Archive for yikes!

New radioactive waste leak found at nuclear site, and clean-up could be halted by sequestration.



In the state of Washington, there is radioactive waste leaking at the Hanford nuclear site. Call me crazy, but it's my feeling that wind doesn't leak, nor does solar power... but that's another argument for another day.

Today let's concentrate on cleaning up yet another potentially lethal nuclear mess.

Via the L.A. Times:

An aging tank of high-level radioactive waste is leaking at the Hanford nuclear site in south-central Washington state at the rate of up to 300 gallons a year, federal authorities disclosed Friday after discovering a dip in the volume of toxic sludge in the tank.

Gov. Jay Inslee said, “This raises concerns not only about the existing leak that has been recently discovered, but also concerning the integrity of the other single-shell tanks of this age, some of which have experienced prior leaks."

Meh, no worries:

State officials say there is no immediate public health threat, because it could take years or even decades for the leaked material to reach the groundwater and move on to the nearby Columbia River.

See? It could take years before Washington residents have to worry about things like "public health threats," or as I like to call them, fear, pain, suffering, cancer, and death.

What's everyone getting so worked up about? Relax. There are plenty of hard-working federal employees who are working to clean up the toxic slop before anything really bad happens. They are the heroes of this story. They are on it.

But Inslee said the timing of the leak’s discovery coincided unfortunately with a report this week from Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee that more than 1,000 federal employees now working on cleanup at the site could be placed on unpaid leave for six weeks if threatened federal budget “sequestration” cuts occurred on March 1.

uh oh smaller

Breathe, people. Obviously, Congress is all over it. They'd be fools to let something as dangerous as this slip by them, right?

Oh... Excuse me, something is coming through my imaginary earpiece, hang on...

“We’ve been told not to be in Congress. Speaker Boehner controls the agenda… and he sent us home.”

How's that sequestration thing workin' for ya?



What Does It Take Dep't: Yet another report confirms man-made climate change, and it's not pretty


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As I said in my post, Climate change won’t wait; it’s “a fight between human beings and physics… The less you do, the worse it gets”:

I wish there were about 100 more Bill McKibbens (scroll). This post is a good introduction to him if you don’t know who he is: Maher VIDEO: Hey climate change deniers: “What are we gonna develop that replaces Iowa?” Oceans, marine life, seafood industry now at risk. So are the many videos at the McKibben link above, all illustrating his excellent arguments for immediate, effective action on the climate change crisis.

I urge you to link over and read what McKibben has to say. And as you'll see further down in this post, he has even more to tell us. But first, take a look at what's being reported by a federal advisory committee that was written by 240 scientists, business leaders and other experts. The L.A. Times has the story, and the story is, we're already there. Climate change is no longer some future threat, we're already feeling the pain, and it's only going to get worse. But I'm betting you already knew that:

The impacts of climate change driven by human activity are spreading through the United States faster than had been predicted, increasingly threatening infrastructure, water supplies, crops and shorelines, according to a federal advisory committee.

The draft Third National Climate Assessment, issued every four years, delivers a bracing picture of environmental changes and natural disasters that mounting scientific evidence indicates is fostered by climate change: heavier rains in the Northeast, Midwest and Plains that have overwhelmed storm drains and led to flooding and erosion; sea level rise that has battered coastal communities; drought that has turned much of the West into a tinderbox.

"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," the report says. "Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer."


And guess what they say is the main driver of climate change. You guessed right: consumption of fossil fuels by humans. Drill, baby, drill!

Now back to Bill McKibben. After reading that report and coming out from under the bed, I toddled over to the Times' letters to the editor page, and there was a hefty postscript to a reaction to the McKibben article I referred to at the top of this post.

In in a letter published previously, a reader asked "How much would [McKibben's ideas] slow the pace of climate change? Would it make a significant difference, or would it simply be destroying modern economies for the sake of doing something? What will be the result if we don't do it?" McKibben had proposed cutting emissions "globally at a sensational rate, by something like 5% a year."

McKibben was grateful for the questions and responded, in part, this way:

A 2-degree increase, it should be noted, is no picnic. So far we've raised the temperature 1 degree, and that's been enough to melt much of the Arctic ice, so most scientists are horrified by the thought of a 2-degree rise. But on our current path, we're headed for 6 degrees, which is a planet out of science fiction. [...]

[Y]es, this will cost money. It would also indicate that the newly rebuilt economy will be far more efficient and productive — think back and compare the prewar economy of the 1930s and the postwar one of the 1950s.

As for "destroying modern economies," the real danger lies in not doing anything about climate change. [...]

[T]he cost of unchecked global warming could pass the combined cost of both world wars and the Depression. To understand how such a thing might happen, consider the costs of this year's drought and Superstorm Sandy: $100 billion price tags start to add up (and of course the biggest price was born by poor consumers around the world, many of whom saw the price of their daily bread rise painfully out of reach).

Bottom line: not easy or cheap, but easier and cheaper than the alternative of a hopelessly overheating world.

Of course, per Wonkette, Fox News Does Its Part In War On Science, Demands ‘Recount’ Of Weather Temperatures.

ClusterFox strikes again. Apparently, they have no children or grandchildren.


Brigham Young’s great-great-granddaughter on Mormonism, Mitt Romney, and "Lying for the Lord"


Per an exclusive at The Daily Beast, Sue Emmett's great-great-grandfather was Brigham Young, the founder of Salt Lake City, first governor of Utah, and president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) from 1847 until his death in 1877.

As an adult, she started having doubts about "the ethics and veracity of the church’s doctrine and its founders, including Young himself, and she grew increasingly concerned with the way, she says, the church treats women."

Why bring this up? Well, for one, the guy who is about to become the official Republican nominee for president of the United States is Mormon, and Sue Emmett has a few insights to share about what makes Mitt Romney tick.

Via The Daily Beast:

Emmett has watched Mitt Romney very closely throughout his public life and has strong opinions about what shaped his personality and his character. “Mitt is a product not only of his wealth, but of an organization that gives men power when they are 12 years old,” she says. “That is when boys are ordained with the priesthood. It is a big moment in a Mormon male’s childhood.”

As for what pundits say is Romney's difficulty connecting with people, Emmett blames it largely on what she calls “the entitled Mormon male syndrome, where the leadership professes compassion and concern but leaves the manifestations of that to the drones. All male leadership is not this way; there are some wonderful men who do their best to exercise their power compassionately, but many do not.”

Emmett says Romney was a bishop, “a position where everyone defers to you. What a bishop says goes. People come to them to receive blessings.” He then became a stake president, she says, which means he presided over several congregations, and at that point bishops deferred to him.

“Mitt has had people defer to him and not challenge him his entire life,” says Emmett. “In the Mormon church if you challenge your priesthood leaders it’s a very bad thing to do, especially for women. As the world can now see, Mitt has a very hard time with being questioned and criticized; he’s had so little of this in his life."

Ever wonder about Willard's flip flops about abortion rights? Well, according to Emmett, he got permission from church leaders in Salt Lake to change his position to that of supporting a woman's right to choose once upon a time. When it suited him politically.

What else does he need permission for?

She also believes he has truth issues, meaning he has difficulty sticking to it, or as I like to call it, lying. This quote from Emmett is rather disturbing: "Some modern apostles actually taught that it is not always the best thing to tell the truth if it interferes with preaching gospel.” She referred to it as "Lying for the Lord."

So he has permission to lie "for a higher cause." Got it.

Ken Clark worked as a teacher for the LDS Church Education System for over 25 years and also served as a bishop before leaving the church in 2003. Here's what he said:

“But what happens is when this becomes a part of your ethical tool kit, you develop a condescending attitude toward people. Like Ann Romney saying 'you people.’ This idea of lying for the Lord gives you license to place people on an inferior level."

Explains a lot, doesn't it?


Voting machines in FL, WI, NY, OH overheat, mistally 30-70% of votes


I'm constantly ranting about voter suppression (Voter I.D. laws and other restrictions on registration included), hatred of President Obama, and super PAC money interfering with Democratic wins in the November elections. And with good reason. Disenfranchisement alone can prevent up to 5 million voters from casting ballots.

I've also mentioned major, and valid, concerns about flawed, easily hackable, or disastrously inaccurate voting machines, as in my post of a few weeks ago, Florida optical-scanners declared the incorrect “winners” of elections.

Our friend Brad Friedman at The BRAD BLOG, the go-to source for all things election fraud, corruption, voter fraud, and voting machine disasters, has some more disturbing news for us. Here are a few excerpts, but please follow the link... these few snippets don't come close to doing his detailed reporting justice:

New paper ballot optical-scan computer tabulator systems used to tally millions of votes in New York --- as well as "swing states" such as Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin --- do not tally votes correctly. That stunning admission comes courtesy of a new report released by the private company which manufactures, sells, services and programs the systems which are now believed to have mistallied tens of thousands of ballots in New York in 2010.

The votes of more than ten million voters could be affected by a newly revealed failure in the voting systems set for use in those four states in this year's Presidential election, and in more than 50 different jurisdictions in Wisconsin during next month's historic recall elections.

Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), the largest e-voting machine company in the U.S. and the maker of the paper ballot op-scan tally systems in question, have confirmed that their systems may overheat when used over several hours (for example, during an election!), and that they then may mistally and/or incorrectly discard anywhere from 30% to 70% of votes scanned by the machines. [...]

The Sequoia WinEDS system is currently in use in 285 jurisdictions in 17 states, where it's set to tally the votes --- either accurately or inaccurately --- for some 25 million registered voters this year in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

After the Sequoia system failures came to light in Palm Beach County --- along with Dominion/Sequoia's attempts at covering them up --- Susan Bucher, their Supervisor of Elections, told The BRAD BLOG that she'd be delighted to switch to a different system made by a different manufacturer, "but they all have similar problems, as I've come to understand it."

Bucher understands it correctly.

Machines like these can potentially throw future elections. As Brad points out, "publicly hand-counting hand-marked paper ballots on Election Night, at the precinct" can restore confidence and democracy simultaneously.

It would take a lot longer, (see below) but at least we'd have a tangible paper trail, the ability to recount votes, and a real person (or people) to track down should there be any suspicion of wrongdoing. That's okay, we can wait.

If you're in favor of going back to that method, raise your hand. Better yet, mark a paper ballot.

More here.

Correction: Brad tells me that's not necessarily so. In New Hampshire, hand count towns were often done before Diebold towns. Thank you, Brad!