Sunday, October 27, 2019

Melting Ice, Crumbling Nukes

For anyone following or attempting to follow nuclear energy news in the United States, what’s been going on in the State of Ohio is a solid indicator of just where we stand, technologically, and from a style of government standpoint.

Without going into stupefying background detail, I’ll try to sum up the Ohio situation with help from the summary published Oct. 26 by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman who have been birddogging this issue for decades now. And I quote:

•In July, the gerrymandered Ohio Legislature passed HB6, a massive 
[1 billion-dollar] bailout to keep the two dying nukes operating on Lake Erie, [Davis-Besse, and Perry].

•Akron-based First Energy is bankrupt…[demanding] a promised $1 billion bailout.

•Perry opened in 1986; Davis Besse in 1974, [the latter’s containment vessel so embrittled, cores tend to look like Swiss cheese. In 1974 it nearly melted down, inspiring Scott Heron’s song: “We Nearly Lost Detroit.”]

•HB6 also bails out two coal burners (on in Indiana [not in Ohio]) and subsidizes ten small solar arrays while slashing successful energy efficiency/conservation programs and killing broader support for renewables.

•Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts (OACB) filed for a referendum to repeal HB6 with a requirement of 265,774 certified signatures to be gathered within 90 days.

•Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State sat on the application for 38 days, effectively reducing the petition-gathering window from 90 to 52 days.

A New MO (operating style)

•After OACB’s hired petition gatherers were required by the state to make their contact info public, they immediately began receiving phone threats and bribe offers.

•Signature gatherers in the field were physically assaulted by pro-nuke thugs, including one attack in which a hand was injured, and a cell phone smashed.

•Up to three “blockers” repeatedly surrounded individual signature gatherers and drove away [potential] signers.

•Signature gatherers were offered as much as $2,500 to turn over their signed petitions. [Contrast this with receiving only $.25 cents a signature.]

While disrupting legitimate [signature] gatherers, pro-nuke thugs aggressively collected multiple duplicate signatures for a fake non-binding petition.

Deep Pockets

•First Energy then claimed it had gathered more than 800,000 “pro-nuke’ signatures.

•First Energy accompanied [thug] assaults with a massive radio/TV/mailer campaign [with the ridiculous claim that] “Chinese Communists” were buying Ohio’s grid.

•OACB’s court filing showed that state regulations imposed on certification have vastly reduced the number of referenda Ohioans can vote on.

•Wednesday last, Oct. 26, a federal judge rejected OACB’s request for more time to gather signatures, and sent the case to the Ohio GOP-dominated Supreme Court.

•OACB is rumored to have about 225,000 signatures on hand, 40,000 short of the threshold. Far more will be needed to overcome a [Republican] Secretary of State certain to disallow as many as [possible].

•[And here’s the kicker:] Polls show Ohioans [who will be the rate-payers] vehemently opposed to the bailout. [That’s why] most observers believe if it [got] on the ballot, the referendum would pass by a large margin.

•[But] should Federal appeals fail, and the Ohio Supreme Court refuse the request for more time, the referendum process will have suffered a potential death blow nationwide. It will mean Fascist thugs will be free to assault legitimate signature gatherers at will.

This last point is the main take-away. First Energy mounted this campaign in major Ohio cities: Youngstown, Akron, Toledo, and Columbus among them. It underwrote its million-dollar-plus cost-of-doing business in flyers, TV/radio/mailer announcements. It paid thousands of goon-disrupters to do their thuggish business on the streets.

At play is a $1 billion bailout. A million-dollar cost-of-doing business is a mere investment, a drop in the corporate bucket. At issue is that its cost will be passed directly to ratepayers.

Core tests conducted at Davis Besse show that its containment vessel is critically embrittled. Should there be an accident (like Three-Mile Island for example} Lake Erie is at serious risk of nuclear contamination. First Energy’s ratepayers draw their water from Lake Erie, the fourth largest of the Great Lakes and source of fresh water for Canadians and Americans living in the area.

Already in 2011, following the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, I covered the issue of Davis Besse’s critical embrittlement in Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step.

That was 8 years ago.

In other nuclear developments this week:

Despite massive activist opposition, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously a permit Edison to destroy the San Onofre cooling pools. 

Turkish President Erdogan states he wants to build a nuclear bomb.

Although the Senate voted to reinstate them, the House version of the Defense Authorization bill cuts out funding for new ICBMS and for the new production facilities.

The Kings Bay Plowshares are all found guilty of their nuclear resistance actions In the State of Georgia.

The nuclear industry continues to lobby Congress for a 23 billion bailout over ten years, and $34 billion over 20 years at the expense of taxpayers and the climate (because it dries up funds which otherwise might go to sustainable energies).

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to OK thin walled Holtec canisters liable to damage in all U.S. waste storage applications.

Thousands of sloppily stored bags of radiation waste go missing in Japan after the latest typhoon hits.

Tell chairman Neal to invest in clean renewable technology, not dirty nuclear energy at:

Tell Trump’s EPA not to give a free pass to the oil and gas industry to pollute our air at:

And what the hell, buy a “No First Use” tee-shirt at:

Japan's New Environmental Minister Calls for Closing Down All Nuclear Reactors to Prevent Another Disaster Like Fukushima.

Federal court blocks Florida Republicans’ modern-day poll tax.
California’s new public banking bill opens door to community investment by cities.
N. Y. C. bar assn.. calls for Trump AG Barr to either recuse himself or resign.
South Carolina prisoners appeal to UN after state and federal “officials” ignore please for livable conditions.
In historic vote, House passes bipartisan bill to end anonymous companies.
ACLU celebrates settlement ending unconstitutional effort to silence pipelines protesters in So. Dakota.
House bill would create specific protections for climate refugees.
House Democrats pass bill that would completely restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As the House legally engages in an impeachment “inquiry”, a judge finds ruling that lawmakers can see some of Mueller’s secret evidence.
DeVos held in contempt for predatory student loan collecting practices.
Federal judge orders DOJ to turn over Mueller grand jury material.
Maryland AG sues slumlord Jared Kushner’s company.


College Students opposing U.S.-Korea $6 Billion defense sharing stage protest inside residence of U.S. Ambassador to So. Korea.
Massive protests in Chile force repeal of fare hikes. Chilean trade unions  call for general strike in support of uprising originally led by students.
In Chile, miners initiate general strike as military kills 11.
Lebanese Ministers resign from cabinet after third day of protests fueled by music and dancing  as people demand an end to austerity.
Huge demonstrations flood streets of Barcelona in response to Spain’s attempt to put down Catalonia separatists, and impose draconian jail sentences on their leaders.
Extinction Rebellion targets arms industry, opposing the major carbon pollution by the  world’s militaries.
Tulsi Gabbard calls out U.S. on its endless regime change wars.
Jane Fonda, Sam Waterson arrested on Capitol Hill protesting for a Green New Deal.
First fast food workers union in U.S. prepares to strike for better wages and a higher living standard.
Tens of thousands rally in Khartoum against former ruling party in Sudan.
Palestine lecture proceeds as Milan students stand up to Zionist attempt to block it.
In Panama, students defy blockade to deliver message directly to National Assembly.

Global Warming

India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low.
Bank of England boss says global finance is funding 4C temperature rise.
Progressives in Canada celebrate victory of “Green New Deal Squad” of eight winning candidates.
Fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline dealt major blow as Virginia AG imposes multimillion-dollar fine after they  committed over 300 water-protection violations.
Opponents of facial recognition surveillance at music festivals across the U.S. declare victory.
Exxon and Oil Sands go on trial in New York climate fraud case.
City of Greensboro, NC City Council approves $500,000 for violence reduction program

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Where Have All the People Gone

On a recent road trip that took me from north of Las Vegas where I had travelled to Creech AFB  to protest assassination warfare by drone, I was able to check out nearly 700 miles of highway between Nevada and home in the Bay Area.

Travelling south from Indian Springs, soon we found our eyes assaulted by the forest of giant signs that clutter both sides of the roadway through the architectural aberrations of Las Vegas, signs that obliterate the skyline, vying for the custom of passersby eager for cheap thrills. “The Largest Chevron in the World,” screams one sign, followed by “Size Really Matters.”

Sprung from its commercial clutches, we continued on our way past hundreds of miles of Nevada desert, edged by purple and sand-colored hills and mountains, and mile upon mile of trailers, hundreds and thousands of them, whole trailer towns, some in decay, their doors gaping empty, their windows smashed. A stranger passing through these lands might conclude all America (except  the super-rich) lives in trailers.

The hills and mountains of the Tehachapi Pass gave way to a view as far as eye’s reach of California’s Central Valley, mile upon flat mile of Kern country farmland, studded here and there with empty corporation yards, spilling over with rusting farm machinery, row upon row of porta potties, and orchards check by jowl with endless furrows, and more orchards and the occasional vineyard. No people. No people anywhere. Come to a small town, I spotted one human being, not a convenience store or gas station employee, or a tourist merely passing through, but a human being at last, a sighting rare as glimpsing a desert fox. “Look!” I found myself exclaiming, “there’s a human being.”

I found my eyes straining, trying to find the occasional family picnicking between the endless rows of fruit and almond trees, sharing wine perhaps, or perhaps telling stories.  Nothing. Where are the folk festivals and celebrations, the libraries, or the theaters, or the schools or the universities? No where to be seen. Kern County doesn’t need people anymore. Now what was once farming has become agribusiness, conducted by machine, plowing, seeding, watering, weeding; with a possible exception when the harvest rolls around.

But this eerily depopulated landscape didn’t just get that way by accident. With the 1902 formation of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the state began to work with the feds, sorting out the complex legal fights over water rights. These battles were drawn out but mostly settled during the New Deal and Truman administration. Activists together with California cities tried to push through a public power and water system in 1922 but at least $1 million was spent by PG&E and allies to kill that statewide initiative. In 1933 the state passed new legislation for a $170 million central valley project that was meant to build dams in the north and construct canals to ship water south, eventually to Kern county. After a two-year delay caused by PG&E’s attempts to block the public power project, the US Bureau of Reclamation took charge, using federal funding to start constructing the canals and necessary power to pump the water south into San Joaquin Valley, setting water access levels with 160-acre limitation on all land owners (320 acres for farms owned jointly by man and wife). PG&E used its massive lobbying operations to stop most of the project until after the war, but continued to block power that was needed to pump the water south. According to an  article in Zocalo, “an  irony of the water projects is that they killed off half of the smaller family farms…, while helping bigger and richer corporate “farmers” like Standard Oil, Prudential Financial, Southern Pacific, Getty Oil and Shell. With the recent seven-year drought, farmers had to let millions of acres go unplanted.


In 1948 San Joaquin Valley (which includes Kern), there were around 13,000 farmers with 20 large ones holding over 50% of the land. Over time, other corporations stepped in, bankrupted the family farms, and bought them up for pennies on the dollar, consolidating their strangle hold over the Central Valley, impoverishing and polluting the soil, and significantly contributing to global warming with its heavydependence on plowing and fossil fuels, pesticides and fertilizers, and establishing a style of farming that is unsustainable. Today, according to a 2012 article in the San Jose Mercury News, The Central Valley is among the poorest areas in California and the US, with the Bakersfield area ranking fourth poorest in the nation. Students who aim for a college degree face many obstacles, and public education funding is in decline. Many who graduate migrate elsewhere to find work. 

Unrepresented Souls, Depleted Soils

Not only the soils have been despoiled, but, from the county’s first Indian inhabitants, the people who once lived and worked there have been displaced. These are the people the US government has long ago abandoned and left to rot, people who came to recognize that neither corporate party, Democratic or Republican, represents them or their interests any longer if they ever did. And it’s this decades-long Republican and Democrat unresponsiveness that has helped the orange hair revolution come about.

Where have all the people displaced by agribusiness gone? On the right of way between Fresno and Hanford, the train passes through miles of tent cities lining the tracks.

The fare is just $5.00.

Demand big polluters like Exxon and Shell pay up at

Donate to block William Pendley’s appointment to the Bureau of Land Management where he wants to put all BLM lands East of the Mississippi up for sale at

Oppose the EPA’s changes regulating the release of methane gas at

Stressing that money is not speech and corporations are not people, Sanders unveils plan to get corporate $$ out of politics .

Sanders cops key endorsements from AOC, Omar, and Tlaib .

U.S. backed Moreno flees Quito as thousands of indigenous people enter the city in opposition to IMF-imposed austerity measures. Moreno is forced to repeal austerity decree and end violence.

Nuclear ban treaty nearly two-thirds of way into entry into force.

A new website, “QuitICE launches career change program for ICE agents looking for change.

Abolish ICE, Denver and Denver Communists march through quiet suburb to home of Johnny Choate to confront the warden of immigrant and detention facility in Aurora, CO.

California moves to ban for-profit prisons, including immigrant jails.

Federal judge declares #45 border proclamation unlawful.

#45 public charge rule against immigrants declared unlawful in the State of California.

Series of rulings in federal courts in New York, California and Washington State indicate that #45 and senior policy adviser Miller’s anti-immigrant policy may have struck its limits.

Honduras holds hearing for military intelligence office for the murder of indigenous and social movement leader, Berta Cáceres.

Thanks to California’s SB 394, eligible parents and caregivers won’t have to be separated from the children who depend on them, enabling them to be diverted to rehabilitative programs and counseling.

California’s Gov. Newsom sigs bills to limit the role of money in elections, make voting more accessible, and enable fairer representation.

Federal court overrules Pai’s ban on states passing the own Net Neutrality laws.

Labor wins big time as California passes AB5 securing the rights for over a million workers misclassified and cheated out of minimum wages, overtime, workers comp, and other protections.

Federal appeals court upholds House subpoena for #45 financial records — which show discrepancies amounting to fraud.

Appeals Court orders stay of Mountain Valley Pipeline permit.

Citing ‘moral duty to take radical action’ more than 700 scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to fight climate crisis.

Ahead of mass protest on Capitol Hill, doctors demand #45 close ‘inherently immoral’ immigrant detention centers.

Trading information, over 12 different utilities figure out how to deliver fresh drinking water to over 50 million consumers nationwide.

Chlorpyrifos banned in California.

By unanimous vote, Berkeley becomes 4th US city  to ban face recognition.

Texas cop arrested and charged with murder for shooting woman in her home.

Police-exonerating Gascon resigns as San Francisco DA.

#45 impeachment barricade crumbles as Fiona Hill cooperates with Dem’s investigation.

Groups offer to deliver 50,000 comments that Election Assistance Commission Staff did not allow decision=makers to see.

Earth Justice announces it has repeatedly won court cases against the #45 administration barring pipelines through the Mojave Desert, opening up public lands for coal leasing, removing permanent protections from oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic sea board, and stripping the Endangered Species Act over the past 1000 days.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


Last week, the desert around Indian Springs, Nevada received a surprise visit from a contingent of Code Pink and Veterans for Peace drone resisters who show up in the desert way northwest of Las Vegas twice a year.

photo credit: Michael Kerr

photo: Michael Kerr
Already before dawn, we are out on the highway with our banners and our winter gear against the night temperatures. We stay there way past sun-up, until the last contingent of mostly single drivers coming all the way from Las Vegas, more than 46 miles away, get past the main gate.

photo credit: Michael Kerr
The same thousands of cars take over two hours to exit the gate at quitting time (when we are back on the highway in summer gear to make sure they see our signs).

This October saw the arrests of ten of our contingent, five men and five women—whom Las Vegas “muni” (municipal police) hauled off in handcuffs to the Clark County jail to teach them a lesson about staying in lock step. This year the jail has a new “enhancement:” a full body scanner, an enrich-Michael-Chertoff device, with which three of the women arrestees refused to comply. Their “intransigence” resulted in an additional five or so hours of confinement in a separate cell so as to insure they would not “contaminate” (the cop’s word) any of the poor, disproportionately black souls who make up the population of Clark County jail.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Do the “pilots” sitting on the base in their trailers with their joy sticks pulling up likely civilian victims to kill on their computer screens get arrested for murder? Don’t be silly. Drones make good money for the corporations (and stockholders) that manufacture them. They just need the poverty draft to make sure they’ve got enough people willing to operate their machinery. But although it was not part of the original plan, drone pilots succumb to PTSD and as they drop out, the air force is having more and more trouble replacing them.

Global climate collapse?

Think nothing of it. Creech AFB is part of the fossil industry machine: adding pollution from thousands of cars to the highway every single day but weekends. And that’s just the local effort.

photo credit: Michael Kerr
Greta tells us we have no time to waste.  But will the military apparatus take note? Will it care? Will it turn around with so many people in its employ requiring the “good” if temporary, life of cars, a house, a wife or significant other, 2.3 children, 1.8 dogs, and razzle dazzle entertainment in vacuous Las Vegas, cultural emblem of the United States?


Sign to end support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen in the NDAA now at

Proposed Swedish constitutional amendment would enshrine rights of Nature.

‘Money is not speech and corporations are not people’: Sanders unveils plan to get corporate $$ out of politics.

Beverly Hills City Council discusses potential health hazards of 5G wireless networks.

Erin Brokovich firm join citizens 5G lawsuit brought by People’s Initiative Foundation.

How to resist: The EPA fired some air pollution scientists who meet anyway.

Eight countries join INSTEX, ending U.S. dollar domination.

GEO Group (immigrant incarceration and family separation) runs out of banks as 100% of banking partners say ‘No’ to private prison sector.

Huge victory: California’s Gov. Newsom signs the Public Banking Act into law.

Victory as noDAPL depositions unsealed, wiping clean the charges against Chase Iron Eyes of Standing Rock.

GM backs down on cutting off healthcare for its striking workers.

Raging granny locks herself to equipment at Mountain Valley Pipeline Site.

Judge blocks the administration from circumventing Flores Agreement & prolonging the detention of migrant children.