Daily Archive: 08/28/2013

Aug 28 2013

Aging Vermont Nuclear Plant to Shut Down

The owners of the aging Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant announced the plant’s shut down by 2014, citing that the plant was no longer financially viable due to the lower costs of natural gas. The president of Entergy, Bill Mohl, dismissed the fact that the plant, built in 1972, has been the target of anti-nuclear demonstrations and court battles.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant has been the subject of one of the longest and most intensive anti-nuke campaigns in the region. Even before the plant was constructed on the banks of the Connecticut River in 1972, anti-nuclear activists demonstrated against Vermont Yankee with a fervor that bordered on religious conviction.

Anti-nuke groups formed – the New England Coalition, Citizens Awareness Network, Shut It Down Affinity Group and the Safe and Green Campaign – and environmental organizations like VPIRG, the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Conservation Law Foundation took up the cause, too. From the 1970s and 1980s and again in the early 2000s, Vermont Yankee attracted a wide range of activists who pressed for one ultimate goal: closing the plant.

When a new out-of-state owner – Entergy Corp. – purchased the Vernon plant for $180 million in 2002, and the facility began to age and show signs of deterioration (including the collapse of a cooling tower, a transmission fire and tritium leaks from underground pipes), activists ramped up the outrage, and eventually politicians – the state’s Democrats and Progressives – took up the cause, too. In 2010, Sen. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat from Windham County where the plant is located, engineered a vote in the Senate to deny Entergy an opportunity to extend its license to operate beyond a predetermined shutdown date of March 21, 2012.

The long fight to close the plant has had its political impact, as well, ousting the long reign of Republican in the governor’s mansion. In 2012, the popular Republican lieutenant governor, Brian Dubie, who supported the nuclear plant was defeated by Democrat Peter Shumlin. In the wake of the ongoing nuclear crisis from the Fukushima reactor, whose design is identical to Yankee Vermont, this is seen as a first step in the shut down of the other reactors of similar design.

 

Aug 28 2013

Where Were the Women in Washington?

Where were the female leaders of the civil rights movement in 1963? Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman is joined by 91 year old Gloria Richardson, co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee in Maryland,to discuss the silencing of women at the 1963 March on Washington. Ms. Richardson was on the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that day but before she was allowed to speak the microphone was snatched from her hand. She later became friends with Malcolm X. She also discussed her work to desegregate schools and hospitals in Maryland and her assessment of President Obama and the civil rights struggle today.



Transcript can be read here

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Yes, we had hotel accommodations and they came and got me to take me to the March. I was late, but that wasn’t because of me – they took me to the tent. When I got to the tent, the women were all there. They got up after a while and said they were going to the ladies room and would be back. So, I sat and waited for them to come back. In the meantime, I was doing some interviews. But then all of a sudden, Bayard Rustin popped up and said, what are you doing here sitting in a tent? I said, I am waiting – I explained to him I was waiting for them. Oh, no, he said, come, go with me. He took me through the crowd to the stage, and that’s when… [..]

And they said to me, they have taken your chair away. Well, it proved they had chairs I guess for everybody maybe that was named, with a banner across it. So, and asked me, you should raise Hell. I thought, no, I don’t have to do that. We’re out in the streets so I said to them, no, I see a lawyer back there and I have a problem, so I’m going to go back and talk with him. [..]

they called the name and I went up. People kept saying, go up anyhow. So I went up. So, I said hello, and I, really, by that time, was so annoyed, I was going to tell them, you all just sit here until they pass that civil rights bill, even if it is a week from away. And I said, hello. I guess they were right.

AMY GOODMAN: And they pulled the mic from your mouth.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Oh yeah, they pulled it, but had one of the marshals. Then they came after — I don’t think I heard Daisy Bates speak, but, they came and got me —

Aug 28 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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Bryce Covert: An Unfulfilled Dream From the March on Washington: Labor Rights for Domestic Work

Fifty years ago on August 28, thousands of protesters descended on Washington, DC. The protest is colloquially known as the March on Washington, but it’s worth remembering its full name: “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” In fact, the economic repression people of color experienced played a central role in galvanizing the march and in the demands the marchers made.

The protesters laid out ten concrete demands, half of which had economic implications: legislation barring discrimination in public housing, a federal jobs training and employment program, an increase in the minimum wage, an act barring discrimination by governments and contractors, and an expansion of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.”

Progress on these economic demands has been slow and bumpy.But that last bullet-point is a very concrete dream that has been denied. While the FLSA has been expanded since then, a whole category of workers-who are also disproportionately people of color-are still left out.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Boycott Sochi? Think again.

In the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the Kremlin is getting torched.

An international chorus of critics has assailed Vladi­mir Putin’s government for enacting a law that bans any discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) relationships, rights and issues wherever children might be present. Many protesters are calling for a global response. [..]

Yet it’s not all that clear whether today’s clamor, however well-intentioned, will improve the lives and human rights of gay people in Russia. Unless we take the time to understand the reasons behind the ascendance of hyper-conservative traditionalist values in Russia and then develop a more strategic response, we may instead strengthen the already powerful nationalist forces in the country.

Phyllis Bennis: Moral Obscenities in Syria

The threat of a reckless, dangerous, and illegal US or US-led assault on Syria is looking closer than ever.

The US government has been divided over the Syria crisis since it began. Some, especially in the Pentagon and some of the intelligence agencies, said direct military intervention would be dangerous and would accomplish nothing. Others, especially in Congress and some in the State Department, have demanded military attacks, even regime change, against the Syrian leadership, even before anyone made allegations of chemical weapons. The Obama administration has been divided too, with President Obama seemingly opposed to any US escalation. The American people are not divided-60 percent are against intervening in Syria’s civil war even if chemical weapons were involved.

But the situation is changing rapidly, and the Obama administration appears to be moving closer to direct military intervention. That would make the dire situation in Syria inestimably worse.

Jessica Valenti: Free Abortions on Demand Without Apology

When did so many feminists get polite on abortion? I cannot take hearing another pundit insist that only a small percentage of Planned Parenthood’s work is providing abortions or that some women need birth control for “medical” reasons. Tiptoeing around the issue is exhausting, and it’s certainly not doing women any favors.

It’s time resuscitate the old rallying cry for “free abortions on demand without apology.” It may not be a popular message but it’s absolutely necessary. After all, the opposition doesn’t have nearly as many caveats. They’re fighting for earlier and earlier bans on abortions, pushing for no exceptions for rape and incest, fighting against birth control coverage-even insisting that they have the right to threaten abortion providers. The all-out strategy is working; since 2010, more than fifty abortion clinics have stopped providing services.

The anti-choice movement isn’t pulling any punches-why should we?

Zoë Carpenter: Another Delay for Keystone XL?

The Obama administration may put off its decision about the Keystone XL pipeline until next year because of an inquiry into a contractor’s alleged conflicts of interest.

The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating allegations that Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the company hired to conduct the environmental assessment of the pipeline, hid its ties to TransCanada, the pipeline’s backer, as well as to other tar sands stakeholders. On Friday, the OIG announced that its probe would not be completed until January 2014, suggesting that the State Department might not issue its final recommendation on whether to grant a permit for the project this fall as expected. [..]

If the OIG inquiry does delay State’s decision, it will be a temporary win for pipeline opponents. There are signs that investors are losing interest in Alberta’s oil sands because of continued setbacks, lessening some of the pressure behind the project. But KXL won’t be dead until the Obama administration calls it.

Alice Slater: Time for a Missile Ban Treaty

This July, only one day after the US celebrated another anniversary of its Declaration of Independence from tyranny, it was reported that once more, a test of US anti-missile defenses against incoming long-range ballistic missiles, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California had failed again.

This was the third consecutive test of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Mid-Course system, in which our military was unable to intercept an incoming missile, programmed to target the US, which had been launched towards the mainland from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein atoll, in the Marshall Islands. This lunatic program, dreamt up by Reagan and known by its comic book reality, Star Wars, will never work.

Aug 28 2013

March on Washington

Aug 28 2013

On This Day In History August 28

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 28 is the 240th day of the year (241st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 125 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King addressed the crowds assembled on the Washington Mall from the steps at the Lincoln Memorial. His speech, “I have a Dream”, is forever embedded in history and our memories as one of the great moments in the fight for civil rights. But there were many other speakers, and in particular one great performance by the “Queen of Gospel”, Mahalia Jackson. Right before Dr. King spoke, Ms. Jackson performed “How I Got Over”.

Indeed, if Martin Luther King, Jr., had a favorite opening act, it was Mahalia Jackson, who performed by his side many times. On August 28, 1963, as she took to the podium before an audience of 250,000 to give the last musical performance before Dr. King’s speech, Dr. King himself requested that she sing the gospel classic “I’ve Been ‘Buked, and I’ve Been Scorned.” Jackson was just as familiar with Dr. King’s repertoire as he was with hers, and just as King felt comfortable telling her what to sing as the lead-in to what would prove to be the most famous speech of his life, Jackson felt comfortable telling him in what direction to take that speech.

The story that has been told since that day has Mahalia Jackson intervening at a critical junction when she decided King’s speech needed a course-correction. Recalling a theme she had heard him use in earlier speeches, Jackson said out loud to Martin Luther King, Jr., from behind the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” And at that moment, as can be seen in films of the speech, Dr. King leaves his prepared notes behind to improvise the entire next section of his speech-the historic section that famously begins “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream….”

There is no embeddable video of Ms Jackson from that day but here is the inspirational song she performed that day.