list of 13 locations.
“We cannot do anything unless we confirm the facts,” Masaaki Kobayashi, director-general of the Environment Management Bureau, said. “We will contact the Fukushima office.”
The ministry also appeared to largely ignore information about the dodgy decontamination work from a person on the front line.
A worker in his 20s who said he was ordered to dump vegetation sent a fax to the Environment Ministry in Tokyo and the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration on Dec. 26.
The fax explained what was happening at the work sites and contained his real name and e-mail address. But the man had not received any response as of Jan. 8.
Asahi Shimbun reporters visited the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration again on Dec. 26 and showed director Takashi Omura a photograph of a site supervisor kicking fallen leaves into a river in Tamura.
“It is a grave problem if it is true,” Omura said. “I will immediately consult with those in charge.”
However, Omura did not discuss the issue with Environment Ministry officials in Tokyo until Dec. 28, the last business day of 2012 for government workers.
By that day, two general contractors contacted by The Asahi Shimbun had informed Omura's office that water used for cleaning may have not been properly recovered at decontamination sites.
In late afternoon on Dec. 28, Kobayashi said, “I do not know about the situation because I have not received reports from (the Fukushima office).”
Local government leaders in Fukushima Prefecture expressed outrage after reading The Asahi Shimbun’s report on Jan. 4. Omura called them and apologized for “causing worries.”
Yoshimi Okunishi, a councilor at the Minister’s Secretariat at the Environment Ministry, told reporters in Tokyo that the ministry will investigate whether the report is true.
“Our ministry will not move unless a newspaper article appears,” one employee said.
The ministry did not begin questioning general contractors until Jan. 7, when it set up a task force on the issue headed by Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue.
But subcontractors and workers have changed at many decontamination sites since the start of the new year, which could make it difficult for the task force to obtain first-hand information.
On Jan. 9, Inoue visited Tamura, where the site supervisor kicked leaves into the river on Dec. 14. The leaves on the ground were gone, and it was impossible to tell if they were removed by workers or fell into the river and flowed away.
The response of Ishihara, who became environment minister on Dec. 26, has been unclear.
Ishihara and the Environment Ministry also plan to rely on voluntary investigations by general contractors instead of interviewing front-line workers.
“We will not have enough information to make a judgment until we read reports (from the contractors),” Ishihara said.
The ministry expects to receive the reports by Jan. 11 and compile measures on Jan. 18 to prevent a recurrence.
During questioning on Jan. 7, the companies only admitted that water used for cleaning was not properly recovered in two instances in December.
Ishihara did not come to his Environment Ministry office on Jan. 4, the first business day for government workers this year.
When asked what he did on the day, Ishihara said on the night of Jan. 8, “I do not remember.”
The Asahi Shimbun asked the same question through the ministry’s public relations office. A written reply said Ishihara issued instructions to a senior vice minister to confirm facts and respond strictly.
Ishihara did not appear in the Environment Ministry until Jan. 6, when he attended a briefing scheduled from last year. He and other senior ministry officials discussed what to do and decided to set up the task force.
Ministry officials hope to minimize the fallout of the scandal because only general contractors can handle the contracts, which are awarded for each municipality.
The officials have relied on the companies to carry out the decontamination project worth 650 billion yen ($7.4 billion), an extremely large amount for a ministry project.
Slipshod work can constitute violations of not only government contracts but also a special measures law on dealing with contaminated waste.
If serious offenses are found, the ministry could be forced to exclude a general contractor from the project.
(This article was compiled from reports by Toshio Tada, Tamiyuki Kihara and Miki Aoki.)

7. Fukushima Cleanup Workers Have Been Dumping Contaminated Debris Into Rivers

After a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, officials promised to use cutting-edge technology from across the globe to mount the most ambitious radiological cleanup humanity has ever seen.

But it appears that the $11.5 billion, multi-decade effort has become part of the nuclear disaster.


Reporters for Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, found that crews "have dumped soil and leaves contaminated with radioactive fallout into rivers," water sprayed on contaminated buildings "has been allowed to drain back into the environment," and supervisors "instructed workers to ignore rules on proper collection and disposal of the radioactive waste."
Workers told Asahi Shimbun that "a feeling of helplessness led to a moral vacuum that enabled workers to ignore the Environment Ministry’s rules."
The Japanese government said it will investigate the shoddy work after it confirmed two cases, but Asahi Shimbun also reports that Environment Ministry officials didn't act after Fukushima Prefecture residents filed "a continuous stream" of complaints.
Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times reports that instead of drawing on technology from local business and foreign companies that can remove harmful radioactive cesium from the environment, central and local governments have hired Japan’s largest construction companies to handle much of the delicate work.
The companies are politically connected but have little radiological cleanup expertise, which has resulted in the use of "primitive" techniques — such as collecting contaminated debris in garbage bags and leaving the waste on roadsides, in fields and on the coastline — that do not remove harmful radioactive cesium from the environment.
The new reports are the latest in a long string of seemingly negligent acts by officials responsible for the nuclear fallout.
In July we reported that some workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were ordered to lie about their radiation exposure.

Also in July we reported that 36 percent of Fukushima children had abnormal growths – cysts or nodules – on their thyroids a year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
We subsequently found that the American Thyroid Association had not seen specific data on the Fukushima radiation risks despite the fact that Japan's Institute of Radiological Sciences found that some children living close to the plant were exposed to "lifetime" doses of radiation to their thyroid glands.
In August it was revealed that radiation released from the nuclear power plant has caused harmful mutations in generations of nearby butterflies, and in October scientists found that fish caught in waters near the damaged reactors indicated there was still a source of radioactive cesium either on the seafloor or still being discharged into the sea.
In October the operator of Japan's crippled Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, admitted that it played down the risks of a tsunami so it wouldn't have to shut down the plant to address them.


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