NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change

by Harvey Wasserman  

The New York Times published an astonishing article last week that blames green power for difficulties countries are facing to mitigate climate change.

The article by Eduardo Porter, How Renewable Energy is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course, serves as a flagship for an on-going attack on the growth of renewables. It is so convoluted and inaccurate that it requires a detailed response.

nukeboosting timesOur planet is burning up from fossil fuels and being irradiated by decrepit money-losing reactors that blow up. Blaming renewable energy for all that is like blaming the peace movement for causing wars.

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As Mark Jacobson, director of Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, pointed out to me via email:

The New York Times article “suffers from the inaccurate assumption that existing expensive nuclear that is shut down will be replaced by natural gas. This is impossible in California, for example, since gas is currently 60 percent of electricity supply but state law requires non-large-hydro clean renewables to be 50 percent by 2030. This means that, with the shuttering of Diablo Canyon nuclear facility be 2025, gas can by no greater than 35-44 percent of California supply since clean renewables will be at least 50 percent (and probably much more) and large hydro will be 6-15 percent. As such, gas must go down no matter what. In fact, 100 percent of all new electric power in Europe in 2015 was clean, renewable energy with no new net gas, and 70 percent of all new energy in the U.S. was clean and renewable, so the fact is nuclear is not being replaced by gas but by clean, renewable energy.

“Further, the article fails to consider the fact that the cost of keeping nuclear open is often much greater than the cost of replacing the nuclear with wind or solar. For example, three upstate New York nuclear plants require $7.6 billion in subsidies from the state to stay open 12 years. To stay open after that, they will need an additional $805 million/year at a minimum, or at least $17.7 billion from 2028-2050, or a total of $25.3 billion from 2016 to 2050. If, on the other hand, those three plants were replaced with wind today, the total cost between now and 2050 would be $11.9 billion. Thus, keeping the nuclear plants open 12 years costs an additional $7.6 billion; keeping it open 34 years costs and additional $25.3 billion, in both cases with zero additional climate benefit, in comparison with shuttering the three plants today and replacing them with onshore wind.”

Gideon Forman, climate change and transportation policy analyst at David Suzuki Foundation, also shared his dismay on the Times piece:

“The notion that non-renewable power sources are necessary is questionable at best. Some scientists believe that, over the next few decades, renewables could provide all our power. One is Stanford Prof. Mark Jacobson. He has done modeling to show the U.S. could be entirely powered by renewables by 2050.

“Porter is wrong to claim that nuclear produces ‘zero-carbon electricity.’ If we look at the full nuclear cycle, including production of uranium fuel, we find it involves considerable carbon emissions. Jacobson and his co-author, Mark A. Delucchi, have written, ‘Nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construction and uranium refining and transport are considered.’

“Porter says if American nuclear plants were replaced with gas-fired generators it would lead to 200 million tons of additional CO2 emissions annually. But it’s wrong to suggest that nuclear could only be replaced by natural gas. A full suite of renewables—along with energy storage and conservation programs—could meet demand, certainly in the not very distant future.

“Porter suggests that nuclear power can ‘stay on all the time.’ But of course, nuclear plants, like all generators, are sometimes out of service for maintenance. This downtime can be considerable. For example, it is expected that from 2017 to 2021, Ontario’s Pickering nuclear station will require back-up almost 30 percent of the time.”

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, called the Times piece “outrageous.” He told me:

“The Times piece continues the paper’s long record of minimizing and downplaying—not recognizing and indeed often denying—the deadly impacts of nuclear power. It’s been a shameful journalistic dysfunction. As Alden Whitman, a Times reporter for 25 years, told me, ‘there certainly was never any effort made to do’ in-depth or investigative reporting on nuclear power. ‘I think there stupidity involved,’ he said, and further, ‘The Times regards itself as part of the establishment.” Or as Anna Mayo of The Village Voice related: ‘I built a full-time career on covering nuclear horror stories that the New York Times neglected.'”

So where do I stand on the Porter piece? Here are my eight biggest complaints:

1. Though viewed as the “journal of record,” the Times has been consistently pro-nuclear. Its slanted coverage has served as an industry bulwark for decades. A long-time atomic beat reporter, Matt Wald, went straight from the Times to a job with the Nuclear Energy Institute, the primary public relations front for the reactor industry. The Times has a long history as a cheerleader for nuclear power dating back to the atomic bomb era, when it consistently denied health problems from radioactive fallout. It also denied health problems resulting from radiation releases at Three Mile Island, and much more. Now it has taken a major role in defending the nuclear industry from the renewable energy revolution that is driving it to bankruptcy while bringing a tsunami of reactor shut downs. It’s these shut downs that now seem to worry the paper.

2. The primary technological transition in the world of electric power today is from fossil and nuclear fuels (King CONG: Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) to a Solartopian system based on green power. But there’s a deeper shift going on: from centralized, grid-based corporate control to decentralized citizen-based community control. When nuclear power and its apologists defend continued operations at dangerously deteriorated reactors, they are more broadly defending the power and profits of huge corporations that are completely invested in a centralized grid. When they argue that renewables “can’t do the job,” they’re in fact working to prolong the lives of the large generators that are the “base load” basis of a corporate grid-based supply system.

3. But that grid is now obsolete. What strikes the ultimate terror in utility boardrooms is the revolutionary reality of a decentralized power supply, free of large generators, comprised instead of millions of small photovoltaic (PV) panels owned by individuals. Industry sources have widely confirmed that this decentralized, post-grid model means the end of big utilities. Thus when they fight against PV and for nuclear power, they are fighting not for the life of the planet, but for the survival of their own corporate profits.

4. Some utilities do support some renewables, but primarily in the form of large centralized grid-based solar and wind turbine farms. Pacific Gas & Electric said it will replace the power from the Diablo Canyon nuke plant with solar energy. But PG&E is simultaneously fighting rooftop solar, which will allow individual homeowners to disconnect from the grid. Germany’s transition from fossil-nukes to renewables has also been marked by conflict between large grid-based wind farms versus small community-based renewables.

5. PG&E and other major utilities are fighting against net metering and other programs that promote small-scale renewables. The Koch Brothers’ American Legislature Exchange Council (ALEC) has spread a wide range of taxes and disincentives passed by the states to make it ever-harder to go solar. All this is being done to preserve the grid-based monopolies that own large fossil/nuclear facilities.

6. The idea that nuclear power might fight climate change, and that environmentalists might support it, is a recent concoction, a disgraceful, desperate load of utility hype meant to defend the status quo. Fukushima, unsolved waste problems and the plummeting price of renewables have solidified the environmental community’s opposition to nuke power. These reactors are dirty and dangerous. They are not carbon-free and do emit huge quantities of heated water and steam into the ecosphere. The utility industry can’t get private liability insurance for them, and relies on the 1957 Price-Anderson Act to protect them from liability in a major catastrophe. The industry continually complains about subsidies to renewable energy but never mentions this government protection program without which all reactors would close.

7. Not just nuke power but the entire centralized fossil/nuke-based grid system is now being undermined by the massive drops in the price of renewable energy, and massive rises in its efficiency and reliability. The critical missing link is battery technology. Because the sun and wind are intermittent, there needs to be energy storage to smooth out supply. Elon Musk‘s billion-dollar Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada and many other industrial ventures indicate major battery breakthroughs in storage is here today.

8. Porter’s NY Times piece correctly says that the massive amounts of cheap, clean renewables flooding the grid in Europe and parts of the U.S. are driving nuclear power plants into bankruptcy. At least a dozen reactor shut downs have been announced in the U.S. since 2012 and many more are on their way. In Japan 52 of the 54 reactors online before the Fukushima disaster are now closed. And, Germany has pledged to shut all its reactors by 2022.

But Porter attacks this by complaining that those nukes were supplying base load power that must be otherwise—according to him—shored up with fossil burners. Here’s his key line:

“Renewable sources are producing temporary power gluts from Australia to California, driving out other energy sources that are still necessary to maintain a stable supply of power.”

But as all serious environmentalists understand, the choice has never been between nukes versus fossil fuels. It’s between centralized fossil/nukes versus decentralized renewables.

Porter’s article never mentions the word “battery” or the term “rooftop solar.” But these are the two key parts in the green transition already very much in progress.

So here is what the Times obviously can’t bring itself to say: “Cheap solar panels on rooftops are now making the grid obsolete.” The key bridging element of battery back-up capability is on its way. Meanwhile there is absolutely no need for nuclear power plants, which at any rate have long since become far too expensive to operate.

Spending billions to prop up dying nuke reactors for “base load” generation is pure corporate theft at the public expense, both in straight financial terms and in the risk of running badly deteriorated reactors deep into the future until they inevitably melt down or blow up.

Those billions instead should go to accelerating battery production and distribution, and making it easier, rather than harder, to gain energy independence using the wind and the sun.

All this has serious real-world impacts. In Ohio, for example, a well-organized shift to wind and solar wasderailed by the Koch-run legislature. Some $2 billion in wind-power investments and a $500 million solar farm were derailed. There are also serious legal barriers now in place to stop homeowners from putting solar shingles and panels on their rooftops.
Meanwhile, FirstEnergy strong-armed the Ohio Public Utilities Commission into approving a huge bailout to keep the seriously deteriorated Davis-Besse nuke operating, even though it cannot compete and is losing huge sums of money. Federal regulators have since put that bailout on hold.

Arizona and other Koch-owned legislatures have moved to tax solar panels, ban solar shingles and make it illegal to leave the grid without still paying tribute to the utilities who own it. Indeed, throughout the U.S. and much of the western world, corporate-owned governments are doing their best to slow the ability of people to use renewables to rid themselves of the corporate grid.

For an environmental movement serious about saving the Earth from climate change, this is a temporary barrier. The Times and its pro-nuke allies in the corporate media will continue to twist reality. But the Solartopian revolution is proceeding ahead of schedule and under budget. A renewable, decentralized energy system is very much in sight.

The only question is how long corporate nonsense like this latest NY Times screed can delay this vital transition. Our planet is burning up from fossil fuels and being irradiated by decrepit money-losing reactors that blow up. Blaming renewable energy for all that is like blaming the peace movement for causing wars.

The centralized King CONG grid and its obsolete owners are at the core of the problem. So are the corporate media outlets like the New York Times that try to hide that obvious reality.

““““

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH can be found at this very website:  www.solartopia.org, where his
AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY is soon to arrive. He editswww.nukefree.org and hosts the Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show at www.prn.fm
.

Will GOP Swing State Governors Strip & Flip Donald Trump into the White House?

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
24 July 16

flip de vote

As the Democratic Convention opens in Philadelphia, there’s just one one clear message that matters from the Republicans: Donald Trump will be within ten points of Hillary Clinton in the fall election.
Thus, unless the Democrats do something about the issue of election protection, it will be within the power of key GOP swing state governors to give Donald Trump the presidency.

For all its problems, the wildly disorganized and fractious gathering in Cleveland all boiled down to Trump’s final speech. It was rambling and often incoherent. But it delivered the classic strongman message: You need ME to protect you.

Given the chaos, violence, and injustice of imperial America in 2016, that message is almost certain to sell with enough Americans to keep Trump close enough to Hillary Clinton to allow the election to be electronically stripped and flipped.

In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama was able to overcome these barriers with a huge popular margin in more states than the GOP could reasonably steal.

This year, in a close election, given how the mechanics of our election system operate, the decision of who will enter the White House will be in the hands of the GOP governors of such swing states as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona.

Those will be the only six votes that really count in November. Should all or most of these governors (with their GOP Secretaries of State) flip the vote count for Trump, he likely has a lock on the White House.

Two major “strip and flip” forces can doom the Democrats in 2016.

First, the GOP stripping of millions of suspected Democrats from the voter roles is proceeding. As Greg Palast reports in his brilliant new film, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy – a Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits,” computer programs coordinated by Kris Kobach, Kansas’s GOP secretary of state, are being used to disenfranchise millions of mostly African-American, Hispanic and young citizens.

As exposed by Palast, the stripping technique entered the computer age in 2000, when Florida governor Jeb Bush dropped more than 90,000 blacks and Hispanics from the registration rolls in an election ultimately decided by 537 votes.

In 2004 the Ohio GOP stripped more than 300,000 inner city voters in an election decided by 118,775 officially, though more than 90,000 votes still remain uncounted.

Palast shows that in 2016, the Democratic constituency will be electronically stripped of millions of voters in at least two dozen key states, easily enough to make the difference in a close election.

But if that isn’t enough to put Trump in the White House, the final count can be flipped with computerized “adjustments” made in the dark hours of election night.

In both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, electronic manipulation put and kept George W. Bush in the White House.

In 2016, well over half the votes will be cast on electronic voting machines. Most of these are ten years old or more. All can be easily manipulated by their owners, which are private corporations, primarily Warren Buffett’s ES&S.

The courts have ruled that the software on these machines is proprietary. So there is no effective public monitoring or accountability of the tallying process. At the end of election day, if they are in agreement with each other, the governor and secretary of state can make the vote count pretty much whatever they want.

In a close election, the six key swing states electronically available to the GOP are likely to comprise more than enough votes to swing the Electoral College. The question is: will their governors give those electoral votes to Trump?

Florida’s governor is the far-right Rick Scott. After 2000, Florida reformed the secretary of state position used by Katherine Harris to help Jeb Bush put George W. Bush in the White House. But the governor’s power over the vote count remains potentially decisive. Florida also has a key Senate race involving Marco Rubio, which gives the GOP an added incentive

North Carolina has also made adjustments to its vote count system, and has a Democratic secretary of state. But its disenfranchisement measures are legendary and could be decisive.

Michigan, Iowa and Arizona could all be strip-and-flip locks for the GOP.

So as always, Ohio may be the key. Governor John Kasich has made very clear his disdain for Donald Trump. But the US Senate race pits his good friend Rob Portman against the former Democratic governor Ted Strickland. Kasich may be willing to throw Trump under the bus. But he and his secretary of state, Jon Husted, will be strongly committed to sending Portman back to the Senate.

Thus they won’t want the unlikely discrepancy of a GOP Senate victory alongside a GOP presidential loss.

Whatever the case, no matter how many hundreds of millions are spent on this campaign, no matter how many thousands of hours the bloviators blab about this issue or that, when push comes to shove, this election will be decided on election night by the swing state governors and secretaries of state who have their hands on the electronic vote count.

Thus, no matter what happens in Philadelphia, the smart money would be on Donald Trump entering the White House in January 2017.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft is at www.freepress.org, along with The Fitrakis Files. Harvey’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History can be found at www.solartopia.org.  

Transcript: Betty Yee’s Closing Remarks re Diablo Canyon Nuke Plant Lease Renewal

This past Tuesday, June 28, 2016 the California State Land Commission met to hear public and staff comment, and to decide whether the Commission should extend PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuke plant leases of the People of California’s coastal tidelands beyond 2018 and 2019.   In a last minute turn around the commission staff recommended the leases be be extended without a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) required Environmental Impact Report (EIR)  

Here is a transcript of California State Land Commissioner Betty T. Yee’s closing remarks:

 

Betty Yee: I’ll start.

Gavin Newsom: I’ll pick up on it

Betty Yee: All right.

Gavin Newsom: Either one of us. We gotta upack all of this.

Betty Yee: We do have to unpack all this. And actually Commissioner Newsom, I took to heart – I think your guidance to all of us a few months ago and that is that we have to the stewards of fact with respect to how we move forward. And uh these are not easy issues. I have uh um – I did take time to visit Diablo Canyon Power Plant, and uh had an opportunity to really understand the operation and to meet some of the employees. Uh and first I just have to say um hats off to you for forty years of reliable service, and professional service. It is something that we don’t applaud – frankly – uh, in terms of how we – where we come since the plant was first constructed. That I was struck by how safety is by far the foremost concern in that facility from every aspect of the operation – to every conversation that I had with every employee on that site. It all had to do with safety and reliability.

And what I want to say about the CEQA issue is this – uh – you know I think we live in times where were just surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. And I do think we’ve heard a lot of speculation. I’m not sure that I’m comfortable that I’ve heard a lot of facts. Uh – my own sense of the authority that this Commission can exercise independently is that – uh – the uh – the uh facts are not there. And frankly I feel like if they were there we would have grabbed onto them already.

And so – uh – I know we live in dangerous times with respect to seismic risks. This is a different world with respect to being susceptible to terrorism and acts of terrorism. But we also have – um – I think a responsibility here to balance all of these different interests and needs.

And – uh – yeah with respect to the issue of the marine life and um what we can expect if um the Commission decides to approve these leases – uh – I do want to say that you know a lot of work has actually been done at this State Water Resources Control Board with respect to mitigation measures – um to ensure compliance with the Once Through Cooling Policy – and uh – I think – um – if this Commission is prepared to approve the leases – I would like to direct staff to um – just call on the Water Resources Control Board to remind them that we do want them to um fully implement those mitigation measures to ensure compliance. These are not new requirements – these have been established – uh – I think people are familiar with what they are – all parties are familiar with what they are – but this is about – um – really – all state agencies – all hands on deck to be sure that we’re moving forward responsibly. And there are going to be a lot of agencies – state and federal and local involved – uh – in the transition – uh should this Commission approve the leases um to look at what will transpire over the next nine years.

The other aspect I just want to comment about is that um – I really encourage PG&E and frankly all of the ah regulatory agencies and oversight agencies throughout this process to err on the side of more public input – um – I heard a lot of information today that frankly was shared uh really out of ignorance – and – there is a lot of misinformation going back and forth – this is not the time for that – and I think – uh – I just wanna get a commitment from PG&E that in terms of the public input process in the next thirty days that uh it will also include public education and really uh – having the patience to answer any and all questions with respect to what we’re really facing uh in this agreement that you have entered into with uh various parties of the environmental community.

So – um – given that this is a tough decision – um – Mr. Geesman, you’ve admonished us and in terms of our voting to live with this decision – it is a serious decision – and uh – but frankly I go to sleep every night feeling susceptible to a lot of different threats – and uh – to the extent that I continue to serve on this body I’m gonna be sure that – um – whatever process unfolds – and much of it before the CPUC that uh can be assured that this uh transition happens responsibly – so I’m – I am prepared to accept the staff recommendation.  [end transcript]

Betty Yee, Then candidate for California State Controller. October 8, 2014, Santa Monica, California.

Betty Yee, Then candidate for California State Controller. October 8, 2014, Santa Monica, California.

 

 

Diablo Shutdown Marks End of Atomic Era

By Harvey Wasserman

June 23, 2016

As worldwide headlines have proclaimed, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) says it will shut its giant Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, and that the power they’ve been producing will be replaced by renewable energy.

PG&E has also earmarked some $350 million to “retain and retrain” Diablo’s workforce, whose union has signed on to the deal, which was crafted in large part by major environmental groups.

On a global scale, in many important ways, this marks the highest profile step yet towards the death of U.S. nuclear power and a national transition to a Solartopian green-powered planet.

diablo solartopia 6.23.2016

For Californians, as we shall see, there’s an army of devils in the details, which cannot be ignored. But let’s deal with the big picture first.

The three most important lines on nuke power’s Diablo tombstone may be these:

1. A major U.S. utility has admitted that the energy from a nuke—one of the world’s biggest—can be effectively replaced with renewables.

Over the past decade the nuke industry has spent more than $500,000,000 hyping an utterly failed “nuclear renaissance” partly on the premise that green power can’t make up for the energy production lost by shutting reactors. One of the world’s top nuclear utilities has now signed a major public document saying that this is not true.

2. A major union has approved an agreement that provides retraining for soon-to-be-displaced workers at a soon-to-be-shut nuke.

For years the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and other unions representing atomic workers have fought reactor shut-downs because of lost jobs. The IBEW’s partnership in this agreement shows that with planning and funding, a smooth transition for displaced reactor workforces can be charted.

3. The agreement was crafted with leadership from two major national environmental organizations—Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The corporate “nuclear renaissance” hype has conjured up a cadre of “environmentalists for nuclear power.”  Like clockwork the corporate media breathlessly reports from time to time that formerly green activists are now flocking like lemmings to the atomic sea.

Thus the Wall Street Journal recently published a major feature alleging a pro-nuke shift at the Sierra Club, which it then mutated into yet another re-run of the “greens for atoms” meme. The piece was sharply denounced by Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune, who reaffirmed the club’s staunch opposition to nuke power.

As environmental mainstays, FOE and NRDC’s role in this Diablo agreement re-confirms the core stance of a green community whose “No Nukes” stance has deepened since Fukushima and with the rise of renewables.  Greenpeace, the Abalone Alliance, Mothers for Peace, Alliance 4 Nuclear Responsibility, World Business Academy in Santa Barbara and many others hold more fiercely than ever to the anti-nuke/pro-renewables positions they’ve sustained for decades.

A tiny, top-down “greens for nukes” front group is currently shouting around California in support of Diablo.  But this agreement renders the “atomic environmentalist” charade even more marginal.

Meanwhile corporate media outlets throughout U.S. have accepted this Diablo news as nuclear power’s definitive death notice. The SFGate called it the “End of an Atomic Era.” I saw it reported that way on a streaming news wire high above downtown Cleveland. What Linda Seeley, a multi-decade veteran of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, thought was a local radio interview went nationwide on NPR.

Closing Diablo will make our largest state nuke-free. The agreement embodies the sixth and seventh U.S. reactor shut-downs announced in the last month, the fifteenth and sixteenth since 2012. WPPSS2, the only other operating reactor on the west coast, is bleeding cash and may be among the next to go.

Safe energy activists can warmly embrace this announcement. More have been arrested at Diablo than any other U.S nuke. This would never have happened without citizen activism.

So all you tried and true “No Nukes” greenies … go out and have a party!

But … then listen to the rest of the news, and get back to work.

• What PG&E has actually announced is something that’s been expected for quite a while, which is that it won’t pursue NRC re-licensing. The agreement thus predicts closures in 2024 and 2025, when Diablo’s current licenses expire.

• But unlicensed operations continue at New York’s Indian Point. Fail-proof legal safeguards are needed to make sure that doesn’t happen at Diablo.

• The agreement comes just prior to a crucial June 28 hearing in front of the California State Lands Commission. PG&E wants the State Land Commission to renew leases issued in 1969 and 1970 that allow Diablo’s cooling systems to pollute coastal territory. Just after that, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the California Environmental Quality Act, imposing a wide range of requirements and reporting on state lands. Diablo can’t meet those requirements, and PG&E doesn’t want to do the studies.

At least two of the three commissioners have indicated they would expect PG&E to now comply with CEQA. But many fear this agreement might incline them to now let those requirements go unenforced until the alleged new shut-down date, rather than forcing the reactors to close in 2018 and 2019, when the leases expire. Grassroots activists are circulating petitions and exerting as much pressure as they can to make sure the commissioners hold the line.

• PG&E is now in what amounts to a federal murder trial, and may hope this agreement will soften the prosecution. Despite repeated warnings, in 2010 the company’s badly maintained gas network blew up in San Bruno. It killed eight people through what amounts to criminal negligence. The usually docile California Public Utilities Commission has already fined the company $1.4 billion. PG&E executives may see this agreement as something of a federal plea bargain in an extremely serious prosecution.

• Worldwide studies show cancer and infant disease rates climb when reactors open, and decline when they shut. Such numbers have been confirmed at Diablo and at Rancho Seco in studies commissioned by the World Business Academy, which warns that the longer Diablo operates, the more the public health will suffer.

• Diablo is in clear violation of state and federal water quality laws. It daily sucks in 2.5 billion gallons of sea water which it returns far hotter (18-20 degrees Farenheit) than allowable. Regulatory hearings on the near horizon would tell whether PG&E will be forced to build cooling towers to spew the heat into the air instead of the water. Cooling tower cost estimates range from $2 billion to $14 billion. Should the towers be required, PG&E would face a wild melee over who’d pay for them. But faced with a shut-down date, regulators might just let Diablo continue in violation (as has been done at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek).

• PG&E may be short hundreds of millions of dollars in funds necessary to decommission Diablo. Bitter disputes have already erupted over decommissioning San Onofre and other down U.S. reactors, including Vermont Yankee. Major technical problems, including serious leaks, have already emerged at Diablo and are certain to escalate in both confrontation and cost.

• PG&E and its fellow centralized utilities worldwide are terrified of home-owned roof-top solar panels, whose escalating spread could spell their doom. While hyping its entry into the solar world, PG&E will continue to assault net-metering and other essentials of the distributed generation revolution that threatens its core.

• The agreement includes no guarantee from Mother Nature that one of the dozen earthquake faults surrounding the plant won’t go off before the reactors finally shut. Diablo is half the distance from the San Andreas that Fukushima was from the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former resident inspector Dr. Michael Peck has warned PG&E has never proven Diablo could withstand such a shock.

• Tsunami expert Dr. Robert Sewell has also testified that a nearby undersea landslide could cause a wave capable of destroying Diablo, including its vulnerable intake pipes. His official report has been buried by the NRC for more than a decade.

There is more …

But above all, no independent observer believes PG&E has signed this agreement out of love for the planet, its workers, the public well-being or the spirit of the law. It could mark a significant leap toward shutting Diablo Canyon, but it does not seal its fate. Indeed, unless accompanied with fierce activism, some fear it could offer PG&E political cover to prolong its operations.

Globally, this landmark treaty embodies a nuclear utility’s admission that renewables can replace nukes, that union-endorsed provisions can ease the transition for workers at closing reactors and that a purported “green shift” to nuke power is mere industry hype.

None of which mitigates the reality Diablo Canyon could be melting as you read this. No matter what this agreement says, no matter when the anointed close-down date … until those reactors at Diablo Canyon are dead, dismantled and somehow buried, we all live at the brink of a potential apocalypse.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org, along with his upcoming AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY.  With Bob Fitrakis he has co-authored six books on election protection (www.freepress.org). He was arrested at Diablo Canyon in 1984. 

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Diablo Shutdown Marks End of Atomic Era by Harvey Wasserman is crossposted at EcoWatch.com

5 More U.S. Nukes to Close, Will Diablo Canyon Be Next?

by Harvey Wasserman

June 17, 2016

(cross-posted at ecowatch.com)

A  rising tsunami of U.S. nuke shut-downs may soon include California’s infamous Diablo Canyon double reactors. But it depends on citizen action, including a statewide petition.

Five U.S. reactor closures have been announced within the past month. A green regulatory decision on California’s environmental standards could push the number to seven.

diablo 4 harvey 6.17.2016

The focus is now on a critical June 28 California State Lands Commission meeting. Set for Sacramento, the hearing could help make the Golden State totally nuke free, ending the catastrophic radioactive and global warming impacts caused by these failing plants. A public simulcast of the Sacramento meeting is expected to gather a large crowd at the Morro Bay Community Center near the reactor site. The meeting starts at 10 a.m., but environmental groups will rally outside the community center starting at 9 a.m.

The three State Lands Commissioners will decide whether to require a legally-mandated Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If ordered, a public scoping process will begin, allowing interested groups and individuals to weigh in on the environmental impacts of operation of two nuclear reactors on California’s fragile coastline.

In 1969 and 1970 PG&E got state leases for tidewater acreage for Diablo’s cooling system. These leases are set to expire in 2018 and 2019. If the State Lands Commission does not renew them, both reactors will be forced to shut down.

Signed in 1970 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, CEQA requires more extensive Environmental Impact Reports on such leases. Included among the issues to be evaluated are water quality, potential damage to human and other life forms, chemical and radiation releases, and impacts on threatened and endangered species. The commission will not decide whether Diablo will continue to operate, only whether it will now be required to meet CEQA standards.

Pro-nukers say PG&E is at the brink of shutting Diablo’s reactors. They cannot economically compete with renewables or gas and are sustained by an intricate network of subsidies, liability protection and tax breaks. Many believe the cost of new environmental studies and of meeting updated standards would be a death blow. More protestors have been arrested at Diablo than any other American nuke, and the public pressure to finally shut it is intense.

One of the commissioners is Gavin Newsom, California’s Lieutenant Governor, 2018’s leading gubernatorial candidate. Newsom said he sees no long-term future for Diablo.

Another commissioner, state controller Betty Yee, is widely thought to favor the requirement.

State finance director Michael Cohen is the third commissioner. He generally votes as instructed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown opposed Diablo early in his career, but has recently waffled.

Among other things, Diablo dumps daily some 2.5 billion gallons of super-heated water into the ocean, killing vast quantities of marine life and worsening the global climate crisis. The project’s chemical runoff infamously killed millions of abalone years before it operated.

Diablo may soon face regulatory challenges from other state and federal agencies that could, among other things, require cooling towers, at a cost of up to $14 billion. PG&E would then face a fierce public fight over who would pay for them.

Diablo is surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults. It is half the distance from the San Andreas as was Fukushima from the shock that destroyed it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former resident inspector Dr. Michael Peck has warned Diablo might not survive a similar quake. Such a disaster would irradiate the Central Valley, which supplies much of the U.S. with its fruits, nuts and vegetables. It would send radioactive clouds into Los Angeles within about five hours, and across virtually the entire continental U.S.

Closing Diablo would make California entirely nuke-free. Grassroots activists, with help from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Friends of the Earth, recently shut two big reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego. They also closed plants at Rancho Seco (near Sacramento) and Humboldt Bay, and stopped proposed projects at Bodega and Bakersfield.

Along with most nukes around the world, the only other remaining west coast reactor, WPPS2 on Washington’s Hanford military reservation, is also losing massive amounts of money.

Because they can’t evenly compete with renewable energy or gas, a tsunami of shut-downs has swept away a dozen U.S. reactors since October, 2012. Dozens more teeter at the brink, including two at Indian Point, just north of Manhattan, and Ohio’s rapidly crumbling Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo.

In Japan, more than 40 reactors remain shut despite intense government pressure to reopen them in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. Germany’s energiewende conversion to 100 percent renewables, which aims to shut all its reactors by 2022, is ahead of schedule and under budget. Much of the rest of Europe, including France, is now moving that way.

Should California follow suit at Diablo, its conversion to a wholly green-powered economy would accelerate, likely leading Los Angeles to become the world’s first Solartopian megalopolis.

Ironically, with citizen action, a big push in that direction could now come from a state commission’s decision to enforce environmental protections signed into law by California’s most pro-nuke governor.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is atwww.solartopia.org, along with his upcoming AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF U.S. HISTORY. He has co-written six books on election protection with Bob Fitrakis (www.freepress.org), and was arrested at Diablo Canyon in 1984.

 

 

The Iconic Peace Ship Golden Rule Is Hit by a Police Boat!

By Harvey Wasserman

(cross posted at Reader Supported News)

June 13, 2016

golden rule

he good ship Golden Rule is a miracle of the modern peace movement. In its iconic quest for global peace and ecological sanity, it has been re-floated, revived … and now hit by a police boat!!!

The boat was first launched from a dock near Los Angeles in 1958 by Quaker activists intending to sail into the Marshall Islands to stop nuclear weapons testing.

Among those present was the legendary singer John Raitt, star of the stage shows Carousel and Oklahoma, and leading man in the film Pajama Game. His daughter, multiple-Grammy-winner Bonnie Raitt, has carried on the tradition of No Nukes commitment throughout her stellar career.

The 1950s Golden Rule crew of four were arrested before they could get into the test zone. One sailor for peace, Jim Peck, contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned in Honolulu.

But their cause was picked up by another boat, the Hiroshima Phoenix, which did affect the testing. The entire effort contributed mightily to a global disarmament movement that won a lasting atmospheric test ban in 1963. Millions of living creatures (possibly including you) have been saved from death and disease by the halt in radioactive fallout from the US and USSR’s flood of bombs.

The Golden Rule subsequently sank in Humboldt Bay, California. But in 2010 it was rescued by Leroy Zerlang. A crew led by Chuck DeWitt of Veterans for Peace spent five years restoring her to seaworthiness, and the Golden Rule was relaunched on June 20, 2015.

On June 8, 2016, the reborn Golden Rule sailed into Portland, Oregon, to “greet” Fleet Week – an annual maritime invasion of US and Canadian warships meant to put on a public display of military might. This year the warships include a PT boat and numerous other armed vessels.

On Thursday, June 9, the Golden Rule set sail around 1:00 p.m. to travel up the Willamette River. The drizzle was steady. The purpose was to show our colors for peace amidst the fleet week warships.

With the ship moving by motor power, the crew unfurled large red sails featuring its peace sign and the Veterans for Peace logo. Through the gray, chilly chop, the ship sailed peacefully around the men of war. There was no intent to stage a blockade or to do civil disobedience.

In the steady rain, podcasting via cell phone from the ship’s deck, the “Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show” was wet but sustainable. It featured activists Helen Jaccard and Mimi German, who discussed the ship’s history and the movement in the northwest to shut the WPPS2 nuclear power plant, the region’s last operating commercial reactor, which is losing tens of millions of dollars per year.

Finally, while preparing to sail back to dock, the Golden Rule idled behind a drawbridge, waiting for it to rise. Suddenly a Washington County patrol boat with a two-man crew came along our starboard side. The Golden Rule had been peacefully boarded at least once during the day, and there was extensive, cordial communication between us and various police patrols.

But while inexplicably floating right next to the Golden Rule, the Washington County boat suddenly gunned its engine. Neither its lights nor sirens were on. As it turned sharply away, the sharp corner of its rear smacked into the hull of the Golden Rule, about a yard directly below my feet.

“The Sheriff’s Patrol boat made an emergency maneuver to avoid an impending serious collision,” says an official press release. “The port aft of the Sheriff’s Patrol boat collided with the starboard of the sailboat.” The Sheriff’s office says the damage was “minor.”

In a separate statement, the crew of the Golden Rule called the damage “cosmetic” and said, “We were unintentionally ‘hit’ by incompetent Sheriff’s deputies.”

Standing directly above the point where the police boat’s tail smacked into our hull, it wasn’t clear to me what the two officers meant to do, or why they had sailed in choppy waters to sit within just a few feet of us. The officer in the back of the boat in stood in clear view about fifty feet from me. He showed no emotion when his boat hit the Golden Rule. I could not see the driver.

But activists working with the Golden Rule cite ongoing problems. “They decided to come up on us without any warning or signals,” says Jaccard, of Veterans for Peace. “They were not in control of their boat.”

“It was an act of aggression,” says German, of No Nukes NW. “They fucking rammed The Golden Rule peace boat!”

Meanwhile, the ship will be sailing throughout the West Coast promoting the cause of peace.

Some 58 years after its maiden voyage, this legendary little boat is once again at center stage in the global struggle against the nuclear madness.

In a nation bristling with atomic weapons and reactors, where innocent civilians are regularly gunned down en masse, this graceful vessel represents an ark of civility, nonviolence and hope.

Six decades after it first helped stop a bomb-testing program that spewed deadly radiation throughout the atmosphere and threatened all life on Earth, the Golden Rule is back to say that peace is possible … and essential to our survival.

 


 

Harvey Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of Us History can be had via www.solartopia.org. The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, co-written with Bob Fitrakis, is at www.freepress.org.

Southern California May 29th Event! Harvey Wasserman, Bob Fitrakis, Greg Palast & Friends

Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis discuss their new book: THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft – Sunday, May 29, 2016 event with special guests Greg Palast, Bev Harris and Mimi Kennedy

123. Jan and Harvey final Poster for approval (1)

3-6 PM          Sunday          May 29, 2016

Join hosts 

JAN GOODMAN * JERRY MANPEARL * LARRY DILG 

*  LILA GARRETT  *   MYLA RESON * NINA MERSON *

ILENE PROCTOR * FRANCES  FISHER

$20 Donation includes

Memorial Day Hot Dogs, Spicy Sausages, Black Bean Burgers, Vegan Stuff and all the Trimmin’s!

For Location & More Details contact

MYLA RESON — myla.reson@gmail.com (310) 663 -7660

ILENE PROCTOR  ilenepr@sbcglobal.net (310858 6643

 

Michael Marriotte Radio Tribute TODAY

Today’s SOLARTOPIA GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW at  www.prn.fm will honor Michael Marriott.

Our Hero - Michael Marriotte

Our Hero – Michael Marriotte

The show runs from 5-6 pm Eastern time.
We’ll start with Mary Olson and Paul Gunter.  Kevin Kamps will be at the memorial gathering with a cell phone he’ll make available to talk on the show.
After 5:15, if you wish to say a few words, please call 888-874-4888.  We’ll try to accommodate everyone, and produce a document his kids & grandkids will
be proud of.
Michael was a great guy.  It was/is an honor to work with him.
no nukes/4 solartopia….harveyw

We Need the “Ohio Plan” to Stop the “Strip & Flip” of American Elections

booths

By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
21 January 2016

As the 2016 election approaches, we must remember that our electronic voting system as it currently stands is thoroughly rigged. The entire outcome can be flipped with a few late night keystrokes, as was done in Ohio 2004.

This year, at least 80% of the nation’s votes will be cast on electronic machines whose outcome can be altered by a governor and secretary of state with just a few keystrokes, and without detection.

There is a way – we call it “The Ohio Plan” – by which we can attain a fair and reliable vote count.

The Ohio Plan is this:

    1. Voter registration must be universal and automatic for all citizens as they turn 18.

 

    1. Electronic poll books are banned, with all voter registration records maintained manually.

 

    1. All elections happen over a 4-day weekend – Saturday, Sunday, Monday,Tuesday – which together comprise a national holiday, preferably around Veterans Day in November.

 

    1. All voting happens on paper ballots, using recycled or hemp paper.

 

    1. All vote counting is done manually, with ballots preserved at least two years.

 

  1. Polls are run and ballots are counted by the nation’s high school and college students, who will get the days off and be paid a “scholarship” for their work at $15/hour.

Part One of the Ohio Plan is to guarantee all citizens are registered to vote when they turn 18. Postage-free mail-in forms are available at schools, post offices, driver’s license bureaus, etc.

Today millions of Americans, mostly of color, are being wrongfully denied their right to register, with decisive partisan impacts dating at least to Florida 2000.

Part Two of the Ohio Plan requires that these registration records be maintained on paper logbooks that will be present at the voting precincts on election day.

The great investigative reporter Greg Palast has reported that a proprietary computer program being used by the GOP is center stage in the purging of countless voters in more than a dozen states as you read this. Those being stripped of their right to vote are mostly African-American and Hispanic, as well as students and the elderly.

Stripping at least 90,000 such voters in Florida 2000 was key to putting George W. Bush in the White House for the first time. His official margin was less than 600 votes. More than 300,000 voters were stripped from electronic logbooks in urban, largely Democratic areas of Ohio prior to the 2004 election, which was officially given to George W. Bush by less than 119,000 votes.

Under the Ohio Plan, all voter registration rolls must be maintained on paper files with double-blind multi-partisan supervision (to include Greens and other minority parties as well as the Democrats and Republicans) to guarantee they are not illegally purged in the lead-up to Election Day.

Part Three of the Ohio Plan requires our elections include extensive voting hours over a full four-day weekend, including Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Vote counting should begin as the polls close on Tuesday.

The Constitution requires voting happen the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, i.e. sometime between November 2 and November 8. But Tuesday is a work day, and millions of working Americans are deprived of their vote due to employment requirements. By extending access to the polls over a four-day holiday weekend we guarantee access to the millions who work as well as those who don’t.

Part Four of the Ohio Plan is to require all voting be done on paper ballots.

Electronic machines as currently constituted are virtually all corporate-owned. Courts have ruled the software is proprietary, meaning even the election boards that buy or lease the machines cannot verify the outcome. Internet voting is also impossible to verify. Thus our elections can be easily flipped with a few keystrokes by shadowy operatives, and without open public verification, as happened in Florida 2000, Ohio 2004 and elsewhere.

Germany, Ireland, Romania, Japan and Canada all conduct their elections on hand-counted paper ballots. Ours should be printed on recycled paper or paper made with hemp grown in the United States.

Part Five of the Ohio Plan requires that the ballots be hand-counted and preserved under federal protection for at least two years. Recounts are automatic, no matter what the apparent margin of victory, at public expense.

Part Six of the Ohio Plan provides for the nation’s polls to be run by our high school and college students, and for them to do the vote counting. They will be given time off from school to participate in this great civics lesson, and be paid at the level of any American city or state’s highest minimum wage, at this point $15/hour.

The provision for universal automatic voter registration has been endorsed by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders has endorsed the requirement of universal hand-counted paper ballots, as has more than 90% of the American public.

It should be understood that the ongoing electronic stripping of our poll books, as reported by Greg Palast, has already eliminated hundreds of thousands of American voters, most of them people of color.

The way things stand in 2016 with electronic vote counting, there is no paper trail, no transparency and no public verification. The Information Technology companies with the state contracts to tally most US elections have full control over the outcome, with no public scrutiny or recourse.

Thus the election of 2016 is likely to be decided by a tiny handful of governors, secretaries of state and computer operators in the deep hours of election night, with no verification or recourse available to the public, and no necessary connection to how the public actually voted.

We support strict regulation of campaign financing. But without the mechanics of reliably registering our citizens to vote and guaranteeing an open, public, verified vote count, all else is moot.

We hope at least that much can be dealt with by Election Day 2016, lest it more accurately be known, once again, as Corporate Selection Day.

===========================================

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are election protection activists. Bob & Harvey’s “The Sixth Jim Crow: Electronic Election Protection & The 2016 Strip/Flip Selection” is available at www.freepress.org and www.solartopia.org along with six other books on election protection.  “Harvey’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History” is coming soon.

======================================

cross posted at Reader Supported News

Copyright © 2016 solartopia, All rights reserved.
news from no nukes/solartopia
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Will the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Election?

By Harvey Wasserman, Mimi Kennedy and Bob Fitrakis

rep pres hopefuls

t is midnight, Election Day, 2016.

The votes (80% of them electronic) have been cast all across the United States. Except in Hawaii, the voting stations are now closed.

By all credible calculations, the Democratic presidential candidate (Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton) has won a solid victory in the public vote. All polls have shown a strong national margin. A solid majority of the key swing states have gone to the Democrats, giving them an apparent victory in the Electoral College.

With that have come solid advances in the US Senate and House races, plus major gains in statehouses and local elections across the board.

Divisions among the Republicans, shifting demographics, revulsion against the concentration of wealth, gun issues, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, climate chaos, green issues, and a wide range of other factors are generally viewed as the key reasons for the Democratic sweep.

But as of midnight, the Electoral College could still be flipped by six key swing states where there are Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state. Those states are Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona. Taken in tandem they have more than enough electoral votes to swing the presidency, and enough clout to decide who will control the US Senate and much of the House.

In each of these “decider” states, the governor and secretary of state control how the election is administered, and how the votes are counted and reported.

In the lead-up to Election Day, millions of African-American, Hispanic, elderly and young voters (especially college students) have been systematically purged from the voter rolls. Without those purges, far more than just these six major swing states would be in play.

Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and other GOP multi-billionaires have poured in limitless dark money millions. The corporate media has duly reported the usual late “shift in momentum” to the Republicans.

But even that has not been enough. The people have spoken.

From Tallahassee to Raleigh to Columbus, Lansing, Des Moines and Phoenix, the governors and secretaries meet quietly and alone with a shadowy third party – their chief of Information Technology. They know full well how the popular vote has gone, and what the consequences might be.

So they ask the IT expert what can be done about it.

The expert tells them what they already know: that the electronic voting machines from which the official vote count must now be extracted are owned by private corporations, nearly all of them with strong Republican roots. The courts have ruled that the source code is proprietary.

There have been various feints loudly staged to simulate a paper trail. They’re meant for public consumption. Any recount in any of these states is pre-rigged to be a sham.

In fact, as in Ohio 2004, there is no way for the public or the media or the Democrats or international monitoring agencies or anyone else on this Earth to definitively monitor or verify how the American people have actually voted in 2016.

So the question is asked: having already stripped the voter rolls, how long will it now take to flip the outcome?

The IT expert gives the obvious answer: about 60 seconds, maybe less. Not only the presidency but control of the Congress, statehouses, state legislatures and much more can be flipped in tandem.

In the process, the expert says, it’s customary to plant media stories of “glitches” in the voting process that will delay the reporting of the vote count. In Ohio 2004 the flipping process was stretched from 12:20 am to 2 am, during which John Kerry’s 4.2% margin of victory became a 2.5% George W. Bush margin of victory, giving him a second term.

But the process is clear, simple and long-since prearranged. Funded by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the vast majority of America’s electronic voting machines date back at least a decade. Many can be flipped at the precinct level by operatives driving by with WIFI apparatus. In other cases, “technicians” from the voting machine companies have already recalibrated the tabulators while Election Day was in progress, or immediately after.

So the months of campaigning, endless media bloviation, and millions in campaign expenditures can all be funneled down to about a minute of one hired hacker doing a few quick keystrokes that no one will ever be able to fully unearth or overturn.

All that’s then needed as follow-up is to adjust the pre-election exit polls, which are usually extremely accurate, to match the official vote count, which will have been flipped by 2 or 3 am. (Sooner or later, such polling will be banned altogether).

In the meantime, in this dark post-democracy night, there is a pause. Each IT expert asks each governor and secretary of state in each of these key swing states what they wish done. And how much the Koch Brothers will be paying them to do it.

See if you can guess the answer.

And then look for what to do about this in our upcoming articles, along with Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s “The Sixth Jim Crow: Electronic Election Theft & The Strip/Flip Selection of 2016,” all due out in 2016.

Mimi’s Action Tips:

First learn your state’s laws and voting systems on The Verifier. Then visit National Election Integrity Coalition or Black Box Voting for ideas for action based on your voting system. Definitely be a poll worker. You’ll learn your system’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Who services machines when they fail? Are many voters forced to vote provisionally? Why? Is it a problem that can be corrected before the General Election? Ask to tour your county elections office. If you’re denied, ask why, and publicize the answer. Observation deters crime. Ask to observe the count. If told you’re obstructing well-run elections, bravo! You and your election officials are on common ground. You both want well-run elections – which require public oversight! Finally, learn to hand-count ballots. Copy an online template or ask for your county’s sample test ballot. Copy a dozen of those and vote them randomly. Copy that dozen to a precinct-sized batch (about 300) then go to People Demanding Action and follow the instructions. You are not a Luddite. You’re learning the election equivalent of jury duty – by which democracy will be regained.

 


Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are election protection activists.

This article was originally published by Reader Supported News: Link

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