Author: harvey (page 1 of 13)

Hollywood Stars, Grassroots Activists, State Senator, Mayor & Major Organizations Ask Gov. Newsom to Fully Inspect Aged Diablo Canyon Nuclear Unit One Before it Re-Fuels

FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2019

Hollywood Stars, Grassroots Activists, State Senator, Mayor & Major Organizations

Ask Gov. Newsom to Fully Inspect Aged Diablo Canyon Nuclear Unit One Before it Re-Fuels

Contact: Mimi Kennedy (315) 246-7333; Harvey Wasserman (614) 738-3646 – solartopia@gmail.com; Myla Reson (310) 663-7660  – myla.reson@gmail.com

Dear Gov. Newsom,

We join hundreds of other Californians, including Sen. Ben Allen and San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, who are calling, writing, faxing and e-mailing, asking that you take action at Diablo Canyon to protect our safety and economic future. Under PG&E’s current bankruptcy and criminal proceedings, your position gives you wide ranging powers to act.

Diablo Unit One is now shut for refueling. We feel that given the evidence of embrittlement, it is very important to halt the loading of new fuel into the reactor until the public resolution of seven critical issues:

  1. Diablo One was last tested for EMBRITTLEMENT in 2003; it can now be easily tested while Unit One is shut.
  2. Diablo One’s key components must be tested for CRACKING, easily done now with ultra-sound.
  3. PG&E has DEFERRED ITS MAINTENANCE at Diablo since at least 2010.
  4. Nuclear Regulatory Commission site inspector Michael Peck, among many others, has doubts that Diablo can withstand a credible earthquake.
  5. Serious questions remain about how PG&E intends to handle Diablo’s RADIOACTIVE WASTES.
  6. US Rep. Salud Carbajal has joined many others in questioning the COMPETENCE of the bankrupt, criminally-convicted PG&E to manage these two very large reactors in his home district.
  7. Studies show Diablo’s POWER IS NOT NEEDED, and in fact impedes the use of renewables here in California.

We ask that BEFORE DIABLO ONE REFUELS you subject these and other critical issues to open public scrutiny. The decision on Diablo’s future must be made by you in conjunction with the Legislature, the CPUC, state agencies, the courts and the public.

We thank you very much for giving this your serious consideration. We feel this is an exciting and crucial opportunity for you to continue your groundbreaking leadership in bringing more safety, responsibility, and wise energy policy to all Californians. Let us keep showing the way to a safer (and more sustainable) energy future.

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Signatories (partial list):

Mimi Kennedy

Jane Fonda

Jodie Evans, CODEPINK

Frances Fisher

Lila Garrett

Dr. Helen Caldicott

Dianna Cohen, CEO & Co-Founder, Plastic Pollution Coalition

Susan Clark

Barbara Williams

Ed Asner

Graham Nash

Eric Roberts

Martin & Janet Sheen

Keaton & Eliza Simon

Ed Begley, Jr.

Lance Simmens

John Densmore, Drummer for the Doors

Dana Gluckstein, Chair People for A Safe Future

David Krieger, President Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF)

Sara Nichols

Nancy Stevens

Alan Weissman

Pamela Conley Ulich, former Malibu Mayor

Roger Pugliese

Tony Dow

David Braun

Dr. Peter Alsop

Alan Minsky, PDA

– – –

Separate petitions, resolutions & other supporting letters & documents are from:

Topanga Town Council

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace

Americans for Democratic Action (Los Angeles)

Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains

Pacific Palisades Democratic Club

Santa Monica Democratic Club Executive Board

The Officers of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party

Culver City Democratic Club

People Demanding Action Campaign:

Reach: 60,000

1,725 Letters Sent

85 phone calls

Facebook Ad Campaign:

Reach: 108,000

Impressions: 115,680

Video Views: 56,101

Join Us at MoveOn.org: 4,372; signees: 1,017

Twitter campaign:  #TestDiablo

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

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Governor Newsom: Let’s Check Diablo Canyon Closely

Diablo's on shakey ground

Diablo’s on shakey ground

Dear Governor Newsom,

We welcome you as our governor.…

We ask that critical safety tests be performed at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Unit One during the refueling outage that will begin on or about February 3.

This shutdown provides the perfect opportunity to examine the facility without unduly halting operations. We do not ask at this point that the reactor be permanently closed – only that it be tested to see if it is safe to restart. Before Unit One is reloaded with nuclear fuel, the key evaluations must be finished and subjected to public hearings.

The final decision as to whether to reload Unit One with fuel or restart it must be made by the state in conjunction with the bankruptcy court.

As you know, after meeting with CPUC, local community and environmental groups, unions, and state officials, PG&E agreed to not seek license renewals for Units One & Two in 2024-2025, thus guaranteeing the plant will shut in six years. In the course of this negotiation PG&E admitted that renewables could replace Diablo’s capacity.

Here are several key issues that arise with this refueling outage:

  • EMBRITTLEMENT:  In 2005 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned that Diablo Unit One was among the five most embrittled reactors in the US.  The intense heat, pressure, and radiation in a nuclear reactor can cause critical metals and welds in the pressure vessels to lose their resiliency should cold water be poured in to contain a runaway reaction, embrittled components can shatter, leading to catastrophe. Using “coupons” (bits of metal inserted into key parts of the reactor for precisely this testing purpose) for destructive analysis, the degree of embrittlement at Unit One can be easily and cheaply tested while it is down for refueling. Unit One was built with an inordinate amount of copper, which may make it particularly vulnerable to embrittlement.  The test results must be made public and subjected to a public hearing.
  • COMPONENT CRACKING: Heat, pressure and radiation can also cause cracks in a pressure vessel and other key components. Given Unit One’s age, an inspection is imperative. Ultra-sound devices can be cheaply and easily deployed to look for cracks while the reactor is shut.  Again, the findings must be made public and subjected to open hearings.
  • DEFERRED MAINTENANCE:  Since perhaps as early as 2010, PG&E has deferred repairs and component replacements on the assumption that Diablo would close when its license expires in 2025.  The state, bankruptcy court, and public must see exactly what PG&E has not done and does not plan to do in the six years remaining on its license.
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT:  It appears PG&E plans to store Diablo’s extremely radioactive spent fuel waste in Holtec casks that are less than one inch thick. (By contrast, Germany stores its spent fuel assemblies in casks that are 19 inches thick). Cracking and mishandling of dry casks, issues that have arisen at other nuclear sites including San Onofre, make it essential to fully evaluate waste management at Diablo. This, in particular, demands public scrutiny.
  • SEISMIC VULNERABILITY:  Since Unit One was designed, a dozen earthquake faults have been discovered surrounding Diablo.  NRC site inspector Dr. Michael Peck, in residence at Diablo for five years, warned the reactors might not withstand a credible quake. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission buried Dr. Peck’s initial memo and transferred him to Tennessee, but he has written publicly about his concerns. The distance from Diablo to the San Andreas fault is half the distance from Fukushima to the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it.  Dr. Peck (who has left the NRC) must be publicly debriefed and the seismic issues at Diablo subjected to an open hearing before Unit One is reloaded.

PG&E’S COMPETENCE:  PG&E is entering bankruptcy while implicated in eight deaths in San Bruno, unimaginable destruction in northern California, and much more.  The company’s financial and managerial abilities to operate a large nuclear facility like Diablo are in serious question.

The company must now depend on the state for massive legal and financial assistance. In return, the state has the right and responsibility to take charge of the safety challenges at Diablo and to decide whether it is safe to reload or re-start.

The above-mentioned issues do not depend on whether one supports or opposes nuclear power; they simply address the ability of the state’s largest power generator to operate safely.

  • USEFUL? At this point California is awash in electric power supply and probably does not need Diablo’s capacity. Nor is it likely the electricity produced at Diablo can economically compete with the onrush of renewables. In fact, PG&E has admitted that all Diablo’s power can be replaced by available renewables. Furthermore, because it cannot easily shut off and restart its power to meet fluctuating demand, Diablo’s presence on the grid can be a burden, resulting in the temporary shutdown of cheaper renewable facilities.

Before Unit One is re-loaded with fuel, the state and bankruptcy court must hold public hearings to evaluate whether there is any economic need to do so.

 

Thanks so much for your time and attention.  We look forward to your response.

Best Wishes,

Harvey Wasserman
(for PG&E Shareholders for Diablo Safety)

Trump’s Assault on Solar Masks an Epic Crisis in the Nuclear Industry

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by Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman

Originally published at Progressive.org on January 25, 2018

As Donald Trump launches his latest assault on renewable energy—imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels imported from China—a major crisis in the nuclear power industry is threatening to shut four high-profile reactors, with more shutdowns to come. These closures could pave the way for thousands of new jobs in wind and solar, offsetting at least some of the losses from Trump’s attack.

Like nearly everything else Trump does, the hike in duties makes no rational sense. Bill McKibben summed it up, tweeting: “Trump imposes 30% tariff on imported solar panels—one more effort to try and slow renewable energy, one more favor for the status quo.”

The administration’s public excuse for imposing these tariffs is to “defend American workers,” and foster the production of panels here at home. The political impetus came primarily from two manufacturers—Suniva and SolarWorld—that manufacture in the United States, but are principally owned by foreigners. Ironically, a majority of Suniva is actually owned by Chinese investors, and the company is currently involved in a tortuous debt dispute that has clouded its future.

SolarWorld’s parent company, based in Bonn, Germany, has been involved in bankruptcy proceedings that prompted its owners at one point to try to sell the company’s American holdings, primarily a manufacturing facility in Oregon.

China’s record on renewable energy is mixed. The nation has long been committed to nuclear energy, and currently has thirty-eight reactors in operation. After the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, China staged a major re-examination of its new reactor projects, but has since committed to building another twenty.

But China has also poured immense resources into leading the world in photovoltaic cell production. It flooded the field with below-cost, government subsidized panels that helped drive the photovoltaics giant Solyndra into bankruptcy. Solyndra defaulted on a $500 million Obama loan, prompting a high-profile assault on renewables from fossil and nuclear advocates.

In 2011, then-U.S. Senator Sander Levin of Michigan charged the Chinese with unfair trade practices, saying in a statement, “China is systematically deploying an arsenal of trade distorting policies to corner the global market in green technology products, whether it be electric cars, wind turbines or solar products.’’

But in the years since, the burgeoning U.S. market for cheap Chinese panels has birthed a very large industry. More than a quarter-million Americans now work in photovoltaics, with most of the jobs in building desert arrays or perching the panels on rooftops. Except for the very marginal pressure from Suniva and SolarWorld, solar advocates have focussed on the rapid spread of low-cost panels, even if they come from China.

Powered largely by Chinese product, the cost of a solar-generated watt of power has dropped from $6.00 in the late 1990s to around $0.72 in 2016. Further drops are considered inevitable. At that price, there is virtually no economic margin for any other new energy production construction except wind and natural gas. Even gas—with its uncertain long-term supply—is on the cusp of being priced out.

Thus, the industry’s reaction to Trump’s solar panel tariff has been fierce.

“We are not happy with this decision,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the American Solar Energy Association, told Reuters. “It’s just basic economics—if you raise the price of a product, it’s going to decrease demand for that product.” Trump’s move is predicted to drop upcoming solar installations by 10 to 15 percent and cost some 23,000 jobs.

Sustainable energy professor Scott Sklar, in an email to The Progressive,estimated that Trump’s 30 percent tariff will, after four years, “retard the solar market by 9 percent, cause the loss of thousands of U.S. jobs, and not save the two companies that brought the anti-competitive tariff request initially. The tariff was a political statement to China rather than specifically addressing the health of the U.S. solar industry and increasing U.S. solar jobs.”


Two major developments in the nuclear power industry further illustrate the absurdity of Trump’s decision.

In California, the Public Utilities Commission has gutted a major agreement that would have kept two mammoth reactors at Diablo Canyon operating for several more years. The landmark deal—cut between Pacific Gas & Electric, the host communities around San Luis Obispo, the reactors’ union workers and two environmental groups—called for PG&E to collect some $1.3 billion from ratepayers.

But the California commission cut PG&E’s take to about $300 million. To continue running the two fast-deteriorating old reactors would require massive capital repairs. The company also has admitted that all of Diablo’s power can be otherwise produced with zero- and low-carbon green technologies.

While Trump’s tariffs may slightly alter the math, they’re not expected to make photovoltaics, wind, geothermal, or increased efficiency more expensive than the power Diablo might generate in the coming seven years. Thus, Diablo opponents like Linda Sealey of the San Luis-based Mothers for Peace are extremely hopeful for early shutdowns.

“We think this makes it likely they’ll shut as early as 2020,” she told me January 18 on California Solartopia at KPFK radio in Los Angeles. “They just can’t compete.”

A parallel fate may soon overtake Ohio’s ancient Perry and Davis-Besse reactors on Lake Erie. Because the increasingly decrepit nuclear plants have been priced out of the market and face huge capital repairs, their owner FirstEnergy has been desperately begging the Ohio legislature for massive bailouts, which it has so far resisted. As a result FirstEnergy is poised to go bankrupt, and may soon be bought out by financiers expected to insist the two reactors finally shut. A decision is expected in April.

The shutdown of four more major reactors would be a huge blow to the downwardly spiraling atomic energy industry.

The shutdown of four more major reactors would be a huge blow to the downwardly spiraling atomic energy industry. California’s booming solar business employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than are currently digging coal nationwide. The void left by Diablo’s shutdown would generate thousands of Golden State jobs and billions in renewable revenue.

In northern Ohio, massive wind potential is also poised to create far more jobs than are currently in place at the two reactors, with energy to be generated far more cheaply. Overall, the closure of these four high-profile plants would thus accelerate the already rapid run away from nuclear power toward renewable sources, regardless of any attempt by the Trump Administration to alter the course.

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Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman’s “California Solartopia Show” is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica 90.7FM in Los Angeles. His “Green Power & Wellness Show” is podcast at prn.fm. His History of the US and Solartopia! are atwww.solartopia.org, which will publish his America at the Brink of Rebirthlater this year.

Are the Supremes About to Give Trump a Second Term?

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

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The US Supreme Court may be about to make a second Trump term inevitable.

 

The nine “Justices” have just heard oral arguments in an Ohio voter registration case. If their decision goes with Secretary of State Jon Husted, it would mean Republicans like him throughout the United States will be able to scrub from the voter rolls millions of citizens merely because they are suspected of wishing to vote Democrat.

 

In Ohio alone, millions of Ohio voters have tried to vote on Election Day over the past four presidential elections, only to find their names were erased from the pollbooks.

What’s technically at stake is whether the federal government has the right to demand fairness in purging voter registration rolls. Or will the secretaries of the various states be free to purge whomever they want.

In other words, it’s supposedly a “state’s rights” case.

But this is a country where an Attorney-General who fought for state’s rights to avoid accepting racial integration is now overriding the explicit choice of some thirty states to enjoy legal marijuana.

 

In Ohio, secretary Husted has become infamous for his extremely aggressive partisan purges. The state has roughly 5.5 million voters. GOP secretaries of state have become experts at the selective purging game.

 

In 2004, then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, stripped some 309,000 voters from the rolls and nearly all came from heavily Democratic cities – Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. In Cleveland, nearly a quarter, 24.96% of all voters were removed from the voting rolls.

 

Blackwell simultaneously served as co-chair for the state campaign to re-elect Bush/Cheney. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Blackwell was officially in charge of running that election. The election was decided by less than 119,000 votes, giving George W. Bush a victory over John Kerry, who never said a word.

 

As many as 300,000 of those votes were flipped on electronic “push and pray” machines by a Bush family consigliere operating on an unbid state contract with a bank of servers in Tennessee between 12:20am and 2am election night.
Between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, an extensive study conducted by the Free Press examining all of the voter registration rolls in the state’s 88 counties found that 1.25 million had been scrubbed from the rolls. Again, these purged voters were overwhelming from Democratic precincts.

 

The latest Husted tactic is to mail letters to citizens who have not voted in the last two elections. He demands they write him back to confirm where they live. Husted’s letters do not contain return envelopes.

 

The now-defunct welfare rights organization ACORN and the Obama campaign had to engage in a massive project to re-register the voters before Election Day.

In the run up to the 2012 presidential election, the Free Press exposed the fact that 1.1 million voters had been purged, according to public records. The purges were highest in poor, minority and urban precincts.

The rural county boards of elections that are overwhelmingly Republican rarely strip any voters from the voting rolls.

 

In other words, if you receive junk mail from the Secretary of State, along with all the other junk mail you get, it’s not enough that it got to you without bouncing back. Husted instead demands a personal response, or else he will void your right to vote.

 

Part of his public excuse is that citizens who have died may remain on the voter rolls. But the obvious solution would be to link directly with the state’s coroner offices and integrate death notices into the management of the voter rolls.

 

Husted is also notorious for seizing on minuscule miscues to pitch ballots. An omitted middle initial, a name that has changed, forgetting to write your birthdate on an absentee ballot, or putting something on the wrong line….all are fair game for Husted to make sure you don’t cast a ballot, or that if you do it’s a provisional which he will then pitch in the trash depending on your age, skin color or social class.

 

In the 2016 election, Husted’s office failed to send absentee ballots to more than a million citizens, again virtually all in urban areas.

 

What can’t be explained is why, in a computer age with unlimited hard drives in a state that requires voters to show ID at the polls, you would strip any registered voters unless you knew they had died or you had evidence they no longer lived in the county.

 

Should the Court allow this to continue, GOP Secretaries of State around the US can be counted on to purge voter rolls deep and wide enough to swing almost any election.

 

The White House recently established a national commission to move the stripping to a new level. Blackwell was a charter member. So was Kris Kobach of Kansas (KKK) who pioneered the use of the Crosscheck computer program to strip the rolls in some thirty GOP-controlled states.

 

Last month Trump suddenly, without explanation, abolished the commission. But as investigative reported Greg Palast has shown, the registration stripping has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security. Where Kobach’s commission was opaque, now the partisan purge process with be essentially invisible. State officials who refused to provide critical information to Kobach may now have no choice with DHS.

 

In other words, America’s Trump-run FBI/KGB/Savak apparatus may now have the power to silently and invisibly remove enough potential voters to elect and re-elect whoever it wants.

 

That might include not only Trump, but Husted, who is running to become Ohio’s lieutenant-governor, and Kobach, who wants to be governor of Kansas.

 

This and much else could turn on the Supremes’ decision on the Ohio case. Should Husted’s right to purge whoever he wants from the voter rolls be confirmed by the Court, our sham elections will become an even bigger charade.

 

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-written The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available at www.freepress.org along with The Fitrakis Files, at Harvey’s www.solartopia.org, his History of the US can be had.

 

The Two Bummer Reasons why Jeff Sessions loves Pot Prohibition

by Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman

Published at LA Progressive on January 5, 2017

Published at TruthDig on January 11, 2018

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The announcement by US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions that he’ll pursue federal pot prosecutions has two age-old motivations: power and money.

Financially, of course, the Republican party is vested in America’s vast private prison system. Every new arrestee means money in the pockets of the investors who own and operate them. Keeping those cells and beds occupied is the essence of the industry”and of Pot Prohibition.

The Drug War is a giant cash cow, not only for the prison owners, but for the cops, guards, lawyers, judges, bailiffs and all the other operatives whose livelihood depends on destroying those of the nation’s tens of millions cannabis customers.

Medical legalization in about half the country, and full legalization in California, Colorado and other states, represents a serious threat to this multi-billion-dollar incarceration scam. Sessions has risen to its defense.

Then there’s the power.

As long as so many millions of people smoke the stuff, marijuana’s illegality give police the ability to bust whoever they want, whenever they want. It is the core enabler of a police state.

In fact, Pot Prohibition is a major foundation of the Republican Regime stretching from the White House and Congress to state government, the courts and beyond.

The key is disenfranchisement.

Since the Drug War’s initiation by Harry J. Anslinger in the 1930s, the principle focus has been on people of color. Anslinger promoted the term “marijuana” to deal with cannabis because it has an Hispanic twinge and aroused paranoid bigotry among the white population.

While promoting films like “Reefer Madness” to make pot appear like some sinister force, Anslinger’s minions made cannabis into a racist menace.

But it was Richard Nixon who took the assault to its ultimate depth. Nixon hated blacks and hippies. He also had a serious interest in slashing into their communities, and depriving them of the vote.

In 1972 his own Blue Ribbon Schaefer Commission recommended against Prohibition. Chaired by Pennsylvania’s liberal Governor Richard Schaefer, it said the health impacts did not warrant a national campaign.

Nixon ignored all that. Amidst a terrible war and racial upheavals, he proclaimed Drugs to be America’s most serious problem.

His own staff knew better. As aide John Ehrlichmann put it:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

The Drug War gave Nixon the key to his “Southern Strategy.” Through a wide range of racist rhetoric and policy, he successfully campaigned to move southern white racists from the Democrats to the Republicans. But many southern states had substantial black constituencies. He needed to make sure they could not vote.

Slapping them in jail for pot was a powerful way to do that. Because pot is essentially everywhere, it also lets police arrest pretty much any black person they want at any time. According to Michelle Alexander’s THE NEW JIM CROW, tens of millions of blacks and Hispanics have since been busted. And independent survey by Prof. Bob Fitrakis has estimated the number of Drug War arrests since 1970 in the range of 41,000,000. At a cost of more than a trillion dollars, the US could instead have sent virtually everyone it busted for pot to a four-year university instead.

Instead, the assault has injected deep into the black and Hispanic communities a cultural toxin based in the prison culture. While busting peace, environmental and social justice activists for cannabis, politicians like Trump and Sessions damage the black and Hispanic communities while turning elections and driving the country to the right.

Sessions occasionally make absurd moral and public health claims for keeping cannabis illegal. But the damage it has done to individual lives and the broader community is incalculable.

Pot Prohibition has worked wonders for a fascist establishment keeps power only by using it as a way to crush its opposition, steal elections and fatten its pockets.

Anyone that says otherwise is blowing toxic smoke.

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Harvey Wasserman hosts California Solartopia at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7FM in Los Angeles, and the Green Power & Wellness podcast at prn.fm.

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He is author or co-author of about 20 books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth atwww.solartopia.org.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia

“Call Me Sluggo”: A Life-long Activist Sheds His Slave Name

by Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman

Originally published by the LA Progressive on December 30, 2017

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Enough is enough. Especially when it comes to a name.

Many of you have undoubtedly faced a crisis or two about your own. It can come from anywhere, like changing (or NOT) your family name when getting married. Or dumping the curse of one you never liked.

Famous examples abound. The great Texas-born classical pianist Van Cliburn was in fact Harvey Lavan Cliburn. Lady Gaga is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Kirk Douglas was Issur Danielovitch. Marilyn Monroe came from Norma Jean Mortenson. Tony Curtis had been Bernard Schwartz. John Wayne was Marion Mitchell Morrison.

You get the picture.

When I was born in Boston 72 years ago this New Year’s Eve, my mom made my father promise not to name me “Harvey.” Dad’s father, who’d just passed away, was Herschel. So the “H” was unavoidable. But there were certainly better choices. She never forgave him. Me either.

My middle name is Franklin, as my parents were big FDR fans.  As an historian, I like it for Ben.

But “Harvey”?

The rabbit in the Jimmy Stewart movie was in fact a real-life “Pooka”, a Celtic spirit.

But in light of recent history, now that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, being introduced to new friends comes with “NOT the Hurricane, NOT Weinstein, NO relation to Debbie Schultz.”

Enough!

So I am shedding my slave name. Instead, where viable, we go with my hippie logo: Sluggo.

That silly moniker originated with a friend who thought I looked like a comic strip character, now long gone from the funny pages. Like me, that Sluggo had a sister Nancy. For more than a decade I lived with it on my communal farm, amidst friends and lovers who never knew my “real” identity.

That silly moniker originated with a friend who thought I looked like a comic strip character, now long gone from the funny pages. Like me, that Sluggo had a sister Nancy. For more than a decade I lived with it on my communal farm, amidst friends and lovers who never knew my “real” identity.

The name’s best feature is that little kids love it. It always morphs into “Swuggo”, prompting an instant smile.

It’s also a decent WTF radio name, quick to say, puzzling, memorable, at home in Solartopia on KPFK and PRN.

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It stuck on the hippie farm in part because I was also a baseball player (see photo). Now in my early seventies, I remember myself in my early twenties as being a spectacular athlete. And, of course, the older I get, the better I was.

Ask me after a few more brain cells disappear and I’ll tell you about my Hall of Fame career with the Red Sox, my banner years with the Celtics and my singles championships at Wimbledon and the US Open.

But in the interim, “Harvey Wasserman” will stick around for bylines. “Sluggo” will pop up mysteriously in the middle, when an editor will let it ride.

Like a Pooka, he’ll get ink on random name tags, along with “No Nukes” or “Solartopia”.

He is ALWAYS the only Sluggo in the room. It’s a great ice breaker. And no hurricane, Weinstein or Debbie Schultz.

So how about you? Got a name you HATE? One a parent stuck you with you NEVER forgave them for?

Or one you LOVE but never had the nerve to adopt?

Sure you do. Now take the leap!! You’ll be glad you did.

Just be sure to pick one that makes you smile when kids mis-pronounce it.

Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman

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Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman has many grandchildren who call him “Boppa” and/or “Harby.” “Swuggo” will now be added to the mix.

Follow Harvey on Twitter @Solartopia

Hear California Solartopia on KPFK 90.7 fm Los Angeles on Thursdays at 6:30 PM Pacific.

 

Fighting the Assaults on Net Neutrality and Our Economy

by Harvey Wasserman

originally published by TruthDig

A net neutrality protester near the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 

Let’s all take a moment to savor this great grass-roots U.S. Senate victory in Alabama of Democrat Doug Jones over accused child molester Roy Moore. Let’s also celebrate the victory of the moderate Ralph Northam over the extremist Republican Ed Gillespie to be governor of Virginia, and a possible flip of the Virginia legislature, with the influx of a strong contingent of progressive women.

Breathe deep. Stretch up your arms. Shout for joy.

Okay?

Now let’s use all that great new energy to fend off Donald Trump’s twin assaults on net neutrality and our core economy.

Losing could leave us blind and impoverished. So don’t even think about it.

On net neutrality, the fight is ongoing and long-term.

On Trump’s tax scam, we have at best a few days.

A mass movement already is in place to save the internet.

Thursday’s vile 3-2 FCC vote to end net neutrality has long been expected. Mass demonstrations, community organizing, court challenges, an attempt at a congressional reversal and much more are in motion.

This is new territory, a fight for control of humankind’s central nervous system. The alternative to winning is brain death.

As for the GOP tax scam, the clock is ticking.

The Senate version passed 51-49 on Dec. 1. The House-Senate reconciliation committee wants a new version rubber-stamped next week. Despite the bill’s immense impact, there’s been a complete lack of public hearings orsane scrutiny.

It’s not likely there’ll be enough Republican votes in the House to stop it.

In the Senate, we need just three.

The likeliest is Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the only Republican to vote no last time. Trump has punked him with a stream of personal insults. Corker is not running for re-election. Like all other potential swing votes, he is no doubt being promised the world to vote yes.

Next might be Maine’s Susan Collins. She voted against gutting Obamacare. Her first yes vote on the tax bill reportedly was based on promises from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Medicare and Social Security would be protected. But co-perpetrator and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s life mission has been to destroy both. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, among others, proudly proclaims that this will start the process.

Why anyone would believe anything the GOP leadership says is hard to fathom. Maine’s struggling elder community, among others, has displayed great anger, including heated demonstrations at Collins’ office and her public appearances. She must know that if she votes yes again, she will drown forever in an unforgiving grass-roots tsunami.

Arizona’s Jeff Flake has been yet another target of Trump’s venal abuse. Flake dramatically announced he won’t run for re-election. But then he voted for the tax bill. Why?

Arizona’s John McCain did the same. The “Great Maverick” cast the decisive vote to save Obamacare. He’s been undergoing what must be a hugely expensive course of treatment for brain cancer.

This may be among the last votes McCain casts, and it’s likely a death sentence for millions of Americans who can’t afford the kind of health care he’s been getting. Does he care?

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted at opposing the first draft based on its rough treatment of small business. But apparently his good friend Paul Ryan found Johnson’s price.

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski voted against destroying Obamacare. But she’s ecstatic about this bill’s death sentence for the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, where her biggest donors want to drill for oil and further heat the planet.

Maybe other Republicans can be turned. Trump’s minions surely have scoured every GOP wish list. And they have no intention of waiting for Doug Jones to take his seat.

But somewhere, somehow, amidst the warm glow of the Alabama turn, we must find a way to stop this bill.

Here are just a few reasons why:

● It enacts one of history’s most blatant thefts of essential resources from working- and middle-class Americans to the rich and super-rich. Trump himself would profit.

● It worsens the kind of wealth gap that fed the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed.

● It guts Obamacare, leaving tens of millions without medical coverage while facing needless disease—and possibly death—for themselves and their children.

● It opens the all-out GOP assault on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, with the impoverishment of millions sure to follow.

● It attacks public education with massive supports for private schools that will profit Trump cronies like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

● It ends teachers’ ability to deduct what they spend on supplies for their students.

● It taxes graduate students’ scholarships, tuition waivers and other essential steps to advanced degrees, slashing what’s left of our professional education system.

● It lets tax-free churches engage in partisan campaigns, allowing mega-rich donors to launder “purchases” of “pious” candidates.

● It slashes support for wind power, solar energy, electric cars and other “Solartopian” advances while funding massive new tax breaks for obsolete, planet-destroying King CONG (coal, oil, nukes and gas).

There’s much, much more.

Trump’s “tax reform” and internet assault are at the cutting edge of a suicidal war being waged by the psychotic rich against the rest of us—and the planet.

We are in Koyaanisqatsi; life out of balance. The center is not holding. Our social and ecological fabric is giving way. Our survival is at stake.

These turning-point elections in Virginia and Alabama give us hope.

Now the gritty substance of the war for our ability to communicate, and for the core of our life support systems, is in a different kind of play.

Like those elections, these are conflicts we cannot afford to lose.

So let’s win. Again.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman co-wrote THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES.  Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA!OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.His LIFE & DEATH SPIRAL OF US HISTORY will be out in 2018.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia

Will Jim Crow Strip & Flip the Alabama Senate Race?…Or Will Today’s Major Court Victory Stop that From Happening?

by  Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

DECEMBER 11, 2017

doug v roy

 

While the whole world watches Tuesday’s Alabama US Senate election, race-based battles behind the scenes could decide the outcome.

They focus on likely stripping of voter rolls to prevent African-Americans from casting their rightful ballots , and flipping the electronic outcome should that prove insufficient.

But election protection activists have just won a major court victory that could make electronically flipping the election more difficult.  An in-depth feature will follow on that tonight.

The national Democratic Party has poured significant resources into this race. We hope it will provide careful scrutiny on whether legitimate citizens are allowed to vote, and on how the votes are actually counted.

In particular, we urge that there be no definitive concession shy of a full recount, and of public hearings on who was allowed the right to vote and who was denied it, including access to regular rather than provisional ballots.

Three key voter access issues include:

  1. The state recently passed legislation making it easier for ex-felons to vote. But critics charge there has been no significant official attempt to actually notify ex-felons of the change. A court has ruled that the state is not obligated to make such an effort ;
  2. The state has imposed strict voter ID laws that could make it harder        for citizens of color to vote. The state has also shut motor vehicle offices in areas where black voters are likely to apply for credentials that would allow them to cast ballots ;
  3. With an intense chilling effect,  Alabama’s Republican secretary of state has threatened felony prosecution against several hundred citizens who may have switched party affiliation in the recent primaries

 

.There is also significant concern over the nature of the ballot and the potential for a recount.

Election protection activist John Brakey has pointed out that most of the machines currently used in  Alabama can produce an electronic ballot image that is usable for recounts. But in a letter to Brakey, Alabama’s secretary of state said he may not require the use of this feature.

Brakey and others were in court today demanding that the state’s ballots be reliably counted, and that the electronic ballot images be created and preserved for a possible recount.

Brakey reported to the Free Press at 1:18pm on Monday, Dec. 11 that he won a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) in Alabama court to force the Secretary of State to preserve the ballot images.

This is essential since the ballot design in Alabama has been called into question by election integrity activists like Mimi Kennedy. The ballot design lends itself to “overvote” problems. The ballot allows voters to vote a straight party ticket, even though in the vast majority of counties there is only the Roy Moore-Doug Jones special U.S. special election on the ballot.

But the ballot also then allows you to vote for the candidate. If you select the straight party vote and the candidate vote – the machines are likely to read this as an “overvote” and cancel out the vote. The machines can be programmed to not accept an overvote.

The only way to resolve this is to compare the ballots with the ballot images.

This campaign, of course, has been infamously unsettled by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at the Republican candidate Roy Moore. Moore has been strongly endorsed by “conservative Christians” and by Donald Trump, who is currently accused of sexual assault by some 19 women.

The stakes could hardly be higher. The 52-48 Republican margin in the US Senate would shrink to a single vote should Democrat Doug Jones win the seat. He would also become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama since Richard Shelby, who switched parties and has recently said Alabama can “do better” than his fellow Republican Roy Moore.

About a quarter of Alabama’s five million citizens are black. Should most of them vote, and have their votes actually counted, they could decide the election.

But Alabama’s long Jim Crow tradition weighs heavily against that happening.

There will likely be an “official” outcome on Tuesday. But who gets that crucial seat may actually turn on a willingness to fight for a fair turnout and to guarantee an accurate vote count.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman co-wrote THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES.Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA!OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.His LIFE & DEATH SPIRAL OF US HISTORY will be out in 2018.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia

Warring Visions of Puerto Rico’s Future

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published by The Progressive on December 1, 2017

171023-F-AX815-296Blue roofs, temporary blue plastic sheeting, installed on homes damaged by Hurricane Maria, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with FEMA in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Warring visions have now erupted over the energy and economic futures of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Will the islands become a cutting-edge green-powered solartopia for the benefit of their long-time residents? Or a fossil-fueled robber baron playground like Hong Kong or Singapore, set to operate for the profit of outside corporate investors?

On the solartopian side, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed a $146 billion green “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as a prosperous, self-sufficient home for the indigenous citizenry. The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal and Democratic Representatives Nadia Velazquez and Darren Soto along with Democrat Stacey Plaskett, the Virgin Islands’ non-voting Representative to Congress.

Representative Plaskett has also joined Congressman Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, in co-signing a letter asking that all Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for rebuilding the electric grids of the islands go for solar energy, wind power, and decentralized microgrids.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who famously tangled with Trump over the direction of recovery plans, has said the Sanders-Warren-Lieu approach to rebuilding with green energy provides the blueprint for the “transformation” of the islands to local-controlled self-sufficiency.

The Warren-Sanders bill would give local governments $62 billion for economic development, Medicare/Medicaid parity, and other locally determined needs. It would provide $27 billion more for infrastructure, and $13 billion for FEMA to rebuild the grid “with more modern, resilient technologies” than the coal, oil, and gas burners that powered the islands before Maria.

Solar panels are already pouring in. Even before Maria, Puerto Rico had plans to add 1.5 gigawatts of solar capacity. At least one big solar array largely survived the storm, allowing a local greenhouse to resume business the day after the disaster. A large wind farm on the south side of Puerto Rico also got through, though its impact has been limited by the crippled grid.

After the storm, in consultation with Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello, Elon Musk’s Solar City/Tesla donated a solar array that has successfully re-powered San Juan’s Hospital del Nino, making it one of the few hospitals on the island with a reliable source of electricity. As Musk said in a tweet, “The Tesla team has done this [built solar grids] for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too.”

To do more, Tesla announced it would delay the unveiling of its electric-powered tractor-trailer unit to focus on delivering more batteries to Puerto Rico.

The German company Sonnen, which was working pre-Maria with local customers to make the Puerto Rican grid more resilient, has been shipping inpanels, batteries, and micro-grids aimed at making hospitals and emergency facilities self-sufficient. So has the Houston-based Sunnova, which isretaining ownership of the hundreds of panels it has installed, then charging its customers a rate well below what they were paying before the storm hit.

“I am 100 percent backing renewables,” said Governor Rosselló to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “This is an opportunity to make microgrids in Puerto Rico so they can be sustained in different areas.”

But  not everyone shares the vision of a green-powered future. In October, Puerto Rico’s national utility, PREPA, made global headlines with a $300 million grid rebuilding contract given to Whitefish Energy, a two-year-old two-man operation based in Whitefish, Montana.

Whitefish is the hometown of Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose son had worked for the company. When it began shipping in line workers at huge rates, they were showered by locals with rocks and bottles. Finally the contract was voided and PREPA’s president resigned.

More recently, PREPA awarded a $200 million contract to Cobra Acquisitions LLC, a one-year-old subsidiary of Oklahoma-based Mammoth, which is primarily in the oil, gas, and fracking business. Nearly all Puerto Rico’s pre-Maria power came from fossil fuels. Its future plans still include a $400 million liquid gas terminal.

The fossil-fueled vision has strong support among lawmakers like Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, who is backed by the oil and gas industry. Lamborn told a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing in early November that “renewables are great, but to provide that much electricity in that short a time is unrealistic.” Lamborn instead supports natural gas, with a rollback of environmental protections to encourage drilling and imports.

Committee Chair Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah, also the recipient of fossil industry support, has joined Lamborn in opposing an EPA presence that might restrict drilling and imports for a restored fossil-fired grid.

But corporate visions for the islands hardly stop with gas and oil. Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, thinks “Puerto Rico has the potential of being the Hong Kong of the United States, where businesses would flood in there.”

Benjamin Dierker, of the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education, wants an “economic freedom zone” where environmental, minimum wage and other legal requirements would disappear. The “less restricted environment with more available resources would open the doors to investment and real estate development,” he says.

Desmond Lachman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, alsowants a reduced minimum wage and “corporate-friendly economic reforms” to make Puerto Rico “the Singapore of the Caribbean.”

Amid all of this corporate conniving, the people of Puerto Rico remain in dire straits.

“Food and water are still in short supply,” Joel Segal, a North Carolina activist with strong ties to the island, said in a recent radio interview on my Green Power & Wellness show on www.prn.fm. “The FEMA people just hand out forms with a phone number to call and a website to consult. People can’t even get tarps to cover what’s left of their homes.”

At least 200,000 citizens have already left Puerto Rico, most headed for Florida.

Residents who have been restoring school buildings and re-starting classes at their own expense are being told by local authorities they must have inspections that never happen and permits that never come. Education activists are afraid that private charter schools will crush the public system, as in New Orleans after Katrina, where only a few public schools remain.

Because land titles have been passed down through generations of the poor, some ancestral residents are not being let back into what’s left of their homes because they can’t officially prove ownership.

“Land prices will plummet,” Segal says. “That will set off an unrestricted corporate rampage” aimed at converting the region to a Trump-style playground of shady financial centers, high-end hotels and mega-casinos for the super-rich.

That’s a future the people of Puerto Rico must avoid — and green energy is one way to do it.

Harvey Wasserman hosts California Solartopia at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7FM in Los Angeles, and the Green Power & Wellness podcast at prn.fm. He is author or co-author of about 20 books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earthat www.solartopia.org.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia

WILL THE DIABLO NUKES SHUT BEFORE THE SAN ANDREAS RUBBLE-IZES THEM AND RADIATES LOS ANGELES?

 

By Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman

diablo solartopia 6.23.2016

 

A major court opinion  has given safe energy advocates new hope two Diablo Canyon nukes can be shut before the San Andreas fault turns them to rubble, sending an apocalyptic cloud into the bodies of more than ten million people .

The huge reactors—California’s last—-sit on a bluff above the Pacific, due west of San Luis Obispo amongst a dozen earthquake faults, They operate just 45 miles from the San Andreas. That’s half Fukushima’s distance from the fault that destroyed four reactors there. Diablo’s wind-blown emissions could irradiate the Los Angeles megalopolis in less than six hours.

The death toll could be in the millions, the property damage in the trillions. The owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, would not be legally liable.

Last year a deal to shut Diablo’s two reactors in 2024 and 2025 was struck by the state, PG&E, the union, surrounding communities and some environmentalist groups.  Diablo’s federal licenses expire in those years, and PG&E agreed not to seek renewals. The power, they said, could be replaced with wind turbines and solar panels.

But the $1.7 billion in rate hikes stipulated in the deal must be approved by California’s Public Utilities Commission. A proposed decision by Administrative Law Judge Peter V. Allen would limit them to less than $200 million.

The CPUC must now factor Allen’s decision into how much it allows PG&E to charge. If it honors Allen’s opinion, the company must then decide whether they’ll continue to operate the two nukes, which increasingly look like money losers.

The company’s standing is not exactly sterling. Massive fires have just swept through northern California, killing at least forty-one people, turning some 5700 structures and whole forests, rural communities and much of Santa Rosa into smoldering ash. (The Trump Administration has just omitted from its latest budget any federal aid to the region).

The San Jose Mercury-News  and others  have loudly speculated that PG&E may have caused the conflagration by failing to maintain power lines that were blown over in a wind storm. Local fire departments were already complaining that trees and underbrush were being sparked by poles and wires PG&E had failed to maintain as required by law.

At very least PG&E now faces a firestorm of lawsuits that will soar well into the billions. Criminal prosecution is also likely.

In 2010 a major fire killed eight people and torched an up-scale San Bruno neighborhood. The cause was badly maintained gas lines—-for which the company had been cited repeatedly. Fines exceeded $1.4 billion. Criminal prosecution remains unresolved.

Other costly lapses have plagued PG&E through the years. Some involve Diablo itself, which opened in the mid-1980s amidst America’s biggest No Nukes civil disobedience campaign, involving thousands of arrests.

Linda Seeley of San Luis Obispo’s Mothers for Peace says the company faces impossible hurdles in dealing with its thousands of tons of radioactive waste, and much more. “Many very expensive components in the two reactors must be replaced far before the proposed 2024-5 shutdown dates. Our concern is that PG&E may try to sneak through without paying to maintain the reactors even at basic safety levels.”

Dr. Michael Peck, the NRC’s in-house inspector at Diablo for five years, has warned that the reactors cannot survive a likely earthquake, and should close immediately. He has since been transferred to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“Diablo may no longer be profitable,” Seeley has said on KPFK-Pacific’s California Solartopia Show. “The cost of wind and solar has dropped so fast it may not pay PG&E to run those plants anymore, even without doing the basic maintenance.”

Because much of Diablo’s aging workforce is retiring, or beginning to look elsewhere for job security, PG&E wants subsidies to retain skilled staff to run the place. Judge Allen specifically rejected much of the rate hike designed to meet that crisis.

The State Land Commission is also being sued by the World Business Academy of Santa Barbara over key leases granted in the 1970s . The SLC gave PG&E a waiver on doing legally-required Environmental Impact Reviews.   (Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom is one of the three California Land Commissioners who voted in favor of the waiver). Should the Business Academy win its suit, or should the PUC honor Judge Allen’s decision, and PG&E alter its timetable, those leases might be revisited. Without them, Diablo would almost certainly be forced to shut.

Challenges have also been raised against approval from the California Coastal Commission of Diablo’s cooling system.

 

Seeley and other activists have asked the general public to pressure the PUC, state agencies and politicians like Newsom to get Diablo shut sooner rather than later.  “Until they can specify the exact date and time the San Andreas and those other faults will go off,” says Seeley, “nobody should feel safe.” ( additional quotes from Linda Seeley came from phone interviews this week).

 

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Those interested in helping to shut Diablo Canyon should go to www.mothersforpeace.org.

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! is at www.solartopia.org. He hosts prn.fm‘s Green Power & Wellness Show, and KPFK-Pacifica’s California Solartopia.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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