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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Hunting is Cruel - Chenobyl Anniversary - Mac vs PC people - Banks Stole from Public - Anti-Gay Republicans - Republican Attack on Unions - Climate Change Water Worries

- Chernobyl Survivor Warns of 'Bombshell' in Japan
    A survivor of the Chernobyl disaster says people exposed to radiation from Japan's crippled nuclear plant will spend the rest of their lives fearing the "bombshell" of cancer and other dire illnesses.
- Chernobyl Anniversary


    The Chernobyl catastrophe released 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet many seem to just dismiss the accident as a part of history and forget what large doses of radiation actually do to human lives. Sadly, focussing solely on the disputed statistics of Chernobyl has dehumanized what happened. The effects of Chernobyl touched millions of people and thousands still endure very visible and painful effects.
- Nuclear Power Can Never Be Made Safe
    With the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant catastrophe having arrived, and with the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear complex still unfolding and radioactivity continuing to spew from those plants some people are asking: can nuclear power be made safe? 
    The answer is no. Nuclear power can never be made safe.
     
    This was clearly explained by Admiral Hyman Rickover, the “father” of the U.S. nuclear navy and in charge of construction of the first nuclear power plant in the nation, Shippingport in Pennsylvania. Before a committee of Congress, as he retired from the navy in 1982, Rickover warned of the inherent lethality of nuclear power and urged that “we outlaw nuclear reactors.”
- Report: Climate Change Worsens Western Water Woes
    Climate change is likely to diminish already scarce water supplies in the Western United States, exacerbating problems for millions of water users in the West, according to a new government report.
- The Right-Wing Network Behind the War on Unions
    Inspired by Ronald Reagan and funded by the right's richest donors, a web of free-market think tanks has fueled the nationwide attack on workers' rights.
- Anti-Gay Republicans in Texas
    The noble guardians of our national morality - aka Texas' Republican House of Representatives - have easily passed a bill requiring any public college with a student center on "alternative" sexuality to provide equal funding to one promoting "traditional values," like, presumably, date rape and other beer-fueled heterosexual rampages. Young Conservatives of Texas hope this will mean the closing of centers that "encourage folks who consider themselves homosexuals to go on considering themselves as such."
- Analysis: Banks Play Shell Game with Taxpayer Dollars
    “This report confirms that ultra-low interest loans provided by the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis turned out to be direct corporate welfare to big banks,” Sanders said. “Instead of using the Fed loans to reinvest in the economy, some of the largest financial institutions in this country appear to have lent this money back to the federal government at a higher rate of interest by purchasing U.S. government securities.”
- Today Detroit – Tomorrow, Every City in America
    Following the passage of Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s “Financial Martial Law,” Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Robert Bobb is closing 8 schools and selling 45 to [private] companies. DPS is currently preparing a charter school board through training sessions provided by the National Charter Schools Institute, which had more than 70 charter operators and entrepreneurs in attendance just this month. In addition, DPS has hired the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) to review applications. 
    NACSA’s president, Greg Richmond, worked with charter schools set up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and claims “The system opened up to the people of New Orleans in a way it hadn’t before…Now there are dozens of opportunities to get involved.”
- Mac People 80 Percent Likelier Than PC People to Be Vegetarian (and Other Mac-PC Differences)
    Laid out in an infographic from Hunch and our friends at Column Five Media, the contrasts between self-identified "Mac people" and "PC people" are pretty much exactly what the Mac commercials would have you believe: Mac users are more progressive and fun, and PC users, of which there are many, many more, are more suburban.
    A handful of statistics from the graphic:
    • 36 percent of PC people are liberal, while 58 percent of Mac people are liberal
    • 21 percent of PC people live in a rural area, while 52 percent of Mac people are in a city
    • Mac people are more likely to have college degrees
    • PC people prefer tuna fish sandwiches, but Mac people like the oh-so-trendy Vietnamese bánh mì
    • PC people like TV Guide; Mac people like Dwell

Why Sport Hunting Is Cruel and Unnecessary
Published 4/26/11 at Peta.com

Although it was a crucial part of humans’ survival 100,000 years ago, hunting is now nothing more than a violent form of recreation that the vast majority of hunters do not need for subsistence.(1) Hunting has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk.(2,3)

Less than 5 percent of the U.S. population hunts, yet hunting is permitted in many wildlife refuges, national forests, and state parks and on other public lands.(4) Almost 40 percent of hunters slaughter and maim millions of animals on public land every year, and by some estimates, poachers kill just as many animals illegally.(5,6)

Pain and Suffering

Many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when they are injured but not killed by hunters. A member of the Maine Bowhunters Alliance estimates that 50 percent of animals who are shot with crossbows are wounded but not killed.(7) A study of 80 radio-collared white-tailed deer found that of the 22 deer who had been shot with “traditional archery equipment,” 11 were wounded but not recovered by hunters.(8) Twenty percent of foxes who have been wounded by hunters are shot again; 10 percent manage to escape, but “starvation is a likely fate” for them, according to one veterinarian.(9) A South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks biologist estimates that more than 3 million wounded ducks go “unretrieved” every year.(10) A British study of deer hunting found that 11 percent of deer who’d been killed by hunters died only after being shot two or more times and that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying.(11)

Hunting disrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys families. For animals like wolves, who mate for life and live in close-knit family units, hunting can devastate entire communities. The stress that hunted animals suffer—caused by fear and the inescapable loud noises and other commotion that hunters create—also severely compromises their normal eating habits, making it hard for them to store the fat and energy that they need in order to survive the winter.

Blood-Thirsty and Profit-Driven
 
To attract more hunters (and their money), federal and state agencies implement programs—often called “wildlife management” or “conservation” programs—that are designed to boost the numbers of “game” species. These programs help to ensure that there are plenty of animals for hunters to kill and, consequently, plenty of revenue from the sale of hunting licenses.

Duck hunters in Louisiana persuaded the state wildlife agency to direct $100,000 a year toward “reduced predator impact,” which involved trapping foxes and raccoons so that more duck eggs would hatch, giving hunters more birds to kill.(12) The Ohio Division of Wildlife teamed up with a hunter-organized society to push for clear-cutting (i.e., decimating large tracts of trees) in Wayne National Forest in order to “produce habitat needed by ruffed grouse.”(13)

In Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game is trying to increase the number of moose for hunters by “controlling” the wolf and bear populations. Grizzlies and black bears have been moved hundreds of miles away from their homes; two were shot by hunters within two weeks of their relocation, and others have simply returned to their homes.(14) Wolves have been slaughtered in order to “let the moose population rebound and provide a higher harvest for local hunters.”(15) In the early 1990s, a program designed to reduce the wolf population backfired when snares failed to kill victims quickly, and photos of suffering wolves were viewed by an outraged public.(16)

Nature Takes Care of Its Own

The delicate balance of ecosystems ensures their own survival—if they are left unaltered. Natural predators help maintain this balance by killing only the sickest and weakest individuals. Hunters, however, kill any animal whose head they would like to hang over the fireplace—including large, healthy animals who are needed to keep the population strong. Elephant poaching is believed to have increased the number of tuskless animals in Africa, and in Canada, hunting has caused bighorn sheep’s horn size to fall by 25 percent in the last 40 years; Nature magazine reports that “the effect on the populations’ genetics is probably deeper.”(17)

Even when unusual natural occurrences cause overpopulation, natural processes work to stabilize the group. Starvation and disease can be tragic, but they are nature’s ways of ensuring that healthy, strong animals survive and maintain the strength level of the rest of their herd or group. Shooting an animal because he or she might starve or become sick is arbitrary and destructive.

Not only does “sport” hunting jeopardize nature’s balance, it also exacerbates other problems. For example, the transfer of captive-bred deer and elk between states for the purpose of hunting is believed to have contributed to the epidemic spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given state wildlife agencies millions of dollars to “manage” deer and elk populations.(18) The fatal neurological illness that affects these animals has been likened to mad cow disease, and while the USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that CWD has no relationship to any similar diseases that affect humans or farmed animals, the slaughter of deer and elk continues.(19,20)

Another problem with hunting involves the introduction of exotic “game” animals who, if they’re able to escape and thrive, pose a threat to native wildlife and established ecosystems.

Canned Cruelty

Most hunting occurs on private land, where laws that protect wildlife are often inapplicable or difficult to enforce. On private lands that are set up as for-profit hunting reserves or game ranches, hunters can pay to kill native and exotic species in “canned hunts.” These animals may be native to the area, raised elsewhere and brought in, or purchased from individuals who are trafficking in unwanted or surplus animals from zoos and circuses. They are hunted and killed for the sole purpose of providing hunters with a “trophy.”

Canned hunts are becoming big business—there are an estimated 1,000 game preserves in the U.S.(21) Ted Turner, the country’s largest private landowner, allows hunters to pay thousands of dollars to kill bison, deer, African antelopes, and turkeys on his 2 million acres.(22)

Animals on canned-hunting ranches are often accustomed to humans and are usually unable to escape from the enclosures that they are confined to, which range in size from just a few yards to thousands of acres. Most of these ranches operate on a “no kill, no pay” policy, so it is in owners’ best interests to ensure that clients get what they came for. Owners do this by offering guides who are familiar with animals’ locations and habits, permitting the use of dogs, and supplying “feeding stations” that lure unsuspecting animals to food while hunters lie in wait.

Many states, including Arizona, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming have limited or banned canned hunts, but there are no federal laws regulating the practice at this time.(23,24)

Other Victims

Hunting accidents destroy property and injure or kill horses, cows, dogs, cats, hikers, and other hunters. In 2006, then-Vice President Dick Cheney famously shot a friend while hunting quail on a canned-hunting preserve.(25) According to the International Hunter Education Association, there are dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries attributed to hunting in the U.S. every year—and that number only includes incidents involving humans.(26) It is an ongoing problem, and one warden explained that “hunters seem unfamiliar with their firearms and do not have enough respect for the damage they can do.”(27)

The bears, cougars, deer, foxes, and other animals who are chased, trapped, and even killed by dogs during (sometimes illegal) hunts aren’t the only ones to suffer from this variant of the “sport.” Dogs used for hunting are often kept chained or penned and are denied routine veterinary care like vaccines and heartworm medication. Some are lost during hunts and never found while others are turned loose at the end of hunting season to fend for themselves and die of starvation or get struck by a vehicle.

A Humane Alternative

There are 30 million deer in the U.S., and because hunting has been an ineffective method to “control” populations (one Pennsylvania hunter “manages” the population and attracts deer by clearing his 600-acre plot of wooded land and planting corn), some wildlife agencies are considering other management techniques.(28,29) Several recent studies suggest that sterilization is an effective, long-term solution to overpopulation. An experimental birth-control vaccine is being used on female deer in Princeton, N.J.(30,31) One Georgia study of 1,500 white-tailed deer on Cumberland Island concluded that “if females are captured, marked, and counted, sterilization reduces herd size, even at relatively low annual sterilization rates.”(32)

What You Can Do

Before you support a “wildlife” or “conservation” group, ask about its position on hunting. Groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League, the Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund are pro–sport-hunting, or at the very least, they do not oppose it.

To combat hunting in your area, post “no hunting” signs on your land, join or form an anti-hunting organization, protest organized hunts, and spread deer repellent or human hair (from barber shops) near hunting areas. Call 1-800-628-7275 to report poachers in national parks to the National Parks and Conservation Association. Educate others about hunting. Encourage your legislators to enact or enforce wildlife-protection laws, and insist that nonhunters be equally represented on the staffs of wildlife agencies.

References 
1) National Research Council, “Science and the Endangered Species Act” (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995) 21.
2) Grant Holloway, “Cloning to Revive Extinct Species,” CNN.com, 28 May 2002.
3) Canadian Museum of Nature, “Great Auk,” 2008.
4) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 2007) 4.
5) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 81.
6) Illinois Department of Natural Resources, “How the Program Works,” 10 October 2008.
7) Stephen S. Ditchkoff et al., “Wounding Rates of White-Tailed Deer With Traditional Archery Equipment,” Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (1998).
8) D.J. Renny, “Merits and Demerits of Different Methods of Culling British Wild Mammals: A Veterinary Surgeon’s Perspective,” Proceedings of a Symposium on the Welfare of British Wild Mammals (London: 2002).
9) Spencer Vaa, “Reducing Wounding Losses,” South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, 2004.
10) E.L. Bradshaw and P. Bateson, “Welfare Implications of Culling Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus),” Animal Welfare 9 (2000): 3-24.
11) John Swinconeck, “Controlled Hunt May Be Solution to the Excess of ‘Deer at Our Doorstep,’” York County Coast Star 27 Jun. 2002.
12) Bob Marshall, “Is Predator Program Enough?” Times-Picayune 2 Mar. 2003.
13) Dave Golowenski, “Grouse Numbers Go Up if Trees Come Down,” The Columbus Dispatch 20 Feb. 2003.
14) Associated Press, “Hunters Shoot Two Relocated Bears,” 9 Jun. 2003.
15) Joel Gay, “McGrath Wolf Kills Fall Short,” Anchorage Daily News 25 Apr. 2003.
16) Joel Gay, “Governor Takes Heat From Hunters Expecting Aerial Wolf Control,” Anchorage Daily News 8 Apr. 2003.
17) John Whitfield, “Sheep Horns Downsized by Hunters’ Taste for Trophies,” Nature 426 (2003): 595.
18) U.S. Department of Agriculture, “USDA Makes $4 Million Available to State Wildlife Agencies for Strengthening Chronic Wasting Disease Management,” news release, 15 Apr. 2003.
19) U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, “Chronic Wasting Disease,” 4 Jan. 2007.
20) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Media Relations, “Fatal Degenerative Neurologic Illnesses in Men Who Participated in Wild Game Feasts—Wisconsin, 2002,” news release, Feb. 2003.
21) Sam Farr, “Reps. Farr, Shays Introduce Bill to Can Canned Hunts,” U.S. Fed News 7 Oct. 2004.
22) Robert M. Poole, “Hunters: For Love of the Land,” National Geographic Magazine Nov. 2007.
23) National Conference of State Legislatures, “Environment, Energy, and Transportation Program: Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife,” Apr. 2008.
24) Clint Talbott, “Hunting in a Cage, There Ought to Be a Law,” Boulder Daily Camera 25 Jan. 2008.
25) Dana Bash, “Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter,” CNN.com, 12 Feb. 2006.
26International Hunter Education Association, “Hunter Incident Clearinghouse,” 30 Mar. 2008.
27) Tom Harelson, “1998 Deer Gun Season Report,” Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 8 Dec. 1998.
28) Associated Press, “Deer Eating Away at Forests, Nationwide,” 18 Jan. 2005.
29) Andrew C. Revkin, “States Seek to Restore Deer Balance,” The New York Times 29 Dec. 2002.
30) Roger Segelken, “Surgical Sterilization Snips Away at Deer Population,” Cornell News 19 Mar. 2003.
31) Associated Press, “Princeton’s Deer Hunt Coming to a Premature End,,” 21 Mar. 2003.
32) James L. Boone and Richard G. Wiegert, “Modeling Deer Herd Management: Sterilization Is a Viable Option,” Ecological Modeling 72 (1994): 175-86.


Sean

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This is what you support when you eat meat, drink milk, etc



From MercyForAnimals:
A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation provides a horrifying look into E6 Cattle Co. in Hart, Texas.
E6 Cattle rears calves for use on dairy farms, confining approximately 10,000 calves and subjecting them to lives of prolonged neglect and misery. For over two weeks in March of 2011, an MFA undercover investigator documented the operation's deplorable conditions and brutal mistreatment of animals.

MFA's hidden camera reveals:
  • Workers bludgeoning calves in their skulls with pickaxes and hammers – often involving 5 to 6 blows, sometimes more – before rendering the animals unconscious
  • Beaten calves, still alive and conscious, thrown onto dead piles
  • Workers kicking downed calves in the head, and standing on their necks and ribs
  • Calves confined to squalid hutches, thick with manure and urine buildup, and barely large enough for the calves to turn around or fully extend their legs
  • Gruesome injuries and afflictions, including open sores, swollen joints and severed hooves
  • Ill, injured and dying calves denied medical care
  • The budding horns of calves burned out their skulls without painkillers
Upon reviewing the undercover footage, Temple Grandin, PhD, animal welfare advisor to USDA, declared: "It is obvious that both the management and the employees have no regard for animal welfare."

Colorado State University Professor of Animal Sciences Dr. Bernard Rollin also condemned the operation: "I urge everyone in a position of authority to serve notice to the world that this sort of behavior has no place in a society wishing to consider itself civilized. These people must be corrected with the full force of the legal system."

Dr. Armaiti May, a practicing veterinarian experienced in the care of farmed animals, echoed Dr. Rollin's sentiment, recommending that "charges of animal cruelty be brought against the workers involved and that the farm be shut down for cruel treatment of animals and lack of proper oversight of its workers."

The owner of E6 Cattle required his employees to bash in the calves' heads with a claw hammer, forcing them to condemn calves to a prolonged and horrific death. As Debra Teachout, DVM, asserts, "They feel every blow until they become unconscious." The American Veterinary Medical Association condemns the use of blows to the head as a means of killing young calves.

Promptly following the undercover investigation, MFA alerted law enforcement authorities to violations of Texas anti-cruelty law at E6 Cattle, and presented a detailed legal complaint and meticulously compiled evidence of such violations to the Castro County District Attorney and sheriff. The evidence demonstrated an ongoing pattern of torture, unjustifiable infliction of pain and suffering on animals, and a failure to provide necessary medical care.

As MFA continues to expose the unconscionable cruelties of animal agriculture, and to diligently pursue justice by aiding prosecutions of animal abusers, consumers still hold the greatest power of all to end the needless suffering and death of calves – and all farmed animals – by adopting a compassionate, vegan diet.

Sean

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Republicans Really Want

A good segment from yesterday's Rachel Maddow show showing the real goal of the Republican party- doing away with elected officials (they have actually started doing this), privatizing everything (putting corporations in control and doing away with regulation that protects the public), giving tax cuts to the rich and shifting the tax burden to the poor and middle class, etc, etc.



Sean

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Five Myths About Vegans

Five Myths About Vegans
By Carol J. Adams
Published Monday, April 18 in the Washington Post

Though former president Bill Clinton isn’t technically a vegan, his embrace last year of a “plant-based” diet with “no meat” and “no dairy” — and his accompanying 24-pound weight loss — made headlines for a small but growing movement. After all, only 3.2 percent of Americans are vegetarian, and just .5 percent fly the vegan flag, eschewing all animal products and byproducts in their kitchens and closets.

But is veganism healthy? Emasculating? Difficult? Let’s get the skinny on this unusual lifestyle.

1. Vegans have trouble getting enough protein.

“Where do you get your protein?” is probably the top question vegans get. But protein doesn’t have to come from animals. Plant protein is neither incomplete nor inadequate — and it’s high-fiber, low-fat and cholesterol-free. Animal protein, which does not contain fiber, is high in fat and cholesterol, and it is associated with increased risk of heart disease, loss of calcium from bones and poorer kidney function.

Nutritionists agree that adults who consume about 2,000 calories per day should get about 50 grams of protein. What’s a vegan to do? Well, a half-cup of chickpeas contains 6 grams of protein. A half-cup of firm tofu contains 20 grams. A veggie burger has about 15 grams. We can get to 50 grams pretty quickly without meatloaf or bacon.

Any vegan diet that includes a variety of plant foods provides all the protein an individual needs. This is true for adults, teens and, according to pediatrician Benjamin Spock, even children. As nutritionists Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina explain in “Becoming Vegan,” the answer to that often-asked question is: “from all of the whole plants I eat.”

2. Vegans have countless rules about what can be eaten.

To vegans, it appears that meat-eaters are the ones with lots of rules. In the United States, people eat cows but not horses, and chickens but not cats. But among Hindus in India, cows are verboten, and in the Philippines and Korea, Lassie is on the menu. Some religions forbid eating pigs, while others don’t. In the face of these varying, often contradictory norms, vegans have only one rule: We don’t intentionally eat, use or wear anything from an animal — whether meat, leather, eggs, milk, wool, silk or honey.

If veganism seems to need an instruction manual, it’s because dead animals turn up in unexpected places. Most marshmallows contain gelatin, derived from animal bones. So do gelcaps and photographic film. Hostess fruit pies (but not Little Debbie’s) are made with beef fat. Dryer sheets have animal fat, too. Toothpaste may contain bone meal. And shampoo may have egg protein.

Sure, the list seems to go on and on. But at your chain supermarket, more products than ever are vegan-friendly. In 2011, it’s not hard to live up to veganism’s one simple ideal: trying to do the least harm possible.

3. Veganism is emasculating — real men eat meat.

In 1990, I wrote a book called “The Sexual Politics of Meat” to dissect the idea that eating animal flesh makes someone strong and virile. The myth gained steam in the 1960s when anthropologists Desmond Morris and Robert Ardrey attributed the advancement of civilization to “man the hunter.” Today, cultural messages — from Burger King’s “I am Man” ad campaign to a Hummer commercial implying that a guy who buys tofu must “restore the balance” by buying a huge car — reinforce this myth. Even Michael Pollan, who details a boar hunt in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” falls prey to the idea that men must fell prey: “Walking with a loaded rifle in an unfamiliar forest bristling with the signs of your prey is thrilling.” For vegans, this cartoonish hunter porn is ridiculous. What Pollan sees as a dilemma, we welcome as a decision.

But if real men once ate meat, it’s not so any longer. Olympic track legend (and New Jersey state Senate hopeful) Carl Lewis is a vegan. Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson is a vegan. Outkast’s Andre 3000 is a vegan. In Austin, a group of firefighters went vegan. But beyond the famous names who have embraced veganism for ethical or health reasons is the incontrovertible fact that eating meat doesn’t increase libido or fertility — and a vegan diet doesn’t diminish them.

4. Vegans care more about animals than humans.

Veganism is a social-justice movement that includes concern for animals but also many issues that affect humans. The food choices vegans make address the environmental costs of meat and dairy production, heart disease, public health crises tied to obesity, and, as Eric Schlosser pointed out in “Fast Food Nation,” poor conditions in slaughterhouses, where workers suffer more injuries than in any other industry. In fact, eating vegan one day a week lowers your carbon footprint more than eating local every day of the week.

The economic cost of systemic animal cruelty transcends shocking undercover footage taken at factory farms. Eating grain-fed cattle helps push corn prices up; high prices contributed to 2008’s food riots in Haiti, Bangladesh, Egypt and elsewhere around the world. Industrialized meat production allows infectious bacteria such as salmonella to sneak into our food supply. And treating a generation raised on cheap Big Macs will prove a fiscal challenge to Medicaid.

Caring about animals means caring about people, too.

5. It’s expensive and inconvenient to be a vegan.

Try veganism for a day and see what happens. Is it so difficult to substitute marinara sauce for meat sauce? To get a pizza loaded with veggies instead of cheese and meat? To fix a big salad and add garbanzo beans to it instead of turkey? To order a vegan dish at any of the ethnic restaurants rich with vegan foods — Ethiopian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Italian?

One reason Patti Breitman and I wrote “How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even if You Never Want to Be One” was to show people how easy it is to be a vegan. If you’re used to a steady diet of beef, chicken and pork, veganism can expand your options. You’ll start discovering the variety of ways to prepare tofu, seitan, tempeh and textured vegetable protein — along with more greens, grains and beans. In some parts of the country, some of these products might be harder to find than hamburger patties or sirloin steak, but they’re not necessarily more expensive. And if they are, they may save medical costs in the long run.

Non-vegans think change is hard. Not changing is even harder.

Carol J. Adams is the author of “The Sexual Politics of Meat” and “The Pornography of Meat.” She lives outside Dallas.

Sean

Monday, April 18, 2011

Media Controlled by Republicans - BP Oil Spill Anniversary - Libya War Lies? - Republican Attacks on Middle Class, Poor, & Environment - Nuke Regulators - Obama Weak - Eating Healthy Saves Trillions

- In Beltway Land Progressives Do Not Exist
    A search for articles in the New York Times that reference the “People’s Budget” resulted in nothing but readers’ comments. Perhaps it’s a positive sign that a few Times readers are familiar with the progressive budget plan, even if the newspaper has neglected to cover it. Although, it’s rather puzzling that the “newspaper of record” has overlooked a budget proposal submitted by the largest Democratic Congressional Caucus, when the most intense national story for the past month has centered around budget proposals.... The lack of reporting on the People’s Budget lies in stark contrast to the extensive, ’round-the-clock coverage of the right-wing Paul Ryan plan.
    The media has a long pattern of blacking out progressives from national debate. Nonetheless, to watch as the measliest of Tea Party rallies, whose goal is to yell incoherent messages like “keep your government hands of my medicare” and simultaneously demand the dismantling of American’s few remaining safety nets, while thousands demonstrate around the country against tyrannical [Republican] legislation [attacking worker's rights]  only to be ignored, is infuriating and incomprehensible.
- Who Owns the Media?
    We've put Big Media under the microscope, and what we've found might surprise you.
- False pretense for war in Libya? [op-ed]
    EVIDENCE IS now in that President Barack Obama grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat to justify military action in Libya. The president claimed that intervention was necessary to prevent a “bloodbath’’ in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and last rebel stronghold.
- How to Save a Trillion Dollars
    In the scheme of things, saving the 38 billion bucks that Congress seems poised to agree upon is not a big deal. A big deal is saving a trillion bucks. And we could do that by preventing disease instead of treating it.
    For the first time in history, lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and others kill more people than communicable ones. Treating these diseases — and futile attempts to "cure" them — costs a fortune, more than one-seventh of our GDP.  But they’re preventable....
- Wisconsin Common Cause: Count Every Vote
    Many voters went to sleep in Wisconsin and thought they woke up in Florida on Friday after a "Republican activist" county clerk announced that she discovered an extra 14,315 votes in a hotly contested Supreme Court race. Not surprisingly, the votes went to the conservative candidate giving incumbent justice David Prosser a 7,500 vote lead over challenger Joanne Kloppenburg. Oddly, 7500 was the exact number of votes Prosser needed to avoid a statewide recount.
    The Supreme Court race has garnered national attention as a proxy vote on Governor Scott Walker's radical proposal to end collective bargaining in the state and cut a billion dollars from public schools.
- With shelters full, homeless family sent to woods instead
    With so many in need, and an increasing number of families homeless, there's just not enough room at area shelters. It's so bad, the Salvation Army has had to send families, one with three kids and a baby on the way, to live in the woods.
- US Nuclear Regulator a Policeman or Salesman?
    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission exists to police, not promote, the domestic nuclear industry -- but diplomatic cables show that it is sometimes used as a sales tool to help push American technology to foreign governments.
- BP Handling of Claims Slammed by Gulf Residents
    The amount paid out averages nearly 16,000 dollars per claimant. But according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 2009 poverty threshold for a family of three was 18,310 dollars.
    With mounting problems from an escalating health crisis and decimated fishing and tourist industries, many consider this an inadequate amount of compensation for their loss of livelihood.
- Report: Carcinogens Injected into Wells During Gas "Fracking"
    Millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens were injected into wells by leading oil and gas service companies from 2005-2009, a report by three House Democrats said Saturday.
- Republicans Push to Deregulate Environment at State Level
    Weeks after he was sworn in as governor of Maine, Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite, announced a 63-point plan to cut environmental regulations, including opening three million acres of the North Woods for development and suspending a law meant to monitor toxic chemicals that could be found in children’s products.
- Unions Clamor, Obama Cowers: His silence on State Protests [to protect worker's rights against Republican attacks] Speaks Volumes
    His silence has liberals baffled. The Wisconsin protesters' demands - a focus on jobs; preservation of collective bargaining; resistance to cuts in social services - poll well among the general public. So why are Democrats leaving this political energy on the table?Historically, grass-roots movements have been an extraordinary resource for Presidents seeking to move history in a new direction. The ability to place oneself at the head of a protest - while also directing its unruly energies - has been a perquisite for successful presidential leadership.

BP Anniversary: Toxicity, Suffering and Death
The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster has caused the biggest chemical poisoning crisis in US history, experts say. 
by Dahr Jamail
Published on Sunday, April 17, 2011 by Al-Jazeera-English

April 20, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of BP's catastrophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. On this day in 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing oil to gush from 5,000 feet below the surface into the ninth largest body of water on the planet.

PHOTO: Medical and toxicology experts have told Al Jazeera that the oil spill has triggered environmental and human health disasters that will likely span decades. (Erike Blumenfeld/Al-Jazeera) 


At least 4.9 million barrels of BP's oil would eventually be released into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was capped 87 days later.

It is, to date, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants to sink the oil, in an effort the oil giant claimed was aimed at keeping the oil from reaching shore.

Critics believe the chemical dispersants were used simply to hide the oil and minimise BP's responsibility for environmental fines.

Earlier this month Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, gave its top executives bonuses for achieving what it described as the "best year in safety performance in our company’s history". Transocean CEO Steve Newman’s bonus was $374,062.

BP has plans to restart deepwater drilling on 10 wells in the Gulf of Mexico this summer after being granted permission by US regulators.

Meanwhile, marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as "catastrophic," and have told Al Jazeera that this is only the beginning of that what they expect to be an environmental and human health crisis that will likely span decades.

The demise of gulf vertebrates

Less than four months after the disaster began, very large fish-kills began to appear along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

On August 18, a team from Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia released a report that estimated 70-79 per cent of the oil that gushed from the well "has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem". More recent studies estimate that figure could be closer to 90 per cent.

Dr Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has "great concern" about the fish kills over the last year, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.

In recent months, more than 290 corpses of dolphins and their newborn have washed ashore in the areas of the Gulf most heavily affected by the disaster, along with scores of dead endangered sea turtles.

"If we  to see what is going on, the sea turtles and neo-natal dolphin deaths, the impacts of the dispersed oil are lingering", Cake told Al Jazeera. "The oil is out there and still coming onto our shores".

On May 20 of last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told BP it had 24 hours to find a less toxic alternative to its dispersants, but the EPA's request was ignored.
Then on May 25, BP was given a directive by the EPA to scale back their spraying of the Gulf of Mexico with dispersants. The US Coast Guard overlooked the EPA's directive and provided BP with 74 exemptions in 48 days to use the dispersants.

A March 1987 report titled Organic Solvent Neurotoxicity, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states:

"The acute neurotoxic effects of organic solvent exposure in workers and laboratory animals are narcosisanaesthesiaia, central nervous system (CNS) depression, respiratory arrest, unconsciousness, and death."

The dispersants are banned in at least 19 countries, including the UK.
Cake’s assessment for sea turtle and dolphin populations in the Gulf is bleak.

"The two models of the turtles and dolphins indicate that something is drastically wrong in the marine environment, that I believe point towards the demise of these vertebrates in the Gulf."

Underscoring his concern, a new study published in Conservation Letters this March reveals that the true impact of BP’s oil disaster on wildlife may be gravely underestimated.
The study argues that fatality figures based on the number of recovered animal carcasses will not give a true death toll, which may be 50 times higher than believed since most carcasses sink before they are spotted.

Cake believes the National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been remiss in determining the cause of the deaths.

"In the year since the spill began, NOAA admits to doing no tissue sampling, which to me is scientifically incredible, for if you have forensic samples, you are bound by protocols to have them analysed right away so they do not degrade, unless your purpose is not to know what is killing these dolphins", he said.

In February the Obama administration, via the National Marine Fisheries Service, issued a gag order to force marine scientists who were contracted to document the spikes in dolphin mortality and to collect specimens and tissue samples to keep their findings confidential.

Bleak prognosis

Dolpins and sea turtles can be considered the canaries in the coalmine in the Gulf since they are at the top of the food chain and directly reflect what is happening to the marine environment in which they live.

Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has "great concern" about the fish kills over the last year, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.

"Adult dolphins systems are picking up whatever is in the system out there, and we know the oil is out there and working it’s way up the food chain through the food web and dolphins are at the top of that food chain."

Cake explained: "The chemicals then move into their lipids, fat, and then when they are pregnant, their young rely on this fat, and so it’s no wonder dolphins are having developmental issues and still births".

Since last fall, Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has been conducting tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP’s crude oil and toxic dispersants.

"Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline", Subra told Al Jazeera, "We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation."

Cake, who lives in Mississippi, said:

"In the past months we’ve lost the young of the year population of dolphins in this area. We are not seeing any young of the year dolphins in the Mississippi and Alabama coastal area. The question is, for us as humans, could we withstand a similar impact if all our children were born dead because of environmental pollutants? I would say we could not."

It has been more than 31 years since the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil disaster in Mexico's Bay of Campeche, and the oysters, clams, and mangrove forests have still not recovered in their oiled habitats in seaside estuaries of the Yucatan Peninsula.

It has been over 21 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and the herring fishery that failed in the wake of that disaster has still not returned.

From a biological oceanographer’s perspective, we are still in the short-term impact stage of BP’s oil disaster. Cake, who is 70-years-old, said:

"I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover. Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades."

Toxic chemicals 'in the air'

Two-year-old Gaven Tillman of Pass Christian, Mississippi, has been diagnosed with severe upper respiratory, sinus, and viral infections. His temperature has reached more than 39 degrees and he has been sick since last September.

"He has been seen by nine different doctors and had twenty-four doctor & ER visits," Shirley Tillman, his grandmother and former BP oil cleanup worker told Al Jazeera, "Some of his diagnoses include severe inflammation of his upper sinuses, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, sore throats, headaches, fever, vomiting & diarrhea."

Both Shirley and her husband Don's blood tested positive for chemicals from BP's crude oil, but now Gaven's blood has tested positive as well.

"We expected to find BP’s toxins in our bodies after working in the VOO [Vessels of Opportunity] program," she added, "But we did not expect our two-year-old grandson to test positive for having them too, with levels higher than ours. He has not been to the beach and has not eaten any seafood. Therefore, it is in the air."

Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor, told Al Jazeera that: "The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol.

Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber", she continued, "It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known".

"They evaporate in air and are easily inhaled, they penetrate skin easily, and they cross the placenta into fetuses."

"For example, 2- butoxyethanol [in BP’s Corexit dispersants] is a human health hazard substance; it is a fetal toxin and it breaks down blood cells, causing blood and kidney disorders", Ott said.

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitization, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage. They are teratogenic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic.

Since last July, Al Jazeera has spoken with scores of Gulf residents, fishermen, and clean-up workers who have blamed the aforementioned symptoms they are experiencing on the chemicals from BP's oil and dispersants.

"I have critically high levels of chemicals in my body,” 33-year-old Steven Aguinaga of Hazlehurst, Mississippi told Al Jazeera.

Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.

"At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good,” he said, "I’ve been extremely sick ever since.”

According to chemist Bob Naman, these chemicals create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil.

"I’m scared of what I’m finding," Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, added, "This is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe."

Aguinaga’s health has been in dramatic decline.

"I have terrible chest pain, at times I can’t seem to get enough oxygen, and I’m constantly tired with pains all over my body,” Aguinaga explained, "At times I’m pissing blood, vomiting dark brown stuff, and every pore of my body is dispensing water.”

And Aguinaga's friend Vallian is now dead.

"After we got back from our vacation in Florida, Merrick went to work for a company contracted by BP to clean up oil in Grand Isle, Louisiana,” Aguinaga said of his 33-year-old physically fit friend, "Two weeks after that he dropped dead."

Problems will continue

Most of the human blood Dr Subra has tested has toxic chemicals present at levels several times higher than the national average.

"Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil", she said.

"We are finding these in excess of the 95th percentile, which is the average for the entire nation. Sometimes we’re finding amounts five to 10 times in excess of the 95th percentile."

Ethylbenzene is a form of benzene present in the body when it begins to be broken down. m,p-Xylene is a clear, colorless, sweet-smelling, flammable liquid that is refined from crude oil and is primarily used as a solvent.

Al Jazeera asked Subra what she thought the local, state and federal governments should be doing about the ongoing chemical exposures.

"There is a lack of concern by the government agencies and the [oil] industry,” She said, "There is a leaning towards wanting to say it is all fixed and let us move on, when it is not. The crude oil is continuing to come onshore in tar mats, balls, and strings."

 "So the exposure continues. There is still a large amount of crude in the marshes and buried on the beaches. As long as that pathway is there for exposure, these problems will continue quite a long time into the future.”

Dr Mike Robicheux is a doctor in Louisiana who has been treating scores of people he says are being made sick from BP’s toxic chemicals.

Robicheux says new patients from the exposure are coming into his office daily, and believes that the broader medical community across the Gulf Coast are either unwilling or unable to deal with the crisis.

Robicheux, who has appealed to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help, said:

"The medical community has shut this down...They either don’t understand or are afraid to deal with it properly because they are afraid of the oil and gas industry."

"This is the biggest public health crisis from a chemical poisoning in the history of this country," Robicheux told Al Jazeera, "We are going to have thousands of people who are extremely sick, and if they aren’t treated, a large number of them are going to die."


Sean

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Endless War and Empire - Corporations Hiding Animal Suffering - Obama the Conservative - more

- Fighting for a People's Budget
     While the president speaks eloquently of his vision of “shared sacrifice,” in reality it is still a budget that hits the poor and the middle-class hardest while wealthy Americans and the military are asked to sacrifice far less.
- Stuck in the Center-Right With Obama: The President Who Still Won't Take a Stand
    The fight over whether the United States maintains a social-safety net for seniors and our most vulnerable citizens is, by any reasonable measure, a "which side are you on struggle?" The Republicans know that; they are ready to shred the safety net in order to advance a privatization agenda that enrichs their wealthiest donors. But President Obama is still having trouble taking a stand.
- What a Joke! Walker Claims to Be “Truly Progressive”
    [Despite trying to destroy worker's unions] Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker testified today before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and he had the chutzpah to say: "In Wisconsin, we are doing something truly progressive."
- If A Pig Lives And Dies Grotesquely In A Gestation Cage But Nobody Sees It, Did It Happen?
    Iowa legislators, working hand in cozy hand with [meat industry] lobbyists, are set to become the first state to solve the problem of factory farms that abuse animals - not by fixing or regulating them, but by banning whistleblowers who might tell us about the barbaric things they're doing there.
- U.S.-Backed Bloodshed Stains Bahrain’s Arab Spring
    Three days after Hosni Mubarak resigned as the long-standing dictator in Egypt, people in the small Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets, marching to their version of Tahrir, Pearl Square, in the capital city of Manama. Bahrain has been ruled by the same family, the House of Khalifa, since the 1780s—more than 220 years. Bahrainis were not demanding an end to the monarchy, but for more representation in their government.
    One month into the uprising, Saudi Arabia sent military and police forces over the 16-mile causeway that connects the Saudi mainland to Bahrain, an island. Since then, the protesters, the press and human-rights organizations have suffered increasingly violent repression.
- Pakistan Moves to Curb More Aggressive U.S. Drone Strikes, Spying
    The Pakistani military's recent demands on the United States to curb drone strikes and reduce the number of U.S. spies operating in Pakistan, which have raised tensions between the two countries to a new high, were a response to U.S. military and intelligence programmes that had gone well beyond what the Pakistanis had agreed to in past years.

Endless War and Empire: Your Tax Dollars at Work
By Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis
Published 4/14/11 at PinkTank

Death and taxes are the only certainties in life. And these days, they go hand in hand.

While our fiscal woes have led Congress to slash food aid this year to the world’s poor — rest assured, fellow Americans — the U.S. government will keep using your tax dollars to kill them. For while John Boehner and Barack Obama might disagree on some things, there’s one area they can agree on: War. And the need for more of it.

“Money for bombs, not bread,” might be a good bipartisan slogan.

And when it comes to dropping its citizens’ tax dollars on flying killer robots and foreign military occupations, no country comes close to the United States. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — more than $150 billion in direct spending this year alone — exceeds what China, the U.S.’s closest military rival, spends altogether on its armed forces. Overall, the Obama administration will spend more than $700 billion next year on the military.

That’s more than George W. Bush ever spent. And figures released this week by SIPRI show that since Obama took office, the U.S. has been almost entirely responsible for the global rise in military spending: $19.6 billion of $20.6 billion since 2008. What a difference a Nobel laureate makes.

And the actual figure spent on war – the fighting of it, the preparation for it and the consequences of it – is substantially higher than acknowledged, with spending on military programs often buried in places like the Department of Energy, which oversees the U.S.’s massive stash of nuclear weapons. Counting those hidden costs, including veterans benefits, aid to foreign militaries and interest payments on defense-related debt, economist Robert Higgs estimates the U.S. government spends more than $1 trillion a year on empire.

But you wouldn’t grasp the enormity of the U.S.’s commitment to militarism if you listened to its politicians. Remarking last week on the deal he struck that slashes $38.5 billion in federal spending, President Obama said the agreement “between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.”

Sounds lovely. But the reality, not the rhetoric, is that Obama and his allies in Congress aren’t cutting Pentagon waste and investing in rainbows and unicorns – unless, perhaps, there’s some way to harness their power for weapons. Rather, they’re investing in war at the cost of community health centers, local development projects and Medicare. In Washington, you see, money for killing people is safe from the cutting board; it’s the money that actually helps them thats not.

“We will all need to make sacrifices,” Obama reiterated in his speech on the national debt this week — just not the Pentagon, which is guaranteed more money every year under this president’s watch. “I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America’s interests around the world,” Obama said. As for cuts to domestic spending, including to “programs that I care deeply about”? Well, that’s a different story.

And if you’re a U.S. taxpayer, forget welfare programs: bombing and occupying countries that pose no credible threat to America — Obama has so far authorized attacks in at least six countries since taking office, including Yemen, Somalia and the latest and greatest $8.3-million-a-day war for peace, Libya — is your single greatest expense as a citizen. Indeed, over half of federal discretionary spending — what Americans will pay for with their incomes taxes on April 18 — goes to the armed forces and their legion of private contractors.

Now imagine what that money could do if it went to something more productive. Imagine if, instead of paying for bombs to be dropped around the world, those tax dollars went toward fulfilling actual human needs — toward creating friends, not enemies.
For the cost of just one minute of war we could build 16 new schools in Afghanistan. For 60 seconds of peace, we could fund 36 elementary school teachers here at home. This year’s funding for the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — $172.4 billion — could provide health care for 88.4 million poor American children.

The obvious wastefulness of war has even some politicians beginning to talk of investing in America instead of arms manufacturers. Congressmen Barney Frank and Ron Paul recently convened a task force that produced a detailed report with specific recommendations for cutting Pentagon spending by approximately $1 trillion over the next decade.

But lawmakers — all of whom have military contractors in their districts — rarely do anything good of their own volition. Rather, they have to be forced into action by those they purport to represent. At the local level, communities are doing just that by pressuring mayors to sign a resolution calling on Congress to redirect military spending to domestic priorities. A similar resolution, spearheaded by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, will be considered at the June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Pressuring politicians is not the only route to affect change, of course. The War Resisters League, for instance, suggests principled civil disobedience: refusing to pay taxes to fund unjust wars. That route is fraught with risk, including the prospect of jail time, but it’s one that would have made great Americans like Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau proud.

Not everyone can accept those risks, especially for those with families to worry about. But another option, living simply and reducing one’s taxable income, has the added benefit of not just starving the warfare state, but curbing one’s contribution to mindless consumerism and global climate change. And forgoing a new iPhone is a small price to pay to save a life.

Be it refusing to pay for war or speaking out against the injustice of bombing and killing poor people on the other side of the globe, the important thing is to recognize one’s role in the war machine and commit to doing something about it — to quit complacently accepting the world as it is and to work toward making it what it should be. The greatest enabler of the military-industrial complex isn’t really taxes: it’s apathy.

Sean

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Right's Attack on Women; Colbert Report (Funny video); Nuke Apologists and Ongoing Disaster; Explaining Radiation; Natural Gas Worse then Coal; World Hunger; Abortion; USA is NOT #1; more

- 25 Years After Chernobyl: Lessons Learned
    The retrospective lessons of Chernobyl are strikingly akin to the lessons at hand from the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima nuclear reactors and storage pools. Catastrophic risk – no matter how low with improved design, siting, materials, safety systems, and trained operators – is inherent in nuclear power. Safer is nowhere near safe enough. For this reason the US government continues to assume liability for damages to life and property from a nuclear power accident above $12.6 billion and has proposed $36 billion in loan guarantees in 2012 for new nuclear plants. Without these entitlements the nuclear industry would collapse. Wall Street concurs: In 2009 Moody's Investor Services concluded that investment into nuclear power was a “bet the farm” risk.
- Why Anti-Nuclear Belongs in All of Our Movements
    ...nuclear power, waste and weaponry threaten us all, as well as generations to come. The nuclear accident in Japan – if we can really call it an accident since potential disaster was built into the very location and design of the plants – serves as a glaring reminder that those who hold the reins of power do not have solutions for the serious social, economic and ecological crises of our time. On the contrary, they are making disasters, not unmaking them, risking our collective future for their own short-term gain.  As economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote recently, financial meltdown and nuclear meltdown are closely related, both products of a system of delusional speculation, technological hubris, public subsidies and private greed.
- Japan To Raise Nuke Accident Severity Level to Highest 7 from 5
    Japan has now decided to raise the severity level of the accident at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to 7, the highest on an international scale, from the current 5, government sources said Tuesday.
- Hiding From Shame, Addicted to Optimism: The Tyranny of Our Collective Comfort Zones
    The technologies that inflicted upon the world the ongoing tragedies in both the Gulf of Mexico and Japan serve a dangerous addiction, an addiction to blind optimism, a habituation of mind that allows us to dwell within provisional comfort zones but renders vast spaces of the world into deathrealms.
- The United States Has Mexico….and Sweden Has Us
    Who would have imagined that Sweden—of all countries—with its heavily unionized workforce, its social programs, its liberated sexual attitudes, its minimum wage of $18 per hour, and its 5 weeks of guaranteed paid vacation, would dare treat the United States the way….well, the way the United States treats Mexico?
- Shale Gas as Dirty as Oil, Coal for Warming
    Shale gas, an energy source enjoying a boom in North America and Europe, carries a greater carbon footprint than oil, coal and conventional gas over at least a 20-year period, according to a study released on Tuesday.
- What Is and Isn't Abortion: A Primer
    The recent standoff over the budget came down to funding for contraception, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screening. Make special note of what word was not in that list: abortion. That’s because abortion wasn’t on the table in the fights---there was pre-existing consensus that the government will not subsidize abortion care. ... Of course, if you read the mainstream news, you would not know this.
- Newsweek Falsely Blames Wind Turbines For Whale Beachings
    The latest issue of Newsweek claims that "a new study suggests" offshore wind farms cause whales to beach themselves. In fact, the authors of the study said their research did not establish such a link, and the UK newspaper that reported the claim pulled the story from its website and issued a correction.
- Groundbreaking New UN Report on How to Feed the World's Hungry: Ditch Corporate-Controlled Agriculture
    A new report from the UN advises ditching corporate-controlled and chemically intensive farming in favor of agroecology.
- Open Letter to President Obama on the Nomination of Elizabeth Warren
    ...there are corporate forces from Wall Street to Washington determined to derail [Elizabeth Warren’s] nomination [to head the new Consumer Financial Regulatory Bureau] - forces with their avaricious hooks into the Republicans on Capitol Hill and the corporatists in the Treasury and White House.
- An Open Letter to Liberal Supporters of the Libya War
    This is not, as some would have it, "merely an issue of process." Is the right to challenge the government's ability to arrest and detain you "merely an issue of process?" Of course, it is not. The right to challenge the government's ability to arrest and detain you helps keep innocent people out of jail. The right of Congress to debate and authorize a military intervention before it takes place if the country or its armed forces have not been attacked helps keep us out of unjust wars. Habeas corpus doesn't keep all innocent people out of jail, and the need for Congressional debate and authorization doesn't stop all unjust wars, but if keeping innocent people out of jail is something that you care about, the weakening of habeas corpus is not something that you should take lightly; and if stopping unjust wars is something that you care about, the weakening of Congressional war powers is not something that you should take lightly.
- The Nuke Lobby has the US Regulatory Commission in Their Pocket
    According to The Nation's Christian Parenti, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "culture" of bowing to industry demands prevents it from keeping plants truly safe. As President Obama once said, the NRC is a "captive" of the industry.
- The Colbert Report Pap Smears At Walgreens

How Nuclear Apologists Mislead the World Over Radiation
by Helen Caldicott
Published on Monday, April 11, 2011 by The Guardian/UK

Soon after the Fukushima accident last month, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry's campaign about the "minimal" health effects of so-called low-level radiation. That billions of its dollars are at stake if the Fukushima event causes the "nuclear renaissance" to slow down appears to be evident from the industry's attacks on its critics, even in the face of an unresolved and escalating disaster at the reactor complex at Fukushima.

Proponents of nuclear power – including George Monbiot, who has had a mysterious road-to-Damascus conversion to its supposedly benign effects – accuse me and others who call attention to the potential serious medical consequences of the accident of "cherry-picking" data and overstating the health effects of radiation from the radioactive fuel in the destroyed reactors and their cooling pools. Yet by reassuring the public that things aren't too bad, Monbiot and others at best misinform, and at worst misrepresent or distort, the scientific evidence of the harmful effects of radiation exposure – and they play a predictable shoot-the-messenger game in the process.

To wit:

1) Mr Monbiot, who is a journalist not a scientist, appears unaware of the difference between external and internal radiation
Let me educate him.

The former is what populations were exposed to when the atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; their profound and on-going medical effects are well documented. [1]

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow's meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term "acceptable levels of external radiation" in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation's hazards.

2) Nuclear industry proponents often assert that low doses of radiation (eg below 100mSV) produce no ill effects and are therefore safe. But , as the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual's risk of developing cancer.

3) Now let's turn to Chernobyl. Various seemingly reputable groups have issued differing reports on the morbidity and mortalities resulting from the 1986 radiation catastrophe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment", published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion. The three scientist authors – Alexey V Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V Nesterenko – provide in its pages a translated synthesis and compilation of hundreds of scientific articles on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster that have appeared in Slavic language publications over the past 20 years. They estimate the number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl meltdown at about 980,000.

Monbiot dismisses the report as worthless, but to do so – to ignore and denigrate an entire body of literature, collectively hundreds of studies that provide evidence of large and significant impacts on human health and the environment – is arrogant and irresponsible. Scientists can and should argue over such things, for example, as confidence intervals around individual estimates (which signal the reliability of estimates), but to consign out of hand the entire report into a metaphorical dustbin is shameful.

Further, as Prof Dimitro Godzinsky, of the Ukranian National Academy of Sciences, states in his introduction to the report: "Against this background of such persuasive data some defenders of atomic energy look specious as they deny the obvious negative effects of radiation upon populations. In fact, their reactions include almost complete refusal to fund medical and biological studies, even liquidating government bodies that were in charge of the 'affairs of Chernobyl'. Under pressure from the nuclear lobby, officials have also diverted scientific personnel away from studying the problems caused by Chernobyl."

4) Monbiot expresses surprise that a UN-affiliated body such as WHOmight be under the influence of the nuclear power industry, causing its reporting on nuclear power matters to be biased. And yet that is precisely the case.

In the early days of nuclear power, WHO issued forthright statements on radiation risks such as its 1956 warning: "Genetic heritage is the most precious property for human beings. It determines the lives of our progeny, health and harmonious development of future generations. As experts, we affirm that the health of future generations is threatened by increasing development of the atomic industry and sources of radiation … We also believe that new mutations that occur in humans are harmful to them and their offspring."

After 1959, WHO made no more statements on health and radioactivity. What happened? On 28 May 1959, at the 12th World Health Assembly, WHO drew up an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); clause 12.40 of this agreement says: "Whenever either organisation [the WHO or the IAEA] proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organisation has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement." In other words, the WHO grants the right of prior approval over any research it might undertake or report on to the IAEA – a group that many people, including journalists, think is a neutral watchdog, but which is, in fact, an advocate for the nuclear power industry. The IAEA's founding papers state: "The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity through the world."

Monbiot appears ignorant about the WHO's subjugation to the IAEA, yet this is widely known within the scientific radiation community. But it is clearly not the only matter on which he is ignorant after his apparent three-day perusal of the vast body of scientific information on radiation and radioactivity. As we have seen, he and other nuclear industry apologists sow confusion about radiation risks, and, in my view, in much the same way that the tobacco industry did in previous decades about the risks of smoking. Despite their claims, it is they, not the "anti-nuclear movement" who are "misleading the world about the impacts of radiation on human health."

[1] See, for example, WJ Schull, Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half-Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (New York: Wiley-Lis, 1995) and DE Thompson, K Mabuchi, E Ron, M Soda, M Tokunaga, S Ochikubo, S Sugimoto, T Ikeda, M Terasaki, S Izumi et al. "Cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors, Part I: Solid tumors, 1958-1987" in Radiat Res 137:S17-S67 (1994).

[2] This process is called bioaccumulation and comes in two subtypes as well, bioconcentration and biomagnification. For more information see: J.U. Clark and V.A. McFarland, Assessing Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Organisms Exposed to Contaminated Sediments, Miscellaneous Paper D-91-2 (1991), Environmental Laboratory, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS and H.A. Vanderplog, D.C. Parzyck, W.H. Wilcox, J.R. Kercher, and S.V. Kaye, Bioaccumulation Factors for Radionuclides in Freshwater Biota, ORNL-5002 (1975), Environmental Sciences Division Publication, Number 783, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.

Sean

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Martin Luther King Jr the Conservative Media Ignores; Peak Oil and what Japan Reveals about our Future; Nuke Disaster in Japan Still Ongoing; Republican Attacks on Workers Continue

- What Japan's Disaster Tells Us about Peak Oil
    For large parts of eastern Japan that were not directly hit by the tsunami on 11 March 2011, including the nation’s capital, the current state of affairs feels very much like a dry-run for peak oil. This is not to belittle the tragic loss of life and the dire situation facing many survivors left without homes and livelihoods. Rather, the aim here is to reflect upon the post-disaster events and compare them with those normally associated with the worst-case scenarios for peak oil.
- Japan Starts Dumping Radioactive Water into Sea
    Japan started dumping 11,500 tons of low-level radioactive water at sea Monday to free up storage space at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant for more highly contaminated water.
- We Are One Rallies Across Country Today
    The most important kickoff in Democratic and progressive politics today is not Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign. It’s the We Are One April 4 rallies. They’ve been put together by a similar coalition as the One Nation rallies from last October. But in the meantime, the push from right-wing governors across the country to bust unions and demonize public employees has energized a youth/labor/progressive alliance, which We Are One attempts to bring to a national platform. Over 1,000 rallies have been planned across the country today.
- Return Our Mural, Restore the Names
    Two weeks ago, Republican Governor Paul LePage ordered the removal of a mural depicting the history of organized labor in Maine that was commissioned by the Maine Arts Commission and displayed in the state's Department of Labor building in 2008.  He also made clear his intentions to rename several meeting rooms that had been named after historic labor leaders, including Frances Perkins and Cesar Chavez.  The following are the prepared remarks to be delivered by Maine artist and activist, Robert Shetterly, at a rally held today in the state capital of Augusta...

The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV
by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon
Published on Wednesday, April 4, 2007 by CommonDreams.org

It's become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King's death, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."
The remarkable thing about these reviews of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.

Why?

It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." (Full text/audio here. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm)

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 — and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington — engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be — until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights.  Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" — appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."

How familiar that sounds today, nearly 40 years after King's efforts on behalf of the poor people's mobilization were cut short by an assassin's bullet.

In 2007, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and most in Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. They fund foreign wars with "alacrity and generosity," while being miserly in dispensing funds for education and healthcare and environmental cleanup.

And those priorities are largely unquestioned by mainstream media. No surprise that they tell us so little about the last years of Martin Luther King's life.


Sean