Sunday, November 24, 2013

PNN - November Notables

PNN - 11/24/13

Kelly Martin
William Rankin CFO Candidate
Citizen Clean Water Summit

2013 Earth First! Film Fest
Three days of new and classic films from the front lines of the global ecological resistance
Location: Friends’ Quaker Meeting House, 823 North A Street, Lake Worth, FL
Nov 29 - Dec 1

Thursday December 5, 2 p.m. 
National Day of Action: Delivery of our Social Security advocacy message
Florida Senator Bill Nelson is a member of the Senate Budget Committee. That committee is meeting NOW and might consider such drastic measures as:
·        Cuts to Social Security
·        Raising Medicare beneficiary costs
·        Reducing Medicaid funding
Senator Nelson’s West Palm Beach office
413 Clematis St. #210
WPB, FL 33401
RSVP Midge Dosch - 561 301 4676


1. Dump It in the Ocean: TEPCO's Plan for Radioactive Fukushima Water
'There's no risk to public health and safety,' pronounces consultant working for the nuclear plant's owner

A nuclear expert helping with the clean-up at the crisis-stricken Fukushima plant has joined a chorus of voices saying that all the accumulating radioactive waste water must eventually be dumped into the ocean.

Speaking with Australia's ABC, Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and current head of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee hired by plant operator TEPCO, described the situation at the plant as "challenging."

Massive amounts of radioactive water used to cool the reactors continue to build up daily in hastily built storage tanks, some which have already leaked, creating an unsustainable scenario.

Eventually, Klein told ABC, that water must be treated to reduce its radioactivity and then dumped into he ocean.

"At the end of the day, when the water is discharged, it will be released in a way that it's diluted," he said.

"So there's no risk to public health and safety. But it's an emotional issue."

More mishaps at Fukushima, like when a rat chewed wiring and caused a power outage, are likely to come, Klein warned.

"I think we will see more of those. When you look at that site, it's massive," he said.

"It's a big site and it's not unusual to have other things like that," he told ABC.

Klein's comments that the waste water will head to the ocean echo those that Lake Barrett, a former NRC official who also serves on TEPCO's committee, offered in an op-ed in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in September.

Barrett wrote that

    Spending billions and billions of yen on building tanks to try to capture almost every drop of water on the site is unsustainable, wasteful, and counterproductive. Such a program cannot continue indefinitely. [...]

    I see no realistic alternative to a program that cleans up water with improved processing systems so it meets very protective Japanese release standards and then, after public discussion, conducts an independently confirmed, controlled release to the sea.

Also among those calling for the water to be dumped into the ocean is Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, who said in September, "I'm afraid that it is unavoidable to dump or release the water into the sea."

Meanwhile at the crippled nuclear plant, workers this week began a risky yet pressing operation to remove over 1300 fuel rods from Reactor 4.

Explaining why the removal is dangerous yet must be done, nuclear expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani told The Real News Network's Jaisal Noor:

    Now, the spent fuel pool number four at Fukushima, which is in question currently, has the most spent fuel of any of the damaged reactors. And the building itself is damaged. And if it is left there, there may be another earthquake. And if the spent fuel pool is destroyed in the next earthquake, there could be a much more severe environmental catastrophe than there was in 2011, in some ways, because the long-lived radioactive material in the spent fuel is more than what was emitted during that accident. I'm talking about long-lived material—cesium, strontium, and so on.

    So I believe it is very important to empty spent fuel pool number four especially and put that spent fuel in safer storage.

    Look, there's no low-risk solution to this problem. Leaving it there is a significant risk, and removing it also involves significant risks. The spent fuel may be difficult to dislodge because it's no longer in its proper original position. The fuel rods may break, and the fuel may wind up at the bottom of the reactor in the spent fuel pool. There may be an accident of criticality. I haven't examined their plans in detail, but I do think it is very essential to remove this spent fuel, because in my judgment, the bigger danger is leaving it there and waiting for the earthquake to happen. [...]

    These pools are sitting high up in the building, and above them there are cranes that move above the spent fuel pools and reactors that transfer fresh fuel into the reactor and used fuel out of the reactor into a pool. So these are pretty heavy pieces of equipment. And those frames were destroyed, along, you know, with the building infrastructure on which they were constructed. So they've had to build a whole new basically impromptu infrastructure to handle this spent fuel that—one hopes that is as precise as the other one, but it's doubtful whether it can replicate the precision of the old, original crane, which could go back and forth above the pool. But it is—you know, they have actually built some kind of a structure, protective structure, not like the original containment. And they also have built a new crane and remote handling for the fuel.

2. us house passes bill
The US House passed Wednesday two bills that would demand a $5,000 filing fee for any individual that wanted to hold an official protest of a drilling project, and that would give the feds less authority nationwide over hydraulic fracking rules.

HR 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, imposes a $5,000 fee for anyone wishing to file for an official protest of a proposed drilling project. An amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that would have clarified the fee to make sure it was not in violation of First Amendment rights was defeated.

In addition, the bill would allow for automatic approval of onshore drilling permits should the US Department of Interior (DOI) take over 60 days to act on an application. DOI would also be required to begin commercial leasing for development of oil shale - not to be confused with “shale oil” - which is rock that must be heated to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to yield crude oil.

The controversial practice has been largely nonexistent in the US since the days of President Herbert Hoover, who prohibited leasing federal lands for oil shale, “the dirtiest fuel on the planet,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The oil shale process “takes a large amount of energy and money, as well as 3-5 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced, a dangerous issue in the parched West,” according to Jessica Goad of the Center for American Progress’ Public Lands Project. 

Large tracts of land - especially in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming - hold deposits of oil shale. The bill would require the federal government to open up 10 leases of its land in 2014 for research and demonstration projects, with further developments by 2016.

The House passed the measure, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), by a vote of 228 to 192, with seven Democrats supporting it and only one Republican in opposition.

The other bill - HR 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act - would put more authority of hydraulic fracking in the hands of states that already have rules on the practice. Unless a state has yet to set guidelines on fracking, DOI would have no authority over whether companies disclose what chemicals they use in fracking fluid, whether water from fracked wells is polluted or whether anyone can request public hearings regarding fracking permit applications.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 235 to 187, as 12 Democrats supported it and only two Republicans did not.

Hydraulic fracking is the highly-controversial process of injecting water, sand and various chemicals into layers of rock in hopes of releasing oil and gas deep underground. The practice is opposed worldwide, as shown by global protests against fracking in October, for its damning environmental impacts. 

Supporters say it brings jobs and opportunities for energy independence, though detractors have pointed to exaggerated employment claims. Multiple reports have found any jobs created by fracking usually go to established, already-employed oil industry workers from places like Texas rather than local citizens.

Meanwhile, more money is being thrown at the US political class to support fracking, representing the rising popularity of it among energy companies. Calculations released Wednesday by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics Washington show fracking industry contributions to congressional campaigns went up 231 percent from 2004 to 2012 in districts and states where fracking has occurred.

The two bills have little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate. Even if it did, President Obama has stated he would veto the legislation should it get that far.

House Democrats opposed to the bills decried voting on such measures that have no chance of becoming law. “The galleries are empty, the floor is empty, because we’re not doing anything,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Wednesday on the House floor. “And it’s not because we don’t have a lot of things to do.”

“I won’t apologize for any action that’s been taken by the majority of this house to try to reign in the excesses of this administration,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said in response. 

3. Erik Prince on NPR - no rebuttal

4. Florida locks up more people than 
    the brutal communist government of Cuba

5. Polishing our Apples - in secret of course
Now they're engineering our apples!
It's just not natural for food to look like this

Only the biotech industry could make an apple act like junk

Don't let biotech mess with our apples!

You've seen the stories, maybe on the Internet, maybe on your local news. It's a gross curiosity: someone shows off junk food that they claim they've had for 40 years, but it looks like it was made yesterday. These stories give us all the creeps, because it's just not natural for food not to decay. You should feel the same way about genetically engineered (GE) apples — these "Arctic" apples won't turn brown when you cut them up!

Apples are great just the way they are; there's no reason for biotech companies to change them. Browning is nature's way of showing how fresh an apple slice is. A little browning never hurt anyone, and a lot of browning is a sign that an apple slice is getting old... unless GE apples get approved.

If that happens, you won't be able to tell just by looking at an apple how fresh it is, and because GE apples aren't labeled, you won't have the option to avoid them. Tell the USDA that non-browning apples are just unnatural, and you don't want them at your grocery store.

There's more wrong with this Arctic apple than its unnatural good looks. The creators of this apple used a controversial new engineering technique to silence the gene responsible for browning. Unfortunately, changing DNA isn't that simple — different genes within an organism interact in ways that are hard to predict, so you can't just flip off a gene like a switch without side effects. In the case of the GE apple, the browning gene is also tied to the apple tree's natural defenses against pests. The USDA simply hasn't done enough research to know what effect that could have on the plants themselves and on people who eat the apples.

The GE apple is steadily moving along its path to approval, but it's seriously controversial. Even some major food companies, like Gerber and McDonald's, have already said that they won't use the GE apple. We need to show the USDA that the public — that's you — overwhelmingly opposes this freakish fruit. Can you add your voice to the growing outcry against GE apples?

6. Zombie Politics & Casino Capitalism
    on the Bill Moyers Show - from TruthOut|-henry-giroux-zombie-politics-and-casino-capitalism

This week on Moyers & Company, author and scholar Henry Giroux explains how our political system has turned people into zombies – “people who are basically so caught up with surviving that they become like the walking dead — they lose their sense of agency, they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.”

Also on the broadcast, Bill looks at Birth of the Living Dead, a mesmerizing new documentary that examines the singular time in which the classic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead was shot – when civil unrest and violence gave the nation nightmares and zombies were a metaphor for a troubled and distressed American public.

HENRY GIROUX: What's at stake here is not just the fact that you have rich people who now control the economy and all the commanding institutions of society. What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. A very wise teacher once told us, “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.” Then he gave us some of his favorite examples. You think of language differently, he said, if you think of “words pregnant with celestial fire.” Or “words that weep and tears that speak.” Of course, the heart doesn’t physically separate into pieces when we lose someone we love, but “a broken heart” conveys the depth of loss. And if I say you are the “apple of my eye”, you know how special you are in my sight. In other words, metaphors cleanse the lens of perception and give us a fresh take on reality. In other words.

Recently I read a book and saw a film that opened my eyes to see differently the crisis of our times, and the metaphor used by both was, believe it or not, zombies. You heard me right, zombies. More on the film later, but this is the book: “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”. Talk about “connecting the dots” -- read this, and the headlines of the day will, I think, arrange themselves differently in your head -- threading together ideas and experiences to reveal a pattern. The skillful weaver is Henry Giroux, a scholar, teacher and social critic with seemingly tireless energy and a broad range of interests. Here are just a few of his books: America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth, Twilight of the Social, Youth in a Suspect Society, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education.

Henry Giroux is the son of working class parents in Rhode Island who now holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. Henry Giroux, welcome.

7. US Court Denies Halt on Pipeline Set to Replace Keystone XL Northern Half

The ever-wise Yogi Berra once quipped "It's like déjà vu all over again," a truism applicable to a recent huge decision handed down by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 
That 600-mile long, 600,000 barrels per day proposed line runs from Flanagan, Illinois - located in the north central part of the state - down to Cushing, Oklahoma, dubbed the "pipeline crossroads of the world." The proposed 694-mile, 700,000 barrels per day proposed Transcanada Keystone XL northern half also runs to Cushing from Alberta, Canada and requires U.S. State Department approval, along with President Barack Obama's approval. 
Because Flanagan South is not a border-crossing line, it doesn't require the State Department or Obama's approval. If Keystone XL's northern half's permit is denied, Flanagan South - along with Enbridge's proposal to expand itsAlberta Clipper pipeline, approved by Obama's State Department during Congress' recess in August 2009 - would make up that half of the pipeline's capacity and then some. 
At issue in the District Court was the legality of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing a Nationwide Permit 12 to shove through the Flanagan South (much like the Appeals Court case covered here on DeSmogBlog just weeks ago with Transcanada's Keystone XL's southern half, rebranded the "Gulf Coast Pipeline Project" by Transcanada). 
Sierra Club and NWF argued for an injunction - or halt - in constructing and pumping tar sands through Flanagan South until the legality of issuing a Nationwide Permit 12 is decided, an issue still awaiting the decision of Judge Jackson. Like the Keystone XL southern half case, Nationwide Permit 12 was used instead of going through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
by Steve Horn

8. MORE MORE MORE - Snowden's latest release says they wanted MORE!
from New York Times
fficials at the National Security Agency, intent on maintaining its dominance in intelligence collection, pledged last year to push to expand its surveillance powers, according to a top-secret strategy document.
In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.'s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency's eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to "aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age."
Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as "the golden age of Sigint," or signals intelligence. "The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.'s mission," the document concluded.

New underwater footage inside Unit 3 pool shows fuel rack covered in rubble
Die-offs of mammals, birds, reptiles in Western U.S. — “So many diseases afflicting such a wide variety of animals” — Names out of sci-fi thriller: hemorrhagic disease, sylvatic plague — Studies now underway to find out why
Billings Gazette
llings Gazette, Nov. 18, 2013: Jared Jansen [...] said, he and his father, Mike, have seen up to 100 dead deer at a time along the Musselshell River. [...] die-offs have whittled the once hardy deer herds down to a handful [...] “I’ve only seen three does this year. [...] It used to be when I was haying along the river, early in the morning, I’d see 200 to 500 head in the meadows.” [...] The names sound like something out of a science fiction thriller: epizootic hemorrhagic disease, sylvatic plague, bluetongue, brucellosis, chytrid, chronic wasting disease [...] Yet the all-too-real afflictions threaten to reduce the populations of wild mammals, birds and reptiles across Montana, Wyoming and other regions [...] “There is a general consensus among scientists that we are seeing more disease,” said Jonathan Sleeman, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. [...] so many diseases afflicting such a wide variety of animals [...] A study is being conducted in northwestern Montana to examine the possible causes [...]

10. Cris Costello
      Regional Organizing Representative
      Sierra Club
      2815 Proctor Road
      Sarasota, FL 34231-6443
      Office:  941-922-2900
      Cell:  941-914-0421 

11. 90% of the way to Qualify the Water & Land Conservation Amendment 
      for the November 2014 Ballot

 I'm delighted to report to you that we are 90% of the way to qualifying the Water and Land Conservation Amendment for the November 2014 ballot!

This is a huge achievement, and it is all because of the tireless commitment of volunteers and supporters like you. Together, we're creating the largest dedicated funding source for water and land conservation and restoration in the country.

With only 12 days remaining to gather signatures, we can't afford to slow down now! We are counting on everyone who has already invested time and energy in this campaign to dig a little deeper for just a little while longer. We must be bold. We must be brave. And we must be quick.
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