Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hawaii Remembered

Hawaii:   Still an American Colony, still in great distress ...

Permanent War -- Military Industries

America created huge permanent war systems: beggaring U.S. communities, slaughtering & traumatizing military volunteers, destroying people around the earth.

The war systems are unsustainable. U.S. national political leaders fail to dismantle or curtail the wastefulness. Everyone suffers except the military industries.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Private Profits - Public Pays for Mistakes

Large corporate powers suck out private profits when possible -- but when their speculation goes very poorly, they coerce politicians to use public funds and pay for their mistakes.

The nuclear industry in Japan is in need of bailout. Thousands of people cannot return home due to radiation. More nuclear accidents will occur. Where in the world is next? "Nuclear is safe & economical" was bullshit; the costs of nuclear waste & accidents are huge. The public will be forced to pay huge costs.

Here is a great article (link) from the Japan Times:

U.S. court victories show how to get rid of nuclear plants

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.

The local utility decided to build 19 nuclear reactors there in Jamesport, and it planned to turn our rural area into "A Nuclear Power Park."

As a lawyer, how did you get involved?

I was retained by farmers in the area to find out what the utility was planning. We didn't realize it at the time, but we were beginning the only successful trial of the nuclear industry in America. Prior to these proceedings, virtually all applications in America were given rubberstamp approvals. Thanks to New York State regulations, we were able to intervene in the legal proceedings and — once we were a party to the proceedings — we were able to force the industry to answer questions under oath about the need for and the safety of nuclear power.

In short, what happened?

When the farmers began their battle, local elected officials were initially bemused. But as the legal fight intensified, these officials took more and more interest in the issue. With thorough reporting in three newspapers, the public began to realize that if even a small accident occurred at the reactor, they might have to evacuate their homes permanently. They might forever lose their businesses. They might suffer untold numbers of cancers.

All of a sudden, the truthfulness of the utility executives become a critical issue. And those utility experts had to repeatedly admit under oath that they were exaggerating the safety of the reactor.

After 80 full days of trial over the course of several years, we finally succeeded in securing a denial of the application, but only after extraordinary efforts by dozens of scientific and engineering witnesses whom my clients retained to testify against the proposal, and only after direct intervention by our governor who, at the request of all the local elected officials, stood up to the powerful nuclear industry.

What did the utility experts reveal in court?

With straight faces, the utility scientists testified that there would never be an accident that would exceed the radiation limits in the regulations. On cross-examination, they were forced to admit that during an accident, maximum radiation safety limits are suspended. In other words, during an accident, an unlimited amount of radiation could spew from a plant but the utility could accurately assure the public the emissions did not exceed safety limits.

The utility scientists also testified that no released radiation would be immediately harmful to the residents living in the vicinity of a nuclear plant. On cross-examination, they were forced to admit that few people die immediately from cancer and leukemia; it takes a period of time for these "health effects," as they euphemistically called them, to occur. In other words, the utility could accurately say, as they are doing now in Japan, that there would be no immediate danger to the residents of the area.

The utility scientists further testified that the Jamesport plants would not kill any fish — even though 10 percent of the waters of Long Island Sound would be sucked through an 8-foot (240-cm) diameter pipe each year to cool the nuclear core.

On cross-examination, they were forced to admit that the water would be heated to 32 degrees, thereby killing billions of fish eggs each year, decimating the number of fish that would spawn in the Sound from then on. They defended their statement that no fish would be killed by sheepishly admitting that there would end up being no fish to be killed.

With these shocking revelations, it became clear that the nuclear industry was built upon an elaborate deception of the public and of public officials who were making energy decisions. The nuclear industry simply could not be trusted.

What were the most convincing arguments you made against the plants?

We concentrated on three arguments: Compared to existing alternatives, the reactors were not needed, they were unsafe, and they were too expensive.

First, we had plenty of natural gas available to boil water to turn the turbines to make the electricity. Second, the pumps and piping supplying water to cool the reactor were so huge that metal fatigue would eventually occur and cause a release of radioactivity into an area that could not be safely evacuated since we are on an island. Third, the industry admitted that massive taxpayer subsidies would be needed to operate the plants.

You are also familiar with the decommissioning of another reactor, at Shoreham, New York. How did the decommissioning come about?

Through civil disobedience and political action, residents convinced the governor of New York to initiate a takeover of the utility company, which had brazenly ignored the wishes of elected officials in the region by starting up the reactor. In the end, the utility was put out of business. A state agency took over the reactor, shut it down, and began tearing it down and decommissioning the radioactive parts.

You also worked as a trustee to the Long Island Power Authority during the decommissioning. What did you learn from that experience?

I was appointed to that $1-a-year job by Gov. Mario Cuomo (father of the current governor) to represent the residents of the area. I volunteered over six years to help oversee the dismantling of the Shoreham reactor and install gas turbines at the site. I learned that after 40 years of talk and study by the nuclear industry about how to safely dispose of nuclear waste from these reactors, there is no way of doing it. That is why the nuclear rods are still stored on the roof of reactor buildings.

From what I learned, I believe there never will be a safe way of storing this waste. Just as there will never be a way to prevent a tsunami.

Do you have any thoughts on what citizens in Japan should be doing?

Citizens in the areas around nuclear plants should form a coalition. They should engage law firms to participate in all administrative proceedings that are scheduled to license or extend the life spans of nuclear plants in the country. The lawyers should cross-examine all utility experts under oath. Highly qualified experts should be engaged to testify on behalf of the residents. Local residents and elected officials should be informed every step of the way through the media. Email addresses should be collected. Databases should be created to quickly disseminate information collected at the hearings.

Eventually, with a lot of hard work, the citizens will prevail.

Stephen Hesse teaches in the Chuo University Law Faculty and is Director of the Chuo International Center. He can be reached at stevehesse@hotmail.com
The Japan Times, 22 May 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sunny & Warm

The systems of our world progress
Or maybe stop. We vaguely guess.
We know just bits of all around.
And quibble over scraps we've found.

Discovery! We boldly claim.
While nature winks at human fame
By doing what created now.

We know not why, and guess at how.

Our prayers miss wonders, vision faint
We honor angels in bright paint.
Please choose instead of bickering
Rejoicing in an outdoor spring.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Meddler State

Globalism offers a world of opportunity. But as decrepit nation-states lose primacy, they meddle into indefensible areas. If your government is doing monkeybusiness in distant lands when they should be helping you & your community --   Shout 'em out !

Real change requires we stop meddling. Stop costly adventurism overseas. My community needs healing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dictating Libya's Future

NATO and Sweden wage war in Libya under the mandate of 10 votes in the United Nation's Security Council. Supposedly protecting civilians by imposing a no-fly zone, they've instead cruelly fought as executioners for regime change.

USA & NATO forces have flown 6000+ air sorties and bombing missions, destroying hundreds of Libyan government installations and killing an unknown number of Libyan military, Libyan government employees, and Libyan civilians (including three baby grandchildren of the leader).

UNSC Resolution 1973 (2011) is a flawed & deceptive mandate. French-led schemers inserted the word "humanitarian" a full dozen times in the short document, while the five abstaining nations warned armed intervention would bring bad consequences.

While a major part of Resolution 1973 (link) addressed the arms embargo, Allied arms dealers / Allied governments now trample the mandate by funneling weapons into Libya for elements fighting their government. Our news media portray the NATO (and Swedish) governments as smugly satisfied with the situation.

I think it is terrible. I believe this is an illegal war, built on deception. We had no proper justification to intervene in Libya's civil strife. We should not be spending our monies and resources in these activities. The warring powers have made our world less safe. By targeting the Libyan government as "enemy" we ourselves become enemy targets.

The program was marketed by warring powers as a "no-fly zone" and it's now clear more explanation should have been demanded. NATO is widely destroying Libyan government buildings, essentially executing anyone in or near them. What do the warring powers want? Do they seek cheaper access to Libyan resources? Is their purpose to divert attention from heavy-handed repression elsewhere? The Allied weaponry on display is mostly available for sale, and destruction fuels their arms bazaar. "Civilian protection" and humanitarianism is a smokescreen. By our not demanding transparency and a legal basis for warmaking, people & governments anywhere can now be threatened with summary destruction. Not good.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nuclear? Not to Worry...

We keep your house. You go back... later.
500 years -- maybe.

This child needs treatment.
Return in 2030.
For compensation, window 9

Look carefully at the nuclear meltdown tragedy in Japan. The power company (TEPCO) has insufficient resources to clean-up & compensate. The public is forced to pay, although claw-back of past TEPCO dividends would help.

Nuclear disaster is hugely expensive. Worst-case cost figures are hidden by the industry. Proper long-term nuclear waste disposal must be foolproof (so sorry - it isn't). Failure means huge regions may not survive or reproduce.

The nuclear industry should be off-limits to flim-flam marketers, due to hidden horrible threats to health & property. Your local power company assures you all is safe. Sure.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ill & Far-Away

Tough to be ill in a foreign land. Sweating, high fever, delirium.

I hope it's unrelated to the lady wearing a Bulgarian Tourist Board jacket who passed on the street the first day and poked me with her umbrella; strange - with no hint of rain...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Killing Enemy Families

The world may be safer with the killing of Osama bin Laden. But one step forward, two steps back. A few hours before Bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan, a US forces airstrike in Tripoli killed a son and three grandchildren of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. We might rationalize summary justice for bin Laden, who chose his own dangerous path. But it's surely no good butchering families & young children when dispensing our punishments.

Gaddafi's dead son, age 29, was reportedly injured at age 4 in 1986 in a similar American bombing that killed his infant adopted sister. This Saturday evening's bombing killed his 5 month old baby, and 2-year old twins. No allegations yet claim these little kids violated our "no fly zone" before being slain.

In 2003, American forces killed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's 14-year-old grandson, Mustafa, with his father & uncle.

Osama bin Laden was not killed for being insane, though our political leaders speak vaguely of his evil terror. He fought for a cause, believing in a duty to battle Soviet, American & Zionist infidels. His own attacks grew from witnessing heavy-handed military operations by his enemies. I don't agree with his analysis or his methods; few people do. But allowing summary killing outside the legal system is problematic. And we all must question when it's OK we kill children. Our violence generates more violence. We must not abandon legal oversight and courtroom justice. Killing kids is surely bad policy & simply wrong.