Archive for April, 2013

Washington’s Nuclear Hypocrisy

April 30, 2013

Published on Monday, April 29, 2013 by Foreign Policy In Focus

by Michael Walker

In April 2009, President Barack Obama gave hope to nuclear disarmament activists around the globe. Speaking in the Czech Republic, he affirmed “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” It was, and remains, the most laudable of objectives. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the president is truly committed to eliminating these terrifying weapons of mass destruction.

This might come as a surprise to those whose knowledge of the issue is limited to Washington’s dealings with North Korea and Iran, for the U.S. government has made it plain that these nations’ purported nuclear activities will not be tolerated. As Secretary of State John Kerry declared during a visit to Seoul earlier this month, “North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power.” Regarding Iran, President Obama emphasized in an interview aired on Israeli television in March that “I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. That is a red line for us.”

These words have been matched by deeds. The Obama administration has been dogged in its efforts to punish these states for their alleged nuclear ambitions. A case in point occurred in March, when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice led the way in pushing for the imposition of new sanctions on the reclusive North Korean regime following its third nuclear test. Tehran has likewise been targeted with crippling U.S. and international economic sanctions.

However, if we look beyond these two cases, the non-proliferation edifice begins to crumble. It was reported over the weekend, for example, that the United States intends to spend around $10 billion enhancing its Europe-based nuclear weapons. This plan, which would involve turning the bombs into guided weapons that could be fired by F-35 warplanes, would represent “a significant upgrade of the U.S. nuclear capability in Europe,” according to one expert.

Then there is the matter of Washington’s cozy relations with nuclear weapons states India and Israel. The courting of India, a nation that conducted a so-called “peaceful nuclear explosion” as far back as 1974 and has never signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), is not a new phenomenon. The embrace of this South Asian giant began during George W. Bush’s presidency, when his administration signed a 10-year defense agreement with New Delhi and blew a giant hole in the global non-proliferation regime by agreeing to a civil nuclear cooperation deal.

President Obama’s team has been hypnotized by New Delhi’s potential as a buyer of U.S. arms and military hardware. In 2010 the president paid a visit to India where he lobbied on behalf of U.S. defense contractors Lockheed and Boeing, which were at the time bidding for a multi-billion dollar contract to provide the country’s military with 126 new warplanes. Although Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh torpedoed the U.S. bids, preferring to negotiate with the French company Dassault, the Obama administration has continued its efforts to pry open the lucrative Indian market.

Indeed, Andrew Shapiro, a high-ranking State Department official, recently boasted that “we have made tremendous progress in the [U.S.-India] defense trade relationship,” with U.S. military sales to New Delhi hitting roughly $8 billion, up from zero in 2008. He held out the appealing prospect of “billions of dollars more in the next couple of years.” In short, this logic holds that while India may have atomic weapons, what’s more important is that the country is an ally and buys large quantities of U.S. military equipment.

Unsurprisingly, Israel also gets special treatment on the nuclear front. An undeclared nuclear weapons state that has declined to sign the NPT, Israel is presumed to possess an arsenal of several hundred nuclear warheads. Notwithstanding this, the Israelis are showered with U.S. military aid, averaging around $3 billion annually. The administration’s unstinting support for Israel was recently underlined when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flew to the Middle East to discuss a multi-billion dollar arms deal for Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. As reported in the New York Times, this package is “intended to further increase Israel’s military edge over other powers in the region.” The secretary noted that the deal would send a “very clear signal to Iran.” One signal is certain to have been received loud and clear: While Washington permits its friends to have the ultimate weapon, a different set of rules applies to its enemies.

If President Obama wishes to be taken seriously as an advocate of nuclear non-proliferation, he should be consistent. The U.S. loses credibility when it vilifies North Korea and Iran while at the same time remaining silent about the atomic weapons of its friends.

Here, then, is a policy suggestion for the president: Impose sanctions against India and Israel, and end the arms deals with those nuclear states. Alas, such a course of action is unlikely, to say the least. Therefore, the outlook for nuclear non-proliferation and eventual disarmament remains bleak.

© 2013 Foreign Policy In Focus
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US Activists Outraged Over So Called “Monsanto Protection Act”

April 30, 2013

Mathew Cardinale

Inter Press Service/News Report

Published: Monday 29 April 2013

The provision, which activists call the Monsanto Protection Act, is one for which the multinational corporation Monsanto has been lobbying Congress for at least a year.
Article image

Food safety advocates are outraged over revelations that U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama approved an act that includes a provision purporting to strip federal courts of the ability to prevent the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The provision in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue temporary permits allowing the continued planting of GMOs by farmers, even when a court rules that the agency erred in its environmental impact review of the GMOs.

The provision, which activists call the Monsanto Protection Act, is one for which the multinational corporation Monsanto has been lobbying Congress for at least a year. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Mar. 6, 2013 and the Senate on Mar. 21, with Obama signing the legislation five days later on March 26.

Revelations of the provision, which was buried in the 587-page spending bill (HR 933, under Division A, Title VI, Section 735), have increased public awareness and interest in the issue of GMOs in the United States.

The provision states that if “a determination of non-regulated status…is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part”.

Industry control

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana and one of the only family farmers in Congress, spoke out against the provision on the floor on the Senate.

 

“The United States Congress is telling the Agricultural Department that even if a court tells you that you’ve failed to follow the right process and tells you to start over, you must disregard the court’s ruling and allow the crop to be planted anyway,” Tester said. 

“Not only does this ignore the constitutional idea of separation of powers, but it also lets genetically modified crops take hold across this country, even when a judge finds it violates the law,” Tester said, describing the issue as “once again, agribusiness multinational corporations putting farmers as serfs.”

Meanwhile, activists are holding Senator Barbara Milkulski, a Democrat from Maryland, partially responsible, as she was the committee chair who allowed the amendment and could have addressed the provision in Congressional hearings.

In a statement, Mikulski’s spokeswoman, Rachel MacKnight, defended her. “Senator Mikulski understands the anger over this provision. She didn’t put the language in the bill and doesn’t support it either.”

“As Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski’s first responsibility was to prevent a government shutdown. That meant she had to compromise on many of her own priorities to get a bill through the Senate that the House would pass,” MacKnight said.

Because the provision is temporary, it will likely come up for reauthorization in September 2013, an opportunity for public opposition that activists are relishing.

“The USDA has working mechanisms in place to allow for partial deregulation for those crops,” Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Centre for Food Safety, noted in an interview with IPS.

“At best, it’s unnecessary and duplicative. At worst, it takes oversight away from the USDA and puts it in the hands of the industry,” O’Neil said of the provision.

The centre has concerns about how the USDA has used temporary deregulation in the past, such as with genetically modified sugar beets. Both genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beets have been held up in court in the past over National Environmental Policy Act challenges.

“While we have argued that the USDA isn’t adequately protecting farmers and the environment, the rider will essentially prevent the USDA from safeguarding farmers and the environment because it forces the agency to comply with industry demands,” O’Neil said.

Future benefits

Monsanto has proposals for numerous GMO crops in the pipeline that could be affected by this rider.

“I think the Monsanto Protection Act and how it was passed and how it was slipped into law is just another example of how this company operates, how they manipulate our democracy, and they buy off our elected officials,” Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now, told IPS.

“This is another example of how…they choose to operate within the rules of a democratic society. They’re like the mafia, they go in and write the rules the way they want them to be,” Murphy said.

“Monsanto really did them a major disservice by slipping this into a continuing resolution,” he said.

Monsanto, which does derive benefit from the provision, responded in a statement, saying its critics have an “interesting narrative, worthy of a B grade movie script.”

“Virtually none of the people protesting actually read the provision itself. Those who did found a surprise: It contains no reference to Monsanto, protection of Monsanto, or benefit to Monsanto. It does seek to protect farmers, and we supported the provision,” Monsanto wrote.

Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, inserted the provision, or “rider,” into the spending bill, according to Politico. Monsanto is based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years On Northeast Continental Shelf

April 30, 2013

Apr. 26, 2013 — Sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century.

The advisory reports on conditions in the second half of 2012.

Sea surface temperature for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem reached a record high of 14 degrees Celsius (57.2°F) in 2012, exceeding the previous record high in 1951. Average SST has typically been lower than 12.4 C (54.3 F) over the past three decades.

Sea surface temperature in the region is based on both contemporary satellite remote-sensing data and long-term ship-board measurements, with historical SST conditions based on ship-board measurements dating back to 1854. The temperature increase in 2012 was the highest jump in temperature seen in the time series and one of only five times temperature has changed by more than 1 C (1.8 F).

The Northeast Shelf’s warm water thermal habitat was also at a record high level during 2012, while cold water habitat was at a record low level. Early winter mixing of the water column went to extreme depths, which will impact the spring 2013 plankton bloom. Mixing redistributes nutrients and affects stratification of the water column as the bloom develops.

Temperature is also affecting distributions of fish and shellfish on the Northeast Shelf. The advisory provides data on changes in distribution, or shifts in the center of the population, of seven keyfishery species over time. The four southern species — black sea bass, summer flounder, longfin squid and butterfish — all showed a northeastward or upshelf shift. American lobster has shifted upshelf over time but at a slower rate than the southern species. Atlantic cod and haddock have shifted downshelf.”

“Many factors are involved in these shifts, including temperature, population size, and the distributions of both prey and predators,” said Jon Hare, a scientist in the NEFSC’s Oceanography Branch. A number of recent studies have documented changing distributions of fish and shellfish, further supporting NEFSC work reported in 2009 that found about half of the 36 fish stocks studied in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, many of them commercially valuable species, have been shifting northward over the past four decades.

The Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) extends from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The NEFSC has monitored this ecosystem with comprehensive sampling programs since1977. Prior to 1977, this ecosystem was monitored by the NEFSC through a series of separate, coordinated programs dating back decades.

Warming conditions on the Northeast Shelf in the spring of 2012 continued into September, with the most consistent warming conditions seen in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. Temperatures cooled by October and were below average in the Middle Atlantic Bight in November, perhaps due to Superstorm Sandy, but had returned to above average conditions by December.

“Changes in ocean temperatures and the timing and strength of spring and fall plankton blooms could affect the biological clocks of many marine species, which spawn at specific times of the year based on environmental cues like water temperature,” Kevin Friedland, a scientist in the NEFSC Ecosystem Assessment Program, said. He noted that the contrast between years with, and without, a fall bloom is emerging as an important driver of the shelf’s ecology. “The size of the spring plankton bloom was so large that the annual chlorophyll concentration remained high in 2012 despite low fall activity. These changes will have a profound impact throughout the ecosystem.”

Michael Fogarty, who heads the Ecosystem Assessment Program, says the abundance of fish and shellfish is controlled by a complex set of factors, and that increasing temperatures in the ecosystem make it essential to monitor the distribution of many species, some of them migratory and others not.

“It isn’t always easy to understand the big picture when you are looking at one specific part of it at one specific point in time,” Fogarty said, a comparison similar to not seeing the forest when looking at a single tree in it. “We now have information on the ecosystem from a variety of sources collected over a long period of time, and are adding more data to clarify specific details. The data clearly show a relationship between all of these factors.”

“What these latest findings mean for the Northeast Shelf ecosystem and its marine life is unknown,” Fogarty said. “What is known is that the ecosystem is changing, and we need to continue monitoring and adapting to these changes.”

Ecosystem advisories have been issued twice a year by the NEFSC’s Ecosystem Assessment Program since 2006 as a way to routinely summarize overall conditions in the region. The reports show the effects of changing coastal and ocean temperatures on fisheries from Cape Hatteras to the Canadian border. The advisories provide a snapshot of the ecosystem for the fishery management councils and also a broad range of stakeholders from fishermen to researchers.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materialsprovided by NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:

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MLA

NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center (2013, April 26). Sea surface temperatures reach highest level in 150 years on Northeast continental shelf. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2013/04/130426115614.htm

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

New Study Finds Roundup Could Link to Severe Health Issues

April 27, 2013
A.M. White
NationofChange/news analysis
Published: Saturday 27 April 2013
Glyphosate may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment” and that the “negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”
Article image

According to a new peer-reviewed report from the scientific journal Entropy “glyphosate”, the main ingredient in Roundup, has been found in food.

Roundup was developed by Monsanto and is used as a weed killer on their genetically engineered crops. Monsanto’s crops are specifically engineered to be resistant to Roundup so that farmers may spray the weed killer directly on the crops to kill weeds without affecting the crops themselves. Monsanto and other leading industry experts have said for years that glyphosate is proven safe, and has a less damaging impact on the environment than other commonly used chemicals. A spokesperson for Monsanto confirmed this when asked for a comment after findings from the study were published.

According to the authors of the study, Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at MIT, and Anthony Samsel, a former science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc., glyphosate may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” and that the “negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.” The residues of Roundup that are appearing in food enhance the “damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.” This relationship is linked to a range of health problems and diseases, such as Parkinson’s, infertility, autism, and cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing glyphosate and must determine by 2015 if its use should be altered or limited. The findings of the review, as well as similarstudies such as this one, could potentially have a major affect on farming, as glyphosate is the top herbicide on the market.

The author’s conclusion that glyphosate is “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” echoes the concerns that many have had for years on the effects of herbicides and the practice of growing genetically engineered crops on health worldwide.  Hopefully more independent and unbiased research can be conducted during the EPA’s review of the herbicide so that this previously claimed “non-toxic” chemical can be properly regulated.

The full article in Entropy is viewable here.

ABOUT A.M. WHITE

A.M. White is an activist and writer living in California. She has attended several progressive marches including the original Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Park. She has her B.A. in social science from the University of California, Irvine.

15 ‘Clean’ Fruits and Vegetables

April 27, 2013
Ashley Curtin
NationofChange/News Analysis
Published: Saturday 27 April 2013
The Environmental Working Group determined pineapple, papaya, mango, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapefruit, corn, onion, avocado, frozen sweet peas, cabbage, asparagus, eggplant, sweet potatoes and mushrooms as The Clean Fifteen for 2013.
Article image

While pesticide residue is continuously detected in conventional-grown produce, the Environmental Working Group recently revealed The Clean Fifteen for 2013. Thestudy determined 15 fruits and vegetables that were the “least likely to test positive for pesticide residue,” according to the EWG’s website, to help consumers confidently purchase healthier food.

The study, conducted by EWG—an environmental and health advocacy organization—and published as the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” categorized the “overall concentrations of pesticide residues” and revealed the produce that contained the fewest types of pesticides, if any. EWG determined pineapple, papaya, mango, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapefruit, corn, onion, avocado, frozen sweet peas, cabbage, asparagus, eggplant, sweet potatoes and mushrooms as The Clean Fifteen for 2013.

After being washed and peeled, the study tested and then ranked the level of pesticide residue on 48 samples of the most “popular” fruits and vegetables taken from the USDA and FDA.

The methodology included six measures of pesticide contamination:

  • Percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides
  • Percent of samples with two or more detectable pesticides
  • Average number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Average amount (in parts per million) of all pesticides found
  • Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Total number of pesticides found on the commodity

The notable findings, which categorized these fruits and vegetable to have the least amount of pesticide residues, showed that “78 percent of mangos, 75 percent of kiwi and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residue.” It also determined that less than 11 percent of the pineapples tested were pesticide-residue free. While 7 percent of the fruits and vegetables sampled showed a single trace of pesticide residue, none of the samples were contaminated with multiple pesticides named to The Clean Fifteen.

The “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” divulges the “overall pesticide loads of common fruits and vegetables” and helps advise consumers about what’s in their food because many uncertainties have been linked to the health risks and consequences of pesticide consumption.

While EWG aims to be a resource for consumers, The Clean Fifteen’s goal is to be a guideline that consumers can follow to purchase healthier conventional-grown produce and reduce people’s exposure to health risks.

ABOUT ASHLEY CURTIN

Ashley Curtin recently joined NationofChange as an exclusive reporter writing on current topics surrounding politics, economy, human rights and the environment trending around the world. Before this, she was a features reporter at Daily Breeze, a local newspaper in Southern California, writing a variety of stories focusing in the fields of science, medical and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast now calling California her home.

Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years On Northeast Continental Shelf

April 27, 2013

Apr. 26, 2013 — Sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century.

The advisory reports on conditions in the second half of 2012.

Sea surface temperature for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem reached a record high of 14 degrees Celsius (57.2°F) in 2012, exceeding the previous record high in 1951. Average SST has typically been lower than 12.4 C (54.3 F) over the past three decades.

Sea surface temperature in the region is based on both contemporary satellite remote-sensing data and long-term ship-board measurements, with historical SST conditions based on ship-board measurements dating back to 1854. The temperature increase in 2012 was the highest jump in temperature seen in the time series and one of only five times temperature has changed by more than 1 C (1.8 F).

The Northeast Shelf’s warm water thermal habitat was also at a record high level during 2012, while cold water habitat was at a record low level. Early winter mixing of the water column went to extreme depths, which will impact the spring 2013 plankton bloom. Mixing redistributes nutrients and affects stratification of the water column as the bloom develops.

Temperature is also affecting distributions of fish and shellfish on the Northeast Shelf. The advisory provides data on changes in distribution, or shifts in the center of the population, of seven key fishery species over time. The four southern species — black sea bass, summer flounder, longfin squid and butterfish — all showed a northeastward or upshelf shift. American lobster has shifted upshelf over time but at a slower rate than the southern species. Atlantic cod and haddock have shifted downshelf.”

“Many factors are involved in these shifts, including temperature, population size, and the distributions of both prey and predators,” said Jon Hare, a scientist in the NEFSC’s Oceanography Branch. A number of recent studies have documented changing distributions of fish and shellfish, further supporting NEFSC work reported in 2009 that found about half of the 36 fish stocks studied in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, many of them commercially valuable species, have been shifting northward over the past four decades.

The Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) extends from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The NEFSC has monitored this ecosystem with comprehensive sampling programs since1977. Prior to 1977, this ecosystem was monitored by the NEFSC through a series of separate, coordinated programs dating back decades.

Warming conditions on the Northeast Shelf in the spring of 2012 continued into September, with the most consistent warming conditions seen in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. Temperatures cooled by October and were below average in the Middle Atlantic Bight in November, perhaps due to Superstorm Sandy, but had returned to above average conditions by December.

“Changes in ocean temperatures and the timing and strength of spring and fall plankton blooms could affect the biological clocks of many marine species, which spawn at specific times of the year based on environmental cues like water temperature,” Kevin Friedland, a scientist in the NEFSC Ecosystem Assessment Program, said. He noted that the contrast between years with, and without, a fall bloom is emerging as an important driver of the shelf’s ecology. “The size of the spring plankton bloom was so large that the annual chlorophyll concentration remained high in 2012 despite low fall activity. These changes will have a profound impact throughout the ecosystem.”

Michael Fogarty, who heads the Ecosystem Assessment Program, says the abundance of fish and shellfish is controlled by a complex set of factors, and that increasing temperatures in the ecosystem make it essential to monitor the distribution of many species, some of them migratory and others not.

“It isn’t always easy to understand the big picture when you are looking at one specific part of it at one specific point in time,” Fogarty said, a comparison similar to not seeing the forest when looking at a single tree in it. “We now have information on the ecosystem from a variety of sources collected over a long period of time, and are adding more data to clarify specific details. The data clearly show a relationship between all of these factors.”

“What these latest findings mean for the Northeast Shelf ecosystem and its marine life is unknown,” Fogarty said. “What is known is that the ecosystem is changing, and we need to continue monitoring and adapting to these changes.”

Ecosystem advisories have been issued twice a year by the NEFSC’s Ecosystem Assessment Program since 2006 as a way to routinely summarize overall conditions in the region. The reports show the effects of changing coastal and ocean temperatures on fisheries from Cape Hatteras to the Canadian border. The advisories provide a snapshot of the ecosystem for the fishery management councils and also a broad range of stakeholders from fishermen to researchers.

Share this story on FacebookTwitter, andGoogle:

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materialsprovided by NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:

APA

MLA

NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center (2013, April 26). Sea surface temperatures reach highest level in 150 years on Northeast continental shelf. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2013/04/130426115614.htm

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Los Angeles to San Onofre: “Not So Fast!”

April 27, 2013

LOS ANGELES TO SAN ONOFRE: “Not So Fast!”

http://www.nukefree.org/editorsblog/los-angeles-san-onofre-not-so-fast     Harvey Wasserman

April 26, 2013

A unanimous Los Angeles City Council has demanded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct extended investigations before any restart at the San Onofre atomic power plant.

The move reflects a deep-rooted public opposition to resumed operations at reactors perched in a tsunami zone near earthquake faults that threaten all of southern California.

Meanwhile, yet another top-level atomic insider has told ABC News that San Onofre Units 2 and 3 are not safe to operate.

On April 23, LA’s eleven City Council members approved a resolution directing the NRC to “make no decision about restarting either San Onofre unit” until it conducts a “prudent, transparent and precautionary” investigation. The city wants “ample opportunity” for public comment and confirmation that “mandated repairs, replacements, or other actions” have been completed to guarantee the public safety.

California’s largest city thus joins Del Mar, Encinitas, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Santa Monica, Solana Beach, Vista, Berkeley, Fairfax and the San Diego Unified School District board in asking the NRC to take all steps necessary to guarantee the public safety. Some resolutions include the demand that the NRC make utility officials testify under oath in public before San Onofre might be allowed to go back on line.

The sentiment has been echoed by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who chairs the Senate committee that oversees the NRC. Boxer has been joined by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) in questioning whether Southern California Edison knew steam generators being installed at San Onofre were faulty.

The new Mitsubishi generators cost some $770,000,000. But critical tubes began banging together and sprang leaks after less than a year of operations. As many as 17% of the plant’s 19,400 tubes may have been involved.

The reactors were shut in January, 2012. Edison has since billed ratepayers roughly a billion dollars for them, even though they’ve generated no electricity for more than a year. The utility says it needs the reactors’ power for the coming southern California summer, even though the region operated just fine last summer without them.

ABC News has now broadcast warnings from a 25-year insider at San Onofre. “There is something grossly wrong,” the whistleblower told a San Diego TV in a carefully disguised appearance.

Edison wants to operate Unit Two for five months on an experimental basis. But there are 8 million people living within a 50-mile radius. “If an accident like this happens, (an) emergency plan is not geared to handle such a public safety devastation,” says ABC’s inside source. “Those things have never been practiced or demonstrated in a drill scenario.”

The Government Accountability Office has recently confirmed the confused state of atomic evacuation planning nationwide, a warning picked up by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

Such warnings echo those of former NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko, who has told the public that none of the 104 reactors currently licensed to operate in the US are safe. The industry, he says, is “just rolling the dice” by continuing to operate these commercial reactors, including San Onofre.

Edison has dismissed Jaczko, the GAO and the whistleblower’s warnings in demanding a June 1 restart. Boxer and Markey want the NRC to refuse approval until public hearings can be heldBut the Commission seems to be rushing ahead with the licensing process.

This unanimous resolution from Los Angeles and so many other southern California communities may have a significant impact. The public is being asked to call Boxer ((202) 224-3553) and Markey ((202) 225-2836) in support of formal hearings to pre-date any licensing.

Putting Edison, Mitsubishi and the reactors’ inside operators under oath, on the stand, in front of the public could help answer some key questions about some very expensive decisions that have put the health, safety and economy of southern California at serious risk.

Despite Edison’s fierce opposition, renewables are spreading rapidly throughout the region. With no real need for San Onofre’s power, activism has never had more a more decisive potential impact.

A radioactive cloud from a restarted San Onofre could have completely contaminate San Diego, Los Angeles and the central valley, carrying all the way across the US within four days.

With an NRC decision apparently imminent, Senator Boxer and the city of Los Angeles are right to demand complete transparency and total public access to everything there is to know about this infernal machine.

This power plant is truly on the brink of being shut forever. Let’s make sure that happens. The time is now.


Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH.

Top 10 Ways To Make Every Day Earth Day

April 27, 2013

Top 10 Ways To Make Every Day Earth Day

get causes updates

 

Earth Day is right around the corner (April 22), but why not commit to loving and protecting the environment every day?

1.  Awaken Your Senses to nature all around you, even in the city. Just step outside, and nature is right there. Is it windy? What do the clouds look like? Is it sunny? What is the first bird that you hear?

2.  Use Less Water: turning off the tap while you brush your teeth will save four gallons a minute.  In the shower, turning off the water while you shampoo and condition your hair can save more than 50 gallons a week.

3. Attack The Energy Monster: always turn off the lights when you leave a room, and replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They are more expensive but will last much longer.  Use the minimum amount of outdoor security lights by setting them on a timer or motion sensor so they turn off during the day.

4.  Commute Without Polluting: take mass transit or at least carpool if you can. Best of all, ride a bike! There are huge physical and fiscal benefits to biking. The obesity rate for adults is at almost 36 percent in the U.S., while countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, which promote biking as transportation, have the lowest incidence of obesity.

5.  Know The Top 10. According to the National Recycling Coalition, these are the top 10 most important items to recycle: aluminum, PET plastic bottles, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, steel cans, HDPE plastic bottles, glass containers, magazines, mixed paper and computers.

6.  Just Say No to paper and plastic bags. The average consumer makes 1.9 trips to the grocery store every week. If you take home two bags each trip, that’s about 200 bags a year. Even if you recycle your bags, it’s better not to use them in the first place, due to the energy used to produce those bags. Instead, carry your stuff home from the store in a reusable tote bag.

7.  Put A Cap on bottled water: roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year, which is 140 million every day. And according to the National Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of bottled water is nothing more than tap water anyway. You’ve paid taxes for your tap water, so drink it! Head out to buy some refillable water bottles.

8.  Buy Locally Produced Food. When you do, you are helping reduce the pollutions and depletion of resources associated with the transportation and packaging of food. On average, domestically grown produce sold in conventional supermarkets has traveled some 1,500 miles from farm to table. Not to mention, it’s probably been treated with fungicides so that it can be stored.

9.  Weigh Your Waste. I’ve done this and it’s scary to see how much my family accumulates each week. Weigh on a bathroom scale every bag of garbage you create before you take it out. Do this for a week, and multiply by 52 to get a rough estimate of how much waste you produce in a year. Then figure out how you can cut your waste production!

10. Avoid The “Print” Button. It’s an obvious one – but really, think twice before printing from the computer. You can read most documents and magazines online, and you can pay many bills via the web these days. When you do print, use both sides of your paper as much as possible.

What tips do you have for making every day Earth Day?

 

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27 Years Since Chernobyl and What Have We Learned?

April 27, 2013

Published on Friday, April 26, 2013 by Greenpeace

by Justin McKeating

(Image: October 2005, Chernobyl. Remains of a fairground in the town of Pripyat, left abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Photo: Steve Morgan/ Greenpeace)April 26th marks the 27th anniversary of the devastating accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The radiation released into the atmosphere by the exploding nuclear reactor found its way across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and large parts of Europe.

The contamination still lingers in many places – the disaster has a legacy that continues even now.

So today, we remember those who died in the Chernobyl accident and those who must still live with the terrible after effects of the radioactive contamination that still blights their lives.

Annya story from Greenpeace on Vimeo.

Chernobyl should have been the world’s last nuclear accident. Enough of us shouted “NO MORE CHERNOBYLS!” But those with the money and the power and that strange ability to put profits before the protection of people carried on regardless.

And sure enough, in March 2011, a quarter of a century after the horror of the Chernobyl disaster, we watched on as Japan suffered earthquake, tsunami, and then nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The warnings of Chernobyl had not been heeded. The warnings that the Fukushima nuclear reactors were vulnerable were not heeded. Once again it was the people, not the nuclear industry that paid the price.

The comparisons between Chernobyl and Fukushima are stark. Thousands upon thousands of people displaced from their homes to face uncertain futures. Melted reactors too dangerous for humans to approach for decades. Homes, schools, soil, food and water contaminated. Uncertainty about the long-term effects of the radiation that has spewed into the environment. Fear and anxiety that will creep across generations.

So today we remember both Chernobyl and Fukushima. There should never have been another Chernobyl. There should never be another Fukushima. Let us shout “NO MORE CHERNOBYLS AND FUKUSHIMAS” until we are heard.

It’s time we all stopped paying the price for nuclear power’s mistakes.

You can help by signing our petition to make the big, rich companies that supply nuclear reactors part of the responsibly for nuclear disasters that now rests with nuclear operators.

Companies like GE, Hitachi and Toshiba that supplied the flawed reactors at Fukushima should pay some of the costs. Right now they don’t have to. Making them more responsible for the costs of a nuclear disaster would at least help reduce some of the mistakes that lead to accidents.

It’s time to make the entire nuclear industry face its moral and financial responsibilities. It’s time to think of people not profits.

© 2013 Greenpeace

Justin McKeating is a blogger for Greenpeace.

Study: Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide Linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson’s

April 27, 2013

Published on Friday, April 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” say authors

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” being responsible for a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer and autism, according to a new study.

“Negative impact on the body” from glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, “is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” according to a new study. (Photo: astridmn/flickr)It’s “the most popular herbicide on the planet,” widely used on crops like corn and soy genetically engineered to be “Roundup Ready,” and sprayed on weeds in lawns across the US.  But in the peer-reviewedstudy published last Thursday in the journal Entropy, authors Anthony Samsel, an independent scientist and consultant, and Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, crush the industry’s claims that the herbicide glyphosate is non-toxic and as safe as aspirin.

Looking at the impacts of glyphosate on gut bacteria, Samsel and Seneff found that the herbicide “enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins,” and is a “textbook example” of “the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.”

The researchers point to a potential long list of disorders that glyphosate, in combination with other environmental toxins, could contribute to, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations.

The herbicide’s “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” they write.

The authors conclude:

Given the known toxic effects of glyphosate reviewed here and the plausibility that they are negatively impacting health worldwide, it is imperative for more independent research to take place to validate the ideas presented here, and to take immediate action, if they are verified, to drastically curtail the use of glyphosate in agriculture. Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.

The new findings may add further momentum to concerns from food safety and food sovereignty advocates who have challenged Monsanto’s grip on corporate agriculture and its genetically engineered crops.

In a “March Against Monsanto” in cities in the US and beyond, activists plan to gather on May 25 to highlight environmental and health concerns from genetically engineered crops and call out the corporatism that allows “Organic and small farmers [to] suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.

To see more about the march, go to the action’s Facebook page here.

The full article in Entropy is viewable here.