Saturday, October 31, 2009

Information on Democratic Senate Candidates

Work of the United States Senate, Credited to ...Image via Wikipedia

These are the important dates for the Senate race:
  • November 18, 2009 is the last day to register voters for the state primary; registration hours 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. (except in towns under 1500 registered voters, registration hours 2:00- 4:00 P.M. and 7:00-8:00 P.M.).
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2009 is the State Primary
  • December 30. 2009 is the last day to register voters for the state election; registration hours 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. (except in towns under 1500 registered voters, registration hours 2:00- 4:00 P.M. and 7:00-8:00 P.M.).
  • Tuesday January 19, 2010 is the State Election
For anyone interested in volunteering for one of the Senate candidates, the contact information is listed below. Please check out the candidate websites and then get involved in helping one of them.

The websites and local coordinators are as follows, in alphabetical order. For lawn signs, bumper stickers and other materials, please contact the coordinators.

Mike Capuano
Contact Kate Crowther at or 413-259-5710

Mike will be in Greenfield to meet and greet voters on October 31st, at 10 a.m. at Bart's Cafe, 286 Main Street.

Martha Coakley
Contact Patty Marcus at or 413-774-2482
Alan Khazei
Contact Mollie Fox at or at 413-530-2504

Steve Pagliuca
Contact Patrick Meyers at or at 617-250-8518
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Healthcare Hypocrites

Official photo of U.S. Senator {{w|Jim DeMint}}.Image via Wikipedia

Healthcare Hypocrites

by Jim Hightower

How do you spell "hypocrisy"?

Try this: "H-Y-P-O-C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S." The hypocongress consists of those Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who have risen up on their hind legs in recent weeks to snarl and howl at any mention of a government role in meeting America's health care needs. "Socialism," they bark — we won't allow Barack Obama and the liberals to create a Washington-run, big-government intrusion into the hallowed private market. Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, even pledged to fight so ferociously that the health care battle would be Obama's "Waterloo."

What a stand-up guy for free enterprise! What an ideologically correct appeal to laissez-faire principle! And, let me add, what a crock!

What these bellicose market-purists hope you don't discover is that they are closet socialists. As members of the congressional elite, they and their families are governmentally blessed with their very own gold-plated, taxpayer-financed, Washington-run health care system. And, they loooove it.

Theirs is such an effective system that not a single member of the hypocongress has been willing to give it up — even though they surely realize the political peril of being exposed as rank hypocrites for enjoying the very program they so adamantly reject for you.

Actually, they happily take a double dip in the soothing waters of public health care. First, they enroll their entire families in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program — and you probably would, too, if it were available to you, for it's the Rolls Royce of health plans.

For example, while even the best employer-provided health policies offer only one or two types of coverage, FEHBP is a Chinese menu, offering dozens of coverage choices that allow its lucky members to assemble a plan that meets their unique needs. Members also need not worry about being denied coverage because of some pre-existing condition — once sworn into office, lawmakers and their families are immediately and fully insured, with total access to a national network of doctors and hospitals.

But here's the sweetest part of their Rolls Royce ride: up to 75 percent of the premiums are paid for by taxpayers, many of whom are lucky if they can afford to buy an old Yugo-level of health coverage in the vaunted private market.

Well, snaps the hypocongress crowd, even if FEHBP is essentially government-paid insurance, at least it's not socialized medicine, with doctors working for the government — so, technically, we're still pure.

Ah, that raises the second bit of secret socialism that lawmakers have mandated for themselves.

Right under the Capitol dome, conveniently situated between the Senate and House chamber, is the Office of the Attending Physician. Inside are more than a dozen navy doctors, nurses, medical technicians, pharmacists and other health professionals, all employed by the government solely to attend to a select clientele: the 535 members of Congress.

Let's say that, after giving a fiery speech on the floor assailing the evils of government-run health care, a lawmaker gets gaseous or has a tongue cramp. He or she can pop right into the OAP for — yes! — some government-run health care. No appointment needed, no pesky insurance forms to fill out, no co-pay — just care.

For this, members pay a flat fee of $503 a year. A year! You and I are taxed to cover the real costs of this elite service. And that's not the end of public health benefits for lawmakers — if they need a specialist, an operation, therapy, rehab or other pricey procedure, it's all free at the government's Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals.

If it's good enough for them, why not us? The public deserves what the Congress has, and any member who opposes extending it to us should automatically be stripped of their privileges.

For a model of integrity, they might look to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis. — both of whom have rejected taking congressional coverage until everyone in America has coverage of equal quality. I don't think the noisy naysayers are looking for integrity, however — not as long as they can get away with their abominable hypocrisy.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There are some upcoming meetings and we need your help with one in particular. Next Monday, Nov 2nd, there will be a public hearing regarding sewer use regs and your participation is absolutely crucial. This may be the last public hearing related to biomasswe need all concerned residents there! Please be prepared to attend and/or testify (see bottom of message for more on the wastewater issue). Here is the proposed addition to the sewer regs:

650-55. Supply of Wastewater.
The mayor, with the prior approval of the Town Council, may enter into a contract for the supply of treated or untreated wastewater, the duration of which shall not exceed twenty (20) years. The person or entity receiving supply of such wastewater shall obtain, at its sole cost, all necessary permits from local, state and federal authorities. Said contract shall set forth the price for supply of such wastewater and all other terms and conditions related to such supply. The price for the sale of such wastewater may include all or a portion of sewer use fees that may have been charged on the return of wastewater to the sewer in lieu of separate changes for such sewer use.

The hearing will be at the Greenfield Middle School at 7 p.m. Again, it is crucial that we make our concerns known either with testimony or in our overwhelming attendance. Other upcoming meetings that you are encouraged to attend (although public testimony will not be accepted):

Tuesday Nov 3 6:30 p.m. Greenfield P.D., Economic Development Committee: Water supply Agreement, Lease of space for Installation of Pump(s) at WPC Plane

Wednesday Nov 4 6:30 p.m. Greenfield P.D.; Ways and Means Committee: Water Supply Agreement, Lease of Space for Installation (see above)

Please also take a moment to voice your concerns before next Monday's meeting to the Appointments and Ordinance Committee telling them that we shouldn't be selling sewer water to anyone:

David Singer, Chair 773-8300
Brickett Allis 773-8875
Christopher Joseph 773-0296
Alfred Siano 773-3485
Thomas McClellan 774-4612

Things to consider for your testimony (as written by one of CCFC's members):

The change to the Sewer Regs should be opposed because it will exempt Wolfe from paying to discharge his industrial wastes into the Greenfield sewer. Thus, all the people of Greenfield will be subsidizing the incinerator with their sewer bills, and he will get a completely free ride. Instead of charging him based on how toxic his discharge is (and it will be very toxic), he will be able to buy sewage water at a guaranteed volume and quality, even if he discharges so much toxicity into the sewer that the town can't clean up his wastes and therefore can't meet it's obligation to provide less contaminated water to his incinerator. The town will then be forced to supply municipal water for cooling the burner.

Instead of the incinerator paying for its discharge and the money going into the sewer fund where it will help defray the costs of the treatment and the fees paid by residents (in the Enterprise Fund), Shields wants to keep all of the money for herself to spend however she wants. Thus, this plan will steal money from the citizens of Greenfield and allow it to be put in a slush fund for the Dept of Public Works. It removes all accountability and instead provides for a cash cow that will be feeding at the public trough.

Wolfe should be charged for every ounce of water that he discharges, just like everyone else. In fact, he should be charged a premium if his toxic waste is at all above the level of contaminants that would be normally found in domestic wastewater. This is standard in the sewer business. It costs more to treat highly concentrated and contaminated industrial wastes. The only way to address this is to make him pay for the discharge.

Look at it this way, the wastewater effluent is contaminated when it leaves the treatment plant. We are concerned that all the drugs and chemicals will be volatilized into the air. Whatever isn't spewed into the air will be sent back to the sewer, plus all the process contaminants that he adds, which will make it a very concentrated waste. Then it gets treated and sent back to him, where he concentrates it again and it gets recycled. This concentrating keeps happening because he is evaporating 80% of the H2O. Eventually the waste that he discharges is so concentrated that it can't be treated by the Wastewater Treatment Plant, it will cause a plant upset. And Matt doesn't pay for any of this, because he pays no discharge fees.

Everyone should oppose this change, in the strongest words. Residents of Greenfield should be especially outraged, as this is a plan to rip-off the sewer ratepayers and rob Peter (citizens) to pay Paul (Wolfe). This kind of crooked accounting should be illegal.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Don't Drink the Bong Water

A bud from an „Orange Crush“ cannabis plantImage via Wikipedia

A Tale of Two Supermen

by David Sirota

For better or worse, our American Idiocracy has come to rely on athletes as national pedagogues. Michael Jordan educated the country about commitment and just doing it. A.C. Green lectured us about sexual caution. Serena Williams and John McEnroe taught us what sportsmanship is - and is not. So when a single week like this one sees both the Justice Department back states' medical marijuana laws, and a Gallup poll show record-level support for pot legalization, we can look to two superjocks - Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps - for the key lesson about our absurd drug policy.

This Tale of Two Supermen began in February when Phelps, the gold-medal swimmer, was plastered all over national newspapers in a photo that showed him hitting a marijuana bong. USA Swimming suspended Phelps, Kellogg pulled its endorsement deal and the Associated Press sensationalized the incident as a national decision about whether heroes should "be perfect or flawed."

The alleged imperfection was Phelps' decision to quietly consume a substance that "poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol," as a redacted World Health Organization report states. That's a finding confirmed by almost every objective science-based analysis, including a landmark University of California study in 2006 showing "no association at all" between marijuana use and cancer.

Alcohol, by contrast, causes roughly 1 in 30 of the world's cancer cases, according to the International Journal of Cancer. And a new report by Cancer Epidemiology journal shows that even beer, seemingly the least potent drink, may increase the odds of developing tumors.

Which brings us to Armstrong. This month, the Tour de France champion who beat cancer inked a contract to hawk Anheuser-Busch's alcohol. That's right, less than a year after Phelps was crucified for merely smoking weed in private, few noticed or protested the planet's most famous cancer survivor becoming the public face of a possible carcinogen.

The data prove the answer to "why the double standard" isn't about health, and our culture proves it isn't about widespread allegiance to "Just Say No" abstinence. After all, whether through liquor commercials, wine magazines, beer-named stadiums or cocktail-drenched office parties, our society is constantly encouraging us to get our liquid high.

No, the double standard is about know-nothing statutes and attitudes promoting the recreational use of alcohol and banning the similar use of marijuana - all thanks to retrograde mythologies of post-'60s Americana. In our now-dominant backlash folklore, the patriots are the straight-laced Joe and Jane Sixpacks - and the Armstrongs who encourage their drinking. Meanwhile, the supposed evildoers are the pot-smoking Cheeches, Chongs and Phelpses, whose marijuana use allegedly underscores a dangerous hippieness.

Ergo, the moral of this Tale of Two Supermen: To end contradictions in narcotics policy and permit safer recreational drug choices, we have to first reject the outdated Silent-Majority-versus-counterculture iconography that defines so much of our politics. We must, in other words, replace caricatures with scientific facts and mature into something more than an Idiocracy.

We should all be able to imbibe - or inhale - to that.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cashing In The War Dividend

The Joys of Perpetual War
By Jo Comerford

So you thought the Pentagon was already big enough? Well, what do you know, especially with the price of the American military slated to grow by at least 25% over the next decade?

Forget about the butter. It's bad for you anyway. And sheer military power, as well as the money behind it, assures the country of a thick waistline without the cholesterol. So, let's sing the praises of perpetual war. We better, since right now every forecast in sight tells us that it's our future.

The tired peace dividend tug boat left the harbor two decades ago, dragging with it laughable hopes for universal health care and decent public education. Now, the mighty USS War Dividend is preparing to set sail. The economic weather reports may be lousy and the seas choppy, but one thing is guaranteed: that won't stop it.

The United States, of course, long ago captured first prize in the global arms race. It now spends as much as the next 14 countries combined, even as the spending of our rogue enemies and former enemies -- Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria -- much in the headlines for their prospective armaments, makes up a mere 1% of the world military budget. Still, when you're a military superpower focused on big-picture thinking, there's no time to dawdle on the details.

And be reasonable, who could expect the U.S. to fight two wars and maintain more than 700 bases around the world for less than the $704 billion we'll shell out to the Pentagon in 2010? But here's what few Americans grasp and you aren't going to read about in your local paper either: according to Department of Defense projections, the baseline military budget -- just the bare bones, not those billions in war-fighting extras -- is projected to increase by 2.5% each year for the next 10 years. In other words, in the next decade the basic Pentagon budget will grow by at least $133.1 billion, or 25%.

When it comes to the health of the war dividend in economically bad times, if that's not good news, what is? As anyone at the Pentagon will be quick to tell you, it's a real bargain, a steal, at least compared to the two-term presidency of George W. Bush. Then, that same baseline defense budget grew by an astonishing 38%.

If the message isn't already clear enough, let me summarize: it's time for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Veterans Affairs to suck it up. After all, Americans, however unemployed, foreclosed, or unmedicated, will only be truly secure if the Pentagon is exceedingly well fed. According to the Office of Management and Budget, what that actually means is this: 55% of next year's discretionary spending -- that is, the spending negotiated by the President and Congress -- will go to the military just to keep it chugging along.

The 14 million American children in poverty, the millions of citizens who will remain without health insurance (even if some version of the Baucus plan is passed), the 7.6 million people who have lost jobs since 2007, all of them will have to take a number. The same is true of the kinds of projects needed to improve the country's disintegrating infrastructure, including the 25% of U.S. drinking water that was given a barely passing "D" by the American Society of Civil Engineers in a 2009 study.

And don't imagine that this is a terrible thing either! There's no shame in paying $400 for every gallon of gas used in Afghanistan, especially when the Marines alone are reported to consume 800,000 gallons of it each day. After all, the evidence is in: a few whiners aside, Americans want our tax dollars used this way. Otherwise we'd complain, and no one makes much of a fuss about war or the ever-rising numbers of dollars going to it anymore.

$915.1 billion in total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending to date has been a no-brainer, even if it could, theoretically, have been traded in for the annual salaries of 15 million teachers or 20 million police officers or for 171 million Pell Grants of approximately $5,350 each for use by American college and university students.

Next March, we will collectively reach a landmark in this new version of the American way of life. We will hit the $1 trillion mark in total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending with untold years of war-making to go. No problem. It's only the proposed nearly $900 billion for a decade of health care that we fear will do us in.

Nor is it the Pentagon's fault that U.S. states have laws prohibiting them from deficit spending. The 48 governors and state legislatures now struggling with budget deficits should stop complaining and simply be grateful for their ever smaller slices of the federal pie. Between 2001 and 2008, federal grant funding for state and local governments lagged behind the 28% growth of the federal budget by 14%, while military spending outpaced federal budget growth with a 41% increase. There is every reason to believe that this is a trend, not an anomaly, which means that Title 1, Head Start, Community Development Block Grants, and the Children's Health Insurance Program will just have to make do with less. In fact, if you want a true measure of what's important to our nation, think of it this way: if you add together the total 2010 budgets of all those 48 states in deficit, they won't even equal projected U.S. military spending for the same year.

Take the situation of Massachusetts, for example. Yankee spirit or not, that state will see a 17.3% decrease in federal grants in 2010 no matter how hard Governor Deval Patrick wrings his hands. True to the American way, Patrick's projected $5 billion fiscal year 2010 deficit will be his problem and his alone, as is his state's recently-announced $600 million budget shortfall for 2009. Blame it on declining tax revenue and the economic crisis, on things that are beyond his control. No matter, Patrick will have to make deep cuts to elderly mental health services and disabled home-care programs, and lose large chunks of funding for universal pre-kindergarten, teacher training, gifted and talented programs in the schools, and so much more.

Still, that Commonwealth's politicians are clearly out of step with the country. On October 9, 2009, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino joined with Congressman Barney Frank in calling on President Obama to find extra money for such programs by reducing military spending 25%. President Obama, cover your ears! Menino, who actually believes that a jump in military spending contributed to "significantly raising the federal deficit and lowering our economic security," asked the federal government to be a better partner to Boston by reinvesting in its schools, public housing, transportation, and job-training programs, especially for young people. Of course, this is delusional, as any Pentagon budgeteer could tell you. This isn't some Head Start playground, after all, it's the battlefield of American life. Tough it out, Menino.

One principle has, by now, come to dominate our American world, even if nobody seems to notice: do whatever it takes to keep federal dollars flowing for weapons systems (and the wars that go with them). And don't count on the Pentagon to lend a hand by having a bake sale any time soon; don't expect it to voluntarily cut back on major weapons systems without finding others to take their place. If, as a result, our children are less likely to earn high school and college diplomas than we were, that's what prisons and the Marines are for.

So let's break a bottle of champagne -- or, if the money comes out of a state budget, Coke -- on the bow of the USS War Dividend! And send it off on its next voyage without an iceberg in sight. Let the corks pop. Let the bubbly drown out that Harvard University report indicating that 45,000 deaths last year were due to a lack of health insurance.

Hip hip...

Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project. Previously, she served as director of programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and directed the American Friends Service Committee's justice and peace-related community organizing efforts in western Massachusetts.

[Note on sources: For more information and many of the figures on defense spending in this piece, see the National Priorities Project's Security Spending Primer: Getting Smart About The Pentagon Budget, which can be found at the top of the project's website. The Primer answers the most frequently asked questions about, and supplies the most commonly requested information on, the Pentagon budget and U.S. military spending. Note also that Jo Comerford can be seen in Robert Greenwald's striking new film Rethink Afghanistan.]

Copyright 2009 Jo Comerford

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Quality Info on CO2 Emisssions

Eugene, OregonImage via Wikipedia

Biomass concerns aren't just happening in our neck of the woods. Here is a letter from Lisa Arkin concerning a proposed biomass plant in Eugene Oregon. Thanks to Susan Laing for passing this on.

Dear Administrator Jackson,
Oregon Toxics Alliance, Central Latino Americano and the Oregon Chapter of the American Lung Association filed a request for Alternative Dispute Resolution to the Environmental Justice Division of EPA Region 10. We remain extremely concerned about the public health impacts from the pollution and greenhouse gases that will be emitted from the proposed Seneca biomass plant to be located in Eugene, Oregon.
We understand that the US EPA is currently not accounting for CO2 and CO2 pre-cursor emissions from biomass burning in the regulatory process. This is a significant oversight. Greenhouse gases are determined to be air pollutants and also have a negative impact on the public health of communities in the near vicinity of biomass power plants.
We wish to submit these comments which describe the negative impacts of air pollutants and greenhouse gases on residents of West Eugene, Oregon if a proposed 18.8 MW co-generation biomass plant (Seneca Sawmill permit application submitted January 29, 2009) is approved as submitted. The community is demanding that maximum emissions control technology is required for construction, in this case, RSCR or Regenerative Selective Catalytic Reduction. If the permitting agency doesn’t require RSCR, the biomass plant will be a major source of CO2 (according to their own consultants, 212,000 tons/year).
Biomass incineration, the process of burning wood for fuel, converts large amounts of carbon from a solid state to a gaseous state. Although biomass is viewed as being ‘carbon neutral’ by virtue of using biogenic carbon, biomass energy production can adversely affect atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations in important ways. The form in which carbon is transferred from the biomass stock to the atmospheric stock is critically important from the standpoint of greenhouse forcing impacts.
Burning woody biomass releases reduced carbon (methane or CH4), which is twenty-five times more potent as a green house gas than oxidized carbon (CO2) on an instantaneous, per-carbon basis. Maximum control technology (RSCR) will better control methane (CH4) emissions and reduce greenhouse gas effects.
In the process of converting carbon from a solid state to a gaseous state, biomass incineration directly affects the climate of surrounding neighborhoods, in that most of the gases produced are greenhouse gases or its pre-cursors. These gases trap pollution and infrared radiation.
Thus, biomass incineration will saturate the local climate of Eugene with greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4,), many other pollutants and particulate matter, with the most intense impacts to West Eugene neighborhoods. West Eugene has high concentration of low income, disabled and minority residents. This has the effect of creating a local micro-climate that leads to phenomena such as thermal inversions and acidic rain.
These phenomena will occur because, once continuous point-sources of greenhouse gasses are installed, their release rate may exceed the dispersion rate, creating a permanent accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere. This effect is compounded by the number and volume of point source polluters. The fact that Eugene sits at the bottom of the Willamette Valley and is surrounded by mountains disrupts the dispersion of gases and aggravates this micro-climate effect.
So, even if one accepts that the process is carbon neutral, a biomass plant has a significant potential for changing the quality of life for the communities nearby if maximum air emission equipment is not used. Oregon Toxics Alliance asserts that biomass energy plant poses a severe air pollution and public health hazard for nearby communities.
Thus, in order to maintain the quality of our local atmospheric conditions, it’s necessary to reduce gaseous pollutant sources and control industrial gaseous outputs with maximum control technology. EPA's regulations must account for emissions from power plants that use biomass burning to generate electricity.
Lisa Arkin
Executive Director, Oregon Toxics Alliance
Office Phone: 541-465-8860
Street Address: 1192 Lawrence Street
Eugene, OR 97401
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Columnist Dr. Karen Scott

There are less than 150 days before the next session of the VT
legislature convenes, at which time the future of the aging nuclear
reactor to our north will again be discussed. The reactor continues
to make headlines on a regular basis, with mishaps, structural
collapses, and increasing radioactive emissions. Despite all this,
Entergy and the NRC continue to insist that Everything is Fine!

In January 2006, as you may recall, Entergy applied to extend the
operating license of Vermont Yankee for 20 years beyond its initial 40
year license, which is due to expire in 2012. The NRC has yet to
refuse a license extension to a nuclear plant in this country. Later
that spring they requested and received approval for an "uprate" of
their power generation by 20%, meaning the reactor operates with 20%
more heat and pressure than it was designed to withstand, and earns
more profits for its Louisiana based corporate owner, Entergy. It is
the oldest reactor in the country to be approved for such an uprate.
Many citizens and legislators in Vermont and Massachusetts have voiced
concern about the safety of the reactor, and it has been under intense
public scrutiny. You would think that at such a time, they would be on
their best behavior.

So what happened? Shortly after the uprate was complete, one of the
cooling towers collapsed. Surely you saw the photos, thousands of
gallons of water spewing over a pile of rubble. Within 10 days of
this photogenic disaster, the plant experienced a sudden emergency
shutdown, or SCRAM. Shortly thereafter, a crane lifting 100 tons of
spent fuel malfunctioned, dropping its load to the floor. Had the
cask fallen more than 4 inches, perhaps back into the spent fuel pool,
it could have caused a major disaster. In May, we were informed there
had been a "security breach" earlier in the year, with absolutely no
details given. The list of incidents such as these extends back
throughout the plant's history, and continues to lengthen. Even
Vermont's pro-nuke governor, Jim Douglas, has said it seems as if
"Homer Simpson is running the place."

Is it safe from a terrorist attack? An NRC document, "Report on Spent
Fuel Pool Accident Risk," concludes that the containment structures of
aging plants such as VY "present no substantial obstacle to aircraft
penetration." Nevertheless, the NRC refuses to address issues of
vulnerability to terrorist attacks or viability of evacuation plans
when considering license renewals. This is considered a "local
problem," not a reason to deny relicensure. Do you have a personal
plan for keeping your family safe in the event of catastrophic nuclear
accident? Put it on your to-do list!

Even if this decrepit reactor could be maintained and operated with
perfection, it still would be far from safe. Nuclear power is
inherently unsafe. Vermont Yankee, like all nuclear power plants,
releases radiation as a known and accepted side effect of its
operation. It now releases 30% more radiation than it did in previous
years, as a result of the "uprate" in 2006.

The decision to store low-level radioactive waste on site, as well as
plans for on site high-level waste storage, will only increase the
radiation released. This gift that keeps on giving will be with us
for the rest of most of our lives, as Entergy has announced plans not
to decommission the plant for 60 years, regardless of license renewal.

Radiation causes cancer. There is no debate on this. There is also
no safe dose of radiation. Background radiation causes some cancers,
and additional exposure brings additional risk. Currently, the
lifetime risk of cancer of any type for Americans is about 40%. Do we
really need to increase that?

There is no viable long term strategy for safely storing radioactive
waste, which retains its deadly properties for 100,000 years. No
country has yet found a solution to this problem, because one does not
exist. To suggest that we can ensure the containment of massive
quantities of radioactive waste for longer than all of recorded human
history is sheer hubris.

Proponents of nuclear power look to it as an answer to global warming,
but this is a fallacy. An MIT study concluded that it would take 300
new nuclear power plants in the U.S., and 1500 worldwide, to have any
effect on climate change, and that effect would not be seen for a
decade. Never mind that building new plants entails massive carbon
emissions during construction, and there is likely not enough uranium
left in the ground to run all those plants even if they were built.

Nuclear power is a dead end, and the reactor to our north is a
striking example of this. Despite repeated mishaps, the NRC continues
to assure the public the reactor is "safe" even as it refuses to allow
local citizens and lawmakers the slightest say in if or how the plant
is run. However, the Vermont legislature recently passed a bill
granting itself the right to vote on whether to allow Vermont Yankee's
license renewal. This is an unprecedented opportunity to take back
our energy future! If you are sick of worrying about the next Vermont
Yankee headline, get involved with Citizens Awareness Network
( or the New England Coalition
( Do something!
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sustainable Society/Economy Definitions

by Richard Witty

What is a sustainable society?

1. A society that generates a minimum amount of unassimilable toxins.

2. A society that confidently and universally provides for natural minimum necessities (fresh water, fresh air, food)

3. A society that confidently allows for other species’ habitat.

4. A society that facilitates diverse local community and culture.

5. A society that values work and craft.

6. A society that provides for an optimal and constantly evolving realized experienced value.

7. A society that provides for an optimal and constantly evolving capitalization of future realized experienced value.

Other features that are either ends in themselves or means to the above ends include:

1. Equitable (not equal) distribution of income and wealth within a reasonable range.

2. Emphasis of economy based on income from work rather than from speculative investment or welfare.

3. Emphasis on capitalization of sustainable productive activity in EVERY region and micro-region.

4. Emphasis on stability of primary commodity prices and particulary of land and housing.

5. Emphasis on product durability.

6. Emphasis on utilization model of assets, in contrast to speculative gain model.

This is borrowed from Richard's blog which you can link to here:
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Columnist Daniel A. Brown

Jean-Paul MaratImage via Wikipedia

Paranoia strikes deep

Violent words can lead to violent actions

We live in a bubble here in western Massachusetts. While citizens of Franklin County have been submerged in rain, tomato blight and the pros and cons of the proposed bio-mass plant, it seems as if the rest of the nation has gone stark, raving mad. Because we are lucky to reside in a part of the country where people are both educated and intelligent, you’d have to do some serious searching to find local citizens who would support the following actions and beliefs. Armed men intimidating politicians at town hall meetings. A sitting president verbally insulted as he speaks to Congress. Accusations that this same president is a Socialist, a Communist, a Nazi and a Fascist, an illegal alien, a Muslim and, not least of all, the Anti-Christ who will surrender the United States to the New World Order (remember that?).

All this over health care?

Obviously, none of this has anything to do with reforming the American health care system. That would be as nonsensical as an ocean of volcanic hatred generated by reworking your car insurance policy. What is happening now is what historically occurs during times of economic stress when too many people feel frightened and powerless to have any control over their own lives. It explains why the civilized, intelligent and industrious German people could turn into a nation of monsters during the years of the Third Reich. Adolph Hitler was nearly washed up until the Great Depression hit and he was able to ride the subsequent wave of anger and helplessness into power, designating scapegoats while appealing to a malignant form of patriotism. Were he alive today, he’d have his own radio talk show and a page on Facebook.

There is little logic on display here and (after finding out the hard way on the Internet); I’ve learned that there are few venues for rational discussion. Like brainwashed cultists, members of extreme political ideologies divide the world into Traitors and True Believers and facts are mostly an impediment to rants. What is frightening is that people like this are willing to hold contradictions as truths and believe things that a smart 5th grader would laugh at. You know them by now: “Death Panels” to kill Granny; Obama brainwashing American schoolchildren to become Commies, Obama as Hitler (apparently the Nazis conquered Europe to implement the public option? Who knew?) etc. That this frenzy of lunacy and paranoia is being ignited and exploited by demagogues like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and lesser known radio screamers goes without saying.

And, yes, there is a racist component, carefully expressed in code, which is sparked by the reality of an African-American in the White House. It should not be surprising seeing that right-wing conservative ideology defended racial segregation fifty years ago and a century before that, defended slavery. But I will join my voice to fellow columnists, Gary Sanderson and Jim Culleny, in believing that it’s only a matter of time before a latter-day Timothy McVeigh comes out of the shadows and starts killing Americans in the name of anti-(liberal) government resentment. Beck, Limbaugh and company are having a grand time with all this and raking in the dough. But what they don’t seem to know (or care about) is that their crazy, irrational words are eventually going to lead to crazy, violent actions. They are reaping the whirlwind and might, too late, come to understand that their irresponsible divisiveness will have a negative effect on the country they supposedly love.

They would do well to take into account the example of Jean-Paul Marat, one of the most feared of the leaders of the French Revolution. Marat was not so much a political leader as a journalist at a time when print media was the Internet of its day in terms of its influence and effectiveness in reaching a wide audience. French revolutionary journalism was not only widespread but incendiary in ways that, by comparison, makes Beck and company sound like Grandma Moses. Their writers were out for blood, literally, and Marat’s newspaper, “The Friend of the People”, howled the loudest. And, in a viable warning to today’s hate mongers, they got their wish. Marat’s printed rantings, stoking the fear and paranoia of its contemporary citizenry, led to what was known as the September Massacres whereby mobs murdered thousands of men, women, and children being held in the Parisian prisons for no other crime than being the “Other”.

Marat justified his actions by declaring that he was expressing “The rage of the People”. Rush, Hanitty, Savage, and Beck could claim the same excuse. But Marat was no Joe the Plumber. He was a physician and scientific experimenter who spoke five languages and was once in the service of the royal family. His venom was fueled, not by political concerns, but more by the need for revenge for the years he felt ignored by the scientific establishment. Unable to gain acceptance by the status quo, he decided to turn against it with lethal consequences. One wonders how many of the inflammatory radio ranters are equally motivated by their own human weaknesses.

But what goes around come around. If you spew hatred and fear, those same energies will eventually come back to bite you (a process also known as the law of karma). Marat fell victim to his own passions by being stabbed to death by someone as nihilistically patriotic as himself. His vitriolic peers in the revolutionary news media met similar fates, often being condemned by their former supporters. I’m not wishing for violence to arrive at the doors of the current crop of rage exploiters. Instead, I am asking whether they are bringing out the best or the worst in the American people,

And, if the latter, why are they doing it?

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Columnist Susan Laing:

Top: Increasing atmospheric  CO 2             ...Image via Wikipedia

Dear Friends and Fellow Citizens,

Please visit the website to find information about the citizen “Initiative Petition to Change the Law in Massachusetts” regarding the allowable limit of CO2 emissions from new power plants in MA. I am one of the 10 original petitioners, and now that the petition has been certified, we must collect 100,000 signatures in the next 6 weeks to ensure that the proposed new law can be debated and voted upon in November of 2010.

We are trying to stop biomass incinerators. Biomass is a nice sounding term that denotes a set of things including public forests, trash including hospital waste, construction and demolition debris. Those biomass power plants (incinerators that make a tiny bit of electricity) emit at least 50% more CO2 than coal per killowatt hour (depending on what exactly is burned) – not to mention the other greenhouse gases and toxins.

In western MA there are many companies strong-arming small towns with promises of jobs and real estate taxes, looking for permits to do exactly this incineration in the name of (and with the public subsidies for) "renewable energy." Those public subsidies should go to wind, solar and geothermal; with biomass in the renewable category, the money will be diverted to biomass—a fancy name for incineration. Combustion does not belong with renewables. Our investment in the future does not belong in the hands

In my town of Greenfield, Massachusetts, Pioneer Renewable Energy, LLC will build (unless we the people succeed in stopping it) an incinerator to burn 3 million pounds of green wood, 24/7, to produce one quarter of one percent of the electricity Massachusetts citizens are using now.

55% of that wood will come from public forests. There have been clear cuts from Mass public forests for a biomass plant in New Hampshire. I urge you to visit to see the evidence. It will also evaporate close to 600,000 gallons of water daily--water that the river is accustomed to receiving daily from our wastewater treatment plant. In case of a drought, the biomass plant will have the right to take what it needs from our reservoir. If there is not enough water for both the people and the power plant...

None of this is going in the right direction for climate change and sustaining life on this planet. We can do something to help shift the direction, and we must do whatever we can!

In Massachusetts, and in the Waxman Markey bill and now in the Senate Climate Bill, biomass is included among the "renewables," which means that the CO2 from those operations will be off the books, not counted in the CO2 emissions. This is the most alarming and nearly invisible treachery of all.

At the Zoning Board Hearing in Greenfield, for example, when the developer (a 34 year old grad of Tufts School of International Diplomacy) was asked, "What about the CO2?" the answer on the record was, "There will be no CO2." In the real world there will be TONS of CO2 emitted, but in the made-up world of pollution trading, it helps the game to define biomass among renewables and to define renewables as having zero CO2 emissions.

The real world in which our bodies live and breath is irrelevant to these climate bill operatives. The financial game is what matters to them. What matters to you? Will you have enough to buy your family's passage to the new planet when this one is cooked? It's time to prove that WE THE PEOPLE means something.

Please be in touch in with me if you can help gather signatures. It's easy, fun and satisfying citizen work. A voter’s signature says, “Yes, let my fellow citizens raise this question for public discussion and a vote in November of 2010."

Please help me get this initiative to the ballot! Call me (413-773-5529) or email me ( and let me know what you think. I'll make it easy for you to help!

Sincerely, Susan Laing, originally from Somerset, Massachusetts

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