|Progressive Calendar 02.18.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2010 00:15:38 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.18.10 1. Biomedicine 2.18 11:30am 2. Vs Afghan war 2.18 4:30pm 3. Eagan peace vigil 2.18 4:30pm 4. Northtown vigil 2.18 5pm 5. Afghanistan 2.18 7pm 6. Amnesty Intl 2.18 7:15pm 7. I heart Hamas 2.18 7:30pm 8. Palestine vigil 2.19 4:15pm 9. Abortion/film 2.19 6pm 10. Michael Hudson - Wall Street moves in for the kill 11. PC Roberts - Rule by oligarchs/ a country of serfs 12. Karl Grossman - Obama goes nuclear 13. ed - Some clean things (list poem) --------1 of 13-------- From: Consortium on Law & Values and JDP Program <jointdgr [at] umn.edu> Subject: Biomedicine 2.18 11:30am 2009-10 Lecture Series on Law, Health & the Life Sciences "How the Internet and Computer Capacity Are Changing Policy Issues & Solutions in Biomedicine" "Cutting-Edge Issues in the Structure & Governance of U.S. and International Biobanks" by Prof. Alexander Capron, LLB (University of Southern California, Gould School of Law) Thursday, February 18, 2010 11:30am - 1:00pm Location: Mississippi Room, Coffman Memorial Union Professor Capron will discuss how biobanks -- repositories of human biological samples and associated information about the lives and health of the samples' sources - have been established to assist in studies of particular diseases and, more broadly, of the effects of genes and the environment on human health and disease. Many involve collaboration across boundaries, including the gathering of samples in developing countries (sometimes from culturally isolated populations) by researchers from developed countries. He suggests that biobanks, therefore, raise many difficult normative issues: * From whom must permission be obtained to collect, store, and use samples? * Who should control the biobanks and the samples they hold? * On what terms should samples be made available for research? * How should the benefits of research be shared? Although numerous ethical codes and guidelines have been promulgated about these issues, many remain controverted. Prof. Capron will also analyze the methodology and results of an international study of expert opinion on such issues and will offer his reflections on how we might think about these questions and controversies. Commentators: Brian Van Ness, PhD, Department Head and Professor, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology & Development, University of Minnesota; and Gloria Petersen, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology; and Purvis and Roberta Tabor Professorship, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Intended Audience: students, faculty, health care professionals, attorneys, patients, researchers, policymakers, and community members. This event is free and open to the public. This lecture is intended for students, faculty, attorneys, researchers, scientists, policymakers, and community members. Continuing Education--CLE Application for 1.5 hours of general Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for attorneys has been submitted. Registration is required for those requesting continuing education credit. Registration is available online at www.lifesci.consortium.umn.edu [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103032234779&s=2056&e=001jQMJmsiSCpviDeq3llX5rUKbVnvZ45l2aPLHNKTeNmnzrdQIyyr_iC2ALsFgLZ2yK5n2jrYyvCrOwCgvBXs-DL6UeI-906thQKUe9siOwWY6ZB7RsY9jpaizJi0pqQ1xME6-lgdk7X8=], by phone at 612-625-0055, or by email at jointdgr [at] umn.edu. Please provide your name, email address and indicate if continuing education credits are requested. --------2 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Vs Afghan war 2.18 4:30pm Protest Against the Escalating War in Afghanistan Thursday, February 18, 4:30 p.m. Outside the office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, 1200 Washington Avenue South Minneapolis. Minneapolis Protest to Oppose Escalating War in Afghanistan: "Say NO to the Attack on Marjah - Stop the Escalation in Afghanistan: End the War! Bring the Troops Home Now!" Twin Cities peace and anti-war organizations will hold an emergency protest on Thursday, February 18 to show opposition to the escalating war in Afghanistan. News over the last weekend of the U.S. attack on the city of Marjah, Afghanistan, led representatives of local anti-war groups to call for an emergency protest. The Thursday protest will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. in front of the Minneapolis office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. The protest is being organized under the call of: "Say NO to the attack on Marjah - Stop the escalation in Afghanistan: End the war! Bring the troops home now!" A statement issued by organizers says in part, "In a new escalation of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces have launched an attack on the city of Marjah, a city with over 80,000 residents. Following the dispatch of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the attack on Marjah represents a new and potentially bloody escalation." "Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians are in imminent peril as U.S. and NATO military forces attempt to enter the city of Marjah. Will Marjah, Afghanistan suffer the same fate as Fallujah, Iraq, which the U.S. also attacked, leaving thousands dead and injured and hundreds of buildings and homes destroyed and damaged?" the statement continues. "Join an emergency protest on Thursday, February 18 to speak out against this new escalation of the war and to call for an end to the war and occupation. We urge all who are opposed to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan to gather at the offices of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar to be part of a visible anti-war action and to tell Washington to stop escalating the war in Afghanistan!" The coalition of anti-war groups is also planning a mass march and rally on Saturday, March 20 to keep the anti-war movement in the streets. March 20 will mark the seventh year since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. March 20 will see protests in cities around the U.S. including Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and others. The Thursday protest is sponsored by: Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC), Anti-War Committee (AWC), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), and others. FFI: Call 612-522-1861 or 612-827-5364. --------3 of 13-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 2.18 4:30pm PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------4 of 13-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 2.18 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------5 of 13-------- From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Afghanistan 2.18 7pm THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM Free and open to the public. Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis (at Lyndale & Hennepin). Park in church lot. Thursday, February 18, 7-9pm THE CURSE OF BILATERALISM IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: AFGHANISTAN IN DIPLOMATIC PERSPECTIVE There are various ways to analyze the current situation in Afghanistan and critique the justifications for the sharp increases in U.S. troops there, the one already accomplished and another proposed for the year ahead: military strategy, development theories, cultural analysis, and so on. Viewing Afghanistan in regional context does not get a great deal of attention, even though the country cannot be understood apart from historical, ethnic and regional geopolitical perspectives. This can be seen as a chronic weakness in U.S. foreign policy, a weakness particularly evident and problematic in areas where U.S. knowledge is limited. The presentation will discuss aspects of U.S. policy formation, and then focus on the regional diplomatic context as a path to a more stable and less militarized Afghanistan. Presenter: WILLIAM DAVNIE. In 2007, after serving 26 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, Mr. Davnie retired and moved to Minnesota, where he had lived as a child. Although his overseas service focused mainly on Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union, he served in Tajikistan, adjacent to Afghanistan, and was in Baghdad in the summer of 2007 during the "surge" in that country. His degrees are from Wabash College, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and the National Defense University. Prior to joining the Foreign Service he was a Henry Luce Fellow, placed at an Islamic Teachers College in Indonesia, and served as a Presbyterian minister in rural North Dakota. Sponsors: Minnesota Chapter, Citizens for Global Solutions, United Nations Association of Minnesota, Social Concerns Committee Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Minnesota Alliance of Peacenakers --------6 of 13-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.18 7:15pm AIUSA Group 315 (Wayzata area) meets Thursday, February 18th, at 7:15 p.m. St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata (near the intersection of Rt. 101 and Minnetonka Blvd). For further information, contact Richard Bopp at Richard_C_Bopp [at] NatureWorksLLC.com. --------7 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: I heart Hamas 2.18 7:30pm A Tragicomic Solo Show by Jennifer Jajeh: "I Heart Hamas: and Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" February 18 to 28: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 4:00 p.m. (followed by Artist Talkback) Bedlam Theatre, 1501 South 6th Street, Minneapolis. With the current ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the threat of global terrorism, and the never- ending negotiations and hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed by all of the bad international news. That's exactly how Jennifer Jajeh feels. And to make matters worse, Jennifer is Palestinian. Well, Palestinian American. Or more precisely: a single, Christian, first generation, Palestinian American woman who chooses to return to her parents' hometown of Ramallah at the start of the Second Intifada. Join her on American and Palestinian soil on auditions, bad dates, and across military checkpoints as she navigates the thorny terrain around Palestinian identity. Weaving together humor, slides, pop culture references and live theatre, Jajeh explores how she becomes Palestinian-ized, then politicized and eventually radicalized in a fresh, often funny, searingly honest way. Tickets: $15.00 to $25.00. Co-presented by: Mizna, IJAN-Twin Cities and Bedlam Theatre. Endorsed by: the WAMM Middle East Committee. FFI and Tickets: Visit www.bedlamtheatre.org. --------8 of 13-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 2.19 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. --------9 of 13-------- From: Erin and Bonnie <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Abortion/film 2.19 6pm February 19: Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Film and Discussion: I Had an Abortion. Cutting across age, race, class, and religion, the film unfolds personal narratives with intimate interviews, archival footage, family photos, and home movies. The film features ten women who candidly describe experiences spanning seven decades, from the years before Roe v. Wade to the present day. 6 - 8 PM at First Universalist Church Social Hall, 3400 Dupont Ave S., Minneapolis. RSVP. --------10 of 13-------- The War on Consumers and Labor Heats Up Wall Street Moves in for the Kill By MICHAEL HUDSON February 17, 2010 CounterPunch Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times yesterday, February 16 outlining how to put the U.S. economy on rations. Not in those words, of course. Just the opposite: If the government hadn't bailed out Wall Street's bad loans, he claims, "unemployment could have exceeded the 25 per cent level of the Great Depression". Without wealth at the top, there would be nothing to trickle down. The reality, of course, is that bailing out casino capitalist speculators on the winning side of A.I.G.'s debt swaps and CDO derivatives didn't save a single job. It certainly hasn't lowered the economy's debt overhead. But matters will soon improve, if Congress will dispel the present cloud of "uncertainty" as to whether any agency less friendly than the Federal Reserve might regulate the banks. Paulson spelled out in step-by-step detail the strategy of "doing God's work," as his Goldman Sachs colleague Larry Blankfein sanctimoniously explained Adam Smith's invisible hand. Now that pro-financial free-market doctrine is achieving the status of religion, I wonder whether this proposal violates the separation of church and state. Neoliberal economics may be a travesty of religion, but it is the closest thing to a Church that Americans have these days, replete with its Inquisition operating out of the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Columbia. If the salvation is to give Wall Street a free hand, anathema is the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency intended to deter predatory behavior by mortgage lenders and credit-card issuers. The same day that Paulson's op-ed appeared, the Financial Times published a report explaining that "Republicans say they are unconvinced that any regulator can even define systemic risk... . the whole concept is too vague for an immediate introduction of sweeping powers. .. Republican Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee was willing to join with the Democrats to ensure ..there is not some new roaming regulator out there . putting companies unbeknownst to them under its regime.." Paulson uses the same argument: Because the instability extends not just to the banks but also to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, A.I.G. and Wall Street underwriters, it would be folly to try to regulate the banks alone! And because the financial sector is so far-flung and complex, it is best to leave everything deregulated. Indeed, there simply is no time to discuss what kind of regulation is appropriate, except for the Fed's familiar protective hand: "delays are creating uncertainty, undermining the ability of financial institutions to increase lending to businesses of all sizes that want to invest and fuel our recovery". So Paulson's crocodile tears are all for the people. (Except that the banks are not lending at home, but are shoveling money out of the U.S. economy as fast as they can.) As Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel put it, a crisis is too good a thing to waste. Having created the crisis, Wall Street wants to use its momentum to knock out any potential checks to its power. "No systemic risk regulator, no matter how powerful, can be relied on to see everything and prevent future problems," Paulson explained. "That's why our regulatory system must reinforce the responsibility of lenders, investors, borrowers and all market participants to analyze risk and make informed decisions," In other words, blame the victims! The way to protect victims of predatory bank lending (and crooked sales of junk securities) is not new regulations but just the opposite: "to simplify the patchwork quilt of regulatory agencies and improve transparency so that consumers and investors can punish excesses through their own informed investing decisions". Simplification means the Fed, not a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Moving in for the kill, Paulson explains that the Treasury is bare, having used $13 trillion to bail out high finance in 2008-09. So he warns the government not to run a Keynesian-type budget deficit. The federal budget should move into balance or even surplus, even if this accelerates the rise in unemployment and decline in wage levels as the economy moves deeper into recession and debt deflation. "We must also tackle what is by far our greatest economic challenge - the reduction of budget deficits - a big part of which will involve reforming our major entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security". The economy thus is to be sacrificed to Wall Street rather than reforming finance so that it serves the economy more productively. It is simple mathematics to see that if the government cannot raise taxes, it must scale back Social Security, other social welfare spending and infrastructure spending. What is remarkably left out of account is that today's financial crisis, centered on public debts, is largely a fiscal crisis in character. It is caused by replacing progressive taxation with regressive taxes, and above all by untaxing finance and real estate. Take the case of California, where tears are being shed over the dismantling of the once elite University of California system. Since American independence, education has been financed by the property tax. But Proposition 13 has "freed" property from taxation - so that its rental value can be borrowed against and turned into interest payments to banks. California's real estate costs are just as high with its property taxes frozen, but the rising rental value of land has been paid to the banks - forcing the state to slash its fiscal budget or else raise taxes on labor and consumers. The link between financial and fiscal crisis - and hence the need for a symbiotic fiscal-financial reform - is just as clear in Europe. The Greek government has pre-sold its tax revenues from roads and other infrastructure to Wall Street, leaving less future revenue to pay its public debt. To cap matters, paying income tax is almost voluntary for wealthy Greeks. Tax evasion is hardly necessary in the post-Soviet states, where property is hardly taxed at all. (The flat tax falls almost entirely on labor.) Throughout the world, scaling back the 20th century's legacy of progressive taxation and untaxing real estate and finance has led to a public debt crisis. Property income hitherto paid to governments is now paid to the banks. And although Wall Street has extracted $13 trillion in bailouts just since October 2008, the thought of raising taxes on wealth to pay just $1 trillion over an entire decade for Social Security or health insurance is deemed a crisis that would lead Wall Street to shut down the economy. It is telling governments to shift to a regressive tax system to make up the fiscal shortfall by raising taxes on labor and cutting back public spending on the economy at large. This is what is plunging economies from California to Greece and the Baltics into fiscal and financial crisis. Wall Street's solution - to balance the budget by cutting back the government's social contract and deregulating finance all the more - will shrink the economy and make the budget deficits even more severe. Financial speculators no doubt will clean up on the turmoil. Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist and now a Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), and president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET). He is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. He can be reached via his website, mh [at] michael-hudson.com --------11 of 13-------- Rule by Oligarchs A Country of Serfs By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS February 16, 2010 CounterPunch The media has headlined good economic news: fourth quarter GDP growth of 5.7 percent ("the recession is over"), Jan. retail sales up, productivity up in 4th quarter, the dollar is gaining strength. Is any of it true? What does it mean? The 5.7 percent growth figure is a guesstimate made in advance of the release of the U.S. trade deficit statistic. It assumed that the U.S. trade deficit would show an improvement. When the trade deficit was released a few days later, it showed a deterioration, knocking the 5.7 percent growth figure down to 4.6 percent. Much of the remaining GDP growth consists of inventory accumulation. More than a fourth of the reported gain in Jan. retail sales is due to higher gasoline and food prices. Questionable seasonal adjustments account for the rest. Productivity was up, because labor costs fell 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the fourth successive decline. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose. Productivity increases that do not translate into wage gains cannot drive the consumer economy. Housing is still under pressure, and commercial real estate is about to become a big problem. The dollar's gains are not due to inherent strengths. The dollar is gaining because government deficits in Greece and other EU countries are causing the dollar carry trade to unwind. America's low interest rates made it profitable for investors and speculators to borrow dollars and use them to buy overseas bonds paying higher interest, such as Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds denominated in euros. The deficit troubles in these countries have caused investors and speculators to sell the bonds and convert the euros back into dollars in order to pay off their dollar loans. This unwinding temporarily raises the demand for dollars and boosts the dollar's exchange value. The problems of the American economy are too great to be reached by traditional policies. Large numbers of middle class American jobs have been moved offshore: manufacturing, industrial and professional service jobs. When the jobs are moved offshore, consumer incomes and U.S. GDP go with them. So many jobs have been moved abroad that there has been no growth in U.S. real incomes in the 21st century, except for the incomes of the super rich who collect multi-million dollar bonuses for moving U.S. jobs offshore. Without growth in consumer incomes, the economy can go nowhere. Washington policymakers substituted debt growth for income growth. Instead of growing richer, consumers grew more indebted. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan accomplished this with his low interest rate policy, which drove up housing prices, producing home equity that consumers could tap and spend by refinancing their homes. Unable to maintain their accustomed living standards with income alone, Americans spent their equity in their homes and ran up credit card debts, maxing out credit cards in anticipation that rising asset prices would cover the debts. When the bubble burst, the debts strangled consumer demand, and the economy died. As I write about the economic hardships created for Americans by Wall Street and corporate greed and by indifferent and bribed political representatives, I get many letters from former middle class families who are being driven into penury. Here is one recently arrived: "Thank you for your continued truthful commentary on the 'New Economy.' My husband and I could be its poster children. Nine years ago when we married, we were both working good paying, secure jobs in the semiconductor manufacturing sector. Our combined income topped $100,000 a year. We were living the dream. Then the nightmare began. I lost my job in the great tech bubble of 2003, and decided to leave the labor force to care for our infant son. Fine, we tightened the belt. Then we started getting squeezed. Expenses rose, we downsized, yet my husband's job stagnated. After several years of no pay raises, he finally lost his job a year and a half ago. But he didn't just lose a job, he lost a career. The semiconductor industry is virtually gone here in Arizona. Three months later, my husband, with a technical degree and 20-plus years of solid work experience, received one job offer for an entry level corrections officer. He had to take it, at an almost 40 percent reduction in pay. Bankruptcy followed when our savings were depleted. We lost our house, a car, and any assets we had left. His salary last year, less than $40,000, to support a family of four. A year and a half later, we are still struggling to get by. I can't find a job that would cover the cost of daycare. We are stuck. Every jump in gas and food prices hits us hard. Without help from my family, we wouldn't have made it. So, I could tell you just how that 'New Economy' has worked for us, but I'd really rather not use that kind of language." Policymakers who are banking on stimulus programs are thinking in terms of an economy that no longer exists. Post-war U.S. recessions and recoveries followed Federal Reserve policy. When the economy heated up and inflation became a problem, the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates and reduce the growth of money and credit. Sales would fall. Inventories would build up. Companies would lay off workers. Inflation cooled, and unemployment became the problem. Then the Federal Reserve would reverse course. Interest rates would fall, and money and credit would expand. As the jobs were still there, the work force would be called back, and the process would continue. It is a different situation today. Layoffs result from the jobs being moved offshore and from corporations replacing their domestic work forces with foreigners brought in on H-1B, L-1 and other work visas. The U.S. labor force is being separated from the incomes associated with the goods and services that it consumes. With the rise of offshoring, layoffs are not only due to restrictive monetary policy and inventory buildup. They are also the result of the substitution of cheaper foreign labor for U.S. labor by American corporations. Americans cannot be called back to work to jobs that have been moved abroad. In the New Economy, layoffs can continue despite low interest rates and government stimulus programs. To the extent that monetary and fiscal policy can stimulate U.S. consumer demand, much of the demand flows to the goods and services that are produced offshore for U.S. markets. China, for example, benefits from the stimulation of U.S. consumer demand. The rise in China's GDP is financed by a rise in the U.S. public debt burden. Another barrier to the success of stimulus programs is the high debt levels of Americans. The banks are being criticized for a failure to lend, but much of the problem is that there are no consumers to whom to lend. Most Americans already have more debt than they can handle. Hapless Americans, unrepresented and betrayed, are in store for a greater crisis to come. President Bush's war deficits were financed by America's trade deficit. China, Japan, and OPEC, with whom the U.S. runs trade deficits, used their trade surpluses to purchase U.S. Treasury debt, thus financing the U.S. government budget deficit. The problem now is that the U.S. budget deficits have suddenly grown immensely from wars, bankster bailouts, jobs stimulus programs, and lower tax revenues as a result of the serious recession. Budget deficits are now three times the size of the trade deficit. Thus, the surpluses of China, Japan, and OPEC are insufficient to take the newly issued U.S. government debt off the market. If the Treasury's bonds can't be sold to investors, pension funds, banks, and foreign governments, the Federal Reserve will have to purchase them by creating new money. When the rest of the world realizes the inflationary implications, the US dollar will lose its reserve currency role. When that happens Americans will experience a large economic shock as their living standards take another big hit. America is on its way to becoming a country of serfs ruled by oligarchs. Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com --------12 of 13-------- An Atomic Credibility Gap Obama Goes Nuclear By KARL GROSSMAN February 17, 2010 CounterPunch Is there any chance that President Barack Obama can return to his long-held stand critical of nuclear power? Is he open to hearing from scientists and energy experts, such as Amory Lovins, who can refute the pro-nuclear arguments that have apparently influenced him? Obama's declaration in his State of the Union speech on January 27 about "building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country" marked a significant change for him. His announcement Tuesday on moving ahead on $8.3 billion in federal government loan guarantees to build new nuclear plants and increasing the loan guarantee fund to $54.5 billion was a further major step. Wall Street is reluctant to invest money in the dangerous and extremely expensive technology. Before taking office, including as a candidate for president, Obama not only was negative about atomic energy but - unusual for a politician - indicated a detailed knowledge of its threat to life. "I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal and so I am not a nuclear energy proponent," Obama said at a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa on December 30, 2007. "My general view is that until we can make certain that nuclear power plants are safe, that they have solved the storage problem - because I'm opposed to Yucca Mountain and just dumping - in one state, in Nevada particularly, since there's potentially an earthquake line there - until we solve those problems and the whole nuclear industry can show that they can produce clean, safe energy without enormous subsidies from the U.S. government, I don't think that's the best option. I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel and strategies [for] alternative fuels". [Well that was BEFORE election. After election, all bets and promises are off and we mere citizens are once again royally screwed by the Liars That Be. -ed] As he told the editorial board of the Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire on November 25, 2007: "I don't think there's anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up - and irradiate usand - kill us. That's the problem". [Now that he's president, it's no longer a problem. -ed] Yes, that's the big problem with splitting the atom - one that has existed since the start of nuclear power and will always be inherent in the technology. Using the perilous process of fission to generate electricity with its capacity for catastrophic accidents and its production of highly toxic radioactive poisons called nuclear waste will always be unsafe. And it is unnecessary considering the safe energy technologies now available, from solar, wind and other clean sources. Just how dangerous it is has been underlined in a book just published by the New York Academy of Sciences, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Written by a team of scientists led by noted Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, using health data that have become available since the 1986 accident, it concludes that the fatality total "from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe was estimated at 985,000 additional [cancer] deaths". This is in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries where Chernobyl's poisons fell. The toll, they relate, continues to rise. Chernobyl was a different design from the nuclear plants which the U.S., France and Japan seek now to build but disasters can also happen involving these plants and they, too, produce the highly toxic nuclear waste poisons. The problem is fission itself. It's no way to produce electricity. Obama has been aware of this. As he stated at a Londonderry, New Hampshire town meeting on October 7, 2007: "Nuclear power has a host of problems that have not been solved. We haven't solved the storage situation effectively. We have not dealt with all of the security aspects of our nuclear plants and nuclear power is very expensive". He still left the door open to it. His Energy Plan as a candidate stated: "It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table. However, there is no future for expanded nuclear without first addressing four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and [nuclear weapons] proliferation". In his first year as president, nuclear power proponents worked to influence him. Among nuclear opponents, there has been anxiety regarding Obama's two top aides, both of whom have been involved with what is now the utility operating more nuclear power plants than any other in the United States, Exelon. Rahm Emanuel, now Obama's chief of staff, as an investment banker was in the middle of the $8.2 billion merger in 1999 of Unicom, the parent company of Commonwealth Edison of Chicago, and Peco Energy to put together Exelon. David Axelrod, now a senior Obama advisor and formerly chief campaign strategist, was an Exelon consultant. Candidate Obama received sizeable contributions from Exelon executives including from John Rowe, its president and chief executive officer who in 2007 also became chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the U.S. nuclear industry's main trade group. It's not only been nuclear opponents who have seen a link between Exelon and the Obama administration. Forbes magazine, in its January 18th issue, in an article on John Rowe and how he has "focused the company on nuclear," displayed a sidebar headlined, "The President's Utility". It read: "Ties are tight between Exelon and the Obama administration," noting Exelon political contributions and featuring Emanuel and Axelrod with photos and descriptions of their Exelon connections. The Forbes article spoke of how last year "Emanuel e-mailed Rowe on the eve of the House vote on global warming legislation and asked that he reach out to some uncommitted Democrats. 'We are proud to be the President's utility,' says Elizabeth Moler, Exelon's chief lobbyist," the article went on. "It's nice for John to be able to go to the White House and they know his name.." [How thrilling. -ed] Chicago-based Exelon's website boasts of its operating "the largest nuclear fleet in the nation and the third largest in the world". It owns 17 nuclear power plants which "represent approximately 20 percent of the U.S. nuclear industry's power capacity". The climate change or global warming issue is another factor in Obama's change on nuclear power. An Associated Press article of January 31 on Obama's having "singled out nuclear power in his State of the Union address and his spending plan for the next budget," began: "President Barack Obama is endorsing nuclear energy like never before, trying to win over Republicans and moderate Democrats on climate and energy legislation". MSNBC's Mike Stuckey on February 9 reported about "Obama's new support for nuclear power, which some feel may be a down payment for Republican backing on a climate change bill". After the "safe, clean nuclear power" claim, Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, declared: "Politically, Obama likely was simply parroting the effort being led by Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham to gain support for a climate bill by adding massive subsidies for nuclear power, offshore oil and 'clean' coal. But recycling George W. Bush energy talking points is no way to solve the climate crisis or develop a sustainable energy policy. Indeed, Obama knows better. Candidate Obama understood that nuclear power is neither safe nor clean". Climate change has been used by those promoting a "revival" of nuclear power - there hasn't been a new nuclear plant ordered and built in the U.S. in 37 yearsas - a new argument. In fact, nuclear power makes a substantial contribution to global warming considering the overall "nuclear cycle" -uranium mining and milling, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication and the disposition of radioactive waste, and so on. Climate change is also one argument for pushing atomic energy of another major influence on Obama on nuclear power, Steven Chu, his Department of Energy secretary. Chu typifies the religious-like zeal for nuclear power emanating for decades from scientists in the U.S. government's string of national nuclear laboratories. Chu was director of one of these, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, before becoming head of DOE. First established during World War II's Manhattan Project to build atomic weapons, the laboratories after the war began promoting civilian nuclear technology - and have been pushing it unceasingly ever since. It has been a way to perpetuate the vested interest created during World War II. The number of nuclear weapons that could be built was limited because atomic bombs don't lend themselves to commercial distribution, but in pushing food irradiation, nuclear-powered airplanes and rockets, atomic devices for excavation and, of course, nuclear power, the budgets and staffs of the national nuclear laboratories could be maintained, indeed increase. That was the analysis of David Lilienthal, first chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which preceded the Department of Energy. Lilienthal in his 1963 book Change, Hope, and the Bomb wrote: "The classic picture of the scientist as a creative individual, a man obsessed, working alone through the night, a man in a laboratory pushing an idea - this has changed. Now scientists are ranked in platoons. They are organization men. In many cases the independent and humble search for new truths about nature has been confused with the bureaucratic impulse to justify expenditure and see that next year's budget is bigger than last's". Lilienthal wrote about the "elaborate and even luxurious [national nuclear] laboratories that have grown up at Oak Ridge, Argonne, Brookhaven" and the push to use nuclear devices for "blowing out harbors, making explosions underground to produce steam, and so on" which show "how far scientists and administrators will go to try to establish a nonmilitary use" for nuclear technology. Chu, like so many of the national nuclear laboratory scientists and administrators, minimizes the dangers of radioactivity. If they didn't, if they acknowledged how life-threatening the radiation produced by nuclear technology is, their favorite technology would crumble. A major theme of Chu, too, is a return to the notion promoted by the national nuclear laboratories in the 1950s and 60s of "recycling" and "reusing" nuclear waste. This way, they have hoped, it might not be seen as waste at all. The concept was to use radioactive Cesium-137 (the main poison discharged in the Chernobyl disaster) to irradiate food, to use depleted uranium to harden bullets and shells, and so on. In recent weeks, with Obama carrying out his pledge not to allow Yucca Mountain to become a nuclear waste dump, Chu set up a "blue-ribbon" panel on radioactive wastestacked - with nuclear power advocates including Exelon's John Rowethat - is expected to stress the "recycling" theory. "We are aggressively pursuing nuclear energy," declared Chu in January as he announced DOE's budget planwhich - included an increase in the 2011 federal budget in monies for nuclear loan guarantees to build new nuclear plants cited by Obama Tuesday. "We are, as we have repeatedly said, working hard to restart the American nuclear power industry". The $8.3 billion in loan guarantees Obama announced Tuesday is to come from $18.5 billion in guarantees proposed by the George W. Bush administration and authorized by Congress in 2005. "My budget proposes tripling the loan guarantees we provide to help finance safe, clean nuclear facilities," said Obama Tuesday, referring to the DOE plan which would add $36 billion and bring the loan guarantee fund to $54.5. And this despite candidate Obama warning about "enormous subsidies from the U.S government" to the nuclear industry. The $8.3 billion in loan guarantees is to go toward the Southern Company of Atlanta constructing two nuclear power reactors in Burke, Georgia. These are to be AP1000 nuclear power plants designed by the Westinghouse nuclear division (now owned by Toshiba) although in October the designs were rejected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as likely being unable to withstand events like tornadoes and earthquakes. [What's the importance of nuclear disaster when ranked against the towering importance of a few rich bastards becoming even richer super-bastards? -ed] Obama's change of stance on nuclear power has led to an earthquake of its own politically. MoveOn, the nonprofit advocacy group that has raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates including Obama, gauged sentiment of his State of the Union speech by having10,000 MoveOn members record their views. Every few seconds they pressed a button signaling their reactions - ranging from "great" to "awful". When Obama got his line on energy, the overwhelming judgment was awful. "The most definitive drop in enthusiasm is when President Obama talked about nuclear power and offshore drilling," said Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn's director of political advocacy. "They're looking for clean energy sources that prioritize wind and solar". "Safe, clean nuclear power - it's an oxymoron," said Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace USA. "The president knows better. Just because radiation is invisible doesn't mean it's clean". "From a health perspective, the proposal of the Obama administration to increase federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors poses a serious risk to Americans," said Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. "Adding new reactors will raise the chance for a catastrophic meltdown. It will also increase the amount of radioactive chemicals routinely emitted from reactors into the environment - and human bodies. New reactors will raise rates of cancer - which are already unacceptably high - especially to infants and children. Public policies affecting America's energy future should reduce, rather than raise, hazards to our citizens." As to government loan guarantees, "The last thing Americans want is another government bailout for a failing industry, but that's exactly what they're getting from the Obama administration," said Ben Schreiber, the climate and energy tax analyst of Friends of the Earth. "It would be not only good policy but good politics for Obama to abandon the nuclear loan guarantee program," said Mariotte of NIRS. After Obama's Tuesday declaration on loan guarantees, Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project of the organization Beyond Nuclear, said: "Unfortunately, the president's decision is fuel for opposition to costly and dangerous nuclear power. It signals a widening of a divide as the administration steps back from its promise for a change in energy policy and those of us who are committed to a change". "We are deeply disturbed by President Obama's decision," said Peter Wilk, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Not only does this put taxpayers on the hook for billions, it prioritizes a dirty, dangerous, and expensive technology over public health. From the beginning to the end of the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear reactors remain a serious threat to public health and safety. From uranium mining waste to operating reactors leaking radioactivity to the lack of radioactive waste solutions, nuclear power continues to pose serious public health threats". Nuclear opponents have been disappointed in a lack of access to the Obama White House of those with a critical view on nuclear power - who could counteract the pro-nuclear arguments that Obama has been fed. Will President Obama open himself to hearing from those who question nuclear power? Obama has credibility trouble already. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote on January 26: "Who is Barack Obama? Americans are still looking for the answer. Mr. Obama may be personally very appealing, but he has positioned himself all over the political map. Mr. Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always [or ever -ed] be trusted. He is creating a credibility gap for himself, and if it widens much more he won't be able to close it". [He intends to be the most craven one-term president ever - so he'll sell out on every possible issue and then look for his super giant pay-off. Now is the time to pledge not to vote for Obama for president in 2012. -ed] Karl Grossman is professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. He is author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, Power Crazy and The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat To Our Planet and writer and narrator of television programs among them Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens (www.envirovideo.com). --------13 of 13-------- Some clean things Clean vomit Clean coal Clean crap Clean nuke Clean puke Clean coal Clean snot Clean nuke Clean pus Clean coal Clean cancer Clean nuke Clean gangrene ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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