Tuesday, August 28, 2012

RNC 2012: RNC Police State gets Rained Out



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08mxKgmPYto&feature=colike

"Culture of Impunity: Israel Rejects All Blame for Rachel Corrie’s Death"


http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=54077

EXCERPT:
The verdict echoed the findings of an internal investigation by the Israeli military which was concluded just four weeks after her death and cleared troops of any responsibility in the matter, saying the bulldozer crew could not see Corrie because she was behind a mound of rubble.

The Corries' lawyer Hussein Abu said the family would appeal to the Supreme Court.
"The verdict is based upon distorted facts and could have been written by the state's attorney," he told reporters as her father Craig stood by stony-faced, her mother Cindy looking heartbroken and close to tears, a correspondent said.

Cindy Corrie said the family was "deeply saddened and deeply troubled" over the verdict and insisted that her daughter's death could and should have been avoided.
"We believe that Rachel's death could and should have been avoided," said the white-haired American, her voice breaking with emotion. "We knew from the beginning that a civil suit would be an uphill battle."
Israel, she said, operated "a well-heeled system to protect the military."

"This was a bad day, not only for the family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and for the country of Israel," she said.

But Tom Dale, a former ISM activist who was 10 metres (32.8 feet) away when Corrie was crushed, said the verdict reflected a "long-standing culture of impunity" for the Israeli army, and insisted it was not possible that the driver did not see her.

"On 16 March 2003, Rachel could not have been more visible: standing, on a clear day, in the open ground, wearing a high-visibility vest," he said in a statement.

"Whatever one thinks about the visibility from a D9 bulldozer, it is inconceivable that at some point the driver did not see her, given the distance from which he approached, while she stood, unmoving, in front of it," he said.

"As I told the court, just before she was crushed, Rachel briefly stood on top of the rolling mound of earth which had gathered in front of the bulldozer: her head was above the level of the blade, and just a few metres from the driver."

Anyone familiar with the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories "may not be surprised by this verdict, which reflects a long-standing culture of impunity for the Israeli military, but we should be outraged."

Corrie's father Craig, a veteran of the Vietnam War, expressed similar sentiments.

"We've seen from the highest levels of the military that they thought they could kill people on that border with impunity," he told reporters.  [May I add that this is largely thanks to U.S. GOV'T SUPPORT!]

Monday, August 27, 2012

'Kid or Adult - IDF Makes No Difference in Palestine' -- Breaking the Silence Soldier Tells His Story; Says IDF Actions Immoral



http://youtu.be/2dYeDPFH6u0

Gaza, Palestine Activists #RememberRachel and Support #BDS



http://youtu.be/qnzRM9chOjU

Escobar: Tehran NAM Summit Unites Real Intl Community



http://youtu.be/x8l07FVrXpM

Saturday, August 25, 2012

2010 CNN STORY: Rachel Corrie's Parents Demand Israeli Answers" -- 2 yrs Later Verdict Expected Aug. 28



http://youtu.be/88Vjkl2P8bE

Please go to Adalah New York's Action Plan for coming days leading up to verdict in the trial for justice for Rachel:  http://adalahny.org/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=84

Friday, August 24, 2012

"U.S. Policy to Israel, Palestine Must Change, Says Stein"

Sounds like a good start.  Linda

http://www.jillstein.org/palestine_israel_statement

Jill Stein, the prospective Green Party presidential nominee, hailed [the recent]  agreement regarding solitary confinement, family visitation rights, and more by Israeli prison authorities as a significant victory for non-violent resistance and human rights. The agreement was the result of a hunger strike by over 1600 Palestinian prisoners that lasted in some cases as long as 77 days.
Dr. Stein said that this victory represented a positive step, but that the United States remains complicit in the ongoing systematic violation of human rights by the Israeli government in particular. She issued the following statement:

United States policy regarding Israel and Palestine must be revised to make international law, peace and human rights for all people, no matter their religion or nationality, the central priorities. While the U.S. government sometimes voices support for this principle in name, in practice U.S policy towards Palestine and Israel has violated this principle more often than not. 

In particular, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace within Israel and Palestine, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights. There is no peace or justice or democracy at the end of such a path. We must reset U.S. policy regarding Israel and Palestine, as part of a broader revision of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.
On taking office, I will put all parties on notice – including the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, and the Hamas administration in Gaza – that future U.S. support will depend on respect for human rights and compliance with international law. All three administrations will also be held responsible for preventing attacks by non-state actors on civilians or military personnel of any nationality. The parties will be given 60 days to each demonstrate unilateral material progress towards these ends. 

Material progress will be understood to include but not be limited to an end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias, and recognition of the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians. 

Failure by any party to demonstrate sufficient material progress will result in the end of U.S. military and economic aid to that party. Should the end of U.S. aid fail to cause a party to redirect its policies and to take steps resulting in sufficient material progress within an additional 60 days, I will direct my State Department to initiate diplomacy intended to isolate and pressure the offending party, including the use of economic sanctions and targeted boycott. In this way, U.S. policy will begin to become consistent with its practices regarding other violators of human rights and international law in the region.
Consistency in U.S. policy regarding human rights and international law will begin, but not end, with Palestine and Israel. I will apply this same approach to other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, among others. I will also ensure that the United States begins to honor its obligations to protect human rights, and will expect that the world community will hold us to the same account we hold others.

Finally, as President I will put the full weight of the United States behind the establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of human rights violations to one based on trust and bringing all parties together to seek solutions. Any stakeholder who enters into this process must pledge to work for a solution that respects the rights of all involved. This will bring America’s Middle East policy into alignment with American values. I understand that in the end, a dedicated commitment to justice will further American interests in the region much better than the current policies of supporting abuses and violence by one side against the other. And I believe that this is in the best interests of all people living in Israel and Palestine.

Hubbles Hidden Treasures -- New Pics



 to see more, go here:

"Iranian Rhetoric & The History of the Cancer Analosy" -- Nima Shirazi

 http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2012/08/iranian-rhetoric-and-history-of-cancer.html

EXCERPT:

Unsurprisingly, commentators who routinely denounce cancer analogies when they come from Iranian officials blatantly avoid addressing the use of the identical rhetoric by Israelis themselves when referring to the growing presence of non-Jewish communities within areas controlled by Israel.  When IDF chief Moshe Ya'alon referred to Palestinian babies as "cancerous manifestations" and Likud Knesset member Miri Regev called African migrants and refugees "a cancer in our body," they were silent.

While calling the government and founding ideology of a state a "cancerous tumor" is certainly not a nice thing to say and supporters of that state's policies have every reason to take offense to such a description, it is quite obviously a political statement.  Iranian rhetoric attacks a political entity, namely the "Zionist regime", which systematically discriminates against and oppresses people based solely on their ancestry and religious affiliation.  In contrast, Ya'alon and Regev's statements employ the cancer analogy to defend the concept of ethnic-religious exclusivity and have everything to do with people, whether Palestinian or African, who somehow threaten the continued dominance of a deliberately demographically engineered and maintained state.

To be sure, regardless of its intended target, this kind of rhetoric is purposefully harsh and often gratuitous.  Yet, like Ahmadinejad's "insult to humanity" line, the cancer analogy is neither new nor original.  While Iranian officials have been employing it since 2000, it has long been wielded for the express purpose of condemning a political system or ideology one vehemently opposes.

In the 1820s, former president John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson that "slavery is a cancer to be isolated."  On October 16, 1854, in an stridently abolitionist speech in Peoria, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln likened the Constitution's vague references to slavery to a "cancer," hidden away, which an "afflicted man...dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time."

A New York Times article from September 8, 1863 quoted then-Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson as telling a Nashville crowd in late August, "Slavery is a cancer on our society, and the scalpel of the statesman should be used not simply to pare away the exterior and leave the roots to propagate the disease anew, but to remove it altogether."  Johnson endorsed the "total eradication" of slavery from Tennessee.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

War Fever As Seen From Iran -- Pepe Escobar


EXCERPT:
Mousavian stresses how, from 2003 to 2005, during the first Bush administration,
Iran submitted different [nuclear] proposals, which included a declaration to cap enrichment at the 5% level; export all low-enriched uranium (LEU) or fabricate it into fuel rods; commit to an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and to Code 3.1 of the subsidiary arrangements to the agreement, which would provide the maximum level of transparency; and allow the IAEA to make snap inspections of undeclared facilities. This offer was intended to address the West's concerns regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program by ensuring that no enriched uranium would be diverted to a nuclear weapons program. It also would have facilitated the recognition of Iran's right to enrichment under the NPT. In exchange for these Iranian commitments, the Iranian nuclear file at the IAEA would be normalized, and Iran would have broader political, economic, and security cooperation with the European Union. Furthermore, Iran was interested in securing fuel for the research reactor in Tehran and was ready to ship its enriched uranium to another country for fabrication into fuel rods.
The Bush administration refused everything. Mousavian recalls "a meeting I had at the time with French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud, he told me, "For the US, the enrichment in Iran is a red line which the European Union cannot cross."

So "the West was not interested in solving the nuclear issue. Rather, the West wanted to compel Iran to forgo its enrichment program completely." This could only lead Tehran to "change its nuclear diplomacy and accelerate its enrichment program, as it sought self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Israeli Forces Attack Media Professionals Trying to Cover a Story in Kufr Qaddoum



UPDATE:  apparently the Foreign Press Association has demanded an investigation into this incident.  'bout damn time!  http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/news/news/5096-video-foreign-press-association-in-israel-demands-investigation-of-soldiers-beating-journalists.html


http://youtu.be/-uymV3EHLAY

From Mazin Qumsiyeh's blog:
Also on Thursday, Israeli forces attacked media professionals trying to cover a story in Kufr Qaddoum.
One reason why Americans do not get the story about what our tax money is doing in Israel.

"festive psychological torture in Gaza" -- from Eva Bartlett's blog "In Gaza"

http://ingaza.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/festive-psychological-torture-in-gaza/
Sun Aug. 19

1:05 pm

I’ve been back in Gaza 4 days now and now hear the familiar roar of a Zionist warplane over Deir al Balah where I live. I was wondering where they were, knew they hadn’t gone away. Now, with the passing war-roar, things seem sickeningly normal here.

Five minutes later another passes over, again north to south. Now for the expected sonic boom or real bomb blast…A minute later and the dissipated roar returns, circling perhaps. Five minutes later, another passing of the warplane’s roar, south to north. Apprehension, apprehension (although in truth, most Palestinians are so accustomed to these intrusive fly-overs they don’t think twice).  In Gaza, when one hears a plane’s engines, it is never that of a passenger plane. What’s going to happen, and when? This time? Here again? I recall a year ago during Ramadan when, in the early hours of the morning, we watched rooftop as numerous IOF warplanes flew over us and on to bomb eastern Gaza, returning soon after to bomb the coast a few hundred metres away from us.

Emad tells me that the shock waves of a recent blast in the area blew his brother’s door off its hinges. His brother lives one floor below us.

Two minutes later, the roar is lower, coming from the north.
Again, a few minutes later, also from north, progressively louder.

Five minutes later, again from the north.

Although IOF warplanes seem to have paused this psychological torture during the last few days of Ramadan fasting, it’s back to business as usual now.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nima Shirazi Indicts Israeli Apartheid with Words of Israelis Themselves

http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2012/08/some-notes-on-ahmadinejads-insult-to.html

via Aletho News

EXCERPT:
In April 1976, just two months before the Soweto Uprising, South African Prime Minister (and known former Nazi sympathizer) John Vorster took an official state visit to Israel, where he was hosted by Israeli Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin.  A number of friendship pacts and bilateral economic, military and nuclear agreements were signed.  At a banquet held in Vorster's honor, Rabin hailed "the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence" and praised Vorster as a champion of freedom.  Both Israel and South Africa, Rabin said, faced "foreign-inspired instability and recklessness."

Vorster lamented that both South Africa and Israel were victims of the enemies of Western civilization.  Only a few months later, an official South African Government's document reinforced this shared predicament: "Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples."

Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s attorney general from 1993 to 1996, has written that following the Six Day War in June 1967,

We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one ‑ progressive, liberal ‑ in Israel; and the other ‑ cruel, injurious ‑ in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.

That oppressive regime exists to this day.
Avraham Burg, Israel's Knesset Speaker from 1999 to 2003 and former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has long determined that "Israel must shed its illusions and choose between racist oppression and democracy," insisting the only way to maintain total Jewish control over all of historic Palestine would be to "abandon democracy" and "institute an efficient system of racial separation here, with prison camps and detention villages." He has also called Israel "the last colonial occupier in the Western world."

Julian Assange Speaks from the Ecuadorian Embassy [VIDEO]



http://youtu.be/E5bzWZ1gYIY

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bonfire of the Vanities: Robert Parry and the Red Mist of Partisanship -- Chris Floyd

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2272-bonfire-of-the-vanities-robert-parry-and-the-red-mist-of-partisanship.html

EXCERPT:

And I think this is Parry’s main problem: he still doesn’t see – or can’t quite believe – what is going on right in front of his eyes. He thinks we have some kind of normal politics in some kind of normal nation. He can’t seem to grasp that a bipartisan system that has wrought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children and a million more Iraqis in a war of aggression; that has killed countless thousands of Afghans in a pointless, atrocity-ridden, deeply corrupt occupation;  that operates a global death squad – out of the White House, directed by the president himself;  that kidnaps and tortures innocent people and then protects the torturers; that prosecutes truth-tellers and investigative reporters – like Robert Parry – who expose state crimes; that gorges its wealthy, greedy, above-the-law elites with tax cuts and bailouts and war profits and privileges without end while sharpening its bipartisan knives to gut the last, frayed remnants of the social safety net, is a system that has gone far beyond “moral ambiguity” and “imperfection” and “lesser evilism.” It is itself a product and producer of evil.

Parry says there are no viable alternative parties to this double-headed beast. And he is right. He says there are no popular movements out there right now “that can significantly alter government policies strictly through civil disobedience or via protests in the streets.” And he is right. Therefore what is left to us, at the present moment, in this election, but the power of refusal? (Whether this is exercised by “throwing your vote away” on a third party or absenting yourself entirely from the legitimization and normalization of imperial monstrosity.)  Where is the dishonor, the vanity in such a stance, in refusing to accept and affirm mass murder, repression, corruption and injustice in an implacable system that offers no other choices?

Would Parry have told Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Boris Pasternak or Josef Brodsky or other Soviet dissidents that they should not have disassociated themselves from the implacable system they confronted? “You should join the Party, Aleksandr, you must work within the system. That’s the only way we’ll see real change.” Perhaps Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst  of the White Rose should have stifled their concerns about the “imperfections” of the German government and sought the path of “lesser evilism” instead, working to advance, say, Albert Speer or Herman Goring or some other figure who might have “done some rotten things” but “fewer rotten things than the other guy.”

Yes, I know the United States in 2012 is not the USSR or Hitler’s Germany. And Parry would doubtless say, “Of course they were right to disassociate themselves from such monstrous systems.” But where do you draw the line? How much evil is acceptable?  Is there a certain number of victims that a system must reach before one is allowed to disengage from it honorably and morally?  To murder six million in death camps or millions in purges is obviously unacceptable; but to kill 500,000 children – is that OK? A million innocent people in a war of aggression – is that beyond the pale? Or can you work with that, can you accommodate that, should you swallow these mountains of dead, washing them down with a big swig of moral ambiguity?

Romney might well prove to be a “worse” president than Obama. (Although Parry does not address the realpolitik argument that a Romney victory would likely wake the ‘left’ from its slumber and cause it to oppose heinous crimes and vicious policies – aggressive war, murder programs, safety net slashing – that it is now happily supporting because a Democrat is doing them.) But that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not one gives legitimacy and justification to a brutal and unjust system by actively supporting and empowering it – and thus perpetuating its bipartisan evils far into the future.

Robert Parry says we should do this. He says: if you don’t support one murderer, the other murderer (or rather, would-be murderer, since Obama has actually directed death squads and drone attacks that have killed hundreds of innocent people, including American children, while Romney is still just hoping to do so) might be worse. To choose one murderer over another murderer is the only moral choice open to us, Parry says.  To refuse to cooperate with evil – as Tolstoy did, as Solzhenitsyn did, as Sophie Scholl, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King did – is pointless, perfectionist, vain. That’s what Robert Parry evidently believes.

But with all due respect to Parry and his valuable body of work, I disagree. On this, I will take my stand with Thoreau. I refuse to give this evil my assent.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Scott Olsen & Other Vets for Peace About to be Arrested in Obama Hdqrtrs #freebrad #oo

Scott olsen & other vets for peace about to be arrested i... on Twitpic

Evicted from Their Home

Elsy Castillo, 25, and her 8-year-old daughter Dairl, react as they are forced to leave the area near the Jacobo Arbenz housing settlement by the military and police in Guatemala City, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.  Security forces evicted about 200 families on Monday from vacant lots that they took over in January, called the Jacobo Arbenz housing settlement, which is located in front a military base. On Wednesday, forces returned to the area to force families that didn't leave to move out.

United Church of Canada Decides To Boycott Settlement Products

via Aletho News
http://www.imemc.org/article/64076
Following around six hours of deliberation, the United Church of Canada (UCC), the largest Protestant denomination in the country, voted for boycotting products made in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
The Toronto Star newspaper reported that a spokesperson of the UCC general council identified as Bruce Gregersen, stated that the decision is considered a significant step.

The UCC will be holding another vote on Friday to decide whether this boycott would be a regarded as a permanent policy of the church.

Israeli Ynet News reported that the Centre for Israel and the Jewish Affairs in Canada said that it was “outraged by this decision”, and considered it “a move that singled out Jewish communities for boycott”.

The Centre claimed that this decision is considered a “reckless path”, and added that the decision just dismisses the concerns of the Jewish community in Canada. 
According to the Ynet, Chairman of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, David Koschitzky, stated that mainstream Jewish organization, including the Canadian Friends of Peace Now, “do not approve of this boycott decision”.

He added that this decision ignored around 100.000 families, members of different Jewish federations in Canada, and said that this decision “also ignores written rejection letters of 70 Canadian Rabbis, representing tens of thousands of Jewish families in the country”.

Israel’s settlements are located in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem. There have been several churches and organizations around the world, including educational facilities that have previously voted in favor of boycotting products made in Israel’s settlements as settlements.

Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal under International Law, and even violate the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.

Palestinian Refugees Forced Out of Iraq Feared Lost at Sea En Route to Australia





http://tinyurl.com/9p253o5
from Electronic Intifada

EXCERPT:

More than two dozen Palestinian refugees forced out of Iraq after the US invasion are feared lost at sea, including entire family groups with young children.

They were among dozens of people aboard rickety boats that left Indonesia in late June bound for Australia but have been lost without trace for a month and a half. Australia has denied reports that it holds them in detention.

The Palestinians were among hundreds who had made circuitous journeys over many years from Iraq to Jordan and then to Cyprus where their asylum applications were rejected and they faced harsh conditions.
After reaching Cyprus, some set out for Malaysia, where it is possible under certain conditions for Palestinians to go without visas, and then onwards to Indonesia where people smugglers are paid to take them to Australia by boat.

Palestinians in Iraq faced violence and persecution after the 2003 US invasion. They were collectively blamed without any evidence for suicide bombings that were part of Iraq’s post-invasion sectarian civil war. Many spent years stranded at the Iraq-Jordan border.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic Visitors to London See Numerous Bus Ads for Palestine and Bahrain



http://youtu.be/cwc5olFKuXQ

"TrapWire Leaks Shine Light on New Video Tracking Technologies" --Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15767&printsafe=1

EXCERPT:

TrapWire, a company founded and run by former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers, that offers to track “suspicious” activities from surveillance video, has been spotlighted in a new Wikileaks release.

The system is described on the TrapWire’s website as "a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance and logistical planning.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security paid TrapWire $832,000 to deploy Trapwire in Washington DC and Seattle in December 2011, according to federal spending data records.

The information on Trapwire’s contracts emerged from one of the five million internal emails from Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based company that brands itself as a "global intelligence" provider, were recently obtained by Anonymous, the hacker collective, and were released in batches by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website, earlier this year.

The Trapwire technology was created at Abraxas corporation, which was founded by Richard "Hollis" Helms, a former CIA agent (but not the former head of the CIA under Nixon). Abraxas spun off Trapwire into another company which still has several senior employees who once worked at the agency. They include Dan Botsch, who worked at the CIA for 11 years as a Russian and Eastern European analyst,  Michael Maness, a 20 year CIA veteran who worked in counterterrorism and security operations in the Middle-East, the Balkans and Europe, and Michael K. Chang, a 12 years CIA veteran on counterterrorism operations.

The company appears to have deleted the list of senior employees from its website when the Wikileaks release occurred. But the company still promotes their prior experience: “Our professionals have led successful intelligence operations against terrorist organizations and fought on battlefields across the globe.”

The software has been described as a real life version of a system portrayed in Minority Report, a Hollywood blockbuster. “Anyone who takes a photograph at high-risk locations is logged as a suspected terrorist on a vast network of secret spy cameras linked to the U.S. Government, according to leaked emails,” writes Rick Dewsbury at the Daily Mail, a tabloid newspaper in the UK.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2187602/U-S-Government-secretly-spying-using-civilian-security-cameras-say-Wikileaks.html

Mainstream media have reacted more cautiously to the TrapWire leaks. The New York Times commented that the “reports appear to be wildly exaggerated” noting that the Homeland Security had ended trials on the technology last year “because it did not seem promising.” The company refused to comment.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Halts Nuclear Reactor Licensing Decisions

finally some sanity!  seems like a gamechanger for the anti-nuke movement!  yay!
http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Press-Update.html?form_id=8&item_id=313
Excerpt:
Decision Follows 24 Groups’ June Petition in Wake of Major Waste Confidence Rule Decision;   Most Reactor Projects Already Stymied by Bad Economics and Cheaper Fuel Alternatives

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) acted today to put a hold on at least 19 final reactor licensing decisions – nine construction & operating licenses (COLS), eight license renewals, one operating license, and one early site permit – in response to the landmark Waste Confidence Rule decision of June 8th by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The NRC action was sought in a June 18, 2012 petition filed by 24 groups urging the NRC to respond to the court ruling by freezing final licensing decisions until it has completed a rulemaking action on the environmental impacts of highly radioactive nuclear waste in the form of spent, or ‘used’, reactor fuel storage and disposal.
In hailing the NRC action, the groups also noted that most of the U.S. reactor projects were already essentially sidetracked by the huge problems facing the nuclear industry, including an inability to control runaway costs, and the availability of far less expensive energy alternatives.
Diane Curran, an attorney representing some of the groups in the Court of Appeals case, said:  "This Commission decision halts all final licensing decisions -- but not the licensing proceedings themselves -- until NRC completes a thorough study of the environmental impacts of storing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel.  That study should have been done years ago, but NRC just kept kicking the can down the road.  When the Federal Appeals Court ordered NRC to stop and consider the impacts of generating spent nuclear fuel for which it has found no safe means of disposal, the agency could choose to appeal the decision by August 22nd or choose to do the serious work of analyzing the environmental impacts over the next few years.  With today’s Commission decision, we are hopeful that the agency will undertake the serious work.”   
Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, petitioner to the Court, said: “We’re pleased with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's ruling; it is long overdue. Nuclear power is not a clean generating source when it creates long-lived radioactive and toxic waste that has no long-term safe disposal technology in place. We believe it is appropriate to halt nuclear licensing decisions and stop creating an inter-generational debt of nuclear waste that will burden our children and grandchildren for centuries to come.”
Lou Zeller, executive director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, another petitioner to the Court, said:  “It appears that the Commissioners have, at least initially, grasped the magnitude of the Court’s ruling and we are optimistic that it will set up a fundamentally transparent, fair process under the National Environmental Policy Act to examine the serious environmental impacts of spent nuclear fuel storage and disposal prior to licensing or relicensing nuclear reactors.”
Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford said: “It is important to recognize that the reactors awaiting construction licenses weren't going to be built anytime soon even without the Court decision or today's NRC action. Falling demand, cheaper alternatives and runaway nuclear costs had doomed their near term prospects well before the recent Court decision. Important though the Court decision is in modifying the NRC's historic push-the-power-plants-but-postpone-the-problems approach to generic safety and environmental issues, it cannot be blamed for ongoing descent into fiasco of the bubble once known as ‘the nuclear renaissance’.”

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

America's Dark Shadows: Aurora, Sikhs and Guns -- Michael Vlahos

http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=9709

EXCERPT (recommend reading it all tho):
A nation's character is marked by mysterious patterns, and none is more salient in American life than killing with the gun, says Michael Vlahos, a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He asks this pivotal question: Can the inhuman act of a single person lay bare the neuralgia of an entire people?

Though painful, this statement cannot be avoided: The gun-massacre of innocents is integral to the American way of life. Call it part of our foundational myth. It is the red reality through which a continent was taken and settled. 
Today, we call an act like the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, or the even more recent one in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, "senseless." Yet, we should face these events as what they really are, a much bigger national tradition. Ritual slaying is everywhere in our American history, especially sacrificial killing with guns.
Even if we cannot admit this, American exceptionalism is never better illustrated than in ritual human execution. Other cultures have slaughterers. Only we have made ritual killers such a mirror of us. In our history and our cinema, there are a few — like John Brown — we even celebrate.
Our gun-slinging killing rituals are also dark expressions of a political ethos that surrounds the theology of the citizen's relationship to the state. "Citizen and state" is the most contentious creedal element in national identity, and is itself argued through the symbolic venue of killing with a gun. Pro-gun and anti-gun sectarianism remains the deepest fissure, a split almost, in our national identity today.
Fast food and strip mall, school and university shootings around the country should raise an existential national question: Why are gun-massacres so rooted in the American way of life — and so tied to the political struggle over collective identity?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Iran and Everything Else -- (The Great) Michael Parenti


EXCERPTS:
All I knew about the Shah at that time came from the U.S. mainstream media. But after listening to these students I began to think that this Shah fellow was not the admirably benign leader and modernizer everyone was portraying in the news.
The Shah’s subsequent overthrow in the 1979 revolution was something to celebrate. Unfortunately the revolution soon was betrayed by the theocratic militants who took hold of events and created their Islamic Republic of Iran. These religious reactionaries set about to torture and eradicate thousands of young Iranian radicals. They made war upon secular leftists and "decadent" Western lifestyles, as they set about establishing a grim and corrupt theocracy.
U.S. leaders and media had no critical words about the slaughter of leftist revolutionaries in Iran. If anything, they were quietly pleased. However, they remained hostile toward the Islamic regime. Why so? Regimes that kill revolutionaries and egalitarian reformists do not usually incite displeasure from the White House. If anything, the CIA and the Pentagon and the other imperial operatives who make the world safe for the Fortune 500 look most approvingly upon those who torture and murder Marxists and other leftists. Indeed, such counterrevolutionaries swiftly become the recipients of generous amounts of U.S. aid.
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It was President George W. Bush who in January 2002 cited Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil." Iran exports terrorism and "pursues" weapons of mass destruction. Sooner or later this axis would have to be dealt with in the severest way, Bush insisted.

These official threats and jeremiads are intended to leave us with the impression that Iran is not ruled by "good Muslims." The "good Muslims"---as defined by the White House and the State Department---are the reactionary extremists and feudal tyrants who ride high in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirate, Bahrain, and other countries that provide the United States with military bases, buy large shipments of U.S. arms, vote as Washington wants in the United Nations, enter free trade agreements with the Western capitalist nations, and propagate a wide-open deregulated free-market economy.

The "good Muslims" invite the IMF and the western corporations to come in and help themselves to the country’s land, labor, markets, industry, natural resources and anything else the international plutocracy might desire.

Unlike the "good Muslims," the "bad Muslims" of Iran take an anti-imperialist stance. They try to get out from under the clutches of the U.S. global imperium. For this, Iran may yet pay a heavy price. Think of what has been happening to Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. For its unwillingness to throw itself open to Western corporate pillage, Iran is already being subjected to heavy sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. Sanctions hurt the ordinary population most of all. Unemployment and poverty increase. The government is unable to maintain human services. The public infrastructure begins to deteriorate and evaporate: privatization by attrition.

Iran has pursued an enriched uranium program, same as any nation has the right to do. The enrichment has been low-level for peaceful use, not the kind necessary for nuclear bombs. Iranian leaders, both secular and theocratic have been explicit about the useless horrors of nuclear weaponry and nuclear war.

Appearing on the Charlie Rose show when he was visiting the USA, Iranian president Ahmadinejad pointed out that nuclear weapons have never saved anyone. The Soviet Union had nuclear weapons; was it saved? he asked. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons; have they found peace and security? Israel has nuclear weapons: has it found peace and security? And the United States itself has nuclear weapons and nuclear fleets patrolling the world and it seems obsessively preoccupied with being targeted by real or imagined enemies. Ahmadinejad, the wicked one, sounded so much more rational and humane than Hillary Clinton snarling her tough-guy threats at this or that noncompliant nation.

(Parenthetically, we should note that the Iranians possibly might try to develop a nuclear strike force---not to engage in a nuclear war that would destroy Iran but to develop a deterrent against aerial destruction from the west. The Iranians, like the North Koreans, know that the western nuclear powers have never attacked any country that is armed with nuclear weapons.)

I once heard some Russian commentators say that Iran is twice as large as Iraq, both in geography and in population; it would take hundreds of thousands of NATO troops and great cost in casualties and enormous sums of money to invade and try to subdue such a large country, an impossible task and certain disaster for the United States.

But the plan is not to invade, just to destroy the country and its infrastructure through aerial warfare. The U.S. Air Force eagerly announced that it has 10,000 targets in Iran pinpointed for attack and destruction. Yugoslavia is cited as an example of a nation that was destroyed by unanswerable aerial attacks, without the loss of a single U.S. soldier. I saw the destruction in Serbia shortly after the NATO bombings stopped: bridges, utilities, rail depots, factories, schools, television and radio stations, government-built hotels, hospitals, and housing projects---a destruction carried out with utter impunity, all this against a social democracy that refused to submit to a free-market capitalist takeover.

The message is clear. It has already been delivered to Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, and many other countries around the world: overthrow your reform-minded, independent, communitarian government; become a satellite to the global corporate free-market system, or we will pound you to death and reduce you to a severe level of privatization and poverty.

Not all the U.S. military is of one mind regarding war with Iran. While the Air Force can hardly contain itself, the Army and Navy seem lukewarm. Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, actually denounced the idea of waging destruction upon "80 million Iranians, all different individuals."

The future does not look good for Iran. That country is slated for an attack of serious dimensions, supposedly in the name of democracy, "humanitarian war," the struggle against terrorism, and the need to protect America and Israel from some future nuclear threat.

Sometimes it seems as if U.S. ruling interests perpetrate crimes and deceptions of all sorts with a frequency greater than we can document and expose. So if I don’t write or speak about one or another issue, keep in mind, it may be because I am occupied with other things, or I simply have neither the energy nor the resources. Sometimes too, I think, it is because I get too heavy of heart.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

West Provoking Civil War in Syria: Jonathan Steele -- Informative Interview with George Galloway



http://youtu.be/L5IYjkIvzsQ