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G_j's Journal
G_j's Journal
February 23, 2012

How the New Mexico Anti–Nuclear Campaign Achieved A Major Victory!


Published on Thursday, February 23, 2012 by Climate Story Tellers

How the New Mexico Anti–Nuclear Campaign Achieved A Major Victory
by Subhankar Banerjee

On February 17, as I was stepping out the door for an exhibition opening of my arctic photographs and to participate in an environmental panel at Fordham University with former New York State assistant attorney general Robert Emmet Hernan, I received an email news update from Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, a Santa Fe, New Mexico based NGO that began with these words, “We have reason to celebrate with the ‘abandonment’ of the proposed Nuclear Facility as part of the Chemistry & Metallurgy Research Replacement Project (CMRR) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by President Obama and the Department of Energy.”

On February 13, the President released his proposed fiscal year 2013 budget. On page 26 of the document “Cuts, Consolidations, and Savings: Budget of the U.S. Government” we find, “The Administration proposes deferring the construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility... for at least five years.” Then on February 17 the Albuquerque Journal reported, “Chu [U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu] told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the Department of Energy decided to abandon—at least for now—a planned LANL plutonium lab because of budget constraints.”

Abandoned or postponed—either way, this is a major victory for the New Mexico anti–nuclear activists and community members who have been fighting this issue since 2003. So far the news has mostly escaped the radars of the national mainstream and progressive media—I found one Associated Press article, and few articles in the New Mexico newspapers. But this story has local, regional and national significance, so I’ll share a bit more with you.

In New Mexico, the two national labs—Los Alamos and Sandia wield a lot of power as they bring in a lot of money into the state—to develop among other things weapons of mass destruction. These projects are usually justified with a simple argument—in the interest of National Security—the U.S. sacred cow. It isn’t easy for an elected official—state or federal to oppose a major weapons project at one of these labs. The Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board was quick to express their displeasure with President’s decision and blamed it on the mismanagement at the lab, “New Mexico’s Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who chairs the committee, noted that ‘for years we have been told the CMRR nuclear facility was necessary...’ although he stopped short of condemning the DOE for essentially pulling the plug and shifting the money to the Uranium Processing Facility at Oak Ridge, Tenn. ...But if it wants to get ahead in the funding game—and regain value in the eyes of the administration—mistrust between the labs and with the NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration], operational inefficiencies and a draconian management culture must be fixed.” Let’s take a closer look.

February 23, 2012

Ex-Playboy playmate gets $1.2 million payout after suing the cops for manhandling her


Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

An ex-Playboy playmate stripped the city of a $1.2 million payout Tuesday after suing the cops for manhandling her.

A Manhattan jury of four women and two men took 81/2 hours deliberating before tossing fistfuls of money at Miss November 1992, Stephanie Adams, 41, for the injuries she suffered in a 2006 scuffle with police.

The former Bunny’s tale was so compelling that jurors doled awarded her $385,000 more than her lawyer asked for.

Adams, the first openly lesbian Playmate, said cops threw her to the ground at gunpoint after a bizarre confrontation with a cabbie who falsely told them she “flashed vampire teeth” and was going to shoot him.

“I was praying for justice and waited six years to speak my truth in court and I’m very grateful for the closure and the healing,” Adams said, holding her son, Vincent, on her hip.

“This jury verdict demonstrates that there is a serious problem in this city regarding excessive use of force of our police against ordinary citizens. This must be addressed by the appropriate city officials,” said Adams’
February 23, 2012

Climate denial in the classroom


Climate denial in the classroom

It's bad enough that we're doing so little to fight climate change; let's not ask teachers to lie about it too.

February 20, 2012

The culture wars have been fought in the classroom for decades, waged over such issues as school prayer, the teaching of evolution and whether the Pledge of Allegiance should include the phrase "under God." But the conflict usually pits backers of religious instruction against secularists. The latest skirmish, by contrast, is centered on a scientific issue that has nothing to do with religious teaching: climate change.

Leaked documents from the Heartland Institute in Chicago, one of many nonprofits that spread disinformation about climate science in hopes of stalling government action to combat global warming, reveal that the organization is working on a curriculum for public schools that casts doubt on the work of climatologists worldwide. Heartland officials say one of the documents was a fake, but the curriculum plans were reportedly discussed in more than one. According to the New York Times, the curriculum would claim, among other things, that "whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy."

That is a lie so big that, to quote from "Mein Kampf," it would be hard for most people to believe that anyone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." On one side of the "controversy" are credentialed climatologists around the globe who publish in reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journals and agree that the planet is warming and that humans are to blame; on the other are fossil-fuel-industry-funded "experts" who tend to have little background in climatology and who publish non-peer-reviewed papers in junk magazines disputing established truths. These are quickly debunked, but not before their findings have been reported by conservative blogs and news outlets, which somehow never get around to mentioning it when these studies are proved to be badly flawed.

Fortunately, if we're about to enter a battle over classroom instruction on climate change, it won't go on for decades, because the impacts of global warming are already patently obvious. Seven of the 10 warmest years since global record-keeping began in 1880 have occurred in the 21st century. Despite an intense campaign to discredit his work, Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph, which shows that temperatures in the latter half of the 20th century soared to their highest level in 1,000 years, has been validated repeatedly. Last year set a record for the most climate-related disasters in the United States costing more than $1 billion in damage each — drought-fueled wildfires in Texas, Hurricane Irene, and Mississippi River flooding were among the 14 cases.

February 22, 2012

What Would Jesus Buy? - Shopocalypse Song

From producer Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and director Rob VanAlkemade, "What Would Jesus Buy?" examines the commercialization of Christmas in America while following Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse (the end of humankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt.) The film also delves into issues such as the role sweatshops play in America's mass consumerism and Big-Box Culture. From the humble beginnings of preaching at his portable pulpit on New York City subways, to having a congregation of thousands -- Bill Talen (aka Rev. Billy) has become the leader of not just a church, but a national movement.

February 22, 2012

Honduran president pardons murderer who saved hundreds from jail inferno

Honduran president pardons murderer who saved hundreds from jail inferno

Marco Antonio Bonilla used keys to open locks and a bench to smash down doors as fire raged and prison guards panicked

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 22 February 2012 08.49 EST

The Honduran government has pardoned a convicted murderer who helped save hundreds of inmates during a fire that killed 360 people last week.

President Porfirio Lobo announced he would pardon Marco Antonio Bonilla, also known as Shorty, for releasing trapped prisoners from the horrific blaze that destroyed Comayagua jail.

While guards panicked and left screaming men to die, Bonilla – who had been outside his cell when the fire began – used a set of keys to unlock several barracks, each housing about 100 men. He also used a bench to smash open other locks.

"He put himself at incredible risk trying to save lives during the tragedy," Lobo said during a televised meeting with ministers



February 20, 2012

And her right to have a happy, joyous sex life that involves an actual male partner?

Birth Control Isn’t Really About “Women’s Health.” It’s About…

Pamela Haag on February 17, 2012, 12:11 PM


This is a polemic: Access to birth control isn’t really about my “health.” It’s not principally about the management of ovarian cysts or the regulation of periods.

Birth control isn’t about my health unless by health you mean, my capacity to get it on, to have a happy, joyous sex life that involves an actual male partner. The point of birth control is to have sex that’s recreational and non-procreative. It’s to permit women to exercise their desires without the sword of Damocles of unwanted pregnancy hanging gloomily over their heads.

This proposition is radical only by default, because mainstream liberal voices in Congress, especially, have euphemized women’s desires out of the current birth control and abortion disputes.

I understand why they’ve done this, in terms of narrow political expediency. We’ve been on the defensive about reproductive rights and women's sexual liberty for decades. We’ve used a euphemism of “choice” for years



Two Steps Back, One Step Forward
February 19, 2012 by Rosemary Rhodes Royston

I just read an excellent essay by Pamela Haag, “Birth Control Isn’t Really About Women’s Health. It’s About….,”
http://bigthink.com/ideas/42514, where she makes a very valid point—that one of the main reasons for birth control is simply not being articulated in our public discourse – that birth control is a means to recreational, non-procreative sex. Furthermore, I’ve noticed two greatly differing portrayals of female sexuality (one in lit, another in a TV sitcom), that left me pondering. In short, we seem to be taking two steps back and one forward when it comes to female sexuality and choice.

In her essay, Haag points out that the entire birth control argument totally sidesteps one of the key issues: birth control (i.e., the pill) is mainly used to prevent pregnancy during recreational sex. Whether sex is between married folks or a single woman who is taking precautions against an unwanted pregnancy, a woman’s use of birth control is not just to have a regular menstrual cycle or to reduce ovarian cysts (arguments comfortably cited in the press under “women’s health”). What we are uncomfortable stating is that a woman also uses birth control because she wants to have sex and enjoy it without becoming pregnant. As Haag states, birth control also benefits the man with whom she is engaging in this healthy and fulfilling act. Haag persuades quite well that our society and its views on women’s sexual freedom have taken a turn back – away from the second wave of feminism that Erica Jong exemplified in Fear of Flying.

I am a big fan of the writings of Jeffrey Eugenides and Jonathan Franzen. Most recently I read Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot, and Franzen’s Freedom. I found the novels extremely well-written (even though Eugenides tends to over-write and obsess at times), and relevant in regard to contemporary life (marriage, environment, etc.). However, each novel had a sex scene between a male and female protagonist that gave me pause. It was as if the same man were writing the same scene in two different novels – a scene about a woman and how she truly enjoys sex. The sexual encounter (without going into detail) went something like this: force and violence to the woman that led to her to total submission and her final realization that she needed a quasi-rape to transcend all of her personal inhibitions. While I am taking these out of context to a certain degree, my feelings on these scenes remain the same: misogynistic. Misleading. Projection of the male fantasy of dominion over the woman. I’m no prude. Consensual sex between two adults is fine by me. But to portray that the only way a woman can come into her own sexual awakening is through force is not where I stand. These sex scenes only support a rather archaic view of sexual domination of the man to aid a woman in her own awakening. No thanks.

But compare these scenes, along with the side-stepping political discourse, to something as odd as a sitcom: Big Bang Theory. Here we have Penny, the non-academic “girl next door” who has complete freedom in her sexual choices. While the butt of a few jokes by platonic and bodily-fluid-scared Sheldon, she is open with her choices and still desired by 3 of the 4 protagonists in the show, along with a good number stock characters. No one looks down on her for her sexual freedom. Second example is an episode where a visiting female physicist not only beds Leonard, but manages to sleep with the entire gang, acting out all kinds of fantasies in the process. The tenor of the show is not that this woman is a slut, but that she is acting on her own choices. That’s what freedom to choose is about: choose with whom to share one’s body and in what ways. And to do so responsibly – the pill, condoms, or a combination of such (and/or other) methods.


February 18, 2012

300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto, Willie Nelson calls for"Occupy the Food System" action


300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto in Federal Court
By Jane Ayers, Nation of Change

15 February 12

Thanks to RSN for reprinting my article from Nation of Change... and thanks to the 13,000+ Likes so far... Just want to make one correction: The title that RSN used was not what I originally wrote so I wanted to point that out because Willie Nelson is not one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, he just called for the national Occupy the Food System. Read the article and find the group's name on the lawsuit, go to their website, and find the list of plaintiffs. Once again, thanks to RSN for reprinting this article, and also it was nice to see Willie's picture, as the editorial focused on his work for farmers too.

Take care, Jane Ayers

NOTE: Although it is clear that Mr. Nelson serves as an inspiration to Occupy the Food System groups, we have defaulted to the author's original title to avoid any confusion about his active participation in the lawsuit. - JPS/RSN

Little did Willie Nelson know when he recorded "Crazy" years ago just how crazy it would become for our cherished family farmers in America. Nelson, President of Farm Aid, has recently called for the national Occupy movement to declare an "Occupy the Food System" action.

Nelson states, "Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil…"

Hundreds of citizens, (even including NYC chefs in their white chef hats) joined Occupy the Food System groups, ie Food Democracy Now, gathered outside the Federal Courts in Manhattan on January 31st, to support organic family farmers in their landmark lawsuit against Big Agribusiness giant Monsanto. (Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association v. Monsanto) Oral arguments were heard that day concerning the lawsuit by 83 plaintiffs representing over 300,000 organic farmers, organic seed growers, and organic seed businesses.

The lawsuit addresses the bizarre and shocking issue of Monsanto harassing and threatening organic farmers with lawsuits of "patent infringement" if any organic farmer ends up with any trace amount of GM seeds on their organic farmland.

February 16, 2012

The Boy Mayor’s Last Stand (Kucinich)

The Boy Mayor’s Last Stand
Kucinich Tries to Win Over New Set of Voters in Race Against Kaptur


CLEVELAND — In his political lifespan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich traveled the globe to meet world leaders, crisscrossed the country to run for president and even flirted with running for re-election in Washington state.

But a much less glamorous locale will determine the Ohio Democrat’s fate next month: Toledo.

As the snow whips past his hybrid SUV on the two-hour drive from his home in Cleveland to Toledo on Saturday morning, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wants this job. But two Members — Kucinich and fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur — want to represent the redrawn 9th district, which stretches 120 miles along Lake Erie’s shoreline.

The new district’s numbers aren’t in Kucinich’s favor, but that’s never stopped the two-time failed presidential candidate from running before. Yet even the west Cleveland Congressman admits he’s not sure who will win the March 6 primary.


February 15, 2012

Best Supporting Role: 8 Celebs Who Promote Science


Best Supporting Role: 8 Celebs Who Promote Science
By Stephanie Pappas | LiveScience.com

Celebrities are often better known for trashing science or spreading scientific misinformation than they are for using their public platforms to promote responsible research. It's become so bad that London-based scientific literacy organization Sense About Science compiles an annual list of celebrity science offenders.

In 2011, the group chided television pundit Bill O'Reilly for postulating that the tides are inexplicable; reality TV star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi for speculating that whale sperm makes oceans salty; and television talent judge Simon Cowell for promoting intravenous vitamin treatments.

But with the Academy Awards coming up and celebrities basking in the glow of nominations, we thought we'd add commendations of our own. Here's a list of celebrities who have supported scientific endeavors, spoken out against pseudoscience, or who have surprising nerd chops.

February 15, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Demands: The 99 Percent Declaration Calls for July 4 General Assembly in Philadel


Occupy Wall Street Demands: The 99 Percent Declaration Calls for July 4 General Assembly in Philadelphia
-By Dale W. Eisinger

February 14, 2012 3:13 PM EST

One frequent, even overplayed, criticism of the Occupy movement was its lack of coherence in formulating demands. Today--three days after the Huffington Post's elaborate and unfounded claim of the movement's epitaph--the 99 Percent Declaration puts an end to those assertions.

A Web site made public Tuesday morning by means of Reddit announced the planning of a democratically elected and nationally representative committee to assemble in Philadelphia during the week of July 4, 2012, to officially draft and present a petition for redress of grievances to the US government, as is protected under First Amendment rights.

Each of the 435 congressional districts is to elect two representatives. The rules of delegation are listed, in part, as such:

"The office of Delegate shall be open to all United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who have attained the age of 18 years. No candidate for Delegate to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY will be permitted to run on a party line or use any party label while running for or serving as a Delegate. No candidate or Delegate may take private money from any source except for reasonable gifts to fund his or her trip to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in Philadelphia. No politician holding elected or appointed office at the time of the Delegate election, including members of Congress, are eligible to run for or sit as a Delegate to the National General Assembly."


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