In the Belly of the Beast: 5/23/11: Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West

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The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Wednesday, Day 179

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

A Defiant ‘Spanish Revolution’

MAY 20, 2011 | 258 Tweet

Since May 15, residents of many cities around Spain have been demonstrating against the country’s ongoing financial crisis, its politicians, and its bankers. The spontaneous protests are the largest since the country plunged into recession in 2008, and they’re made up mainly of young people who have set up camps in main squares across the country. Called “los indignados” (the indignant), the May 15 Movement, or simply 15-M, they are fueled by frustration with austerity measures, apparent indifference from politicians, and serious joblessness. Spain’s unemployment rate for those under 25 stood at 43.5 percent as of February — the highest youth unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union. As Spain enters an election weekend, this collection focuses on some recent scenes of dissent from around the country. [44 photos (updated late 5/20)]

Connecting the Dots

from Robert Reich

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“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”





The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Wednesday, Day 179

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

Videos: Two Blasts from the Past to Give Us Some Perspective

from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs


As an historian, I see one of historical analysis most important values is to give us perspective on where we are and also where we should struggle to be.

Today, we look at skyrocketing gas prices, wars raging through the Middle East, economic stagnation, and reactionaries trying to profit from an economic crisis that their policies created Dejavu all over again?  Maybe not, if we fight to to build peoples movements that take seriously the themes in these  two crucially important videos from Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 and 1944 presidential campaigns.

The first is Roosevelt’s famous defense of his administration’s achievements and  his complete repudiation of the rightwing Republican governments that had brought about the depression.

Notice that Roosevelt does not seek any cooperation with the forces of monopoly; he not only attacks their policies but their core philosophy, their definition of America. He is not afraid of them or of the people’s ability to think rationally in spite of the media propaganda with which they were bombarded.

Things were much worse in 1936 than they are today(double digit unemployment, significant improvement from 1932, but still a low general standard of living). But labor and the masses of people were on the move, and the administration, rather than ignoring them or fighting, them had begun to identify with their struggles.

Roosevelt in 1936 had already achieved far more than Obama can hope to achieve by 2012, but this famous speech could help Obama  prepare for a campaign which would not only bring victory but a victory that would mean more than keeping the far right out of power–a victory that would enable him to really accomplish what those who elected him with the strongest majority for a Democrat in 40 years hoped that his administration would accomplish after the wreckage of the Bush years.

The second is if anything more important. It is Roosevelt’s “new bill of rights” radio address from 1944, which the press called the “Economic Bill of Rights,” and which the CIO and all left forces rallied around as ideological foundation for both reconversion to a peacetime economy and the creation of a society whose government would use all of its powers to guarantee the economic and social security of its citizens. Here also there is a warning about the dangers of rightwing reaction and a clear connection of that reaction with fascism.

Roosevelt is less angry in 1944  than hopeful of a postwar future for the American people based on security and abundance. He didn’t live to try to implement that future. Harry Truman’s reckless postwar confrontations with the Soviet Union, intervention in the Chinese Civil War, and other acts created a lasting Cold War where those whom Roosevelt had earlier denounced as “war profiteers” became the prime beneficiaries of the military industrial complex and the economic and both the enormous productive power, money capital, and what one might call moral capital that the U.S. emerged from WWII with were to squandered in the following decades.

Together, these two video clips should help us develop a 21st century perspective:


Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West

The liberal class, which attempted last week to discredit the words my friend Cornel West spoke aboutBarack Obama and the Democratic Party, prefers comfort and privilege to justice, truth and confrontation. Its guiding ideological stance is determined by what is most expedient to the careers of its members. It refuses to challenge, in a meaningful way, the decaying structures of democracy or the ascendancy of the corporate state. It glosses over the relentless assault on working men and women and the imperial wars that are bankrupting the nation. It proclaims its adherence to traditional liberal values while defending and promoting systems of power that mock these values.The pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, the church, culture, the university, labor and the Democratic Party—all honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence. Those who expose this moral cowardice and collaboration with corporate power are always ruthlessly thrust aside.

The capitulation of the liberal class to corporate capitalism, as Irving Howeonce noted, has “bleached out all political tendencies.” The liberal class has become, Howe wrote, “a loose shelter, a poncho rather than a program; to call oneself a liberal one doesn’t really have to believe in anything.” The decision to subordinate ethics to political expediency has led liberals to steadily surrender their moral autonomy, voice and beliefs to the dictates of the corporate state. As Dwight Macdonald wrote in “The Root Is Man,”those who do not make human beings the center of their concern soon lose the capacity to make any ethical choices, for they willingly sacrifice others in the name of the politically expedient and practical.

By extolling the power of the state as an agent of change, as well as measuring human progress through the advances of science, technology and consumption, liberals abetted the cult of the self and the ascendancy of the corporate state. The liberal class placed its faith in the inevitability of human progress and abandoned the human values that should have remained at the core of its activism. The state, now the repository of the hopes and dreams of the liberal class, should always have been seen as the enemy. The destruction of the old radical and militant movements—the communists, socialists and anarchists—has left liberals without a source of new ideas. The link between an effective liberal class and a more radical left was always essential to the health of the former. The liberal class, by allowing radical movements to be dismembered through Red baiting and by banishing those within its ranks who had moral autonomy, gradually deformed basic liberal tenets to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization and permanent war. Liberalism, cut off from the radical roots of creative and bold thought, merged completely with the corporate power elite. The liberal class at once was betrayed and betrayed itself. And it now functions like a commercial brand, giving a different flavor, face or spin to the ruthless mechanisms of corporate power. This, indeed, is the primary function of Barack Obama.

The liberal class, despite becoming an object of widespread public scorn, prefers the choreographed charade. It will decry the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or call for universal health care, but continue to defend and support a Democratic Party that has no intention of disrupting the corporate machine. As long as the charade is played, the liberal class can hold itself up as the conscience of the nation without having to act. It can maintain its privileged economic status. It can continue to live in an imaginary world where democratic reform and responsible government exist. It can pretend it has a voice and influence in the corridors of power. But the uselessness and irrelevancy of the liberal class are not lost on the tens of millions of Americans who suffer the indignities of the corporate state. And this is why liberals are rightly despised by the working class and the poor.

The liberal class is incapable of reforming itself. It does not hold within its ranks the rebels and iconoclasts who have the moral or physical courage to defy the corporate state and power elite. And when someone such as Cornel West speaks out, packs of careerist liberals—or perhaps one should call them neoliberals—descend on the apostate like hellhounds, never addressing the truths that are expressed but instead engaging in vicious character assassination. The same thing happened to Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, Jeremiah Wright and others who defied the political orthodoxy of corporate capitalism. The corporate forces, which have taken control of the press and which break unions, run the universities, fund the arts and own the Democratic Party, demand the banishment of all who question the good intentions of the powerful. Liberals who comply are tolerated within the system. They are permitted to busy themselves with the boutique activism of political correctness, inclusiveness or multiculturalism. If they attempt to fight for the primacy of justice, they become pariahs.

Leo Tolstoy wrote that there were three characteristics of all forms of prophecy: “First, it is entirely opposed to the general ideas of the people in the midst of whom it is uttered; second, all who hear it feel its truth; and thirdly, above all, it urges men to realize what it foretells.”

Prophets put forward during their day ideas that the mass of people, including the elite, denounce as impractical and yet at the same time sense to be true. This is what invokes the rage against the prophet. He or she states the obvious in a society where the obvious is seditious. Prophecy is feared because of the consequences of the truth. To accept that Obama is, as West said, a mascot for Wall Street means having to challenge some frightening monoliths of power and give up the comfortable illusion that the Democratic Party or liberal institutions can be instruments for genuine reform. It means having to step outside the mainstream. It means a new radicalism. It means recognizing that there is no hope for a correction or a reversal within the formal systems of power. It means defying traditional systems of power. And liberals, who have become courtiers to the corporate state, must attempt to silence all those who condemn the ruthlessness and mendacity of these systems of destruction. Their denunciation of all who rebel is a matter of self-preservation. For once the callous heart of the corporate state is exposed, so is the callous heart of the liberal class.

Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As it Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”

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A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.
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Manning Marable’s Controversial New Biography Refuels Debate on Life and Legacy of Malcolm X

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

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MalcolmAfter two decades of work, Dr. Manning Marable completed a new biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Dr. Marable used material for his book that was recently made available, thus providing a new insight into the famed civil rights leader. His biography, however, has also refueled the debate on many controversial aspects of Malcolm X’s life and interpretation of his politics and legacy. To discuss Dr. Marable’s biography, we host a roundtable discussion with three guests. Amiri Baraka is an acclaimed poet, playwright, music historian and activist based in Newark, New Jersey. Herb Boyd is a Harlem-based activist, teacher and author who edits the online publication, The Black World Today, and writes for several publications, including Amsterdam News. Michael Eric Dyson is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and is the author of numerous books, including Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X. [includes rush transcript]

“Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”: Manning Marable’s Exhaustive Biography of the Civil Rights Leader

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

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MarableEvents are being held today across the country to mark what would have been Malcolm X’s 86th birthday. Earlier this year a major new biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, was published. The book’s author, Columbia University Professor Dr. Manning Marable, died at the age of 60 just days before its publication. Two decades in the making, the nearly 600-page biography is described as a re-evaluation of Malcolm X’s life, providing new insights into the circumstances of his assassination, as well as raising questions about Malcolm X’s own autobiography. We speak with Zaheer Ali, one of the researchers who worked with Dr. Marable on the biography. “In a sense, this book is a kind of iconoclasm in that way, in that it takes Malcolm off of the pedestal to examine him as a human being struggling through these political and religious currents that he was in,” says Zaheer. [includes rush transcript]

Netanyahu and Bashshar

Many of my readers noted that members of the US Congress act toward Netanyahu the way Syrian MPs act toward Bashshar, exactly.

Dissident Jews disrupt Bibi’s DC dissertations

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington DC was interrupted May 24 by pro-Palestinian protesters affiliated with the Move Over AIPAC coalition. The five protesters—apparently all American Jews— unfurled banners and chanted slogans before they were escorted out of the conference hall by security. “Do you think they have these protests in Gaza?” Netanyahu jokingly asked the audience.

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Krugman on “movement conservatism” and “wingnut welfare”

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Gaius Publius

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As l’Affaire Ryan evolves from “Danger, Will Robinson” to farce, Krugman has begun to evolve in his understanding of something he now actually calls “movement conservatism.” Out loud.

And the astonishing willingness of the media to praise Ryan’s plan as Shinola when it’s clearly something else, has moved Krugman from wondering why people are so easily confused, to beginning to understand, for the second time, that “movement conservatism” is indeed a movement, with operatives, agents, and an institutionalized reward system. (In the leftie world, those institutions, like AEI, are called the “wingnut welfare system” and it takes no brains at all to know that Paul Ryan will never hurt for a paycheck the rest of his life.)

So I found the following paragraph, from this Krugman post, to be enlightening in a “state of the Krugman” sort of way. Ignore the point and note the language.

[M]y take is that the hermetic nature of movement conservatism — its loyalty tests, its closed intellectual world where you get all your alleged facts from Fox News and the Heritage Foundation, the “wingnut welfare” that ensures that defeated politicians always have a cushy job waiting at a think tank somewhere, always made it vulnerable to this kind of spin into policy craziness.

Movement conservatives are known bad actors, guaranteed insincere even when right. Krugman sees this when it comes to politicians, which is the subject of the post. But he’s blind to operatives in the media, though he’s closing in on them, as this other post shows.

Nevertheless, it’s fascinating watching this journey he’s taking. At present the state of the Krugman is clear, with patches of still-inexplicable cloudiness.

Ed Schultz interviews Cornel West & Melissa Harris-Perry on the criticism of Obama from the black community

This will likely be my last coverage of this issue for a while (unless there’s news, of course). I wanted to round out the discussion by giving Melissa Harris-Perry her say.

As you may recall, there’s a dust-up in the black community regarding Prof. Cornel West’s criticism of Obama published in Truthdig. (For more, see here.) Dr. West’s criticism is both personal and political, and contains some psychological observations that may or may not have merit in your eyes.

West’s colleague, Princeton professor Eddie Glaude spoke to Sam Seder about the issue, in what (for my money) is a really interesting interview. (Our coverage of that is here.)

West has been roundly criticized in the black community and elsewhere for his remarks. One critic is Melissa Harris-Perry, a Nation magazine contributor and frequent Rachel Maddow guest.

In The Nation, Melissa Harris-Perry wrote in part:

Professor Cornel West is President Obama’s silenced, disregarded, disrespected moral conscience, according to Chris Hedges’s recent Truthdig column, “The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West went Ballistic.” In a self-aggrandizing, victimology sermon deceptively wrapped in the discourse of prophetic witness, Professor West offers thin criticism of President Obama and stunning insight into the delicate ego of the self-appointed black leadership class that has been largely supplanted in recent years.

To put both views side by side (West’s and Harris-Perry’s), here’s each appearing on The Ed Show. Ignore if you wish Schultz’s defense of Obama (you would expect that in any case) and focus on the two interviewees, West and Harris-Perry. They appear sequentially, but each get a good chance to voice his or her views. A short, very instructive video (h/t Sam Seder):

“Greece, Ireland and Portugal can’t and won’t repay their debts in full”

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Gaius Publius

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That’s Paul Krugman in a recent column. The lead-in to that conclusion is worth reading, a nice cautionary tale about how the Europeans got there. But the bottom line is in the headline, and the consequences won’t be pretty.

It isn’t going to be just Greece (my emphasis):

But as I said, the confidence fairy hasn’t shown up. Europe’s troubled debtor nations are, as we should have expected, suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs, and confidence is plunging instead of rising. It’s now clear that Greece, Ireland and Portugal can’t and won’t repay their debts in full, although Spain might manage to tough it out.

Realistically, then, Europe needs to prepare for some kind of debt reduction, involving a combination of aid from stronger economies and “haircuts” imposed on private creditors, who will have to accept less than full repayment. Realism, however, appears to be in short supply.

On one side, Germany is taking a hard line against anything resembling aid to its troubled neighbors[.] … On the other side, the E.C.B. is acting as if it is determined to provoke a financial crisis.

Not pretty, and not promising. He closes: “If Greek banks collapse, that might well force Greece out of the euro area — and it’s all too easy to see how it could start financial dominoes falling across much of Europe.”

There’s talk of causes in the column — why the E.C.B. is on this self-destructive course. But that’s not my subject. Wrong-headedness; ideological addiction; salvish concern for German bankers — I’m not sure any of that matters as much as the consequences. Who cares why he’s a drunk; look what he did.

I don’t think this will end well, for the elites or the impoverished.


Critics wondering what happened to Wall Street prosecutions

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Chris in Paris

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If the Attorney General’s boss is having cocktail parties to raise campaign contributions from Wall Street, is it really a surprise that prosecutions are dead in the water? Bloomberg:

In November 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed before television cameras to prosecute those responsible for the market collapse a year earlier, saying the U.S. would be “relentless” in pursuing corporate criminals.

In the 18 months since, no senior Wall Street executive has been criminally charged, and some lawmakers are questioning whether the U.S. Justice Department has been aggressive enough after declining to bring cases against officials at American International Group Inc. (AIG) and Countrywide Financial Corp.

Prosecutions of three categories of crime that could be linked to the causes of the crisis — corporate, securities and bank fraud — declined last fiscal year by 39 percent from 2003, the period after the accounting scandals at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., Justice Department records show.

Massey Energy Guilty: West Virginia Probe Finds Coal Giant Systemically Failed to Comply with Law

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

Play_massey_report2An independent state probe in West Virginia concludes that mining giant, Massey Energy, was responsible for the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 underground coal mining workers. It echoes preliminary findings by federal investigators earlier this year that Massey repeatedly violated federal rules on ventilation and minimizing coal dust to reduce the risk of explosion, and rejects Massey’s claim that a burst of gas from a hole in the mine floor was at fault. The report also notes Massey’s strong political influence, which it uses “to attempt to control West Virginia’s political system” and regulatory bodies. We speak with J. Davitt McAteer, who oversaw the probe and is a former top federal mine safety official. [includes rush transcript]

The Fight over Coal Mining is a “Fight About Democracy”: New Documentary with Robert Kennedy, Jr. Chronicles Campaign to Halt Mountaintop Removal

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by (Democracy Now!)

Play_last_mtn1We speak with environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr., and filmmaker Bill Haney about the new documentary, The Last Mountain, which premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival. The film chronicles the fight against coal mining across Appalachia and Massey Energy’s devastating practice of mountaintop removal to extract layers of coal. “They have to break the law to do this. They cannot survive in the marketplace without violating the law. They violate labor laws. They violate health and safety laws. And by their own records, they’ve had some 67,000 violations of just one of the environmental statutes,” says Kennedy of the coal giant that has tremendous political influence at the state and federal level. “It’s not just about the environmental destruction, it’s also about subverting democracy.” [includes rush transcript]



Top Ten Green Energy Good News Stories

from Informed Comment by Juan

1. This article alleges that the world’s total power-generating capacity from renewable resources now exceeds that of nuclear power plants for the first time. (A reader wrote me to question the assertion and to say that the math here is off.). It is coming in any case, with Siemens and the Chinese turning against nuclear power after Fukushima.

2. A team headed by Patrick Pinhero, associate professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has invented a flexible solar sheet that dramatically improves the efficiency of light collection. Most photovoltaic solar panels capture only 30% of available light, but Pinhero’s sheets collect 90%. He says, “Our overall goal is to collect and utilize as much solar energy as is theoretically possible and bring it to the commercial market in an inexpensive package that is accessible to everyone… If successful, this product will put us orders of magnitudes ahead of the current solar energy technologies we have available to us today.”

3. Norway is planning to produce a 10 megawatt wind turbine that will float offshore.

4. Germany’s first offshore wind farm is now in operation, supplying clean energy to over 50,000 households.

5. Now that Japan’s government has pledged not to build any new nuclear plants, the country could over the next few decades plausibly get its electricity instead from wind power.

6. Chris Goodall reexamines the potential of UK tidal power generation and finds reasons for greater optimism than exhibited in the report of the Committee on Climate Change. For more on tidal turbines see this report.

7. Germany is streamlining regulatory permissions for wind energy installations. Bureaucratic red tape is often the biggest impediment new renewable facilities (even though governments fall over backwards to give tax and other breaks to Big Oil and Gas).

8. That the wind doesn’t blow all the time (“intermittency”) is not actually that important, contrary to what the Big Oil propagandists argue. Iowa gets 17% of its electricity from wind, and it does not cause blackouts.

9. What if solar energy got the same amount of government subsidies in the US as fossil fuels get?

10. Germany wants to have 6 million electric automobiles on the roads by 2030. If by then a majority of Germany’s electricity is produced by renewables, the country’s carbon footprint would fall considerably, as would problems of air pollution.


Geoffrey Sea’s Nuclear Bulletin #22 – The Word is Bail

from Raj Patel by Raj

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Nuclear Bulletin #22
27 iv 2011

The Word is Bail.

A summation of events since Bulletin 21 is in order: Japan has extended the evacuation zone and imposed tough measures against violators, prompting tensions with evacuees who assumed such removal would be temporary. Japan upgraded the catastrophe to Category 7, the same as Chernobyl, while credibly reporting that the total amount of material released was about one tenth the radioactivity released at Chernobyl. Given the much greater concentration of releases in nearby territory in Japan, this highlights my prior point that the long-range fallout effects of Fukushima will be minuscule compared to Chernobyl. Correspondingly, the on-site and near-site effects will be of similar magnitude, and numerous reports of radiation sickness among the workforce are beginning to appear.

Activity at the site is now focused on construction of containers to hold contaminated water being pumped out, and Japan has acknowledged that much such water will have to be intentionally released to the sea. Mostly French and some US firms have been contracted to do the cleanup.

A report on Voice of Russia radio on the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, which was yesterday, interestingly made the comparison between Fukushima and Chernobyl as being like stories of corruption in contracting and management. That story is bolstered by an in-depth report about corruption at Fukushima in today’s New York Times: Safety Becomes Victim in Japan’s Nuclear Collusion – Corruption, of course, plagues all complex societies, and has shown little preference for one economic system over another. There is an argument to be made that intolerant technologies like nuclear power do not jive well with universal human frailties like susceptibility to bribery, dishonesty, and denial. There is not a comparable case that nuclear technology proves the superiority or inferiority of any given system of political economy.

That becomes especially clear in reviewing the six worst single-site nuclear catastrophes, only three of which have penetrated into media and public consciousness. In order of severity of effects, those include two Soviet disasters, two American, one Japanese and one French:

1. Chelyabinsk, Russia, 1957
2. Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986
3. Fukushima, Japan, 2011
4. Idaho Falls, USA, 1961 SL-1 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
5. La Hague, France 1980
6. Three Mile Island, USA, 1979

If the ranking were in terms of potential severity, the order would be substantially different with reference to the above list: 2-4-3-6-1-5. Interestingly, Chernobyl was not the worst Soviet disaster, nor was Three Mile Island the worst American one. It was, in fact, the Chelyabinsk disaster that provided the USSR with large numbers of radiation management specialists, radioecologists, and disaster teams that made Chernobyl much more manageable almost thirty years later.

Consideration of that full list is what has made the constant comparisons between Fukushima and Chernobyl so pointless. One thing we learned from the top two experiences, as well as from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and atmospheric nuclear testing around the world, is that psychosocial effects can be as, or more, severe than radiation effects, and by that I do not mean “psychosomatic” injuries.

What I do mean is that evacuations and the resulting impoverishment, food restrictions leading to malnutrition, social stigma applied to exposed populations, voluntary or imposed restrictions on reproduction, and depression leading to suicide will typically have a greater combined impact on health than the direct effects produced by radioactivity. This phenomenon was very pronounced in Central Asia, for example, where large populations were exposed concurrently to Chelyabinsk fallout, fallout from Soviet and Chinese weapons tests, and uranium mining wastes.

Consequent cancer rates were elevated, but this may not have approached the number of casualties caused by food and land restrictions, paranoia leading to non-reproduction, and skyrocketing suicide rates, the latter tied to false propaganda about downwinders’ incapacity to have healthy children. This is the phenomenon, to which (we know from the A-Bomb history) the Japanese are especially susceptible. And this is what the counter-factual “radioactivists” fail to grasp — that their spewing of disinformation causes real physical harm, aside from undermining the credibility of all critics. And yes, I’ll say it again. Helen Caldicott is by far the worst willful offender.

That is important to say because right now, in Japan, unfounded fears about magical radiation injury are causing a host of problems, given that the great majority of Japanese are not in the zone of significant hazard. People of good will need to speak up if the concern for human health is genuine.

Meanwhile, utility executives, financial analysts, and right-wing politicians are doing a thorough job of shutting the nuclear industry down in the United States, Germany, Italy, India, and elsewhere. On April 19, NRG announced that the South Texas nuclear reactor project is over, kaput. This was the biggest new reactor project in the USA, the one that defined the “Nuclear Renaissance” in America, the one next up at the plate for a federal loan guarantee. Texas also presented the most nuclear-friendly locale one could imagine. The death of this project was underplayed in the media. In retrospect it will be seen as the coup de grace for nuclear revival dreams.

In short, if you call yourself an “antinuclear activist”, the powers that be are trying mighty hard to make you redundant. There simply isn’t any work left on that agenda that the big money men aren’t already accomplishing. Sure, there are squeaks and murmurs on the investment websites, but these are coming from lackadaisical stock traders who hope to create some new mini-bubble, so that they can sell their own shares without absorbing a tremendous loss. The word is bail. That’s the word inside, outside, and altogether. Soon anti-nukers will be like the Japanese soldiers left behind in jungles on Pacific Islands after WWII, with only imaginary enemies to fight.

The guy who was right all along is Amory Lovins. He said long before Three Mile Island that the economics of nuclear power would doom the industry, and he produced lots of graphs to demonstrate that TMI had practically no effect on the industry’s established downward trend. He has now produced the same kind of graphs to show that the industry, in the United States, was dead long before Fukushima. There are open questions left in France, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, where reliance on nuclear power is high and access to natural gas is low. But there are few open questions in the USA, Russia, and most of Asia and the rest of the world, where nuclear was simply not a contender in a market dominated by natural gas, and surging renewables.

The task now is to build a future energy policy, and stop beating the dead horse.

–Geoffrey Sea

Geoffrey Sea holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Science from Harvard. He did graduate work in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and in radiological health physics at San Jose State University. He is co-founder of Southern Ohio Neighbors Group, which successfully defeated plans for the centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel at Piketon, Ohio. He has published in the American Scholar, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and many newspapers. He can be contacted via email at

Geoffrey Sea’s Nuclear Bulletin #23 -Nuclear Renaissance Meets Age of Discovery

from Raj Patel by Raj

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Nuclear Bulletin #23
18 v 2011
Nuclear Renaissance Meets Age of Discovery
Personification of the Atom would not be quite the correct term. Since Walt Disney’s Our Friend the Atom (which I once produced in response to an idiotic witness subpoena requesting all of my “documents pertaining to atomic energy”) we have deified the Atom, bestowing it with the attributes not only of a living being, but of an immortal one, a god. (In the Disney version, the Atom is a magic genie granting wishes, minus the evil curse of authentic genie legends.)
Thus, the stubborn talk about “reviving” atomic energy, as if it is an organism starved for oxygen. This is entirely a linguistic artifact of our Indo-European mental prison. If Native American languages had predominated, with their gender distinction between animate and inanimate subjects, much of the catastrophe might have been avoided.
Speaking as we do, let’s review the atomic industry’s long-sought revival:
Germany is in process of shuttering seven reactors immediately, with the other ten to follow within a decade. Italy and Switzerland, the latter among the five most nuclear-dependent countries, have canceled all future nuclear reactor plans. Japan, with the third largest nuclear fleet, has also canceled all future reactors, in addition to permanent shutdown of the six reactors at Fukushima. Prime minister Naoto Kan sounds eerily like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Kan seeks immediate shutdown of the two reactors at Hamaoka, in an earthquake-prone region near Tokyo. Cuomo seeks immediate shutdown of the two reactors at Indian Point, on an earthquake fault north of New York City.
China, while not going so far as to cancel all future projects, has diverted its energy investments from nuclear to solar and wind. India appears to be following China so as to avoid competitive disadvantage.
These actions, taken together, define a new technological race toward supremacy in solar and wind technology, led by a discrete pack of countries that includes Germany, Japan, India, China, Italy, Denmark, and Israel. Germany’s Merkel has become spokeswoman for the group, sounding increasingly like Bonnie Raitt: “We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of renewable energy as fast as possible.”
A 28-page report by a Merkel-appointed commission makes the industrial policy decision even more clear: “A withdrawal from nuclear power will spur growth, offer enormous technical, economic and social opportunities to position Germany even further as an exporter of sustainable products and services…Germany could show that a withdrawal from nuclear energy is the chance to create a high-powered economy.” Germany’s Unlikely Champion Of a Radical Green Energy Path by Christian Schwägerl: Yale Environment 360
For every winner, there’s a loser. The French, with caffeinated edginess, are caught in a Cul-de-Sac Atomique, or CSA, to coin a term. The Russians are saying to hell with all of it, as they remain contentedly awash in oil and natural gas. Russian satellites like Kazakhstan, which has quietly surpassed Canada and Australia to become the world’s largest supplier of uranium, by far, are also banking on the technics of a bygone age.
That leaves, of course, the United States, energy consumer below par excellence. All rational thought in the USA has been suspended by consensus, since this is the year before the year of a presidential election. American industrial policy will be established on the stump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Sandusky, Ohio, as contingencies require, and as determined by the local phone-banking union operatives and assorted party hacks.
Nuclear loan guarantees will come up for a vote in the non-Olympus-like House Appropriations Committee in June, and the irony is that labor-led Democrats are pushing hardest for the industry bailouts, while budget-minded Tea Partiers are trying to get the corporate welfare canned. We may yet see bumper-stickers in New Hampshire that read “No Nukes! Vote Republican!” Though to be fair, the constellations in states like Vermont and New York are precisely the reverse.
Americans have just not had a knack for industrial policy, unless the playing field has first been leveled by aerial bombardment. Redevelopment from anything but ground level confuses us.
Geoffrey Sea holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Science from Harvard. He did graduate work in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and in radiological health physics at San Jose State University. He is co-founder of Southern Ohio Neighbors Group, which successfully defeated plans for the centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel at Piketon, Ohio. He has published in the American Scholar, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and many newspapers. He can be contacted via email
This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Bradley Manning, Civil Liberties, Corporations, Corruption, Events, Imperialism, Nuclear Power, Obama, US Economy, US Electoral Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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