May 15, 2011 archive

Felonious Links

Should it be a felony to link.  Some think so apparently.…

More telecom spying.…

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Fukushima Gets Worse

While you were sleeping…


The Leaning Tower of Fukushima went right on tilting, with an enormous mass of enriched uranium inside it!

Dr. Robert Jacobs, a Nuclear Historian at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, offered the diagram above in an interview on Tuesday with Russia Today. According to Jacobs (which he says has been confirmed by the Japanese Government), Unit 4 is starting to lean, a collapse certain to expose the fuel rod pools at the top of the building.

Expose the fuel rods? If Unit 4 collapses, it will fling 1479 intensely radioactive fuel rods all over the landscape!

And in addition to this really spectacular prospect, everything else about Fukushima is… surprise! …much much worse than the Tepco and the Japanese government admitted!

The Japanese media are not amused!

Accurate data shattered the overly optimistic assessment of Tokyo Electric Power Co. concerning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and raised doubts about the company’s game plan for ending the crisis.

TEPCO officials admitted on May 12 that a “meltdown” had occurred in the No. 1 reactor. Fuel rods had melted, and the molten fuel accumulated and caused small cracks at the bottom of the reactor pressure container, they said.

Reactor 2 and Reactor 3 are probably also cracked! 3000 tons of extremely radioactive cooling water leaked out of Reactor 1 and nobody knows where it went! They can’t even measure how much water remains in any of the reactors!

They don’t even have a plan any more!

An adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated Sunday that a plan to flood and cool the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant with water will be abandoned as holes have been created by melted nuclear fuel at the bottom of the pressure vessel.

Meltdowns! Collapsing reactors! No plan! Nothing is under control!

And that’s the news from Fukushima.

Sunday Train: Legislative Analyst to Fresno: Screw You AND Your High Speed Rail

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

The big news on the High Speed Rail front this week is the effort by the California Legislative Analyst to prevent the High Speed Rail project in California from breaking ground. This is in two of their recommendations:

Fund Only Needed Administrative Tasks for Now. … only appropriate at this time the $7 million in funding requested for state administration of the project by HSRA.

Seek Flexibility on Use of Federal Funds. We propose that the Legislature direct HSRA to renegotiate the terms of the federal funding awarded to the state by the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). …

Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida also “sought flexibility” as part of the process of rejecting the Federal funding. Combine that with denying the California HSR Authority the funding to allow it to break ground to meet the requirements of the funding, and this report is a frontal assault on the second of the two Express HSR projects funded by the Administration HSR policy.

Lose this fight, and the California HSR could lose its $3b+ in funding and fail to break ground. Win this fight, win approval to break ground, and the California HSR becomes much harder to kill off.

Get me my fainting couch!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent

By Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post

May 13

The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.

The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde. Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks.

The rolling back of social safety nets in Europe began more than a year ago, as countries from Britain to France to Greece moved to cut social benefits and slash public payrolls, to address mounting public debt. At least in the short term, the cuts have held back economic growth and job creation, exacerbating the social pain.

In Britain, for instance, 10 activists formed the UK Uncut group in a North London pub late last year, spawning a national wave of civil disobedience against spending cuts, bankers’ bonuses and tax evasion by the rich. During a March protest, they used Twitter and text messages to organize a “flash mob” that saw hundreds occupy and vandalize London’s famous Fortnum & Mason’s food store. In recent months, other actions have forced at least 100 bank branches across Britain to temporarily close.

“There is a sense of general injustice, that the government bailed out capitalism and the citizens are footing the bill while the capitalist system is running like nothing ever happened,” said Bart Cammaerts, an expert in anarchist movements at the London School of Economics. “And yet, things have happened. There are more taxes, less services, and anger is emerging from that tension.”

“They are taking everything away from us,” Ganiaris said. “What will happen when I finish law school? Will I only find a job making copies in a shop? Will I then need to work until I’m 70 before I retire? Will I only get a few hundred euros as pension? What future have I got now?”

As in many countries in Europe, fascist and far-right parties are strengthening, engaging in an increasing number of attacks against immigrants.

The Price of Ownership

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

When the Republicans voted lock step on the Ryan Budget plan that would decimate the safety nets of Medicaid ans Medicare, they were not prepared for the harsh criticism from their own supporters and organizations that had praised their agenda in the past. During the Spring recess, House members faced angry constituents and a harsh press. On Tuesday, 42 freshmen sent a letter to the president asking that the Democrats forget that they used Medicare scare tactics fighting the Health Care Reform bill and back off holding them responsible for their votes on the Ryan Budget bill. Sorry, guys, no do-overs. You own it now.

Republican Budget Would Cause Millions of Americans to Lose Medicaid

By Jon Walker @ FDL

The House Republican budget written by Paul Ryan has received a huge amount of criticism for its plan to replace Medicare with a poorly indexed private voucher program that could result in more and more seniors every year being unable to afford health care. Less focus has been put on how equally devastating the Ryan plan would be to people who rely on Medicaid because the plan would stop federal funding for the program from keeping up with the increasing cost of actually providing people with care.

A study from be the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid(PDF) lays out three likely scenarios of what would happen if the Republican plan were implemented.

Critics Fear G.O.P.’s Proposed Medicaid Changes Could Cut Coverage for the Aged

By Jennifer Steinhauer @ NYT

While the largest number of Medicaid recipients are low-income children and adults, who tend to be far less politically potent voices in battles over entitlement programs than older voters, the changes to Medicaid proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House budget chairman, could actually have a more direct impact on older Americans than the Medicare part of his plan.

The House plan would turn Medicaid, which provides health coverage for the poor through a combination of federal and state money, into a block grant program for states. The federal government would give lump sums to states, which in turn would be given more flexibility and independence over use of the money, though the plan does not spell out what the federal requirements would be.

Beginning in 2013, these grants would increase annually at the rate of inflation, with adjustments for population growth, a rate far below that of inflation for health care costs. As a result, states, which have said that they cannot afford to keep up with the program’s costs, are likely to scale back coverage. Such a reduction, critics fear, could have a disproportionate effect on Medicaid spending for nursing home care for the elderly or disabled.

Critical Letter by Catholics Cites Boehner on Policies

By Laurie Goodstein @ NYT

More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

The letter writers criticize Mr. Boehner’s support for a budget that cut financing for Medicare, Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, while granting tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. They call such policies “anti-life,” a particularly biting reference because the phrase is usually applied to politicians and others who support the right to abortion.

The shoe is once again on the other foot and it is up to the Democrats to make sure it causes permanent bunions, by making them own their votes and pay the price.


Sylvester and Tweety MysteriesA Chip Off The Old Castle, Episode 4, Part 2

0 Days without a category error.

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

(h/t lambert)

Unfortunately, they’re also Democratic budget ideas.

Seniors, Guns and Money

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: May 12, 2011

(T)he truth is that older Americans really should fear Republican budget ideas – and not just because of that plan to dismantle Medicare. Given the realities of the federal budget, a party insisting that tax increases of any kind are off the table – as John Boehner, the speaker of the House, says they are – is, necessarily, a party demanding savage cuts in programs that serve older Americans.

The great bulk of federal spending that isn’t either defense-related or interest on the debt goes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The first two programs specifically serve seniors. And while Medicaid is often thought of as a poverty program, these days it’s largely about providing nursing care, with about two-thirds of its spending now going to the elderly and/or disabled. By my rough count, in 2007, seniors accounted, one way or another, for about half of federal spending.

Between an aging population and rising health costs, then, preserving anything like the programs for seniors we now have will require a significant increase in spending on these programs as a percentage of G.D.P. And unless we offset that rise with drastic cuts in defense spending – which Republicans, needless to say, oppose – this means a substantial rise in overall spending, which we can afford only if taxes rise.

Which brings me back to those Republican freshmen. Last year, older voters, who split their vote almost evenly between the parties in 2008, swung overwhelmingly to the G.O.P., as Republicans posed successfully as defenders of Medicare. Now Democrats are pointing out that the G.O.P., far from defending Medicare, is actually trying to dismantle the program. So you can see why those Republican freshmen are nervous.

Six In The Morning

IMF chief held on suspicion of sexual assault on N.Y. hotel worker

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, is taken off a plane about to leave JFK, arrested and charged in the attack on a chambermaid in his luxury suite.

By Geraldine Baum, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 15, 2011, 12:07 a.m.

Reporting from New York– Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, was hauled off a flight about to leave JFK airport for Paris on Saturday and arrested on allegations he sexually assaulted a maid in a Times Square-area hotel, a police spokesman said.

Strauss-Kahn, who is also an important figure in French politics, was taken to the Harlem headquarters of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, which investigates rape and other sex crimes. He was charged with committing a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault on a chambermaid in the luxury suite of a midtown Manhattan hotel, said Paul Browne, deputy New York City police commissioner.

Late Night Karaoke

Indiana Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home

Just in case you haven’t read about it……

Don’t be worried.  It’s only the natural progression of the national security state.  And guess what?  Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s governator, wants to run for President, and apparently he has money to back him (don’t worry about pharma buying him out, he used to be head of Eli Lily, so he’s already sold himself).

Coming to state near you, if its not already there.