Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pietà for Bradley Manning

The day we said good-bye, I imagined my arms pressed around his body one last time—because we knew none of us would be allowed to touch or to see him again.  We knew years of his young life had been surgically removed.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We Are a Nation of Yaws*

Now that the City of Detroit is on its receivership knees, now that Interstate highways and bridges are showing signs of metal fatigue, embrittlement, and decay, now that post offices are being shut down all over rural US, now that schools are being privatized, and students forced into life-time indentured servitude, graduating from supposedly “public” universities $150,000 in debt, the nation has come clean with its budgetary priorities: all you groveling folks asking for handouts, listen up. Moving forward, in the interests of preserving US national security, the national budget is gonna prioritize TORTURE. Members of Congress voted 315 to 109 in favor of preserving the torture program, and research has revealed that the winners received twice as much money from “Defense” (Ambrose Bierce “War”) Industries as the losers. But all received their routine Wassermans, which they do every time they vote, keeping them in the streets, plying their trade without transmitting STDs.  Wassermans are how you keep whores healthy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The National Security Agency Expects to Replace God by Independence Day, 2013

In a communiqué issued today, the Department of Homeland security announced it intends to replace God.  Citing God’s recent cataract operation, the Department of Homeland Security will replace God’s all-seeing eye with a global oversight system capable of scooping up information about every living thing on Earth. “From now on, our eye is on the Turtle,” declared James R. Clapper, head of the NSA, “and on the Lizard, the Snake, and on the President of the European Union. When a reporter pointed out to Mr. Clapper that as such, no President of the European Union actually exists, Mr. Clapper brushed aside his objection, saying he told the truth, “as close as he could get it.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

“Pandora’s Promise:” an Infomercial

The recent release of the film, “Pandora’s Promise,” provides a forum for a small group of formerly anti-nuclear environmentalists to affirm their renewed faith in nuclear energy, notwithstanding the opening images of the wreckage of the Fukushima-Daiichi plant which still now continues to spew radioactive contamination into the planet’s air, water, soils, and ultimately into the food chain of all living beings on Earth.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


June 10, 2013

Senator Feinstein:

Am I mistaken?  Didn't you sign an oath upon taking office that you would uphold the Constitution of the United States? How then is it possible that you support the NSA spying on all American citizens (including you, I presume?) Would knowingly voting in the next election for someone who has committed a crime constitute a crime against the Constitution?


I’ve been coming up for air between dives into Joseph Tainter’s “The Collapse of Complex Societies.” There’s no doubt the man does a thorough job. Civilization by civilization, cause by cause, history by history (Rome, Western Chou Empire, Indus Valley, Mesopotamia—that’s Iraq to you—Old Kingdom Egypt, Hittite Empire, Minoan civilization, Mycene, Olmec,  Lowland Classic Maya, Mesoamerican Highlands,  Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, Tula, Casa Grandes, Chacoan, Hohokam, Hopewell, Mississippian Woodlands, Huari, Tiahuanacao, Kachin, and Ik) he leaves no upturned stone unturned.


Today Common Dreams runs feature article Andrea Germanos’ banner head:
German Official Warns of Immediate ‘Revolution” if EU Adopts US Model.
Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, opined that a US style economic model will spark a revolution “not tomorrow, but the same day.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013



At last!  Recognizing that the global atmosphere has now reached 400 PPM, the United States under the fearless leadership of the Obama administration has initiated a new dream energy policy.  You heard it here first: the policy is a real dream—made up of smoke, mirrors, and carbon dioxide. And the appointment of a new Secretary of Energy: Ernest Moniz, a close buddy of the fossil fuel industry.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Days of Wrath or Why the U.S. is in Need of Anger Management

“Leave aside the fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted of nothing and is thus entitled to a presumption of innocence. The reason to care what happens to him is because how he is treated creates precedent for what the US government is empowered to do, including to US citizens on US soil. When you cheer for the erosion of his rights, you're cheering for the erosion of your own.” —journalist Glenn Greenwald,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hugo Chavez Unreported Attempt to Decertify the Elections of 2000

A little known episode from Hugo Chavez’ undercover life has emerged, the result of a Freedom of Information Act Request.  In 2000, during the time that the Bush-Gore election was still in play, when Bush filed a suit before the U.S. Supreme Court claiming personal injury should the election not be decided in his favor, Hugo Chavez was working feverishly behind the scenes to disqualify the American election.  He had received secret information that the electronic voting machines had been gamed by the very corporations, which owned them.  He also learned that the people in suits who descended on the Election Board in the State of Florida forcing a halt to the vote recount had been flown to Florida at the expense of Halliburton in which Dick Cheney held a sizeable stake.   “We think there ought to be a recount,” announced Mr. Chavez, “although, knowing the Americans, it’s probably not going to happen. But, obviously, if there are huge irregularities, we are going to have pretty serious questions about the viability of that government."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Death of Democracy is just a mouse click away

The Death of Democracy is just a mouse click away
©Cecile Pineda
April 15, 2013

Now that the vast majority of the US population is facing austerity cuts, and cuts to Social Security why is it that millions of US citizens (less the 1% whose concerns lie elsewhere) are not choking the streets in protest and outrage and refusing to go home to put up with any more bullshit “business as usual.”

We know these cuts, sanctified under the rubric of Sequestration, will affect the “food security” of US elders, especially women, for years to come, and the children and families who already live on the economic edge—many of them veterans—even before these cuts go into effect. As well, they will affect everyone who benefits from state-funded entitlements.

Let it be underscored here that Social Security is not and never has been an entitlement—it is money that we as hard working—and sacrificing—citizens have earned with our labor throughout our lifetimes. Nor has Social Security ever been “in trouble” or “bankrupt” as those who would give it baptism-by-bathtub so stridently proclaim.

So why is it that, despite the untidy example of scruffy people like Cypriots, Greeks and Madrileños, the US public doesn’t hit the streets?  Is it because most folks here still labor under the PR-induced delusion that they’re just one day short of becoming new millionaires? (“How Much Is A Planet Worth?” screams the ACTransit billboard. And the answer: “Believe in Something Bigger: Cal Lottery Powerball.”)

Or perhaps, on the surface at least, the Barack Obama Kool Aid presidency can be cited as a massaging factor. Surely a “black” president, elected on a “Democratic” ticket must mean well for all of us, especially if we’re willing to overlook a couple of impediments: 50% of Barack Obama is a white president—which may explain all that presidential fence straddling.

Secondly, the illusion that the political landscape remotely resembles a two party system is pure smoke and mirrors. We have one party, the business party, and change you better the hell believe in. It’s a party with a Janus face: the carrot and the stick, the good cop (Democratic) and the bad cop (Republican). But it’s a cop party all the same, and if you ever doubted it, go ask Aaron Schwarz, or Bradley Manning or the hundreds of thousands of people now practicing non-violent civil disobedience that you don’t read about in the papers.

Now that the Chinese have seen the Capitalist light, the ancient Day of Qingming has been restored to the official calendar. Journeying great distances, devout Chinese sweep the tombs of their ancestors on Tomb Sweeping Day when it’s customary to burn dollars and renminbi, and even to provide heavenly passports for their ancestor’s celestial transport to higher realms. But for those in too much of a Capitalist hurry to make the long journey home, websites spring up like mushrooms, where with a simple click of the mouse, sweeper surrogates and virtual villas with flat screen TVs, and even paper mistresses, can be purchased to keep the departed entertained.

It could be argued that reliance on superstition is the earmark of an obstinately backward country. Yet here we have grown dependent on the keypad to ease the conscience of our civic participation by signing petitions, petitions by Move-On, by the Progressive Secretary, by the ACLU, by the NAACP, by Citizens Against the Death Penalty; by World Can’t Wait, by CodePink, by the United Farmworkers; by Immigration Reform, by all the good, bleeding heart liberal causes that keep us awake at night, and contribute to our high and growing rates of physical disease and spiritual discomfort. 

We have become deformed, not as a result of the assaults to our DNA of radiation and its contaminating effects on the genome, but by the conditioning that takes over every time we clickonsend. Like the DNA-damaged childbirths of Chernobyl, we have become beings with stumps for legs, legs which barely raise our genitalia off the ground; but with fingers grown grotesquely fat through millions of compassionate conscience-easing keystrokes.

We have lost the memory of walking, of taking to the streets. Of protesting with tens of millions of our fellow beings to say “hell no.” Of calling for an end to corporate rape-without-the Crisco. After all, aren’t we already in daily touch with thousands of human beings on Facebook?  Don’t we tweet and twitter and fritter away our outrage where the only agency really paying attention is government surveillance?

For us virtual primates, the death of democracy is just one mouseclick away.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why Does the Emperor of the World Have to Sneak in the Back Door? and Why We Need To Do It In The Road?

©Cecile Pineda, April 5, 2013

Although public transportation crisscrosses its vertigo slopes, San Francisco’s Pacific Heights is a fortress on the hill.  Here on its tree-lined streets, the mansions of the rich sport elaborate mansards, stepped fountains of perpetually running water, manicured gardens, and security gates.  Their blondes are the same as our blondes, only a little more bottled, their jeans a little tighter, and their heels a bit more platformed.  They do not carry Gucci knock-offs. They do not favor police barricades—probably even less than we do—and certainly not in their neighborhood. When they drive by in their Simonized BMWs, their eyes focus straight ahead. It’s where the political crass comes trolling for megabucks—$30,000 a plate worth. It’s where two California Congresspersons keep their strongholds: Mrs. Richard Blum, and Nancy Mafiosi.
Already riding the Divisadero bus up the dizzying inclines, I know this is going to be the way it always is in San Francisco, no matter how terminal the cause: There’s a guy sporting a wobblies’ cap who’s published a book on Judi Bari and the Maxxam Spring; a Code Pink sister who’s walked the Golden Gate Bridge Peace walk with me for months on end. It’s a party of smiling faces, cheering each other on as more people pile on, displaying signs that read: Say No to XL Pipeline NOW; We’re ALL outside the Green$Zone now; No Nukes.  Shut ‘Em Down, and What the Fukushima (at which a black church lady turns away her disapproving eyes. I guess her starchy upbringing didn’t prepare her for sacrifice zones).
The bus lets us off at Jackson before it heads east for Russian Hill. We gasp the last slope together. At the Pacific Avenue intersection, all four corners are crammed with demonstrators, obedient behind police barricades. I walk up Pacific to Baker Street. Another nicely-mannered crowd shivers, packed tight behind the barricades. But we are nowhere near the mansion where the Emperor of the Universe will be sweating it out, raiding the pockets of the rich, or where the rich will sweat it out to get “access.” It is rumored that the doyen, now retired, does not favor OKing the Pipeline, but never mind, they’ll empty their pockets just the same, and anyway the Emperor will continue doing exactly what their opponent want, enabling the Monsanto Protection  Act, still getting a pass from the Kool-Aid Lotus Eaters.
The crowd takes off to the left, marching one block north to Broadway, packing the intersection even tighter. The Brass Liberation Orchestra blows a few tunes, but they can’t play The Internationale anymore because the younger ones haven’t learned the tune. Crowds groove to the inane chant Hey, hey, ho, ho, Keystone Pipeline’s Got to Go, while swaying to the music. The motorcycle brigade shares in the act. They need to show off their patriotic red and blue headlights, and the spanking new leaner meaner bikes they’ve traded for last year’s hogs. They practice their gavotte, denying us the slightest spillage off the curb, although, aside from their presence, there’s no other traffic in the roadway.
            I press through the crowd shouting Hey, hey, ho, ho, insurrection’s the way to go, but we are domesticated, so numbed by our escalating griefs as one by one, our health, our welfare, our housing, our landscapes, our aquifers are being waged on the dice of those so elevated in power we never even get to see them—like radiation which you can’t see, or hear, or feel, or smell, except on some days when it visits you as a taste of metal in your mouth. Or when you fly cross-country at 30,000 feet, and you notice that your wristwatch stopped. 
            I turn the corner. The street swoops down into a hollow where it backs into the Presidio Wall. In the far distance, shrouded in fog, a white party tent flaps in the wind. Batteries of serving men, their black pants, white jackets emblem of their servitude, wait in the cold with no apparent purpose. A battalion of them marches in our direction. “They’re going to serve us dinner,” someone quips, but at $30,000 a
head, it’s not a dinner anyone of us will ever afford. We don’t even eat $30,000 worth of food in one year, although if we gorge ourselves we might manage it in ten.
            The night grows chill.  The skies darken, still no sign of the Emperor. We don’t know whether he’s arrived even before we knew it, or if his appearance is still expected.  We begin peeling off. I trot down the hill accompanied by a 25-year-old.  We get to talking. I commiserate with him, my 80 years to his 25, his country nothing like the one I was born to, the Sixties, our breath of evening air before the night, where people passing on the street actually made eye contact.  He’s graduated with a degree in anthropology “It’s the only thing that interested me, it’s why I stayed.  Perhaps I should have done a business major.” I reassure him.  “No matter what, everyone must live doing what he loves. There is no other way.”
            We catch the bus, the wait is long, the bus crowded, the driver hustles us toward the back. All the demonstrators push their way in, happy to be out of the cold, trading smiles and laughs, happy to have had our say, no matter how futile, knowing that in the long term, it’s not results that matter so much as affirming our right to walk our talk.  Just as Chris Hedges resigns from PEN, as James Hansen resigns from NASA, it’s what we’re about and nothing less.
            Home at last, I check e-mail. The message from San Francisco Occupy Enviro Forum catches my eye:

Hey Everyone!

"After I saw the motorcade (pass my house AFTER we had all gone home), I got right on the phone to 311 (our hotline to the Mayor's office where they'll take down a long statement and send it right to the Mayor, including a request to be called back about it.)

"I said, "I was just at a large anti-keystone pipeline demonstration to be held outside an Obama fundraiser in Pacific Heights. About 1500 + people were there to let our President (who WE ELECTED) hear our voices against the pipeline. SF Police marginalized us behind the parked cars and at the corners of the intersections at least a block away from the event. After two hours of chanting, sign waving, and hot protest, an announcement went out that the President had arrived and was already inside at the dinner: the implication was that we'd been seen and should go home. Fifteen minutes later as I arrived at my house (California and Palm) the motorcade carrying the President zoomed by towards the event. My question to the Mayor is: Why would you want to keep the People who are the voters and the taxpayers away from our President who WE elected, who wants to hear our voices? A Protest like this is how democracy is supposed to work! The People do not appreciate being shushed up. I'd like the Mayor to call me back and explain himself."

"I would like to have everyone write an email to Obama with pictures and video of our protest and a line that says, "We were there. We want to tell you how we feel about the XL Pipeline. Where were you?"

"Those self-appointed march deputies who herded us onto the corners came out of nowhere, and we have no idea why they thought they were in charge or what the strategy of being so passive and being ordered around like children was. "Show me what democracy looks like!!! THIS is what democracy looks like" Flooding the intersection with the whole crowd shouting, that was a great moment!!!”

We are too docile still. We like to huddle behind those neat barriers put up to restrain our lukewarm angers.  Now we need to "do it in the road".  Lie down, get arrested, 400 of us, 800 of us. We need to do this until the emperor's new clothes are shown for the threadbarrrenness they are.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Hurricane Sandy is not over by any means.  Not for all the folks who lost their homes in one swoop of a wave; and not for tax payers who’ll have to bail out most  homeowners with US govt. guaranteed flood insurance.  And it’s not over for the US’s 104 aging nuclear reactors designed to be decommissioned after their 40-year lifespan. Twenty-three of those reactors are the same model as those that failed at Fukushima on March 11, 2011; and one of them, Exelon’s Oyster Creek, located in Forked River, New Jersey, is 43 years old. It could have become the next Fukushima.

The pincer movement of two weather fronts colliding made Sandy the biggest mega-storm to strike the US as a result of climate collapse. It raised a storm surge that flooded Staten Island, Lower Manhattan, and the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.  And it raised the water level at Oyster Creek to just below 6.5 feet, the level where the water intake structure that pumps water to cool the plant would have been affected.  And then, the water kept kept rising. 

A bulletin issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission dated Oct. 20 states that “Oyster Creek was shut down for refueling and maintenance outage prior to the storm and the reactor remains out of service,” implying that the plant status posed no danger. But it fails to say that, shut down or no, a surge over 7 feet could have submerged the service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent fuel pool. In that case, it would have had to rely on an internal fire suppression system to keep all those spent fuel rods from overheating and exploding and there was no power source to run it.

Following the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, the US Nuclear Regulatory
Commission conducted an investigation, and issued a document outlining its “Lessons Learned.” One was that the explosions of March 12, 14 and 15  were caused by failure of the external power source on which all reactors depend.  Most of the recommendations of that document have yet to be put into place. Oyster Creek's fire suppression system depends on external power availability.  And be cause of the storm that power was unavailable.  The proof:  the plant's warning sirens failed.  Had there been a serious accident, there would have been no way to alert any of the people living within the plant’s 10 mile evacuation zone.

The matter of evacuation zones is of more than passing interest, especially when hundreds of thousands if not millions of people are impacted. At the time of the nuclear explosions and radioactive fires at Fukushima Daiichi, a US government advisory warned US citizens in Japan to evacuate beyond a 50-mile radius. It is troubling to note that in the US however, no one is permitted to evacuate beyond a ten-mile zone.

At Oyster Creek the water continued rising.  It rose a full 7.5 feet before subsiding, but the fuel pools did not overheat, perhaps because as a precaution Exelon had moved a portable pump to the intake structure. And the power driving those pumps held fast because those plumps were fueled by diesel.

Does it seem that we came within 6 inches of another Fukushima?  Should boiling water be that dangerous?  Will the US wait for the next extreme weather event and try to ride out that storm with its fleet of 104 aging reactors, 23 of them the twins of those that failed at Fukushima?


She’s one of the many mentally challenged people that fill our streets courtesy of Ronald Reagan’s medical plan for the homeless.  She lives tucked in. She’s tucked in, in the corner between a bus station kiosks and a wall, or alongside sidewalk-mounted telephone relay boxes where she takes up little room.  She’s not always open to being helped, but today she takes my five dollars happily.

She smiles up at me through squint eyes: “I’m learning Arabic.” She shows me her notebook of neat calligraphic practice.  “And I have a friend who knows Farsi. She tells me if I can read Arabic, I can read Farsi, too.  This little squiggle here, it looks like a cat.  This word says “open.”  I think if we’re going to bomb people, we should at least learn their language.  She sounds more sane than some presidents I know who arrogate to themselves the right to targeted assassination, without judge, jury or trial.

We look now for our moral authority to Desmond Tutu, having assassinated our own Great Prophet when his anti-war message no longer suited our investment portfolios: 
Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.
I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

I was raised during the years of World War II.  During my childhood, although I was raised in New York City, I experienced war-related dreams.  One of these dreams I relate directly to Dr. Mengele’s medical experiments on the bodies of children. It was the worse nightmare of my life. Another dream, one that I still experience dates from that time: There is a terrifying buzz coming at me from the sky. My entire body begins to shake. I know that I am the target, because the projectile making that sound has me in its crosshairs. I know I will surely die.  I believe this dream is how a child who is about to be killed experiences a drone strike.

The CIA has killed between 475-891 children in Pakistan between the years 2004-2013; US covert action has killed between 72 and 177 children in Yemen, and 11-57 children in Somalia. 

These are the names of children killed:                 

Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male
Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blowin' the Whistle on Nuke Power

Blowin’ the Whistle on Nuke Power

By Cecile Pineda

On March 11, 2011, the world experienced a multiple nuclear accident of unprecedented magnitude. Fukushima exceeded the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe at the very least by a factor of 10. Until Fukushima, although two of my previous novels refer to nuclear disaster, the nuclear industry had not been my main focus. But instantly, in view of its magnitude, I understood Fukushima’s implication for the planet: irreversible pollution of the seas, the air, the water, the soils and the food chain the world over. I knew that deception and denial on the part of governments, and on the part of the nuclear industry, would be par for the course. If there was any doubt, we had the precedent of Chernobyl to go by. And we had all served a kind of apprenticeship with the 2010 BP oil spill, which allowed us to see that as an industrial culture we had “advanced” way beyond where our technology and science could bail us out.

I was also terrified. “How do you live with what you know?” I have been asked. In this respect, I am at an advantage because writing my recent book Devil's Tango was my act of exorcism, of processing the awful truth that faces us: Corporations have won control of the political process. In their rapacity as “Persons,” they have the power to destroy life on earth. We the People are armed with the strength of our numbers, our courage, and our ingenuity—and very little else.

We are now faced with the matter of the life and death of our planet. Our strongest weapon is Shame. What does Shame require? It requires boots on the ground; and it requires exposing the full destructive consequence of nuclear power to people and property. We must find the voice of our moral authority. We must alert a brainwashed public to the very real, catastrophic dangers posed by the nuclear cycle, and highlight the deadly cocktail posed by its combination with global warming and seismic vulnerability.

Thankfully, we benefit from two very recent examples where shaming has produced results. In Congress, we have seen Republican intransigence with respect to authorization of relief for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy yield to shaming; and we have seen Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s refusal to eat for 24 days—with the voice of Canada’s First Nations behind her—shaming Prime Minister Harper, who finally agreed to meet with her. (Spence was protesting the poor living conditions of her people.) Let us not forget that this First Nations “voice” consisted of weeks of protests, flash mobs, letters, rallies, and an onslaught of outraged tweets.

To really understand the full magnitude of the nuclear disaster confronting us, we must look, not so much to the work of journalists, but of artists who can guide us to the center of our human feelings and our connection with all living things. I have tried to touch on these places of the heart with Devil's Tango. Last year, I completed a speaking tour of the Northeast timed to coincide with Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day in August, and I was backed by a coalition 35 anti-nuclear and peace groups, among them WILPF. This year I am working with another, similar coalition which also includes WILPF, and have plans for a speaking tour of the Great Lakes timed to the second anniversary of the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster.

For more information, see:

Cecile Pineda is 80 years old.  She has been writing since 1980, with six novels to her credit. From 1969-81, she directed her own experimental theater company. She completed Devil’s Tango in nine months despite a couple of setbacks, including a crash that totaled her car and a broken ankle. She has protested in the streets since 1969.