By David Edwards
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
A nuclear power plant that was shut down after an earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday had seismographs removed in 1990s due to budget cuts.
U.S. nuclear officials said that the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, had lost offsite power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations after an 5.9 earthquake hit the region.
The North Anna plant, which was near the epicenter of Tuesday’s quake, is reportedly located on a fault line.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rates the plant as the seventh most likely to receive core damage from a quake. But they say the chances of that are only 1 in 22,727.
According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory (VTSO) removed all seismographs from around the plant in the 1990s due to budget cuts.
In February, Dominion Virginia Power confirmed its commitment to add a third reactor to the plant.
Bringing manufacturing back to our shores is good policy wedded to great politics. So why aren’t we talking about it?
By Joshua Holland
August 22, 2011
In this highly polarized country, one idea about fixing America’s economic woes reverberates across ideological, partisan, geographic and class lines: “Let’s make things in America again.”
And well it should. Although manufacturing accounts for just 12 percent of our economic output, manufacturers shell out 70 percent of our research and development dollars – innovation follows manufacturing.
We’ve been shedding manufacturing jobs for years. They now make up a smaller share of our economy than at any time since the United States entered World War Two. And their decline has accelerated in recent years; we shed about a third of our manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2009. Today, the share of the workforce that makes things has been halved since it peaked in 1979. And that period of decline correlates well with a period of stagnant wages and disappearing economic security. That’s because many of those jobs were relatively high-paying gigs; many were union jobs with decent benefits.
According to economic reporter Dave Johnson, manufacturing jobs pay 15 percent more, on average, than do service jobs. Johnson also notes that a manufacturing job “supports on average four or five other jobs in the economy—and in some industries far more. For example, the Milken Institute estimates that every computer-manufacturing job in California creates 15 jobs outside the factory.”
So a campaign to bring manufacturing to our shores would be good policy married to excellent politics. Yet calls for doing so are met with scorn from the establishment. We’re told those jobs are gone forever, and anyone who says otherwise is pining for a lost era. According to the editorial boards of the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, they’re Luddites, who don’t understand that technology brings us all manner of wonders, or “protectionists,” whose preferred policies would only result in painful unintended consequences.
It is true that some manufacturing jobs have been lost forever to technological advancements. Manufacturing isn’t as labor intensive in the age of the robot as it had been mid-century. But the decline in manufacturing as a share of our economic output, rather than the number of jobs in the workforce, has everything to do with chasing cheaper labor, less stringent environmental regulations and other ways to cut costs abroad.
The reason talk of bolstering American manufacturing gets such short shrift is that the most effective means of doing so are unpopular with corporate America, particularly the financial sector. These include losing tax breaks for companies that offshore jobs – or imposing tax penalties on them – adding “buy American” provisions to federal contracts (which requires revisiting some of our trade agreements) and investing in infrastructure repairs and upgrades. Taxing capital gains as income would help spur real investment in general, rather than speculation at the Wall Street Casino (although that investment wouldn’t be limited to manufacturing).
by Michael Hayne
August 22, 2011
Walking anal sex joke (Google: “Santorum”) and Republican presidential wannabe Rick Santorum, although massively lagging behind in the polls, appears to be competing with Bachmann and Perry in the far-right “ludicrous statement du jour” department on the issue of abortion.
The former Senator and GOP presidential candidate is renowned for offering stunningly maximalist positions on abortion. In the past, Santorum said abortion should be flatly banned, even in cases of rape or incest, and doctors who perform abortions should face criminal charges. Okay, we get it–Rick Santorum loves fetuses more than hate group special-interest money.
Last week, Rick Santorum took it up a notch at the Republican presidential debate in Iowa.
“Would you allow no exceptions for cases of rape on incest?” Fox News host, Byron York asked. “Polls have shown that large majorities of Americans support some exceptions for abortion. Are your views too much, even for many conservatives to support?”
“That child is an innocent victim,” Santorum replied. “To be victimized twice would be a horrible thing. It is an innocent human life, genetically human from the moment of conception. We in America should be big enough to try to surround ourselves and help women in those terrible situations who have been traumatized already. To put them through another trauma of an abortion, I think is too much to ask. So I would absolutely stand and say that one violence is enough.”
So, not only does the former Senator and GOP presidential candidate believe that a woman has absolutely no say in extreme cases such as rape or incest, but he also believes that the rape victim is way too traumatized to make such a consideration.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/22-3
Already the projections are in—not for who is going to win the election in 2012—but for how much it is likely to cost.
Public Radio International concludes: “Campaign spending in the 2012 US election could reach $6 or 7 billion dollars as outside groups pay for electoral influence.”
Here we are in the middle of a deep recession that’s getting deeper by the day, with austerity the unofficial slogan du jour while Republican scheme up new ways to trim, cut and decimate government spending, and parties are spending billions on political horse races.
They decry government spending but they don’t talk much about their own spending, do they?
And neither do the Democrats who are also backing an orgy of spending cuts if only to show their opponents how “responsible” they are.
As both parties slash spending that benefits people, they are in a manic overdrive effort to raise more for themselves and their campaigns.
PRI’s Here and Now program reported, “In 2008, Barack Obama raised some $778 million for his presidential bid. The total cost of the national election, including Presidential and Congressional, was about $5.3 billion. Since then, court decisions like Citizens United have made spending by outside groups easier.
“In 2012,” Dave Levinthal, director of the Center for Responsive Politics told PRI’s Here and now, “you’re easily looking at 6, maybe even 7 billion dollars nationwide.”
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/22-3
Tina and I went to a Move On organized demonstration today outside of the Lakewood Country Club here in Dallas.
It was a pseudo “Town Hall” meeting/fund raiser put on by ultra right wing Republican Rep.and Super Committee member, Jeb Hensarling.
There were a bunch of scumbag, tea bagger counter demonstrators but they were vastly out numbered by the gray hairs of Move On.
It was the third demonstration, forth if I count the screening put on by Get Equal that we’ve gone to this year, so far.
Today I had my turn at the microphone and spoke about an issue that seriously impacts the lives of both my partner and me, Social Security and Medicare. I’m holding on until next year when I get Medicare. I may need to take my Social Security early unless I find another job soon that isn’t so hard on my feet and knees.
Employers do not hire older workers without health coverage elsewhere because they don’t want to insure them. Or they give part time with no coverage and sub-living wages. So many decent jobs, jobs we retrained for in the 1980s and 1990s have been shipped off shore so the corporate Kochsuckers can become even more stinking rich. Their treasonous actions with globalization makes me sick.
So I spoke out about how they want to fuck with Medicare and Social Security even though neither of those programs was ever supposed to be part of the general budget. In spite of how we had money deducted separately from our checks to cover both Social Security and Medicare. Money taken out of our checks separately from our general taxes. How Reagan started raiding Social Security to use as part of the general funds so they wouldn’t have to demand the lazy fat cat rich bastards pay higher taxes.
Tax the hard working people, the people who actually do the work and let the slime ball money people off the hook.
Yeah I go to demonstrations. Just don’t look for me to be at any for the “Transgender Community”. Even though my fighting for economic justice and marriage equality affect TG people as well as non-trans folks.
But as of late the homophobia of the Transgender Community has become repulsive, just as repulsive as their attacks upon transsexual and post-transsexual people who do not want to be part of the TG Borg Cult or TG Inc.
Y’all lost me when you attacked gay and lesbian people’s focusing on marriage equality. I’m more focused on marriage equality than your particular issuses because it affects me more.
I personally think it is time for the Gay and Lesbian Communities to drop the “T”. Time for the “T” to slither back into the world of Tri-Ess and behind the pink door.
Me I’d rather go hug a tree or save a whale…
By BRUCE SMITH – Associated Press | AP
Sun, Aug 21, 2011
LADSON, S.C. (AP) — Dale Richardson was saved at a tent revival 32 years ago, was called to preach the Lord’s word in 2006 and, for the past year, had served as pastor at Freedom Free Will Baptist Church, a modest red brick structure on a South Carolina side road running along a railroad track.
Now he’s in jail, charged with kidnapping and raping three women at gunpoint — two of them in a trailer behind the church — and kidnapping a fourth who was not sexually assaulted.
According to an incident report, about noon on a Saturday last month, Richardson picked up a woman and gave her a ride. When the 20-year-old tried to get out of the car, Richardson allegedly pulled a gun, bound her hands, covered her head and took her to the gray-blue trailer home behind the church.
The report said he later dropped the woman in a wooded area, threatening to shoot her if she turned around. Police said the woman was able to identify Richardson from his picture on the church website, which also displays a short biography detailing how he became a Christian and then a pastor.
Continue reading at: http://news.yahoo.com/sc-preacher-accused-raping-women-behind-church-144656789.html
By Josh Harkinson
For a few days in September 2008, as the Republican Party kicked off its national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Twin Cities were a microcosm of a deeply divided nation. The atmosphere around town was tense, with local and federal police facing off against activists who had descended upon the city. Convinced that anarchists were plotting violent acts, they sought to bust the protesters’ hangouts, sometimes bursting into apartments and houses brandishing assault rifles. Inside the cavernous Xcel Energy convention center, meanwhile, an out-of-nowhere vice presidential nominee named Sarah Palin assured tens of thousands of ecstatic Republicans that her running mate, John McCain, was “a leader who’s not looking for a fight, but sure isn’t afraid of one either.”
The same thing might have been said of David McKay and Bradley Crowder, a pair of greenhorn activists from George W. Bush’s Texas hometown who had driven up for the protests. Wide-eyed guys in their early 20s, they’d come of age hanging out in sleepy downtown Midland, commiserating about the Iraq War and the administration’s assault on civil liberties.
St. Paul was their first large-scale protest, and when they arrived they were taken aback: Rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, tumbling tear-gas canisters—to McKay and Crowder, it seemed like an all-out war on democracy. They wanted to fight back, even going so far as to mix up a batch of Molotov cocktails. Just before dawn on the day of Palin’s big coming out, a SWAT team working with federal agents raided their crash pad, seized the Molotovs, and arrested McKay, alleging that he intended to torch a parking lot full of police cars.
The allegation came as a shocker; Darby was a known and trusted member of the left-wing protest crowd. “If Brandon was conning me, and many others, it would be the biggest lie of my life since I found out the truth about Santa Claus,” wrote Scott Crow, one of many activists who rushed to defend him at first. Two months later, Darby came clean. “The simple truth,” he wrote on Indymedia.org, “is that I have chosen to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Continue reading at: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/brandon-darby-anarchist-fbi-terrorism
The root cause of our recent turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm — global corporate capitalism.
By Bob Burnett
August 21, 2011
We live in interesting times. The global economy is splintering. U.S. voters hate all politicians and there’s political unrest throughout the world. The root cause of this turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm — global corporate capitalism.
The modern world is ruled by multinational corporations and governed by a capitalistic ideology that believes: Corporations are a special breed of people, motivated solely by self-interest. Corporations seek to maximize return on capital by leveraging productivity and paying the least possible amount for taxes and labor. Corporate executives pledge allegiance to their directors and shareholders. The dominant corporate perspective is short term, the current financial quarter, and the dominant corporate ethic is greed, doing whatever it takes to maximize profit.
Five factors are responsible for the failure of global corporate capitalism. First, global corporations are too big. We’re living in the age of corporate dinosaurs. (The largest multinational is JP Morgan Chase with assets of $2 Trillion, 240,000 employees, and offices in 100 countries.) The original dinosaurs perished because their huge bodies possessed tiny brains. Modern dinosaurs are failing because their massive bureaucracies possess miniscule hearts.
Since the Reagan era global corporations have followed the path of least resistance to profit; they’ve swallowed up their competitors and created monopolies, which have produced humongous bureaucracies. In the short-term, scale helps corporations grow profitable, but in the long-term it makes them inflexible and difficult to manage. Gigantism creates a culture where workers are encouraged to take enormous risks in order to create greater profits; it’s based upon the notion that the corporation is “too big to fail.”
Second, global corporations disdain civil society. They’ve created a culture of organizational narcissism, where workers pledge allegiance to the enterprise. Corporate employees live in a bubble, where they log obscene hours and then vacation with their co-workers. Multinationals develop their own code of ethics and worldview separate from that of any national state. Corporate executives don’t care about the success or failure of any particular country, only the growth and profitability of their global corporation. (Many large corporations pay no U.S. income tax; in 2009 Exxon Mobil actually got a $156 M rebate.)
Third, global corporations are modern outlaws, living outside the law. There is noinvisible hand that regulates multinationals. In 1759 Philosopher Adam Smith argued that while wealthy individuals and corporations were motivated by self interest, an “invisible hand” was operating in the background ensuring that capitalist activities ultimately benefited society. In modern times this concept became the basis for the pronouncements of the Chicago School of Economics that markets were inherently self regulating. However, the last five years have demonstrated that there is no “invisible hand” — unregulated markets have spelled disaster for the average person. The “recovery” of 2009-10 ensured that “too big to fail” institutions would survive and the rich would continue to be rich. Meanwhile millions of good jobs were either eliminated or replaced by low-wage jobs with poor or no benefits.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/economy/152118/5_reasons_capitalism_has_failed/
by Yves Smith
August 22, 2011
It is high time to describe the Obama Administration by its proper name: corrupt.
Admittedly, corruption among our elites generally and in Washington in particular has become so widespread and blatant as to fall into the “dog bites man” category. But the nauseating gap between the Administration’s propaganda and the many and varied ways it sells out average Americans on behalf of its favored backers, in this case the too big to fail banks, has become so noisome that it has become impossible to ignore the fetid smell.
The Administration has now taken to pressuring parties that are not part of the machinery reporting to the President to fall in and do his bidding. We’ve gotten so used to the US attorney general being conveniently missing in action that we have forgotten that regulators and the AG are supposed to be independent. As one correspondent noted by e-mail, “When officials allegiances are to El Supremo rather than the Constitution, you walk the path to fascism.”
Revealingly, one of the Administration’s allies said: “Wall Street is our Main Street.” And the worst is that this remark may not be a cynical Ministry of Truth pronouncement. Team Obama bears all the hallmarks of being so close to banks and big corporations that it has lost all contact with and understanding of mainstream America.
The latest example is its heavy-handed campaign to convert New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman to a card carrying member of the “be nice to our lords and masters the banksters” club. Schneiderman was the first to take issue with the sham of the so-called 50 state attorney general mortgage settlement. As far as the Administration is concerned, its goal is to give banks a talking point and prove to them that Team Obama is protecting their backs in a way that the chump public hopefully won’t notice.
From Project Syndicate: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/roubini41/English
NEW YORK – The massive volatility and sharp equity-price correction now hitting global financial markets signal that most advanced economies are on the brink of a double-dip recession. A financial and economic crisis caused by too much private-sector debt and leverage led to a massive re-leveraging of the public sector in order to prevent Great Depression 2.0. But the subsequent recovery has been anemic and sub-par in most advanced economies given painful deleveraging.
Now a combination of high oil and commodity prices, turmoil in the Middle East, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, eurozone debt crises, and America’s fiscal problems (and now its rating downgrade) have led to a massive increase in risk aversion. Economically, the United States, the eurozone, the United Kingdom, and Japan are all idling. Even fast-growing emerging markets (China, emerging Asia, and Latin America), and export-oriented economies that rely on these markets (Germany and resource-rich Australia), are experiencing sharp slowdowns.
Until last year, policymakers could always produce a new rabbit from their hat to reflate asset prices and trigger economic recovery. Fiscal stimulus, near-zero interest rates, two rounds of “quantitative easing,” ring-fencing of bad debt, and trillions of dollars in bailouts and liquidity provision for banks and financial institutions: officials tried them all. Now they have run out of rabbits.
Fiscal policy currently is a drag on economic growth in both the eurozone and the UK. Even in the US, state and local governments, and now the federal government, are cutting expenditure and reducing transfer payments. Soon enough, they will be raising taxes.
Another round of bank bailouts is politically unacceptable and economically unfeasible: most governments, especially in Europe, are so distressed that bailouts are unaffordable; indeed, their sovereign risk is actually fueling concern about the health of Europe’s banks, which hold most of the increasingly shaky government paper.
Continue reading at: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/roubini41/English
Why do Christian contractors play such a prominent role in our military?
By Chris Rodda
August 21, 2011
When the average American thinks of military spending on religion, they probably think only of the money spent on chaplains and chapels. And, yes, the Department of Defense (DoD) does spend a hell of a lot of money on these basic religious accommodations to provide our troops with the opportunity to exercise their religion while serving our country. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the DoD’s funding of religion. Also paid for with taxpayer dollars are a plethora of events, programs, and schemes that violate not only the Constitution, but, in many cases, the regulations on federal government contractors, specifically the regulation prohibiting federal government contractors receiving over $10,000 in contracts a year from discriminating based on religion in their hiring practices.
About a year ago, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) began an investigation into just how much money the DoD spends on promoting religion to military personnel and their families. What prompted this interest in DoD spending on religion was finding out what the DoD was spending on certain individual events and programs, such as the $125 million spent on the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and its controversial “Spiritual Fitness” test, a mandatory test that must be taken by all soldiers. The Army insists that this test is not religious, but the countless complaints from soldiers who have failed this “fitness” test tell a different story. The experience of one group of soldiers who weren’t “spiritual” enough for the Army can be read here. But the term “Spiritual Fitness is not limited to this one test. The military began using this term to describe a variety of initiatives and events towards the end of 2006, and this `code phrase’ for promoting religion was heavily in use by all branches of the military by 2007.
Although it was clear from the start of MRFF’s investigation that determining the total dollar figure for the DoD’s rampant promotion of religion (which is always evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christianity) would be next to impossible, as this would require FOIA requests to every one of over 700 military installations to find out how much each is spending out of various funds at the installation level, one thing we could look at was DoD contracts, so that’s where we started. What we’ve found so far is astounding.
Even though this is still an ongoing project, and we’ll certainly be finding much more, I thought that given all the current brouhaha over what should be cut from the federal budget, people might be interested to see some of examples of how the DoD is spending countless millions of taxpayer dollars every year to Christianize the military.
As mentioned above, what MRFF is looking at does not include chaplains or chapels — not even the excessive spending on extravagant “chapels” like the $30,000,000 mega-church at Fort Hood, or the “Spiritual Fitness” centers being built on many military bases as part of what are called Resiliency Campuses. The examples below are all strictly from DoD contracts, with the funding coming out of the appropriations for things like “Operations and Maintenance” and, somehow, “Research and Development.” (Summaries of all contracts referenced below are publicly available atusaspending.gov)