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Swamp Tales: Puerto Rico Cancels $300 Million Trump Crony Electrical Grid Rebuild Contract

by Harvey Wasserman

originally published on The Progressive on October 30, 2017

estamos de pieA flag hangs from a highway overpass in Caguas, Puerto Rico declaring “Estamos de pie,” or “We are standing.” October, 2017.

The swampish saga would be hard to invent. In early October, Puerto Rico’s Energy Power Authority awarded a $300 million tax-funded contract to reconstruct the island’s hurricane devastated power grid to a two-person, two-year-old firm based in the small Montana hometown of Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The company is financially backed by a major donor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
About eighty percent of Puerto Rico is still without power. Many hospitals are still dark. Local citizens needing medical treatments such as surgeries or dialysis have been forced to flee to places where electric power is available.
Puerto Rico’s power grid centers on antiquated oil, gas, and coal generators, the median age of which is forty-four years. Just two percent Puerto Rico’s juice came from wind and solar. One wind farm, on the south side of the island, survived Hurricane Maria largely intact, as did at least one small commercial solar array.
For Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents, restoring power is a matter of life and death. But the $300 million dollar contract was handed, with no public hearings, legislative discussion or long-term planning, to Whitefish, an obscure company from rural Montana.
At least one Zinke relative—his son—has worked on part-time contract for Whitefish. Zinke claims he had nothing to do with the deal.
Anti-Trump sentiment is rampant throughout the island, fed by a lack of concern expressed by the President for Puerto Ricans’ dire situation, and capped by a recent visit in which he pitched paper towels to a crowd of bewildered local residents. When San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz questioned the contract with Whitefish, the company threatened to stop work, then apologized.
The Puerto Rican power company’s contract astoundingly exempted Whitefish from official audits, stating, “In no event shall [governmental bodies] have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements.” It also waived “any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of the work,” meaning Whitefish was empowered to pretty much take as long as it wanted to complete the job.
Whitefish wasted no time deploying a gold-plated battalion of high-priced contract workers into the island. Each was granted $1,000 travel expenses for each flight to and from the island. The workers’ contracts called for $80/day in food expenses and $332/day for lodging. Wages were set at $240/hour for a foreman and $227/hour for linemen doing jobs for which prevailing U.S. wages are about $43/hour for supervisors and $23/hour for linemen. In other words, the deal reeked of Trump-era crony capitalism. When word spread, angry locals showered Whitefish workers with rocks and bottles.
But that was not the worst of it. Whitefish appeared to be rebuilding the wind-ravaged grid along exactly the same lines that existed prior to the storm. In other words, the company was reconstructing what was wiped away a month ago, and what would be virtually certain to be wiped away again by the next hurricane.

Since Maria, a lively public dialog has erupted over how to rebuild the island’s power system with sustainable design. Tesla’s Elon Musk sent in a shipment of Powerwall batteries designed to service solar-powered arrays. Tesla also installed a solar/battery/micro-grid array to make the Hospital del Nino entirely self-sufficient.
Musk has been in discussion with Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló about rebuilding the region along renewable lines, with windmills and photovoltaic panels powering a network of micro-grids that would give towns, neighborhoods and buildings a resilient safety net capable of weathering the inevitable next storm.
Multi-billionaire Richard Branson, whose private Necker Island was ravaged by recent storms, has also called for a “Green Marshall Plan” to rebuild the Caribbean with renewable energy. In a recent New York Times op-ed, coauthored with green energy guru Amory Lovins, Branson wrote that by solarizing and decentralizing the region’s grids, “we can stop blackouts caused by monster storms while also saving fossil fuel and reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases that warm the planet and make these storms more likely and destructive.”
Since Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria roared through Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, smaller nonprofits and activist organizations have also been focused on the vision of a totally green-powered master plan.
On Sunday, October 29, amidst a firestorm of local and Congressional inquiries,The New York Times reported that Governor Rosselló had canceled the Whitefish contract. The company claims to have already spent millions. The court cases will undoubtedly churn up numerous storms of their own.
But the uproar should also focus on the growing demand that the electric power systems in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean be reconstructed around renewables and microgrids, rather than fossil-fired central distribution networks.
Most likely those systems will not be built by Trump cronies flown in at huge expense, who then must dodge rocks and bottles being thrown by angry locals.

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Long-time Progressive contributor Harvey Wasserman is a safe energy activist and radio talk host based in Los Angeles. Tune in for California Solartopia on Thursdays at 6:30 pm on 90.7 KPFK-fm in Los Angeles.  Harvey’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at www.solartopia.org. and you can follow Harvey in Twitter @Solartopia

 

Did an Obsolete, Poorly Maintained Power Grid Spark California Fires?

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published at TruthDig on October 17, 2017

The sun shines through smoke and haze from fires over Santa Rosa, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The sun shines through smoke and haze from fires over Santa Rosa, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The raging fires and toxic smoke clouds pouring through Northern California can only be described as apocalyptic.

Were they sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric’s centralized grid?

And where are our federal government and national media?

More than 40 people are dead; many more are missing. Given how fast the fires raced through the region, it’s possible that other humans—as well as farm animals, pets and wildlife—have been incinerated.

In many cases, the margin for escape was five minutes or less. Some people who did not leave their homes at the first sign of danger died. Some stood in home swimming pools for hours while everything burned around them. Flames  leaped over Highway 101 and other major roads, creating firestorms with temperatures of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and more.

Much of the quiet, comfortable town of Santa Rosa now looks like Hiroshima after the atomic bombing. Whole neighborhoods have been reduced to smoldering ash. Homes, businesses, factories, farms—some 5,700 buildings to date—plus gardens, vineyards, cars and forests have been vaporized.

The death toll is high, the dollar values incomprehensible. Hundreds of square miles of some of the world’s most vital, lush terrain have been obliterated.

Much of the fallout is now entering the lungs of some 7.6 million Bay Area residents.

The cloud recalls the dust and ash that coated New York City after the 9/11 disaster. The Environmental Protection Agency failed to evacuate Manhattan and did not warn area residents to wear protective clothing and masks. Years later, its then-chief, Christine Todd Whitman, issued a public apology.

That cloud contained arsenic, lead, mercury, zinc, cadmium, creosote, furans, dioxins and much much more—a devil’s brew of toxic chemicals perfectly designed to kill a large number of beings over the short and long term.

The cloud now swirling over the Bay Area and Northern California contains huge quantities of wood smoke, which can be toxic. Health authorities have warned people to stay inside and to be especially protective of their children and elders.

Bay Area residents have been urged to wear masks, but hospital-grade masks don’t filter out particulate matter. The heavier-duty N95 masks might help, but existing supplies have sold out. The idea for FEMA or the military to take in supplies of more effective protective gear seems never to have occurred to federal authorities.

Protective gear will be an issue during the cleanup, as toxic ash and other chemical residue will coat debris throughout the region.

Mark Sommer, a Bay Area author and renewable energy advocate, noted that thousands of people fled to shelters in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

“Many Bay Area residents seem in denial of the hazards they face, even at their distance from the fires,” he says. “Some even jog through the haze, pumping lethal chemicals deep into their lungs.”

Sommer, whose view from the 27th floor of an Emeryville, Calif., high-rise faces the Golden Gate and Marin headlands, says visibility has been as low as a quarter-mile. It’s been worse, he says, “than on a bad day in Beijing.”

As of Tuesday, nine days after the conflagration began, the biggest fires are at least 50 percent contained. There is hope the winds will die down. Rain is a welcome possibility.

What has not been welcome is the profound neglect of this catastrophe by the federal government and major media. By and large, the story of this unparalleled catastrophe has played second fiddle to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sorry sex life. With few exceptions, the death of as many as a hundred or more Americans, the incineration of entire California communities and the poisoning of the air in one of the world’s most beloved cities has been of little interest to the corporate television media.

Nor has it moved Donald Trump.

Needless to say, the president has declined to come to California or seriously discuss this gargantuan tragedy with the media or even in his deranged tweets. No emergency panels have been convened, and there’s been no dramatic mobilization of FEMA. Federal resources to help the multitude of taxpaying Americans whose lives have been destroyed, and whose health and survival are still under fire, have been sparse, to say the least.

The widespread assumption is that because California is largely nonwhite and voted overwhelmingly against Trump in 2016, he has even less interest in helping people here than he did with Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. He has, however, continued to gut federal protections against global warming and to push a power plan based on fossil fuels and nuclear reactors.

Conversely, says Sommer, “The most important story here has been the deeply impressive response of emergency personnel, local authorities, firefighters and surrounding communities offering shelter and supplies to the stricken victims of the fires. It’s the strength of local communities that provides the essential resilience required to deal with the cascading calamities of our new normal.”

Within that “new normal,” there’s widespread speculation that this entire catastrophe might have been sparked by an obsolete pole-and-wires grid that is owned and badly maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric, the region’s dominant utility, according to The (San Jose) Mercury News.

Tied to an aging network of decrepit, fossil-fired power plants, plus two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors surrounded by earthquake faults near San Luis Obispo, this massive Rube Goldberg grid was by many accounts poised for disaster.

The Mercury News investigation has raised the question of why the wind knocked down so many power lines. According to reporting by Paul Rogers, Lisa Krieger and Matthias Gafni, PG&E is legally required to guarantee that its poles can withstand hurricane-force winds. But The Mercury News says many collapsed in the weaker winds that sparked the fires.

That would lead to the nightmare scenario of a grid-fired catastrophe. In addition to providing wind-resistant poles, PG&E is required to keep the right of way under its power lines free from undergrowth. It also must trim nearby trees so branches and trunks don’t fall on the wires, shorting them out. The Mercury News casts serious doubt on whether that was done, as required by law.

The global-warmed weather conditions that fed this catastrophe are well known. A very wet spring led to a massive explosion of foliage throughout Northern California. But the state’s hot and dry summer turned it all into huge quantities of tinder.

Arson, of course, can’t be ruled out. But PG&E has a brutal history of negligence, according to The Mercury News.

In 1994, the company was convicted on 739 counts of malfeasance and fined almost $30 million after its high-voltage lines were hit by falling trees. The resulting fire destroyed 12 homes and a vintage schoolhouse. Prosecutors showed that the company had taken some $80 million meant for tree-cutting—which might have prevented the fire—and used it to expand profits.

In 2010, company gas lines exploded in the upscale suburb of San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. The Public Utilities Commission fined PG&E $1.6 billion. Criminal charges were filed in federal court based on the company’s repeated postponement of repairs that could have averted the disaster. No PG&E executives have yet gone to jail.

The company also operates two aging reactors at Diablo Canyon, which are surrounded by earthquake faults. Plagued by core embrittlement, nuclear waste mismanagement, collapsing infrastructure and much more, the utility has cut a deal with state regulators, local communities, labor unions and some environmental groups to shut the reactors in 2024 and 2025. But critics fear that a seismic shock—the reactors are less than 50 miles from the San Andreas Fault—could send a radioactive cloud into downtown Los Angeles within five hours. Under federal law, PG&E would be financially responsible for just a fraction of the ensuing holocaust.

This year’s fires will produce a tsunami of litigation. If it’s proved that PG&E’s downed poles were not to code, and that they sparked foliage that should have been removed, the ensuing lawsuits are likely to involve staggering numbers, demands for jail time and maybe the ultimate bankruptcy of the utility, which would be welcomed by many.

Many people are dead, thousands are homeless, the ecological damage is epic, and the rebuilding costs will stretch into the tens of billions. On the heels of three major hurricanes, this “new normal” defies the imagination.

The dominant question remains: Was this fire caused by an incompetent, negligent megacorporation badly running a centralized electric grid? And if so, what will replace PG&E and its obsolete grid as rebuilding begins?

The challenge runs parallel to that of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There, Hurricane Maria took out the central electric grids entirely. In response, a movement has grown up to replace them with a decentralized network of locally controlled solar panels, wind power and biofuels. Power would be generated and distributed at the community level. To the extent that a heavily revised and downgraded central grid might be useful for large wind and solar farms, its role in a global-warmed world would be as a backup for a decentralized, community-based generation.

Thus begins the campaign to rebuild the islands and Northern California along Solartopian lines, with decentralized solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal energy transcending the old central grid and dumping the old central utilities into the compost heap of history.

As Northern Californians stagger under the shock of deaths, toxic air and ecological and property damage, the debate may seem premature.

The challenge remains: How do we avoid the next global-warmed ecological holocaust? Sommer hopes for “a collaborative design process where cities and their neighborhoods come together to map the architecture of their own power systems.”

But one thing is certain: Their solutions will not include transmission poles that fall over in moderate winds, possibly sparking bone-dry brush left uncut.

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

Harvey is a lifelong activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, election protection, social justice, grass-roots politics and natural healing, personal and planetary.

He hosts “California Solartopia” at KPFK-Pacifica and “Green Power & Wellness” at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org, solartopia.org and has taught history, diversity and ecology studies at numerous colleges. 

Follow Harvey on Twitter @Solatopia

….

As a Team Owner, I Demand the Green Bay Packers Hire Colin Kaepernick

by

Originally published at The Progressive on October 16, 2017

packersowner

For many years, I have held two shares in America’s only publicly owned major sports team, the Green Bay Packers. There are no dividends, no special seats, no stadium perks. I cannot sell the shares. I can only pass them on to immediate family. But owning these shares does in fact make me a part-owner. And as such, I am registering my first demand: The Pack must hire Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick’s pathbreaking “take a knee” before the national anthem guarantees him an historic place in the civil rights hall of fame. Begun last year, it is a carefully considered,well-timed, and very public call to pay attention to ongoing police brutality toward black people in this country.

Since Kaepernick quiety began his protest as a San Francisco 49er, hundreds of athletes in various sports at all levels have joined in. Rarely in history has series of protests sparked such a riveting dialog, or been so widely misconstrued. As Kaepernick’s teammate and fellow protester, Eric Reid, wrote in a New York Times op ed: “It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag, and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite.”

Kaepernick and Reid knelt while on the roster of the San Francisco 49ers, who are having a miserable season. Reid is a cornerback and still playing. But Kaepernick, facing certain elimination by the 49ers, chose free agency. He remains one of the most talented athletes in the world, but thus far no franchise has had the courage to hire him.

From the sidelines, President Trump has cheered on discrimination against NFL players who protest, saying owners should issue directives to “get that son-of-a-bitch off the field” and fire them. Since then, multiple NFL players saythey have been warned about doing any kind of demonstration during the national anthem.

Now Kaepernick has filed a legal complaint against the NFL owners for conspiring to deny him a job. Mark Geragos, one of Kaepernick’s attorneys, said in a statement: “If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest—which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago—should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government.”

The lawsuit and the controversy as a whole underscore the need for all professional sports teams to be owned by the communities in which they live. The billionaire owners treat these public treasures like personal toys and the players themselves like field hands. This has to stop.

On Sunday, Green Bay’s star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sidelined for perhaps the rest of the season by an unnecessary, unconscionable, and unpenalized late hit by Minnesota Viking Anthony Barr. Rodgers was left with a broken collarbone and the Packers were left with a second-string quarterback, Brett Hundley, who led the team to a loss.

Whether or not Hundley plays well enough in ensuing games to justify staying on as a starter, the Packers need to pick up another quarterback.

In 2012, Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, losing by a single field goal. The team has since slipped in part because it lost its superb coach Jim Harbaugh (who has remained supportive of Kaepernick). But Kaepernick’s numbers last season were strong, with 18 total touchdowns against just four interceptions. He is still an excellent passer, with running abilities rarely seen among NFL quarterbacks. At 30 years of age, he’s within his physical prime while being more seasoned and savvy than most of the league’s designated starters.

Throughout the season, I’ve been hoping the Packers would hire Kaepernick as a backup. But now this possibility has become an imperative: The Packers must hire Colin Kaepernick. They need another quarterback. He is the best one available. As an owner, I have made my decision.

The protests inspired by Kaepernick should be honored, not disparaged; they exalt our glorious First Amendment by using it to confront the disease of racism that plagues our nation. In a league in which about 70 percent of players are black, it is what we should expect.

So, as an owner, I now respectfully direct the Packers’ management to do what’s best for the franchise, and the nation.

I further ask that they notify me immediately, so I can be first among the millions to buy a new Packers’ jersey with Colin Kaepernick’s name on the back.

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

Harvey Wasserman, a California-based writer and longtime contributor to The Progressive, used to play football. The older he gets, the better he was.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter: @Solatopia

 

How Gore, Kerry and Clinton Put Trump in the White House

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published on October 11, 2017 on TruthDig

 10.12.house
The White House (AgnosticPreachersKid / Wikimedia)

 

Amidst the hellish chaos of the Donald Trump catastrophe, it’s more essential than ever to understand how he got into the White House and who put him there. Then we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

In her recent blame-everybody-else-while-doing-nothing screed, “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton fingers James Comey, the Russians and Bernie Sanders.

But, in fact, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry put this madman in office.

This trio of multi-millionaire corporate Democrats won the presidential races of 2000, 2004 and 2016. Then they lay down, said hardly a word and did even less as they let George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump rule the land.

All three presidencies were stolen by stripping large numbers of black, Hispanic, Asian-American and young citizens from the voter rolls, and then electronically flipping the vote count. In 2000 and 2016, the thefts were finalized by the Electoral College.

Along the way, the United States House, Senate and a thousand state, federal and local offices also have been flipped. The Supreme Court has come along for the ride.

The impacts—eight years of George W. Bush and an eternity of Donald Trump—have been somewhere between catastrophic and apocalyptic.

We will recover only if we do what the corporate Democrats have not: Face up to how our entire electoral system has been become a sham and then change it.

Let’s start with Al Gore and Florida 2000.

In 2000, Gore was duly elected president of the United States. He won the popular vote nationwide by more than 500,000 ballots. Later, independent assessments showed he rightfully won Florida, which would have given him a majority in the Electoral College.

Officially, Gore lost Florida by 537 votes. In its infamous 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision, the Supreme Court stopped the recount that might have given Gore the presidency. The deciding vote was cast by Clarence Thomas. Gore, as a U.S. senator, had voted to put him on the bench.

But then-Gov. Jeb Bush, George’s brother and son of the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, actually prevented the legitimate citizen votes that would have won Gore the presidency. In shifting Florida from Gore to George W. Bush, Jeb Bush used a wide array of strategies perfected by their father at the CIA for overthrowing Third World regimes that American corporate interests deemed inconvenient. Florida 2000 was the logical follow-up.

As Greg Palast reported, Jeb used the ChoicePoint computer program to strip some 90,000 mostly black and Hispanic citizens from the voter rolls. As reported by activist Bev Harris, some 20,000 votes were electronically bounced around in Volusia County and elsewhere. At critical points on election night, they kept Bush2’s chances alive.

About 50,000 votes were tallied for the great consumer activist Ralph Nader in Florida 2000. Corporate Democrats still scream at him for daring to run at all. That pubic assault has shifted the focus away from how the election was actually stolen while undercutting America’s most effective corporate critic. In the perennial war waged by corporate Democrats against social democrats, this has been the new millennium’s centerpiece.

But had Nader not run, and had all who voted for him tried to vote for Gore, Bush still would have become president. With computerized stripping of the voter rolls, and electronic flipping of the vote count, Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris showed that a governor and secretary of state can take any reasonably close statewide vote and engineer whatever outcome they want.

Until very recently, Al Gore never publicly challenged the existence of the Electoral College, which was originally formed in part to empower slave owners. He was the fifth presidential candidate to rightfully win an election but lose the White House.

After 17 years, Gore still has not confronted publicly the issue of Jeb Bush’s stripping the voter registration rolls or flipping the electronic vote count. Gore has never used his considerable public persona or immense personal wealth to open a public dialog about that election’s corrupted outcome—or to work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Indeed, while presiding over the U.S. Senate as vice president, Gore crushed a legitimate challenge to Florida’s stolen Electoral College delegation that put the GOP in the White House.

Gore has since got a Nobel Prize for his work on climate change. But his actions were the first inconvenient steps to a Trump administration now making climate chaos infinitely worse.

Four years later, John Kerry followed suit.

In Ohio 2004—as in Florida 2000—the voter rolls were stripped and the electronic vote count flipped. This time, the prime perpetrator was GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, today a member of Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

Working with Bush2, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, Ohio’s first African-American secretary of state unleashed a veritable barrage dirty tricks to take the Buckeye State—and the presidency—away from John Kerry.

In Democratic urban strongholds and college towns, precincts were riddled with chaos that was distinctly lacking in rural Republican regions. Incorrect addresses were posted on the state’s official website, and polling stations were shorted on voting machines. While Blackwell spread confusion about the weight of the paper stock required for ballots, he refused to send usable ones to precincts short on voting machines. As a result, thousands of Ohioans—many students and people of color—simply could not vote.

Official letters were also sent to “ex-felons” threatening criminal prosecution if they dared to vote, even though ex-felons can legally vote in Ohio and many who were threatened weren’t ex-felons anyway. At least 300,000 citizens were stripped from the voter rolls, nearly all in heavily Democratic urban areas. Some absentee ballots in southern Ohio were sent out missing Kerry’s name.

In some Democratic strongholds, voters who pressed Kerry’s name on touchscreen machines saw Bush’s name light up. Some who chose Kerry saw that their choice had disappeared by the time they got to the end of the ballot.

There was much, much more, which Bob Fitrakis and I have documented in “How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election,” at freepress.org.

On Election Day, Bush and Rove made one trip out of Washington, D.C.—to check in with Blackwell. They made no public appearances and didn’t bother with Ohio’s GOP governor, Bob Taft.

At 12:20 on election night, despite mass chaos and huge lines (up to five hours long) in Democratic precincts, CNN showed John Kerry winning Ohio—and thus the presidency—by 4.2 percent of the vote. The projected margin was well over 200,000 ballots.

Somehow, a “glitch” stopped the tally. The “problem” was in a server in Chattanooga, Tenn., where the email accounts of Karl Rove and the national Republican Party also resided. They were all managed by Michael Connell, a Bush family high-tech consultant running Ohio’s vote count under a no-bid contract from Blackwell. [Editor’s note: Connell died in a small plane crash in Ohio in 2008, after recently being subpoenaed to testify in a lawsuit allegingvote rigging in the 2004 Ohio election.]

When the flow resumed at 2 a.m., all was flipped. Bush somehow won by 2.5 percent—a 6.7 percent shift. Scholars such as Ron Baiman deemed this change a “virtual statistical impossibility.” Bush’s Blackwell-approved Ohio margin was a beyond-improbable 118,000-plus votes, much of it from three southwestern counties riddled with chaos.

Kerry’s staff was thoroughly briefed on the likely fraud. At noon the next day, with 250,000 votes still uncounted, Kerry conceded. Then he went windsurfing.

Kerry has yet to say a public word about what happened in Ohio 2004, or in other states that year where election theft was blatantly obvious. The fraudulent tactics the GOP “test marketed” in 2004 have been used full force right through the “Trump triumph” of 2016, flipping an untold number of critical elections along the way.

Like Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004, Hillary Clinton was the designated winner in 2016. And like them both, she has said and done nothing about the third theft of the U.S. presidency in the first five presidential elections of the new millennium.

Clinton won the national popular vote by at least 2.9 million, despite a massive Jim Crow vote-stripping fraud perpetrated by GOP governors and secretaries of state in about 30 states. Parallel to ChoicePoint in Florida 2000, they used a program called Interstate Crosscheck, spread by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. As reported by Greg Palast, Crosscheck stripped voter rolls on the pretext that citizens were double-registered, even if their names did not match from one state to the other.

Palast estimates that at least 1 million voters were denied their ballots in this way, most of them likely Clinton voters who were black, Hispanic, Asian-American, Muslim and young. As featured in Palast’s book and movie “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” Kobach chairs the White House commission aimed at stripping registration rolls in upcoming elections. Clinton mentions Kobach briefly in “What Happened,” but offers no meaningful discussion of how his Jim Crow disenfranchisement campaign might have turned the 2016 outcome—or how to prevent it from happening again.

Clinton also briefly mentions the Electoral College that cost her the White House, but—like Gore and Kerry—gives no indication she plans to do anything significant about abolishing it.

She also fails to explore the fact that she won the exit polls in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—more than enough to give her an Electoral College victory. In all those states, the official vote count was deeply tainted with massive registration stripping and widespread electronic flipping.

But she harshly assaults Green candidate Jill Stein, echoing Democrat party-line attacks on Nader.

Trump’s total alleged margin in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was under 100,000. As in Florida 2000, Clinton counts Stein’s votes and complains that had they all gone to her, she could have won.

But she never mentions that she stiffed Stein’s attempts to investigate the obvious fraud in all three states. As Palast has reported, more than enough Wisconsin voters were stripped from the registration rolls using new photo ID requirements to flip that key state to Clinton. In lawsuits filed on behalf of the Stein campaign, Bob Fitrakis has established that Wisconsin also failed to provide transparent electronic voting machine source codes, as required by law.

In Michigan, where Clinton allegedly lost by about 10,000 votes, some 70,000 ballots were recorded without a presidential preference. In the face of obvious manipulation, Clinton has never questioned the absurd presumption that tens of thousands of Democratic voters in Detroit and Flint would slog through long lines and official abuse to cast ballots without marking a choice for chief executive.

In fact, Clinton killed Stein’s attempt to force a recount in Michigan. When a judge ruled Stein lacked standing, but that Clinton had it, Clinton’s lawyersrefused to support the recount. They also stonewalled Stein’s investigationsin Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

None of this is mentioned in “What Happened” or in Clinton’s public appearances. The candidate who rightfully won the 2016 election never mentions the obvious stripping and flipping that defined her losses in the three states that put Trump in the White House. Like Gore and Kerry, she has never indicated anywhere that she intends to do anything to stop this from happening again.

Clinton does, however, famously attack former FBI Director James Comey and the Russians for allegedly derailing her campaign at crucial moments.

Comey’s announcement of an investigation of her emails did, in fact, put a crimp in Clinton’s campaign. She still won the popular vote and the exit polls in the five key states that could have won her the Electoral College.

The Russians may or may not have hacked our electronic voting machines. But it’s abundantly clear, 17 years after Florida 2000, that those machines canbe hacked with ridiculous ease, and that the likeliest culprits will always be local officials whose access is universal, quick and predictable.

The Russians may or may not have also released emails showing that Clinton’s cronies on the Democratic National Committee wrongfully sabotaged the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Again and again, Clinton contemptuously assaults Sanders for his allegedly lukewarm support of her candidacy. But she completely ignores the massive grass-roots social democratic uprising that continues to make him America’s most popular politician.

Instead, she locked up her boring, uninspired candidacy behind the mighty fortress of corporate Democrats who seem to fear the social/green democrats to whom the party must ultimately belong if it’s ever again to take power. She let her personal hatred of Vladimir Putin convince even many of her followers that she might well spark a new Cold War with Russia.

Thus, she still misses and disses the activist nation that nominated Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, helped him survive the GOP’s strip-and-flip assaults, and thus escape the Electoral College death trap.

In 2016 the grass-roots “Hope and Change” tidal wave segued into the “Sandernista” uprising. It became the most powerful grass-roots movement for eco-social democracy in modern U.S. history. The latest incarnation is now in a desperate struggle to take the Democratic Party back from the “Clintonista” corporate elite that has gutted it. Its agenda is to turn the party into a force for peace, social justice and ecological sanity that can actually win elections.

Had Clinton lowered herself to embrace it, she might well have overcome a thoroughly corrupted electoral system and kept Trump out of the White House.

But as of now, there is no indication that either she, Al Gore or John Kerry are awake to the power of that movement, or to the need to confront an electoral system that strips millions of citizens from its registration rolls, flips electronic vote counts, and has used the Electoral College twice in this century to elect the likes of Bush and Trump as president.

With the corrupt remnants of the Clintons’ corporate-owned Democratic Leadership Council (which Hillary praises in “What Happened”) still in control of the party machinery, more than a thousand federal, state and local offices have slipped to the Republicans since 2000. Much of that clearly stems from grass-roots disgust with a party run by a dull, tone-deaf corporate cabal whose agenda on war, trade, welfare and more, is often indistinguishable from that of the GOP.

But much also has to do with the death grip Republican governors and secretaries of state have on the electoral apparatus. In 2016 and 2018, six U.S. Senate seats went to Republican candidates who lost in the exit polls, a virtual statistical impossibility. With those races went control of the upper House—and the Supreme Court.

Trump’s federal commission on “voter fraud,” headed by Kobach, with Blackwell by his side, is escalating the Jim Crow assault on our voter rolls. Easily hacked electronic voting machines guarantee flipped outcomes. The Electoral College still lets small red states deny the duly elected presidential candidates rightful access to the White House.

The reforms we need to our electoral apparatus include universal automatic voter registration, transparent poll books to guarantee duly registered citizens can actually vote, a four-day holiday for voting, easily accessible polling stations, and, above all, universal hand-counted paper ballots, to stay where they are cast in translucent containers with clear chain of custody until they can be tallied in full daylight, with open national oversight.

We also need an end to gerrymandering, the death of the Electoral College and an end to corporate money in campaigns.

All this seems beneath the corporate Democrats. But without such reforms, it’s a sad illusion that the Congress can be retaken in 2018, or that the GOP rampage through state and local legislatures can be reversed.

As for 2020, with the current electoral claptrap, a progressive presidency is almost certainly out of reach.

It will be up to the grass-roots sequel to the Sandernista movement to end this nightmare.

If “What Happened” and their timid inaction are any indicator, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore still don’t get it. That they opened the door for Donald Trump will be their most profound collective legacy.

“Truth!” shouts Jack Nicholson at the end of the legendary film “A Few Good Men.” “You can’t handle the truth!”

Until they can, these three biggest losers—and their moribund corporate Democrats—are destined for the scrap heap of history.

The sooner, the better.

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In Maria’s Wake, Could Puerto Rico Go Totally Green?

by

Originally published by The Progressive on September 28, 2017

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The ecological and humanitarian destruction of Puerto Rico has left the world aghast. But there is a hopeful green-powered opportunity in this disaster that could vastly improve the island’s future while offering the world a critical showcase for a sane energy future.

By all accounts Hurricane Maria has leveled much of the island, and literally left it in the dark. Puerto Rico’s electrical grid has been extensively damaged, with no prospects for a return to conventionally generated and distributed power for months to come.

In response Donald Trump has scolded the island for it’s massive debt, and waited a full week after the storm hit to lift a shipping restriction requiring all incoming goods to be carried on US-flagged ships. (That restriction is largely responsible for the island’s economic problems in the first place.)

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is a state-owned operation that hosts a number of solar and wind farms, as well as a network of hydroelectric dams. But the bulk of its energy supply has come from heavy industrial oil, diesel and gas burners. It also burns coal imported from Colombia at a plant in Guyama.

The fossil burners themselves apparently were left mostly undamaged by Maria. But the delivery system, a traditional network of above-ground poles and wires, has essentially been obliterated. Power authority officials say it could take at least 4-6 months to rebuild that network.

And of course, there is no guaranteeing such a pole-and-wire set-up would not then be obliterated by the next storm.

Among the most serious casualties have been the island’s hospitals. According to reports, 58 of Puerto Rico’s 69 medical facilities have been blacked out. At least two people died when intensive care units went dark.


But therein lies the opportunity. With solar panels and battery backups, every one of those hospitals could be energy self-sufficient. Throughout the U.S. such technology is now being applied at medical facilities, data processing and storage facilities, and other critical units.

According to Mark Sommer, a California-based energy expert, Puerto Rico could safeguard such critical facilities and far more quickly restore its power by letting go of the old paradigm of central-generated and distributed electricity, and moving instead to a decentralized network of green-based micro-grids.

In terms of cost, immediacy, immunity from the next hurricane and long-term sustainability, this is a tragic but unique opportunity.

Micro-grids are community-based networks that power smaller geographic and consumer areas than the big central grids like the one that served Puerto Rico. Mostly they are based on decentralized generation, including networks of roof-top solar panels. As Sommer puts it: “renewably powered microgrids are a relatively simple and already mature technology that can be deployed in months rather than years and once the initial investment is recovered deliver dramatically lower energy bills.”

Because Puerto Rico is mountainous and hosts many small, remote villages, the island’s best hope for a manageable energy future is with decentralized power production in self-sustaining neighborhoods. Built around small-scale wind and solar arrays, with battery backups protected from inevitable floods and hurricanes, Puerto Rico could protect its electricity supply from the next natural disaster while building up a healthy, low-cost energy economy.

The island is also a good source of sugar cane and other fast-growing tropical vegetation, making a strong case for bio-mass sources like ethanol. Much of Brazil’s automobile fleet runs at least partly on fuel produced by fermenting bagasse, a by-product of the country’s huge sugar cane crop.

With local financing and ownership, the prospects for a sun-drenched eco-system like Puerto Rico’s to go to renewable-based micro-grids are overwhelming. In terms of cost, immediacy, immunity from the next hurricane and long-term sustainability, this is a tragic but unique opportunity.

There is little precedent for an entire geographic entity to lose 100% of its grid. We can expect a deaf ear on this from a Trump Administration dominated by the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries.

But to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid in a traditional centralized fashion would only prolong Maria’s agony while leaving the island deathly vulnerable to the next big wind storm.

Puerto Rico’s best hope for a safe, prosperous, sustainable energy future is to take control of its power supply with a mix of renewable generation, protected backup storage, and a decentralized, local-based network of community-owned microgrids.

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Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter: @Solartopia

We Need a New National Anthem

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published by The Progressive on September 25, 2017

jimi for harvey

 

The magnificent and historic protests of our nation’s athletes during The Star-Spangled Banner at their sports games are not merely appropriate—they’re long overdue.

The protests rightly focus on the travesties perpetrated against our citizens of color. That highly-paid professional athletes would risk their careers to take this stand is a powerful tribute to the devastating impact racial injustice is having on our society, and to their courage as individuals. The National Football League owners’ blacklisting of the superbly talented Colin Kaepernick is hard evidence of what such an exercise of free speech can cost in today’s America.

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But there’s also another dimension here. The fact is that our national anthem is a terrible song, with racist and militaristic overtones. It needs to be replaced, maybe by a single more appropriate anthem…or maybe by many.

The lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner were written by Francis Scott Key, a slaveowner. He was celebrating the failure of the British to conquer Baltimore in the War of 1812. The Brits had just burned our nation’s capital, partly in response to our burning their Canadian headquarters at York, now Toronto.

The song as it’s sung in public is not explicitly racist. But as Jason Johnson describes in his piece “Star-Spangled Bigotry,” buried in the unsung lyrics was a nasty put-down of freed slaves fighting for the English. A brigade of black soldiers had just humiliated Key and he was not happy about it. The words were set To Anacreon in Heaven, an awkward tune appropriate for inebriation, which is how it was usually sung.

The Navy adopted the song as a military hymn in 1889. Then Woodrow Wilson adopted it in 1916, via executive order, amidst his campaign to stir martial fervor for U.S. entry into World War I. A strong majority of Americans bitterly opposed the war, but Wilson forced it through with an ugly propaganda campaign against Germans as a race.

It took Congress fifteen years—until 1931—to officially make The Star-Spangled Banner the U.S. national anthem.

And it’s always been an ode to war. Nobody made that clearer than Jimi Hendrix. When he played it at Woodstock, 1969, he inserted a devastating version of Taps. Right-wingers piously branded him “unpatriotic,” but Jimi had served in the 101st Airborne.

Today’s professional sports events—especially the NFL—are tainted with militaristic overtones. Air Force flyovers and armed soldiers in formation are everywhere. Those “bombs bursting in air” have been imposed on what should be peaceful pastimes. Those “patriots” who say politics should not be part of sports should first remove the military presence from our stadiums.

In an era so thoroughly plagued by martial madness, we need a new anthem, one that celebrates peace, social justice and diverse expression. Candidates include Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land, sung by radical farmers and workers throughout the 1930s. Other possible songs range from Oh Freedom, America the Beautiful and Amazing Grace to Buffy Sainte Marie’s My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying and Johnny Cash’s As Long as the Grass Shall Grow.

Or maybe it’s time we moved beyond a single national song altogether. In an age and nation so thoroughly defined by diversity, we should be celebrating a multitude of verses.

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Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter: @Solartopia

IT’S A LOUSY “ANTHEM” ANYWAY

by Harvey Wasserman

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The immensely powerful, deeply moving and historic protests of our nation’s athletes against the absurd rantings of our Great Dictator make one thing abundantly clear: the diversity of this nation is not going away.

 

But The Star Spangled Banner should. It’s a lousy song with a racist message.  We need a new anthem—-or to acknowledge many of them.

 

Likewise the dotard illegitimately occupying the White House. We can do better.

 

So let’s combine the campaigns.

 

Words to the Star Spangled Banner were written by Francis Scott Key, a slaveowner. He commemorated the failure of the British to conquer Baltimore in the War of 1812, an utterly useless conflict. The Brits had just burned our nation’s capital, partly in response to our burning their Canadian headquarters at York, now Toronto.

 

As Jason Johnson has shown in his “Star Spangled Bigotry”, buried in the lyrics was a clear racist put-down of freed slaves fighting for the English. They were set to a drinking tune, To Anacreon in Heaven.

 

The Navy adopted the song in 1889, then Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Wilson was stirring up fervor for US entry into World War I, which the majority of Americans strongly opposed. He used that war as cover to crush the Socialist Party, which had millions of supporters. He jailed our greatest labor leader, Indiana’s Eugene V. Debs, for daring to speak against a war that killed at least 10,000,000 people and accomplished nothing.

 

Congress turned down the song a number of times before it was officially adopted in 1931, in the midst of the Depression.

 

The iconic version came from Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, 1969. He did it with no lyrics. But in the midst of the useless, worthless war in Vietnam, he inserted a version of Taps.

 

Right-wingers freaked out and branded him “unpatriotic.”   Unlike most of them, Jimi had actually served in the military.

 

Now it’s played at July 4th celebrations everywhere. I use it to start all my college history classes. Nobody stands.

 

According to political scientist Bob Fitrakis, in the 1930s American farmers and workers celebrated our country with Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land.

 

There are other candidates…and some heated opinions. The great activist Sheila Parks says:

 

“I am hoping you will listen, again perhaps, to these songs and see what they have to say about white people and Native American Peoples

 

Buffy Sainte Marie :  “My country ‘Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying”

 

Johnny Cash: From Bitter Tears – “As Long As the Grass Shall Grow”

 

Maybe someone should write a new one.

 

Or celebrate our diversity by adopting different songs for different events and different teams. Sweet Caroline seems to work for the Red Sox. We Shall Overcome would do well for many public rallies. Hey Hey, Goodbye will serve beautifully at upcoming impeachment hearings.

 

This athletes’ rebellion fits the massive wave of grassroots social democracy that rocked our country just a year ago. Hopefully it will help propel its revival.

 

John Nichols shows in his Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse that Trump’s antics are a clown’s distraction while his corrupt cronies loot our public treasure, financial, ecological, spiritual.

 

His fascistic rantings echo Wilson’s brutal, unConstitutional assault on the farm-labor movements for social democracy a century ago, when he first pitched this anthem, and then stuck us with a catastrophic intervention that killed more than 110,000 Americans and devastated Europe.

 

Those racist lyrics are rooted in contempt for social justice, an inability to handle human diversity, an embrace of for-profit militarism.

 

The Star Spangled Banner is awful, both as a song and for what it celebrates.   Let’s get rid of it, along with that Bum in the White House.

 

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Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States is at  www.solartopia.org.

 

 

How to Reform the Corrupted U.S. Electoral System

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published at Truthdig on September 22, 2017

President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump visit a fourth-grade classroom at Saint Andrew’s Catholic School in Orlando, Fla.,in March. (Shealah Craighead / White House)

Election theft is now the core reality of American politics.
It has poisoned every corner of the United States government, put the world at the brink of atomic and climate catastrophe and robbed every generation of its inherent right to a sane and prosperous future.
We are under the thumb of a vicious corporatocracy in a nation that desperately desires social democracy. A fascist government—in a nation that, at heart, hates fascism—rules us.
We are being robbed of universal health care, decent public education, renewable energy, environmental protection, accountable policing, basic human rights, nuclear disarmament and much, much more because unelected billionaire corporatists control our government instead of dedicated, accountable public servants.
The Jim Crow stripping of our voter rolls has denied millions their most basic right.
The electronic flipping of our voting machines has thrust into power a horrific horde of the most cynical, unqualified and outright destructive rulers our nation has ever seen.
Donald Trump is in the White House despite losing the 2016 popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and losing the exit polls in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. George W. Bush buried us in the cancerous destruction of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East despite losing the popular vote by 500,000, because, as reported by Greg Palast and Bev Harris, his brother stripped and flipped the vote count in Florida 2000. As reported at freepress.org, Bush2 got a second term through the electronic theft of Ohio’s electoral votes in 2004.
All of this happened without a meaningful word from Al Gore, John Kerry or Hillary Clinton. They’ve made their disagreements with Donald Trump known. But with a corrupted electoral system, there’s no chance of changing the balance of governmental power, and all such rantings are, as William Shakespeare put it, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Today, our Supreme Court, Congress, state and local governments are packed with reactionary corporatists who owe their power to manipulated elections. Through the Obama years, more than 1,000 federal, state and local offices changed hands in elections rife with fraud. In 2014 and 2016, six U.S. Senate seats went to Republicans who lost in the exit polls. Our entire electoral system is riddled with deceit. What has been done to our government is a mirror image of what our military and intelligence operatives have done to developing nations too many times to count.
A mere year ago, a self-proclaimed socialist, the New Deal Democrat Bernie Sanders, helped ignite the biggest movement for social democracy in modern American history. Deeply rooted in the millennial generation, this grass-roots uprising promised an ecologically sustainable future built on tolerance, justice, equality and peace. It offered the prospect of a decent, survivable future. It also challenged the corporate party elite and the Clintons’ Democratic Leadership Council.
And, as shown by its internal emails, the Democratic National Committee also conspired to deny Sanders the nomination. It ignored and abused the massive social uprising that comprises our nation’s last, best, hope for a progressive, sustainable future.
Despite that, Sanders then supported the Clinton candidacy. She rightfully won the presidency. Then she walked away, and, among other things, prevented a Green Party recount in Michigan and elsewhere.
And now we have Donald Trump in the White House.
To this day, Clinton has done nothing about the fact that the election was stolen. But she’s gone out of her way to trash Sanders and further alienate the movement he helped ignite. Without the youthful energy of that uprising, the Democratic Party has no meaning and the nation has no future. But we also need fair, accountable elections.
Despite being the rightful winners of the 2000, 2004 and 2016 elections, the corporate Democrats continue to say nothing about the utter debasement of our electoral system. Because of the top-to-bottom manipulation of that system, we have a government completely controlled by corrupt corporatists.
Predictably, an entire federal juggernaut is now aimed at prolonging this tyranny. Kris Kobach, vice-chair of President Trump’s electoral-integrity commission, as reported by Palast, masterminded the Crosscheck computer program used to rob countless Americans—mostly black and Hispanic—of their votes in 2016, thus putting Donald Trump in the White House. One commission member is J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state, who electronically flipped Ohio 2004 to George W. Bush.
Trump has now appointed Republican attorney Cameron Quinn, a high-profile enemy of voting rights, to head the civil rights division at Homeland Security. It’s an obvious escalation of the nationwide assault on the voting rights of citizens of color, the young, the elderly and the non-millionaire majority.
Trump, the GOP and the Gore-Kerry-Clinton Democrats know full well that given fair elections, the American people would throw this pack of ravenous corporate beasts entirely out of power. To get an electoral system that actually works for the public good, here’s what we needed:

 

● Universal automatic voter registration, with registration rolls that can be easily monitored, so individual citizens can confirm their status as they come to the polls.
● A four-day weekend for voting, with ample polling stations providing convenient access for all.
● Universal hand-counted paper ballots that are kept in translucent, video-monitored containers that do not move.
● An end to gerrymandering.
● Abolition of the Electoral College.
● A ban on the corporate purchase of our campaigns.
In the long run, the only thing that can save this planet from utter destruction is the will of the people, legitimately empowered. Donald Trump’s uniquely crazed genocidal/suicidal corporatocracy is the most obvious indicator it is being denied, and the consequences are lethal.
If we want any kind of future on this planet, an electoral system that works is the only answer. Win it, or die.

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Harvey Wasserman is the host of “California Solartopia,” a radio show that is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica 90.7 FM in Los Angeles on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. His weekly “Green Power & Wellness Show” is podcast from prn.fm. “Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth” is at www.solartopia.org, as is “The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, co-written with Bob Fitrakis.

Nuclear Plants Plus Hurricanes: Disasters Waiting to Happen

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published at Progressive.org on September 21, 2017

Lucie GoodSt. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant at Port St. Lucie, Florida

Although the mainstream media said next to nothing about it, independent experts have made it clear that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened six U.S. nuclear plants with major destruction, and therefore all of us with apocalyptic disaster. It is a danger that remains for the inevitable hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters yet to come.
During Harvey and Irma, six holdovers from a dying reactor industry—two on the Gulf Coast at South Texas, two at Key Largo and two more north of Miami at Port St. Lucie—were under severe threat of catastrophic failure. All of them rely on off-site power systems that were extremely vulnerable throughout the storms. At St. Lucie Unit One, an NRC official reported a salt buildup on electrical equipment requiring a power downgrade in the midst of the storm.
Loss of backup electricity was at the core of the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan when the tsunami there and ensuing flood shorted out critical systems. The reactor cores could not be cooled. Three melted. Their cores have yet to be found. Water pouring over them flooded into the Pacific, carrying away unprecedented quantities of cesium and other radioactive isotopes. In 2015, scientists detected radioactive contamination from Fukushima along the coast near British Columbia and California.
Four of six Fukushima Daichi reactors suffered hydrogen explosions, releasing radioactive fallout far in excess of what came down after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Extreme danger still surrounds Fukushima’s highly radioactive fuel pools, which are in varied stages of ruin.
“In addition to reactors, which at least are within containment structures, high-level radioactive waste storage pools are not within containment, and are also mega-catastrophes waiting to happen, as in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane,” says Kevin Kamps of the activist group Beyond Nuclear.

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew paralyzed fire protection systems at Florida’s Turkey Point and so severely damaged a 350-foot-high tower it had to be demolished. The eye of that storm went directly over the reactor, sweeping away support buildings valued at $100 million or more.
There’s no reason to rule out a future storm negating fire protection systems, flinging airborne debris into critical support buildings, killing off-site backup power, and more.
As during Andrew, the owners of the nuclear plants under assault from Harvey and Irma had an interest in dragging their feet on timely shut-downs. Because they are not liable for downwind damage done in a major disaster, the utilities can profit by keeping the reactors operating as long as they can, despite the obvious public danger.
Viable evacuation plans are a legal requirement for continued reactor operation. But such planning has been a major bone of contention, prompting prolonged court battles at Seabrook, New Hampshire, and playing a critical role in the shutdown of the Shoreham reactor on Long Island. After a 1986 earthquake damaged the Perry reactor in Ohio, then-Governor Richard Celeste sued to delay issuance of the plant’s operating license. A state commission later concluded evacuation during a disaster there was not possible. After Andrew, nuclear opponents like Greenpeace questioned the right of the plant to continue operating in light of what could occur during a hurricane.
Throughout the world, some 430 reactors are in various stages of vulnerability to natural disaster, including ninety-nine in the United States. Numerous nuclear plants have already been damaged by earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, and floods. The complete blackout of any serious discussion of what Harvey and Irma threatened to do to these six Texas and Florida reactors is cause for deep concern.

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Harvey Wasserman’s California Solartopia show airs at KPFK 90.7 fm  Los Angeles; his Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at prn.fm. He is the author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author of Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Hour – 08.24.17

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Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour – 08.24.17

ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT, RENEWABLE GREEN POWER & THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE fill our souls today in Solartopia today.

With my long-time co-conspirator BOB FITRAKIS of www.freepress.org we study the history of electronic voting machines as presented to the political science profession in a breakthrough moment where mainstream academia seems finally to be taking seriously the theft of our elections.  An attorney and full professor, Fitrakis’s pioneer work on the electronic debasement of what’s left of our democracy is key to our understanding how we wound up with the corrupt, insane Donald Trump in the White House.

 

We’re also joined by KEVIN KAMPS of BeyondNuclear.org to dissect the latest pro-fossil/nuke “report” from Energy Secretary Rick Perry (Texas’s former “Governor Good-Hair”) fomenting the obscene absurdity that somehow renewable energy must defer to Trump’s polluters destroying the Earth.  In tandem we discuss Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich’s opposition to a massive bailout for decayed nuke reactors in Ohio versus New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo’s support for a massive bailout of four reactors in upstate New York.

 

Along the way we also visit the NFL and COLIN KAEPERNICK’s spreading protest, putting forth a demand that we exchange the racist, pro-slavery Star-Spangled Banner for something better, like THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND.  The concussions dealt by the intense military presence at pro football games are damaging our national soul, and need to be replaced by the rising tide of progressive athletic consciousness now sweeping the sports world.

 

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