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WILL LANDMARK COURT DECISION SPEED DIABLO’S DEMISE?

http://ecowatch.com/2015/02/24/court-ruling-diablo-nukes-demise/

Landmark Federal Court Decision: Will It Speed Diablo Nuke’s Demise?

Harvey Wasserman | February 24, 2015
New revelations about earthquake dangers have shaken the future of California’s Diablo Canyon nukes.

In a rare move, Washington DC’s Federal U.S. Court of Appeals will hear a landmark challenge to their continued operation.
California’s two remaining reactors are surrounded by more than a dozen seismic fault lines. The Shoreline fault runs within 600-700 yards of the Diablo cores, which also sit just 45 miles from the massive San Andreas fault—half Fukushima’s distance from the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it. Photo credit: San Francisco Citizen
The suit says Diablo’s owners illegally conspired with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to weaken seismic standards. “This is a big victory,” says Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth. “The public has a right to know what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric won’t admit—hundreds of thousands of people are put at immediate risk by earthquake danger at Diablo Canyon.”

Diablo is also vulnerable on state and federal water quality regulations, economic concerns and more. Citizen activism has also shut operating reactors at Humboldt, Rancho Seco and San Onofre. Proposed projects have been cancelled at Bodega Bay and Bakersfield.

California’s two remaining reactors are surrounded by more than a dozen seismic fault lines. The Shoreline fault runs within 600-700 yards of the Diablo cores, which also sit just 45 miles from the massive San Andreas fault—half Fukushima’s distance from the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it.

The two 1,100-plus megawatt Diablo nukes overlook a Pacific tsunami zone, nine miles southwest of San Luis Obispo. Since the 1980s they’ve hosted some 10,000 arrests—more than any other U.S. site.

U.S. courts generally treat the nuclear industry as a law unto itself and rarely question NRC proceedings.

But in this case, says Friend of the Earth’s S. David Freeman, “PG&E’s recent study revealed that the earthquake threat at Diablo Canyon, as measured by its original license, could be far greater than that for which the reactors were designed. So PG&E and the NRC secretly amended the license to relax the safety requirements.”

Freeman is former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Dr. Michael Peck, the NRC’s own chief seismic expert, warned that the Diablo reactors could not meet seismic safety standards. Peck was then transferred to NRC offices in Chattanooga.

The case follows a successful FOE filing showing that the NRC conspired with Southern California Edison to ignore steam generator violations at San Onofre. Amidst a massive grassroots upheaval, San Onofre was officially shut in 2013 (similar violations at Ohio’s Davis-Besse reactor have had little impact).

Safe energy activists staged major January gatherings in San Luis Obispo and San Francisco. A “Don’t Frack/Nuke Our Earth” conference may soon follow in the Bay Area.

Earthquake issues are not the only ones poised to doom Diablo.

The two reactors dump huge quantities of hot wastewater directly into the ocean. They’re out of compliance with state and federal water quality standards. So PG&E might soon be required by state law to build cooling towers, with cost estimates ranging from $2 billion to $14 billion.

The state Water Resources Control Board may meet on the issue this spring. The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace and others ask the public to write the board and attend its next public hearing.

If required to build those towers, which might take years to do, PG&E would ask the California Public Utilities Commission to make the public pay for them. A vehement grassroots opposition would instantly erupt.

PG&E is much hated. Its negligence caused a 2010 gas explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno. Huge state and federal fines, criminal indictments and visceral public contempt have followed.

The CPUC is also under public fire amidst an astonishing array of scandals and law-breaking. Former chair Michael Peevey has retired in disgrace and faces a series of indictments for conspiring in secret with the utilities he was meant to regulate.

PG&E currently makes money at Diablo, says attorney John Geesman, “Only because ratepayers guarantee it against market price levels—nuclear power in states where prices are set by competitive markets are either closing (e.g., Vermont Yankee, Kewaunee, etc.) or going to the legislatures and seeking sweetheart subsidies (e.g., Illinois).” Forcing Diablo to actually compete in the marketplace would throw it into the red … and maybe out of business.

Amidst all that chaos, a requirement to pay for cooling towers might force Diablo shut. Parallel issues have erupted in New Jersey (a 2017 closure was negotiated at Oyster Creek), New York (Indian Point), Florida (Turkey Point) and elsewhere.

Draft shutdown resolutions are now circulating among cities, towns and counties in PG&E territory. A similar wave of endorsements helped force the two reactors at San Onofre to close.

A ratepayer revolt is also being organized by Code Pink’s Cynthia Papermaster. With PG&E customers withholding all or part of their bill, the potential economic impacts could be incalculable.

Diablo’s current license is set to expire by 2024. PG&E has begun the re-licensing process, but has missed key deadlines, prompting speculation they may give up.

According to intervenor sources, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) has equal standing with the NRC on the license renewal. PG&E is late with answers to six pages of the CCC’s questions. Public comment period at the commission’s open meetings begins at 9 a.m.

The California Energy Commission has a bi-annual scoping review upcoming in Sacramento. The CEC addresses California’s energy future, aiming for a reliable supply. It lacks “direct regulatory authority over whether the plant continues to operate,” says Geesman. But its recommendations are “taken very seriously” and “have resulted in legislation,” according to another source close to the process. The CEC is “very public-friendly and very important” with five commissioners “who listen.”

The Diablo Canyon Independent Peer Review Committee and the Independent Safety Committee may also play a role, and are open to public testimony.

A constant flow of Diablo-related legislation is expected in the coming months.

A possible state-wide initiative could require cooling towers and make the utility pay for them, or take up waste issues, or the seismic issue, or force a strong feed-in tariff to support the conversion to renewables.

Just under 400,000 signatures would be needed to get on the 2016 ballot. Doing that and then actually winning the vote would be a daunting task.

But to head off a 1976 ballot measure, the legislature passed an effective ban on new nuke construction. The ballot measure then failed, but the ban remains in place.

California also has a powerful anti-fracking movement that parallels its No Nukes campaign. A joint May conference in San Francisco may launch a unified green push.

With combined grassroots forces pushing on water, seismic, regulatory, economic and other issues … through the legislature, NRC, courts, Water Board, Coastal Commission, CPUC and other agencies … with creative lobbying and activism, a resolution campaign, rate revolt, initiative process and more … California is poised to make itself nuke free.

Will that happen before the next catastrophe?

The answer will come from the people of California … now maybe with a boost from the courts.

Harvey Wasserman edits NukFree.org and hosts the Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show. He wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.

OHIO’S CRUMBLING HUNK OF RADIOACTIVE JUNK

http://ecowatch.com/2015/02/14/ohioans-pay-bill-keep-davis-besse-alive/

OHIO’S CRUMBLING HUNK OF RADIOACTIVE JUNK

Harvey Wasserman WWW.ECOWATCH.COM

As the world’s nuke reactors begin to crumble and fall, the danger of a major disaster is escalating at the decrepit Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio.

Now the plant’s owners are asking the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to force the public to pay billions of dollars over the next 15 years to subsidize reactor operations.

But Davis-Besse’s astonishing history of near-miss disasters defies belief. Its shoddy construction, continual operator error and relentless owner incompetence would not be believed as fiction, let alone as the stark realities of a large commercial reactor operating in a heavily populated area.
Time and again Davis-Besse has come within a fraction of an inch and an hour of crisis management time. Today its critical shield wall is literally crumbing, with new cracks opening up every time the northern Ohio weather freezes (like this week).

The company’s owners have blacked out the entire Northeast including 50 million customers—the largest such disaster in world history.

They allowed boric acid to eat within 3/16th of an inch of a Chernobyl-scale disaster that would’ve permanently irradiated the Great Lakes region. They have set the record for fines by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and continue to drain billions of ratepayer dollars from Ohio’s bleeding economy.

Now they want those ratepayers to fork over billions more to keep this reactor running beyond the brink.

Hear about Davis-Besse’s astonishing story, by listening to this incredible hour-long interview with local attorney Terry Lodge and Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, along with Tim Judson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, three of the key expert activists working to get Davis-Besse shutdown.

Many wild stories have been told about atomic power over the decades, but it’s hard to top the true tales from Davis-Besse. In this case, hearing is believing—and holding your head in dismay:

http://greenpowerwellnessshow.podbean.com/

If you want Davis-Besse shut write the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio at docketing@puc.state.oh.us. Use this label in the subject line of the email, as well as the body of the email message, so PUCO can route the public comments to the correct proceeding: OPPOSITION COMMENT UNDER CASE # 14-1297-EL-SSO.

At Last! A Frack/Nuke Alliance!!

 

Our Earth is being destroyed by fracking and nukes.

These two vampire technologies suck the energy out of our planet while permanently poisoning our air, water, food and livelihoods.

The human movements fighting them have been largely separate over the years.

No more.
Listen to the passionate hour-long dialog on saving our Earth with long-time anti-fracking activist David Braun who speaks with Linda Seeley of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the legendary grassroots group that has fought Diablo Canyon for more than four decades.
In the wake of Fukushima, the global campaign to bury atomic power has gained enormous strength. All Japan’s 54 reactors remain shut. Germany is amping up its renewable energy generation with a goal of 80 percent or more by 2050. Four U.S. reactors under construction are far over budget and behind schedule. Five old ones have closed in the last two years.

In New England and elsewhere, as the old nukes go down, safe energy activists shift their attention to the deadly realities of fossil fuel extraction.

The issues are familiar. Fracking in particular poisons our water and spews out huge quantities of lethal radiation. Ironically, in Ohio and elsewhere, the seismic instability it creates threatens atomic reactors still in operation.

In California, the burgeoning movement to shut the two remaining nukes at Diablo Canyon has run parallel with the powerful grassroots opposition to fracking. In both cases, water issues in this drought-plagued state have moved front and center.

Now the gap is being bridged. In a passionate hour-long dialog on saving our Earth, long-time anti-fracking activist David Braun speaks with Linda Seeley of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the legendary grassroots group that has fought Diablo Canyon for more than four decades.

In their Solartopian radio conversation, and in a call to convene this coming spring, we see the seeds of an intertwined alliance that can help save our Earth:

http://prn.fm/solartopia-green-power-wellness-hour-02-03-15/

OHIO’S ANTI-GREEN SUICIDE

Swing state Ohio is plunging ever deeper into the fossil/nuke abyss.

Its Public Utilities Commission may soon gouge the public for $3 billion(BILLION!) to subsidize two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and America’s most dangerous nuke.

Approval would seal Ohio’s death notice.
Ohioans speak out against the $3 billion bailout to subsidize coal plants and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant owned by its unregulated affiliate, FirstEnergy Solutions. Photo credit: Ohio Citizen Action
None of those coal/nuke burners can compete with the rising revolution in renewable energy. Throughout the world, similar outmoded facilities are shutting down.

In 2001, Ohio deregulated its electric markets. But the state’s nuke owners demanded nearly $10 billion in “stranded cost” handouts so the obsolete Davis-Besse and Perry reactors on Lake Erie could allegedly compete with more efficient technologies.

Today, despite the huge subsidies, renewables and fracked gas have completely priced them out of the market.

Davis-Besse—a Three Mile Island clone—is infamous worldwide for its horrific breakdowns, including two of the five worst in U.S. history since 1979 as listed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In 2002 a boric acid leak was found to have eaten nearly all the way through its reactor pressure vessel. A Chernobyl-sized disaster was missed by a fraction of an inch. The ensuing fines comprise the biggest in NRC annals. The $600 million spent on replacement power could have funded an opening transition to a renewable economy. Instead, fires, operator error and chronic malfunctions continue to define Davis-Besse’s public-sponsored dotage.

Designed in the 1960s and opened in the late 1970s, Davis-Besse threatens the entire Great Lakes region. Unique in all the world, another dead nuke’s vessel closure head (from Midland, Michigan) was pasted in, failed, and was then replaced yet again within a ramshackle shell now thoroughly cut, cracked and compromised by cold weather, malfeasance, uncaring incompetence and more.

In short, Davis-Besse is being run by owners who believe—with good reason—that they can get away with anything.

Perhaps that’s because, should it blow, FirstEnergy is shielded by federal law from virtually all liability for downwind financial, ecological and human health damage, which would be incalculable.

So now the company wants the public pay still more billions to keep Davis-Besse operating, no matter the consequences.

The demand epitomizes Ohio’s technological, economic and ecological demise.

Republican Governor John Kasich’s first act upon taking office in 2011 was to kill a $400 million federal grant meant to restore passenger rail service linking Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Virtually unique among the western world’s capital cities, the last passenger train left Columbus in 1979.

The project would have created hundreds of jobs while reviving depressed communities along the route. A Wall Street multi-millionaire, Kasich has instead lavished public cash on the state’s obsolete highway system. Meanwhile the corporate-owned legislature has fought the sale ofTesla electric cars.

In 2008, Ohio adopted one of America’s most advanced green energy programs. Its sophisticated array of targets and incentives sparked a clean energy boom. Millions of private investment dollars began pouring in for massive wind, solar and conservation projects. As in Germany’s transition to green power, Ohio energy prices were poised to plummet along with greenhouse gases and radioactive waste. Thousands of jobs were on the drawing boards.

But as Koch-funded Republicans took control of the state in 2010, Ohio became the first American state to roll back its green power program. Rampant fracking has brought increasedseismic activity and destroyed much of the state’s drinking water. Ohio’s ancient coal burners are being propped up with public cash. Its dying nukes—Perry was the first U.S. reactor to be damaged by an earthquake—continue to operate at huge public danger and expense.

In Illinois, New York, California, Michigan and elsewhere, the nuclear industry is demanding public cash to keep rickety, uncompetitive reactors in operation. But Ohio is unique for its across-the-board assault on green energy, passenger rail service, electric cars, fossil-fueled green house gases and common sense about reactor radiation, safety and heat emissions.

Ohio’s PUC will soon decide on this latest scam to squander still more public money on its cancerous fleet of fossil/nuke dinosaurs.

If they cave once again to the corporate interests, you can officially consign the Buckeye State to the radioactive ash heap of failed technological, ecological and economic history.

Based in central Ohio, Harvey Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and edits nukefree.org. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at prn.fm.

CHARLIE HEBDO & NUCLEAR TERROR

Terror Attack on Charlie Hebdo Ignites Fear of Global Nuclear Disaster

 | EcoWatch

The powerful global response to the terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo must now face a terrifying reality: It’s a horrible thing when an organ of free speech is assaulted and journalists die.

It will be an apocalyptic thing when it happens to an atomic reactor and whole continents are irradiated, with children first to suffer, a death toll in the millions and eco-economic impacts beyond calculation.


Slain cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were allies of anti-nuclear movement. Here’s a cover from the September-October 2012 issue of Charlie Hebdo.

For decades our global security apparatus and its attendant media mavens have pretended that the radioactive elephant in the room of global terror does not exist. But after Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, 9/11, Charlie Hebdo and so much more, a terrible reality has become all too clear.

We have seen four American-designed reactors explode and three melt at a single Japanese site. A severely escalated thyroid cancer rate has followed, with more health disasters yet to come. Some two dozen sibling GE reactors currently operate in the U.S.

We have seen an entire continent—and more—irradiated by Chernobyl, with at least one major study calculating well over a million downwind deaths. Chernobyl-style reactors still operate in Europe.

We have seen a U.S. reactor rocked by a 1979 hydrogen explosion and melt-down (repeatedly denied by its owners) that poured still-unknown quantities of radiation into the Pennsylvania countryside.

Today, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission is poised to force ratepayers to subsidize the fault-riddled Davis-Besse nuke—a Three Mile Island clone—with millions of gouged dollars to keep it running despite profound vulnerability to its own advanced deterioration and the absolute impossibility of protecting it from a possible terror attack.

It has long been established that the accused 9/11 attackers contemplated hitting the reactors atIndian Point, 35 miles up the Hudson from Manhattan.

Neither U.S. military nor local police forces could not have stopped such an attack, which could have poisoned millions of people in the American northeast and gutted the entire U.S. ecology and economy.

Worldwide there are more than 430 commercial reactors still operating. There are more than 50 in France, just under 100 in the U.S.

Not one of them can be effectively guarded against a concerted terror attack. Each could spew massive radiation releases and do untold damage to the human race, the planetary ecology, the global economy.

Every serious student of terrorism knows that such an attack is merely a matter of time. Every serious expert on atomic reactors knows the potential human costs simply cannot be calculated.

It’s impossible for a sane world to comprehend why someone would want to attack one of these reactors.

But it’s impossible to deny that there are probably those right now contemplating how to do just that.

Perfectly protecting these reactors is impossible. But their owners are almost entirely shielded from liability from the consequences of such an attack.

And the fallout would utterly dwarf any other catastrophe the world has yet seen.

We now have the ability to replace all these reactors with renewable sources and added efficiencies that are cheaper, cleaner, more reliable and—above all—safer than atomic reactors.

No city will be irradiated by an attack on a wind farm. No downwind children will die from a terrorist machine-gunning at a solar facility.

All across the world, from Illinois and Ohio to France and Japan, corrupt corporate reactor owners demand public subsidies to keep these obsolete, non-competitive, supremely dangerous machines in operation.

But in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and of so much else we now know about today’s world, there’s no excuse for running these reactors—anywhere.

Why must we wait for the inevitable disaster to occur, and for the talking heads to then tell us that such insanity “could not have been predicted?” And that there is “nothing to worry about?”

Charlie Hebdo was an anti-nuclear publication. Its cartoons repeatedly lampooned the horrible dangers of this insane technology.

Its warnings now bear an added dimension, far deeper than the atomic industry—or the world’s leaders—seem willing to face.

As millions march in fear and mourning, will we now ignore Charlie twice? Are you willing to pay the next radioactive price?

Or will you act, and shut them all down?

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and has reported on security risks at nuclear reactors since the 1970s.

Activists Permanently Shut Vermont Nuke

Activists Permanently Shut Down Vermont Yankee Nuke Plant Today

 

Ecowatch.com

hwassermanThe Vermont Yankee atomic reactor goes permanently off-line today, Dec. 29, 2014. Citizen activists have made it happen. The number of licensed U.S. commercial reactors is now under 100 where once it was to be 1,000.

Decades of hard grassroots campaigning by dedicated, non-violent nuclear opponents, working for a Solartopian green-powered economy, forced this reactor’s corporate owner to bring it down.

vy2600
Vermont Yankee is the fifth American reactor forced shut in the last two years.

Entergy says it shut Vermont Yankee because it was losing money. Though fully amortized, it could not compete with the onslaught of renewable energy and fracked-gas. Throughout the world, nukes once sold as generating juice “too cheap to meter” comprise a global financial disaster. Even with their capital costs long-ago stuck to the public, these radioactive junk heaps have no place in today’s economy—except as illegitimate magnets for massive handouts.

So in Illinois and elsewhere around the U.S., their owners demand that their bought and rented state legislators and regulators force the public to eat their losses. Arguing for “base load power” or other nonsensical corporate constructs, atomic corporations are gouging the public to keep these radioactive jalopies sputtering along.

Such might have been the fate of Vermont Yankee had it not been for citizen opposition. Opened in the early 1970s, Vermont Yankee was the northern tip of clean energy’s first “golden triangle.” Down the Connecticut River, grassroots opposition successfully prevented two reactors from being built at Montague, Massachusetts, where the term “No Nukes” was coined. A weather tower was toppled, films were made, books were written, demonstrations staged and an upwelling of well-organized grassroots activism helped nurture a rising global movement.

A bit to the southwest, in the early 1990s, it shut the infamous Yankee Rowe reactor, which had been hit by lightening and could not pass a verifiable test of its dangerously embrittled core.

But Vermont Yankee persisted. Entergy, a “McNuke” operator based in New Orleans, bought Yankee from its original owners about a dozen years ago. It signed a complex series of agreements with the state. Then it trashed them to keep Vermont Yankee spiraling ever-downward.

But hard-core organizers like Deb Katz’s Citizen Awareness Network never let up. Working through a network of natonal, state and local campaigns, the safe energy movement has finally forced Entergy to flip the off switch.

Protestors hold signs during a vigil to support the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant at the Statehouse Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Protestors support the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant at the Statehouse in January 2012 in Montpelier, Vermont.

Vermont Yankee is the fifth American reactor forced shut in the last two years. Two at San Onofre, California, were defeated by citizen activism. Wisconsin’s Kewaunee went down for economic reasons. Crystal River in Florida was driven to utter chaos by incompetent ownership.

Five reactors are officially under construction in the U.S. But their fate is also subject to citizen action. Two others targeted for Levy County, Florida, have recently been stopped by ratepayer resistance.

Throughout the U.S. and the world, the demise of atomic energy is accelerating. Some 435 reactors are listed worldwide as allegedly operable. But 48 in Japan remain shut in the wake of Fukushima despite the fierce efforts of a corrupt, dictatorial regime to force them back on line. Germany’s transition to a totally nuke-free green energy economy is exceeding expectations. The fate of dozens proposed and operating in China and India remains unclear.

But the clock on the inevitable next disaster is ticking. Cancer rates and thyroid problems around Fukushima continue to accelerate. Massive reactors like California’s Diablo Canyon and Indian Point, New York, are surrounded by volatile earthquake faults that could reduce them to seething piles of apocalyptic rubble, killing countless thousands downwind, gutting the global economy.

Every reactor shutdown represents an avoided catastrophe of the greatest magnitude.  As the takeoff of cheap, clean, safe and reliable Solartopian technology accelerates, greedy reactor owners struggle to squeeze the last few dimes out of increasingly dangerous old nukes for which they ultimately will take no responsibility. Vermont Yankee alone could require 60 years for basic clean-up. Fierce debate rages over what to do with thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel rods.

It remains unclear where the money will ultimately come from to try to decontaminate these sites, but clearly they are all destined to be dead zones.

As will the planet as a whole were it not for victories like this one in Vermont. This weekend the No Nukes community will celebrate this accursed reactor’s final demise.

Many hundreds more such celebrations must follow—soon!

Harvey Wasserman edits NukeFree.org and works to shut all Vermont Yankee’s mutant siblings so Solartopia can take root.

 

the Spiral of US History: Preliminary Video

The Brown/Garner Killings are about a Larger State of Official Terror

 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

Pastor Martin Niemoller, speaking about Nazi Germany

 

 

First, they’ve come for the people of color.

 

America’s police forces increasingly serve as a a private corporate army, beyond the reach of the law.

 

But our nation is distracted by race.  And millions of white Americans are under the illusion that what was done to Michael Brown and Eric Garner can’t happen to them.

 

These un-prosecuted killings of African-American men go way beyond racial prejudice.

 

They are the calling card of an Orwellian state:

 

America’s founders established grand juries to protect citizens from frivolous prosecution.  But today’s corporate state has twisted the system to protect killer police from public scrutiny, putting them above the law.

 

 

The ultimate message is clear:  police can kill American citizens without cause and face no public trial.  (Steven Rosenfeld lays out the details at Alternet http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/10-ways-system-rigged-protect-cops-who-kill )

 

The current focus is on skin color.  Thankfully, Americans throughout the US have risen up in protest, demanding social justice and an end to racism.

 

But the larger issue is a police apparatus now inflicting random terror in service of a corporate state that has mutated far beyond public control.

 

We are still being assaulted by a cynical 40-year drug war used to disenfranchise and violate the basic rights of millions of Americans with no real recourse.

 

In the name of that drug war, and the one on terror, police randomly confiscate (steal) billions in cash from citizens of all races, in direct violation of the Bill of Rights and any sense of a real legal system.  Police departments use these officially sanctioned armed robberies to help fund heavy war-time weaponry also coming to them as “surplus” from the federal military.

 

Citizens of color, the young, the poor and the elderly are being systematically stripped of the right to vote by a modern electronic Jim Crow.  The dominance of a corporate one-party system is furthered by the use of privately-owed, easily-rigged electronic voting machines.   .

 

The NSA and other official agencies are spying on us without restraint.

 

Our ability to communicate through an open, neutral internet is also under attack.  Meanwhile a San Diego rapper with no record of violence has been charged with multiple “crimes” based on his lyrics.  As anger with America’s billionaire elite spreads, we can certainly expect the counter-attacks on open speech to escalate.

That the victims of these latest police killings are most often men of color is tragic.  It also gives the corporate media the perfect distraction behind which to hide the root problem.

 

Throughout our history, race has been the reliably lethal facade for all sorts of political repression.  It’s the hate-filled poison perfectly designed to divide and distract us.

 

The sickness is real enough.  But the ultimate cancer we face is the rise of an all-powerful corporate state and its iron grip on a violent, unaccountable private army licensed to kill—no matter what the race or cause—while knowing that the once-sacred right to a public trial does not apply to them.  Should the attacks on the internet succeed, we’ll also be hearing less and less about them.

 

Thus we are all in the shoes of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  Those who think themselves somehow above it all by virtue of race or class are simply not paying attention.

 

Unless we rise up to secure social justice and our basic legal rights, we’re all just a single cop away from being as dead as the very latest victim of official violence… at any time, for no reason, with no recourse.

 

—————–

HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at www.solartopia.org along with SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH.  His upcoming book is THE SPIRAL OF US HISTORY.

 

Can We Ever Recover from the Murder of John Kennedy?

 

Can We Ever Recover from the Murder of John Kennedy?

The images we ingest never cease to shape us.

Just 51 years ago, the head of a profoundly gifted young man was blown apart.

A few months earlier he’d given a speech that promised a new dawn.

He reached out to our enemies. He talked of going to the moon, of technological breakthrough and human promise. And he stopped the radioactive madness of atmospheric Bomb testing, a reason many of us are alive today.

It’s easy to idealize John Kennedy.

jfk

We still debate what he might have done in Vietnam.

But since the war did escalate, and we know the horrible costs to us all, then the possibility that he might have gotten us out gnaws at our soul.

So does not being sure about who actually killed him.

And then there’s the horror of the moment itself. A fellow human, blown apart before our eyes.

It hurts to think about it. To write about it. How can sorrow not reign in our hearts over this terrible human image that so deeply  defines us?

As a nation, we still feel the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Having won a Constitutional Amendment to end slavery, he was the only one to smooth the transition from civil war to progressive peace. We still pay for losing him.

And for the image of a good man, seated happily in a theater, next to his wife … as a time for healing is unbearably shattered by a bullet to the head.

Russia never really recovered after Alexander II, a rare reformist czar, was murdered in 1881 while moving his nation toward a democratic constitution.

Michael Collins was a violent Irish revolutionary who turned to peace amidst a horrendous civil war.

Could he have ended it? All we know is the Troubles dragged on a ghastly seven decades after he was shot.

Mahatma Gandhi led the world’s first successful nonviolent anti-imperial campaign, then fasted nearly to the death to help halt a Hindu-Muslim civil war.

Then he was shot. And what is the outcome?

Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin were also murdered. And what’s come since?

In America … Medgar Evers and Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy … and then John Lennon.

Around the world, names we don’t know. Faces we haven’t seen. Social movements crushed, freedoms lost, good people killed (too often by our own government) deadening the soul.

And who is next? Does all this mean activists of great heart and artists for social change inevitably court a death sentence?

It’s long been clear, for a wide variety of reasons, that we cannot rely on “great leaders” to save our world for us.

But can our minds and souls ever recover from such horrible images repeatedly rammed into our brains?

Lynn Stuart Parramore has written with brilliance at AlterNet about the traumas we all face in today’s America.

In their wake, we are being poisoned by a ghastly, malignant class of zombie corporations somehow granted human rights and no human responsibilities.

They have gutted the Democratic Party and seized our government.

Their cancer is of injustice, cynicism, pollution and war.

Avoidable poverty, racism for the hell of it, a gutted democracy, eco-suicide for private profit, perpetual war for its own sake … they all metastasize to feed the corporate tumor.

Another election has been bought, rigged, stolen and lynched. The internet is endangered. Likewise our civil liberties.

So do we turn our heads “until the darkness goes”?

Or do we face the unthinkable head-on, and refuse to blink (except momentarily—we all need a break from time to time) at what we see?

Somehow we have survived since John Kennedy was killed. Kids have been born … and so have social movements … along with many surprising twists of fate.

We are winning a culture war barely begun in 1963.

Silent Spring had just been published. An avid sailor, we don’t know how JFK might have interacted with a nascent environmental movement.

But born it was. A half-century later, Solartopian technologies are poised to green-power our economy. We have the means to survive in harmony with our Mother Earth.

But can we muster the political power to cure our corporate cancer?

Richard Nixon has come and gone. So have Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Now “Hope and Change” join them in the compost of history. They came too cheap. They meant too little.

Apparently we have more lessons to learn, more inner strength to build.

Departed friend, whoever you might have become, whatever you might have done, you have left us no choice.

The better angels of our souls now demand that we ask not what our planet can do for us …

HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at www.solartopia.org, along with SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. In 1960, he saw John Kennedy speak on the steps of the Ohio statehouse.

How the GOP Bought, Rigged, Stole & Lynched the 2014 Election

How the GOP Bought, Rigged, Stole and Lynched the 2014 Election

 

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

 

Freepress.org/Solartopia.org

 

first in a series

 

 

Since the Bush-Cheney-Rove theft of the 2000 election in Florida, the right of millions of American citizens to vote and have that vote counted has been under constant assault.

 

In 2014, that systematic disenfranchisement may well have delivered the US Senate to the Republican Party. If nothing significant is done about it by 2016, we can expect the GOP to take the White House and much more.

 

The primary victims of this GOP-led purge have been young, elderly, poor and citizens of color who tend to vote Democratic. The denial of their votes has changed the face of our government, and is deepening corporate control of our lives and planet.

 

There’s no doubt the Democrats have alienated their core constituency and given millions of their former supporters little reason to vote. Perpetual war, blank checks for mega-banks, stiffing the working poor while giving away the planet to the rich—-these are all part of the malaise.

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Our political landscape is currently defined by corporate personhood and its gutting of the Democratic Party.

 

Part of that is the destruction of our electoral rights, and the refusal of the Democrats to even face the issue, let alone do something about it. Our voting system is, to put it mildly, bought and rigged, further feeding the deadening sense of public futility and frustration.

 

As the GOP moves toward total control of our governance—the media, the internet, the Supreme Court, the Congress, local government and, in 2016, the presidency—our future depends on knowing the nuts and bolts of how the destruction of our democracy proceeds, and what we can do to stop it.

 

In this year’s takeover of the US Senate and many statehouses, barely more than a third of the eligible citizenry was credited with having voted. Official vote counts gave the GOP a consistent “bonus” of about 5% over pre-election polls. In the US Senate race in North Carolina and the Governor’s race in Florida, that margin clearly gave the Republicans their victories, and probably did the same in many other close races.

 

The GOP’s Jim Crow disenfranchisement campaign has outright robbed millions of citizens of their right to vote. It’s deliberately created an air of confusion and doubt that’s further suppressed the turnout.

 

Greg Palast, for example, has reported extensively on the Kansas-based “cross-check” technique, used in 28 states, where Republican secretaries of state denied voting rights based on arbitrary judgements that allowed them to eliminate several million potential Democratic voters. (Greg will discuss this on the Solartopia Show at prn.fm Tuesday, 11/11, 5pm EST; the show will be archived for later listening).

 

Deliberate (and often illegal) disinformation campaigns, destruction of voter registration forms, outright intimidation, repressive photo ID requirements and other suppression techniques made things worse. It’s by design, not accident, that America’s voter turnout is ranked 120th among all nations.

 

In evaluating the actual vote count, manipulation of untrackable electronic voting machines must also be accounted for.

 

Over the years, Bev Harris, Brad Friedman, Jon Simon, Richard Charney and many others have added vital research leading to the inevitable conclusion that the 2014 election—like 2000 and 2004—was essentially bought, rigged, stolen and lynched.

 

We do not believe the Republican Party legitimately won the US Senate or many of the statehouses they’ve been granted, any more than George W. Bush should have been handed the White House in 2000 and 2004.

 

Unless we finally face the core issues of election protection, history could repeat itself in 2016 as both tragedy and farce.

 

Because the dust is still settling, many of the specifics about 2014 remain hidden. In the coming weeks we’ll present as much of the evidence as we can gather.

 

In the meantime, we welcome President Obama’s new statements supporting net neutrality. There’s no more important foundation for what shreds of democracy remain to us than the ability to freely communicate. Handing control of the internet to mega-corporations, as proposed by the current (Democratic) head of the Federal Communications Commission, would be catastrophic. As with reclaiming our elections, our future on this planet demands an open global highway for unfettered communication. We must do everything we can to preserve and expand it.

 

We also congratulate US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for proposing that election day become a national holiday. After the 2004 debacle, we proposed a four-day election holiday to cover the first Saturday, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday in November. (The Constitution requires that voting happen the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November). This four-day stretch would help enshrine access to our election process as the sacred ritual it should be.

 

We also propose universal automatic voter registration, universal hand-counted paper ballots, abolition of the Electoral College, and a massive reform of the role of money in politics.

 

We hope Sen. Sanders’ initial proposal opens the door to a bottom-up remake of our electoral system. Without it, our democracy is nothing more than a hollow shell.

 

Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore how that shell was cracked yet again in 2014.

 

All indicators are that it could be be definitively crushed in two years if we don’t act now.

 

to be continued….

 

———–

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, which are at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.solartopia.org, along with his SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH.

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