October 05, 2009

US Climate Change Bill Promotes Nuclear Industry

"A new era for the nuclear industry"

Obama energy adviser Carol Browner announces mandates
that will result in a new generation of nuclear power plants.
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Aletho News
October 5, 2009

The new Democratic climate change bill , introduced in the Senate by Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, contains more advantages for nuclear power than even the legislation which passed in the House of Representatives last June. Included are waste management, financing and loan guarantee arrangements, regulatory risk insurance, as well as R&D and training programs. Joseph Lieberman is understood to be preparing the fine print for the bill which is presently "short on details". The bill however does describe a "new era for the nuclear industry." Other vital findings include:

(6) even if every nuclear plant is granted a 20-year extension, all currently operating nuclear plants will be retired by 2055;

(7) long lead times for nuclear power plant construction indicate that action to stimulate the nuclear power industry should not be delayed;

(8) the high upfront capital costs of nuclear plant construction remain a substantial obstacle, despite theoretical potential for significant cost reduction;

The push for a new generation of nuclear power plants finds bi-partisan support, Democrat Barbara Boxer has said that a higher cost for carbon–which would make coal-fired plants less attractive and nuclear plants more attractive–would do the trick [in making nuclear power competitive], while Republican Lamar Alexander has said "let's start building a hundred nuclear power plants." Ever one to make extreme positions seem moderate, John McCain says the Democrats' bill falls far short, and he wants more incentives for building new nuclear plants, beyond aid the industry already gets and the advantages for nuclear under a cap and trade plan.

Unlike their political leaders the public is increasingly skeptical about the need for "climate" legislation. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that 30 percent of the public considered global warming to be one of the top priorities for governmental action, placing it 19th out of the 19 options surveyed in the January 2009 survey. Barack Obama's top energy adviser, Carol Browner does not see a high likelihood of legislation being passed this year. Undeterred by popular will the EPA said on September 30, that it will require newly built or modified industrial facilities that produce more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year to use “best available [carbon] control technologies and energy efficiency measures.” Thus directly mandating the costlier nuclear energy whether the Congress passes a climate change bill or not. An increased cost to ultimately be borne by rate payers. The expense of nuclear energy could be viewed as another military related financial drain on America since a vibrant civilian nuclear industry is vital for the ongoing development of new nuclear weapons.

Requirements for energy sources that are actually renewable will amount to little more than shallow symbolism as their costs will remain higher yet than that of nuclear. Under the House bill wind and solar will see some mandated growth but still make up a tiny fraction of US energy generation. The lack of interest in renewable energy is made clear by the recent slashing of the already minuscule funding for wave and tidal energy research.

Marvin Fertel, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobby, justifies the claim on public largess solely on the imperative of reducing Co2, the weaker "energy independence" rationale being absent from his response to the bill:
"The U.S. nuclear energy industry supports the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 in a way that minimizes negative impact on the economy and consumers of electricity. We appreciate the fact that Senators Kerry and Boxer recognize that nuclear energy is a critical component of any strategy to reduce carbon emissions. The nuclear energy industry appreciates their efforts, along with those of Senator Carper, to articulate the strategic value of nuclear energy in this global challenge."
As with other major pieces of legislation under consideration by the current Congress, the financial industry is a central actor, venture capitalists “are ready to pour multibillions of dollars into clean energy” if Congress passes “some kind of bill that talks about energy independence and climate change,” Boxer said.

Related articles:

(Nuclear) Energy bill moves to the Senate

- July 9, 2009

Dr. Chu's Energy Bait and Switch

- June 13, 2009

October 04, 2009

The sources used by The Liberal Media

By Glenn Greenwald
October 4, 2009

Here are some of the sources which David Gregory cited today during Meet the Press:

The question is how much leverage does the U.S. really have? Charles Krauthammer, critical of the approach, saying . . . "This feel-good posturing is worse than useless, because all the time spent achieving gestures is precious time granted Iran to finish its race to acquire the bomb." Is this a cat and mouse game?

And there on Twitter is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and he posts this. He says, "President Obama fails to get the Olympics while unemployment goes to 9.8% Iran continues nuclear program."

But first, news about Iran in this morning's newspapers. The New York Times reports they may be closer now to producing a nuclear weapon than originally thought.

Those are the Liberal Media's sources: Charles Krauthammer's column on Iran, Newt Gingrich's Twitter feed, and the latest flagrantly fear-mongering, irresponsible, Saddam's-shopping-for-yellowcake piece from The New York Times' new Judy Miller/Michael Gordon team, causing that paper to reprise its 2002 role in leading the beating of war drums (Gregory also quoted from Peggy Noonan, Tom Friedman and John McCain). And on every topic, Gregory's questions to Obama aide Susan Rice were grounded -- as Gregory's questions typically are -- in neoconservative dogma and sounded like they were lifted from the pages of The Weekly Standard (Afghanistan: "why wouldn't the president immediately grant the request of his commanders to fully resource this war of necessity"?; Iran: "what is the deadline for Iran to either put up, to negotiate away its nuclear potential or face consequences?" U.N.: "Recently during the U.N. General Assembly Meeting in New York, Americans saw this kind of parade of anti-Americanism. . . . You once said that the U.N. is imperfect but it is also indispensable. When you look at that showing, what is the indispensable part?"). To summarize: escalate in Afghanistan; bomb Iran; and pull out of the U.N.

Reviewing the Sunday news shows and newspapers creates the most intense cognitive dissonance: a nation crippled by staggering debt, exploding unemployment, an ever-expanding rich-poor gap, and dependence on foreign government financing can't stop debating how much more resources we should devote to our various military occupations, which countries we should bomb next, which parts of the world we should bring into compliance with our dictates using threats of military force. It's like listening to an individual about to declare personal bankruptcy talking about all the new houses and jewels he plans on buying next week and all the extravagant trips he's planning, in between lamenting how important it is that he stop spending so much. That would sound insane. And that's exactly how our political discourse sounds.


And on a related note, the discussion I had earlier this week on Laura Flanders' GRITtv with Jeremy Scahill regarding the establishment and independent media can be viewed below [and I will, I believe, once again be on Dylan Ratigan's MSNBC program tomorrow morning at some point discussing Iran, with an attempt to incorporate all of the helpful technical suggestions made by commenters here last week]:

UPDATE: Obama's National Security Adviser, retired Marine Gen. James Jones, denies The New York Times' report that Iran's nuclear program is more advanced than previously believed; stands by the 2007 NIE conclusion that Iran ceased work on a nuclear weapons program back in 2003; and affirms that, as part of the ongoing negotiations, "Iran has taken positive steps," steps he deems "very significant." There are certainly some factions inside the U.S. Government eager for a confrontation with Iran (the ones feeding David Sanger and William Broad their NYT script), but there are also significant figures in the administration who realize what a disaster such a confrontation would be for the U.S.


Colombia says 'no' to US bases

Amid reports of a deal reached for the establishment of US military bases in Colombia, the country's foreign minister says there is no need for more American personnel

Press TV - October 4, 2009 15:44:31 GMT

In an effort to reassure other South American countries, Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez told the BBC that Colombia seeks only "information, technology, intelligence" in the form of military cooperation with the US.

"We don't need personnel, we need more information, technology, intelligence - that's the key issue… Those who fight best in Colombia are our own soldiers. We don't need American soldiers to do this."

"We are not going to have American bases in Colombia. Today we have 71 military personnel from the US," Bermudez said.

His remarks come as South American nations feel threatened by what is considered as 'suspicious intentions' of their northern neighbor.

He, however, said while it is important for his country to stay in good relation with its neighbors, especially Venezuela, Colombia appreciates US help.

The minister said the US has been helping Colombia in fighting "narco-traffickers and terrorists."

The Business of Lobbying in American Politics

By Karin Friedemann
October 04, 2009

A lot of aging leftists invite us to march in the streets. Some say, “Mass action will defeat the empire.” Will protesting stop war? Everyone who has been paying attention probably already knows that marching on Washington will not even disturb President Obama’s breakfast.
In fact, by causing havoc on the streets we actually distract the public’s attention from the real crimes taking place like AIPAC’s lobbying of Congress to bomb this or that country or like Haliburton’s pocketing of our tax money. Americans and their politicians need to understand that invading other countries hurts America. This approach is the only way to get the anti-war movement into the mainstream and away from the fringes of society.

The Israel Lobby has made sure the Zionist perspective permeates American discourse from grammar school through the highest levels of government. No child is too young for brainwashing.

An official diverging one iota gets 
his knees shot metaphorically. Holocaust Studies in the public school curriculum can start as early as Pre-K. Anyone that wants to discuss the role the Holocaust plays in US policy-making is an insane Holocaust denier. The Israel Lobby makes no distinction between national, transnational, and international politics.

Obama told AIPAC, “... the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow and 
forever.” As long as Zionist subversives dictate to Obama, patriotic Americans will not make much headway in attempting a direct effort to change US policy. Activists need to change tactics by focusing on the danger that 
the Israel Lobby represents to the American political system and by attack-ing the discourse on which the Israel Lobby stands.

The pro-Israel lobby operates on every level of American society. Holocaust propaganda serves to shield the most privileged group in America from just criticism of many of its members and of its collective conduct—especially in relation to the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people and the destruction of America’s Constitutional liberties.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was one of the main proponents of the Patriot Act, which monitors the reading history of library patrons. Zionist organizations are heavily involved with Homeland Security and they use book banning and far worse methods to squelch criticism of Israel. While there is no limit to the amount of hate speech against Muslims or Christians that is tolerated now in the western world, the mere suggestion that Muslims and Christians should have equal rights with Jews in the Holy Land, or that the Hollywood version of the Holocaust is not entirely accurate, have in recent times resulted in the deportation, imprisonment, and even assassination of the speakers, writers, or publishers, and in the banning of their books or films because of Zionist pressure on western governments to abandon the principle of freedom of expression.

How about a turn-around in rhetoric? Instead of trying to make Americans care about Arabs—too hard—we need to increase their awareness that the Jewish Lobby is undermining American democracy and costing taxpayers money. Since activists can destroy a movement if they dwell upon who the good guys are (there are various opinions), we should concentrate on what we can all agree on: The Lobby needs to be stopped. That’s the only way to stop war and war taxes. The Israel Lobby is the enemy of all Americans. I would suggest a public rhetoric campaign against all Israel lobbyists suggesting prison. It should be social suicide to participate with Hillel or other pro-Israel organizations training future lobbyists.

There are plenty of ways to address this issue in town meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and other mundane ways. Causing a huge stir at a Martin Luther King school assembly or sending a mass mailing to all the high school students will create a lot more word-of-mouth grassroots pressure than a protest in DC, which doesn’t even get discussed. We are at war because we allowed our country and our minds to be taken over by Zionists and other opportunists. We refused to take responsibility for our country or for our children’s education.
Every town has a web of pro-Israel groups that work together to undermine American democracy to promote their personal interests. Pro-peace advocates need to identify the Zionist individuals who are pushing their agenda in the local school system. As soon as you start engaging in anti-Israel activism, all the Israel lobbyists will come crawling out of the woodwork to try and discredit or stop you.

Once you know who these individuals are, then you will be able to protest directly to the local leadership and law enforcement specifically about those who are personally responsible for pushing Americans to die for Israeli interests. You probably know where they live. If Americans started talking to their neighbours we could probably stop this insanity.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women

First Order of Business for Post-Lisbon EU: Appoint War Criminal As President

By James Corbett
The Corbett Report
4 October, 2009

Major media outlets from the BBC in Britain to RTE in Ireland are now reporting that the Yes side scored a resounding victory in Ireland's vote Friday on the EU Lisbon Treaty. With the treaty's ratification, the obstacles preventing the total federalization of the EU superstate are now removed.

As the Daily Mail reported earlier this week, one of the first orders of business for the post-Lisbon EU will be to appoint Tony Blair as the first President of the European Union. This move has been fully expected ever since Tony Blair's highly suspect conversion to Catholocism two years ago. Of course, the many laudatory pieces (and even the adversarial ones) we are likely to read about Mr. Blair in the coming weeks will signally fail to mention that he has been accused of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity including:

- Continuing economic sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1990 until its invasion at the hands of his government in 2003 that resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

- Conspiracy to join with another power in a war of aggression (the supreme international war crime).

- High treason in manufacturing a case for war (including the infamous Downing Street Memo).

- Participating in a political and military coalition with the U.S. in Iraq that deployed contravened weapons like white phosphorus.

Of course, the Irish electorate has not only allowed Blair to become the President of the EU. According to the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, which has compiled a list of 13 Facts About the Lisbon Treaty, they have also created a self-amending treaty that will no longer allow national vetoes on key issues like tax harmonization, crime, transport, energy and public health and services. As the head of the National Platform Anthony Coughlan explained in a pre-vote interview on the significance of the treaty: "It [Lisbon] would establish a kind of European Federation which would in effect have all the powers of a traditional state. And this new EU Federation would then sign treaties with other states in all areas of its powers and would have its own voice at the United Nations and its own foreign minister and its own diplomatic service and so on." Listen to the interview in the audio player below:

Now that the EU has "won" by forcing the Irish public to vote on the Lisbon Treaty until they got it "right," liberty-minded people the world over will have the uncomfortable experience of watching the expansion of this vast new tyrannical superstate headed by unaccountable bureaucrats. Of course, given that the EU has been frustrated in its attempts to undermine national sovereignty again and again and again when the people are actually given a chance to have their say, we can only hope that the entire EU enterprise has been so discredited now that the political opposition to this rising EU Federation will continue to rise.

The coming weeks and months will be the most critical for the creation of this pumped-up regional superpower. One can only hope that the European citizenry will redouble their efforts to stop the inevitable power grabs before it is solidified because the consequences for the entire world if this Nazi-inspired and Bilderberg organized regional monstrosity is created are simply too ghastly to contemplate.

Israel shuts down Al-Aqsa mosque, turns violent

Press TV - October 4, 2009 - 14:21:47 GMT

Israeli police have fired tear gas at Palestinians protesting the closure
of Al-Aqsa holy compound (Temple Mount) in the occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli security forces beefed up security in the Old City Sunday and denied entry to the compound where the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine are located, said Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem.

"The situation is very tense in the Old City," Husseini said.

An Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, also confirmed that the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, had been "shut to visitors."

Some 150 Palestinians protested the closure of the site, hurling stones and bottles at riot police.

Palestinian medical officials said nine people were treated for minor injuries including tear gas inhalation. Israel said one policeman was hurt by a rock.

Israeli police claim that the decision to close the site was made following calls, spread on the Palestinian media on Saturday evening and throughout the night, to "come protect the Mount."

Many Jewish visitors are also expected to flock to Jerusalem during the holiday of Sukkot, particularly to the Old City and the Western Wall.

Last week, 30 people were injured in similar clashes near the Al-Aqsa mosque, as Palestinians warned of a possible new uprising.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during a 1967 aggression and later annexed it. The status of the city is among the thorniest issues of the peace process with the Palestinians, underscoring the reality that any Palestinian state should include the city as its capital.

Freed Palestinian prisoner, her child warmly received in Gaza

2009-10-02 | 21:39:13
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly, Fares Akram

EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Fatima al-Zeg, the 42-year-old prisoner, who was freed from an Israeli jail, together with 18 colleagues from the West Bank, arrived in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with her two-year-old child Yousef on Friday.

Dozens of Palestinians received al-Zeg and her child, who was born during her captivity, at Erez border crossing at the northern tip of the Gaza Strip.

The mother and the child were warmly received by her mother, husband Mohamed and her other three children who haven't seen her since she was arrested in May 2007.

Amid a mixed feeling of tears and happiness, al-Zeg, the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) movement's member, hugged her family members and said "al-Hamdolillah (thank God)" while dozens of recipients shouted "Allah Akbar (God is great)."

"I thank God for my release first and thank the Palestinian armed resistance who made this prisoners' exchange deal. I'm so glad to be release together with my son and my colleagues, but this happiness would remain incomplete until all the prisoners are released," al-Zeg told reporters.

Israel and the captors of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit agreed on Wednesday through the Egyptian and German mediators to free 20 female Palestinian prisoners for handing Israel a recent one-minute videotape showing the soldier Shalit alive, sound and good.

Shalit was abducted wounded in June 25, 2006 inside an Israeli armored vehicle, during a cross-border triple armed attack southeast Gaza Strip carried out by Hamas armed wing and two other minor armed groups. Two Israeli army officers and four Palestinians were killed in the attack.

Since he was abducted, Shalit sent a letter to his family, but before Israel carried out a 22-day war on the Gaza Strip that ended in January 18. After that war was over, Hamas leaders said they are not sure if Shalit is still alive, due to the intensive Israeli air strikes and shelling on the impoverished enclave.

Israel and Hamas had agreed to involve Germany in the indirect negotiations to finalize a prisoners' swap deal between the two sides. Shalit's captors demand to free around 1,000 prisoners from Israeli prisons for the release of the captive soldier.

Al-zeg was the only prisoner from the Gaza Strip to be released, while 18 other female prisoners are from the West Bank, where they headed to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's office in Ramallah who received them in official ceremonies. They also laid flowers for late leader Yasser Arafat.

They were seen smiling and waving from Red Cross vehicles, as they made their way from the Ofer prison, where they were transferred from the Tel Hashomar prison. Two convoys took the women, who joined the crowds that celebrated their release.

Israel released the 19 women right after it received a video tape. According to Israel TV, channel 10, the tape, which was immediately handed to Shalit's family, is more than one minute and it showed him alive, sound and good. The tape also showed him holding a newspaper dated September 14, the TV said.

Members from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip as well as members of the less influential Islamic Jihad movement escorted al-Zeg and her family to meet with Ismail Haneya, the deposed Prime Minister of Hamas government and other Hamas leaders in Gaza City.

A relative of Fatima, called Rawda, was supposed to be freed but Israel postponed her release to Sunday due to Jewish holidays. Fatima and Rawda were arrested at Erez Crossing on May 2007, as they were on their way to an Israeli hospital for a surgery of Rawda, Fatima's niece.

At Hamas government's headquarters, Haneya who warmly received the mother, her child and her family, described the release of al-Zeg and the other 18 female prisoners as "a day of triumph for the will of the Palestinian people and their brave resistance."

"This partial prisoners' exchange deal is a short step towards a long way the opens a door for hope to finalize a comprehensive and honorable deal and free a larger number of Palestinian prisoners," said Haneya. According to official estimations, there are 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Al-Zeg told reporters in a joint news conference with Haneya "I greet everyone, mainly the Palestinian resistance, for their efforts to ensure our release," adding "our happiness would remain incomplete until all Israeli jails are emptied of prisoners."

Iraq delays hydrocarbons law until after election: MP

Oct 3, 2009 - 1:53 pm ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq has delayed the discussion of a stalled hydrocarbons law, seen as key to the country ramping up its oil production, until after parliamentary elections in January, a senior MP said on Saturday.

The proposed law, which would regulate the oil sector and divide responsibility between the central government in Baghdad and Iraq's provinces, has been held up for three years due to disagreements between MPs from the country's majority Shia and minority Sunni, Kurd and other communities.

"There is no agreement on the contents of the oil law ... because this government wants the management of the oil sector to be centralised," said Ali Hussein Balo, a Kurd and chairman of the parliamentary oil and gas committee.

"Due to these conflicts, we have decided to delay the oil law enactment until after the election," he told AFP.

Iraq hopes to be able to pump six million barrels per day, up from current output of around 2.5 million, within the next four to five years as new projects come online, Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has said.

The country has the world's third-largest proven reserves of oil, with more than 115 billion barrels, behind only Saudi Arabia and Iran.

But investment in Iraq's ageing energy infrastructure has been hampered by delays to the hydrocarbons law.

When the government auctioned eight major energy contracts in June, only energy giants BP and China's CNPC won a bid, agreeing to receive only two dollars a barrel to operate the giant Rumaila field, which has known reserves of 17.7 billion barrels.

Mayor says army obstructing annual harvest

October 3, 2009

Ramallah – Ma’an – The mayor of Az-Zaytoon, Sa’eed Shreteh, demanded that official, civil and human rights institutions support farmers who he said were being persecuted by Israel's army and the settlers during their annual harvest.

Shreteh told Ma’an that the Israeli army had prevented a number of farmers from reaching their land west of the town and asked ordered them not to return to the Wad Abu Qare area.

“Such practices and violations practiced by the [Israeli] occupation's soldiers amount to persecution and attacks on farmers by settlers, which threatens the harvest, especially since most of the lands are planted with olive trees [targeted by settlers],” he added.

Shreteh added that the purported practices were intended to confiscate 600-700 acres from the town’s lands via attacks on farmers and forbidding them from entering their privately owned land.

Italian demonstrators call for press freedom

Press TV - October 4, 2009 07:13:53 GMT

Italians in their tens of thousands rallied in Rome
to protest against a recent 'government' lawsuit
seen as an encroachment of media autonomy.

Large crowds gathered in the Italian capital on Saturday in an effort to help reverse a new 'government' court case pressed by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi against a number of the country's newspapers that published details of the premier's scandal-hit private life.

The protesters demanded the withdrawal of the government bid which they see as a means to silence the independent media.

"I think that we have to say loudly that we want free information and free access to network(s) of information," a trade unionist participating in the rally told Press TV.

Meanwhile other press freedom supporters backed the latest demonstrations and called on the Italian government to allow the 'free' flow of information in the European country.

In an interview with the Press TV, Jean-Francois Julliard, a member of the Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based nongovernmental organization that advocates media independence, said that since Berlusconi controls a number of news outlets in Italy, his latest court case against autonomous newspapers creates a "conflict of interest" in the broadcasting business as the head of the Italian government could use his "direct influence" in order to "choose programs" to be aired.

Berlusconi filed the lawsuit against the media after some Italian news outlets in the catholic-dominated country published records of the premier's sexual adventures with 'underage' girls and a 'paid escort,' in the wake of his troubled nuptial life.