Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flying Under the Radar

Make 'em small, no one will notice.

Rendering of the Westinghouse small modular reactor

 The Westinghouse Electric Company has lined up Ameren, a St. Louis-based electric company, as a partner for its small modular reactor project. Getting a strong indication of commercial interest is critical because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can review only a few of the many proposed reactor designs and gives priority in the licensing process to those with a stronger chance of getting built.

Read the full story in the New York Times article "Will the stars align for small nuclear reactors?" by Matthew L. Wald.
For me the question remains the same whether the reactors are big or small - What are the plans for the long-term storage of spent fuel?????

The Department of Energy (DOE) needs to figure out the answer to this question before they start doling out taxpayers dollars to support private business endeavors (aka Corporate Welfare). Westinghouse Electric Company will be asking you the taxpayers for a handout of up to $450 million. 

It's funny how the Republicans can be against government spending unless it's their own arms that are being outstretched for a handout.

Legislators such as Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, and Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, who championed legislation to advance nuclear development in Missouri, were equally encouraged.

“We have to have a plan for the future,” said Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, whose district includes Ameren’s Callaway plant. “I think this is great – the possibilities it creates for us.”
Oh, by the way, did I happen to mention who owns Westinghouse Electric Company?
6 Sep. 2011 - TOKYO - Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) announced today that the company will increase its ownership in Westinghouse Electric by acquiring all shares (20% of the holding companies of Westinghouse Electric) currently held by Nuclear Energy Holdings LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Shaw Group Inc., the U.S. engineering company. The purchase will increase Toshiba’s ownership of Westinghouse from 67% to to 87%.
Way to go once again ~ pumping up American Business.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Rich Are Different...

 ~ $ ~

"Let me tell you about the very rich," F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his short story "The Rich Boy" in 1925. "They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

~ $ ~

Of course the super-rich of today bear little resemblance to the very rich of the F. Scott Fitzgerald era. The super-rich of today got to their 'position' less on inheritance and more on guile and greed. And when one looks at the mega-barons of 2012 we see less social class being attached to them and their income. In fact I would even shy away from using the term 'upper class' when talking about today's billionaires.

They come from all walks of life and from every street in America, but they are not like you and me. They are different They are different because they can command $30,000,000 a year salary and not bat an eye. Some are talented, some work hard for the money and others are just damn lucky to be standing in the spot where the drop-off is taking place.

F. Scott tried hard to emulate the lifestyle he wrote about in his books and no matter how much he earned from writing he always managed to spend more. Today's lifestyle of the rich and famous would have indeed been a challenge for him.

Today we live in a greedy society. Who can have the biggest home, the most homes, the greenest lawn, the most unique vacation spot? We are constantly being fed the line to have, have, have. Just look at the magazine and television ads, if you can't afford to shop at Neiman-Marcus then take what ever paltry few bucks you have on over to Marshall's or TJ Maxx, but bring every dime and plan to spent it. It's not that you need it, you greed it.

Money rules the world and turns the world. It buys our politicians and sets our policies. We go to war for money, not for some moral issue. We currently have more private military resources on the ground in the mid-east than we do troops. The war is big business and big bucks to bank accounts.

We have a shrinking backbone in this country and it's the middle-class, but maybe they are the ones that got themselves into the bucket of hot-water to begin with by buying into the American Dream that they can't afford.

The rich are different and you can't be like them if you are not one of them, no matter how hard you try or how much knock-off items you drape on your body.

What this country needs is a moral revival. We need to care about our fellow man, we need to make sure he is fed well and educated properly. We need to provide the pillow he can lay his head upon at night and close his eyes and dream. Dream of becoming someone special, dream of exploring the stars or maybe just dream of a reality of walking hand in hand with his child in the neighborhood park and not have to worry about dodging bullets.

Let's worry less about being rich and spend more time about being good, caring human beings. Let's be people that are respectful of each other, that puts out a hand to help a brother up when he stumbles. Let's be a people that sees inside the heart and not just the label on the garment we wear,

Remember - The rich are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful...


Monday, April 23, 2012

Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?

The next time you have a "Warren Buffet" Moment and don't feel you have paid your fair share in taxes, just know you can take out your check book and make a gift to the United States. Easy as pie. Write and check and say "thank you".

I wonder how many people do this? How funny would it be if the government actually got enough donations to pay off the debt. I wonder what all the politicians would find to argue about then?

Oh, and Warren this includes you, you can write a check for difference in the tax rate you actually pay and that of your secretary. I'll wait to hear if you do it or not.

Gifts to the United States Government

How do I make a contribution to the U.S. government?
Citizens who wish to make a general donation to the U.S. government may send contributions to a specific account called "Gifts to the United States." This account was established in 1843 to accept gifts, such as bequests, from individuals wishing to express their patriotism to the United States. Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs. These contributions are considered an unconditional gift to the government. Financial gifts can be made by check or money order payable to the United States Treasury and mailed to the address below.
Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782
Any tax-related questions regarding these contributions should be directed to the Internal Revenue ServiceExit the FMS Web site at (800) 829-1040.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

UM to support nuclear push

Hooray, Hoorah, M-I-Z-Z-O-U-R-A-H

JEFFERSON CITY — The University of Missouri, which came close to dismantling its Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute this year, will play a major support role for the Westinghouse-Ameren Missouri application for federal funds to develop small modular reactor technology. ~ this news is from The Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MO.

The full article by Rudi Keller and Janese Sukvey continues here: 

If the Missouri application is approved this summer, nuclear engineering programs on the Columbia and Rolla campuses would participate, officials from Westinghouse and Ameren said.

"As we see it, when you have a university system with such expertise in the nuclear area, you are going to leverage that," said Ameren CEO Warner Baxter. 

Westinghouse and Ameren intend to complete the reactor designs and install them as a demonstration at the Callaway Nuclear Plant site. Westinghouse representatives said the company intends to make small modular reactors, or SMRs, in Callaway County as well. 

"Having the university system there, able to train so many engineers but also having lots of research capability," will be a boost to the grant application, said Kate Jackson, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Westinghouse.

There was no mention yesterday of the administrative decision that almost closed the nuclear institute, a nearly 10-year-old graduate-level program once ranked No. 1 in the nation for faculty productivity.

On March 12, Graduate School Dean George Justice announced the institute would close to make way for a new interdisciplinary nuclear science program. Administrators have since reversed the decision, agreeing to keep NSEI open until at least all students complete the program. 

Sudarshan Loyalka, a curators' professor of nuclear engineering, said Ameren and Westinghouse's partnership should emphasize the need to strengthen NSEI rather than trying to start a completely new program.

"We do have a strong nuclear engineering program, and the program should be strengthened further with this opportunity," he said.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said after the announcement that he was still learning about the university's role. "We will be involved in the very beginning in the research and educational aspects of this," he said.

Area lawmakers said they see a long-term benefit that will give the university a much higher profile in nuclear science. "This could make them the No. 1 research entity in the world based on their role in designing and training on these units," Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, said in a news release that the emphasis demonstrates "the important role MU, our state research university, plays in the economy of the future."

Reach Rudi Keller at 573-815-1709 or e-mail
Reach Janese Silvey at 573-815-1705 or e-mail

This article was published on page A1 of the Friday, April 20, 2012 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. 

While I disagree with the move by this new consortium Westinghouse Electric - Ameren Missouri - State of Missouri - Missouri University, I will give them a tip of the hat for being ever so clever in the use of new tactics to extend the life of nuclear energy here in the state of Missouri and the World. I've read a lot of copy in the last couple of days and as usual no mention of the "elephant in room" - storage and permanent disposal of spent fuel. To the best of my knowledge spent fuel is still being generated on a daily basis from every working reactor in this world.

How can discussion continue to be about building new facilities, be it 1,000-megawatt or 250-megawatt, without one tiny little mention of how the nuclear waste is going to be handled? Or does this clever consortium already have a 'silent partner' looking very much like Harold Simmons, standing at the ready to take all this nuclear waste off their hands for a price?

Politics makes such strange bedfellows - but remember what mother always told you, be careful and ALWAYS practice safe nuclear policies.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Corporate Welfare - Alive and well in the Show-Me State

As schools close in Missouri at a record rate, funds are being sought from the federal government (ie. YOU the taxpayer) to fund a business venture for Westinghouse Electric Co. and Ameren Missouri. Gov. Nixon says this is a "once in a generation opportunity". Oh have I mentioned the Governor is up for reelection this year?  It is said timing is everything.

Federal aid sought to build nuclear reactors in Missouri

Reactors would be built in Missouri for Callaway plant and for export throughout the world.

The Kansas City Star
Westinghouse Electric Co. and Ameren Missouri announced Thursday they would seek federal funds to help build a new generation of smaller and safer nuclear reactors.

If Westinghouse wins some of up to $452 million in investment funds from the U.S. Energy Department, then St. Louis-based Ameren would apply for licenses to allow up to five 225-megawatt reactors to be built at the company’s nuclear power plant in Callaway County.

Callaway’s current reactor is nearly 30 years old and generates more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

In addition to boosting energy production at Callaway, Missouri also could turn into a hub for manufacturing the new reactors — known as Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, or SMRs — to be exported around the world, Gov. Jay Nixon said.

Unlike traditional nuclear reactors, which must be built on site, SMRs are manufactured at a production facility and shipped wherever they’re needed.

“This investment is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that could spark a next-generation manufacturing industry in Missouri,” Nixon said at a news conference at the governor’s mansion.
He later added: “This is our moment to bring these jobs to the state.”

Nixon did not speculate on how many jobs could be created if the plan was successful or what the economic impact could be for the state.

Westinghouse plans to submit its application for federal funds in mid-May, and the grant is to be awarded this summer.

The reactors could be constructed in 24 months after the company received all the necessary licenses. The grant calls for the nuclear plant to be in service no later than 2022, said Kate Jackson, Westinghouse’s chief technology officer.

“The award of investment funds could help ensure that Westinghouse be the first mover in the SMR market, secure the global export home base for Missouri and create the potential for emissions-free base load energy for Ameren Missouri,” Jackson said.

The effort is being backed by several Missouri utilities, including Kansas City Power & Light, which is contributing a small but unspecified amount of money to help Ameren obtain the license to build the plant. The contribution gives KCP&L the option to later take a small ownership stake in the nuclear plant, although it is under no obligation to do so.

Chuck Caisley, a spokesman for the local utility, said it was important to maintain the nuclear-energy option in the state, adding it would be “transformational” if Westinghouse built the nuclear reactors in Missouri.

“We think that is fabulous,” Caisley said.

Ameren has been pushing for an early site permit to build a second large reactor at the Callaway plant for several years. The company hoped to get an exemption from state law barring utilities from charging customers for the costs of a new power plant before it starts producing electricity.
However, the effort repeatedly ran into legislative gridlock as industrial companies and consumer groups objected to potential rate increases for a project that might never take place.

But one of the main organizations that helped block Ameren’s efforts to change state law praised Thursday’s announcement.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to finance construction of new energy resources in our state, and this is the right way,” said Chris Roepe of the Fair Energy Rate Action Fund. “The announcement today helps establish an energy plan for Missouri that will include an ample, reliable source of electricity while also protecting Missouri ratepayers.”

Ameren president and CEO Warner Baxter said his company was suspending its legislative efforts and would instead focus on the new partnership with Westinghouse.
Not everyone, however, is on board with the idea.

Ed Smith, safe energy director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, said investments in renewable energy could create thousands of jobs without the risks associated with nuclear technology.
“It’s maddening our state’s elected officials are pursuing risky nuclear power technology when there is no plan for the safe storage of the toxic radioactive waste piling up at the Callaway One nuclear reactor,” Smith said

Interest in building nuclear plants has been in decline after the meltdown of reactors in Japan about a year ago following the devastating earthquakes and tsunami that slammed the island nation. Since then, for example, a Texas utility canceled plans to build two nuclear plants.

The nuclear industry maintains that the problems at the Japanese nuclear plant — triggered when a power outage disabled safety systems — could be avoided by new designs that rely on passive safety systems.

Westinghouse’s small modular reactor would have safety systems used on the company’s larger AP1000 plant, which has a vast reservoir of water above the reactor. Should the normal safety system fail, the water begins to fall, cooling the reactor.

There’s enough water to cool the reactor for 72 hours. That gives plant operators three days to fix the active pump systems, or at least refill the reservoir for another 72 hours of safety.

Ellen Vancko, nuclear energy project manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said it was impossible to analyze the new small reactor’s safety systems until the design was licensed. But what already is clear, she said, is that Ameren and Missouri are embarking on financial folly.

Some estimates peg a small reactor’s cost at $5,000 per kilowatt, which would put a price tag of more than $1 billion for Ameren’s proposed 225-megawatt nuclear plant. By comparison, KCP&L’s new coal-fired plant cost $2 billion for 850 megawatts.

Vancko said other electric utilities are using cheaper natural gas, which has made nuclear energy especially uneconomical. In addition, renewable energy and energy efficiency would be more inexpensive alternatives.

“Why would Ameren and Missouri want to pursue one of the most expensive options?” she asked.
But Adam Heflin, chief nuclear officer for Ameren, said the best route for the utility was to keep all options open: nuclear, natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Westinghouse’s Jackson said she was confident the company would receive funds from the federal government, but even if the company didn’t the project would move forward in some way.

“Westinghouse is committed to SMR technology, and we absolutely need a utility partner to ensure the design is fit not just for Missouri but for the globe,” she said.


To reach Jason Hancock, call 573-634-3565 or send email to reach Steve Everly, call 816-234-4455 or send email to

© 2012 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

How the other side sees it

While I am not cheering the announcement made yesterday by Gov. Nixon, Democrat and leaders from Westinghouse Electric Company and Ameren  Missouri I thought I would publish the email I received this morning from Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future where they are applauding their accomplishment. and "establishing Missouri as a world leader and exporter in energy technology and manufacturing". Maybe a fitting closing to the day's remarks would have been to simply say: ""That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." 

I see it as a day where big corporations got their way once again and it is yet another example of how political contributions payoff in the end. When a Democrat governor wants to get reelected he knows the audience he must play to to win. 

Somewhere in the little speech the parties forgot to thank the taxpayers of America who are providing the funds for the DOE Small Modular Reactors investment fund, so I will say it, "Thank you to the 99%." And when it comes time for Ameren to chip in their share we can say thank you to the rate-payers once again for making this all possible, because I doubt the project will go ahead without Ameren asking for some financial help again.

Dear Anna, 

Today, Missouri’s energy future took a giant leap forward as investor-owned, cooperative and municipal utilities announced that they are partnering with Westinghouse Electric Company to apply to the Department of Energy’s Small Modular Reactors (SMR) investment fund for up to $452 million. The funding will support engineering, design certification and licensing for SMRs in Missouri. 

This historic partnership could make Missouri a world leader in the energy sector economy. Gov. Jay Nixon, Sen. Mike Kehoe, Rep. Jeanie Riddle, Chairman Pollock and the overwhelming majority of members of the General Assembly who support nuclear power and helped make this amazing opportunity a reality, should be applauded for their hard work and commitment to Missouri’s energy and economic future.   

Over the last four years, MBEF’s supporters across the state educated the public to show that cleaner, alternative energy sources like nuclear are a path forward for Missouri. Today, we are another step closer to creating jobs, boosting our economy and securing our energy future. 

This announcement could make Missouri home to an SMR component manufacturing center, engineering and design center, and training facility for engineers—establishing Missouri as a world leader and exporter in energy technology and manufacturing.  In addition to the construction of new SMRs, thousands of Missourians will be put to work because of this project.

An economic impact study about the SMR project is in process and will be made available later this spring.
For more information about SMRs, please visit the below websites.

Irl Scissors
Executive Director
Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future
(314) 368-4330

Learn More This information is provided by the Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future (MBEF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization comprised of small and large businesses, labor, farmers, associations and trade groups, and Missouri citizens, who understand that securing Missouri's reliable energy sources for tomorrow means making common sense decisions today. | | Follow us on Twitter: @mbef | Like us on Facebook:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Big Bullies

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.

Today when the Governor of Missouri, Jan Nixon, Democrat, joined forces with the likes of BIG business, namely Ameren and Westinghouse, to bring  a smaller version nuclear reactor to Missouri, I felt like I was being bullied.

When Ameren wants its own way it finds a way. Reminds me when I was a kid and my Mom wanted me to take my medicine, she would disguise it some tasty like applesauce or a banana

Today Ameren and Westinghouse teamed up with the blessing of Pope Nixon, er, sorry....Gov. Nixon, and have found a new twist to make the nuclear pill palatable. This time in the form of a smaller 225-megawatt reactor rather than the traditional 1,000-megawatt reactor. Really just a Barbie version of what we are all used to, small enough to place within a safe distance from the Dream House.

What gets my goat is why can't we have prolonged and open discussion with the public at large when it comes to these decisions. I mean after all the rate payers and tax payers will be asked to foot the bill for this construction. Yet, all the big talks go one almost unnoticed until voila the day of announcement when it magically appears in the news, all but signed, sealed and delivered.

I like the fact that Gov. Nixon, Democrat, is looking out for us little people. I haven't taken the time to see who his major contributors are for his reelection bid, but I bet if I guessed I wouldn't be far off.

Back in November of 2010 the Governor endorsed the idea of allowing utilities to charge customers for the costs of obtaining an early site permit. I mean why should the very company that stands to make money off the venture be asked to put up any up-front costs?

And last month Westinghouse Electric mentioned it would be applying for up to $452 Million worth of investment funds from the  DOE (Department of Energy). These funds were approved by Congress  to assist the development and use of small modular reactor technology.

Wasn't it just a couple of days ago that Congress rejected the Buffet Rule, that would have increased taxes on wealthier individuals? Well it's nice to know that Congress can pass some things, especially things that help to keep big business, BIG and in business.

Additional Information on this subject can be found at:

From HuffPost Green

From St.Louis Today

From the Pages of the "Sneaky Bastards File"

‘Transformative announcement’ planned for Missouri nuke plant

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — It looks like Ameren Missouri is ready to take the next step in building a second nuclear reactor at its central Missouri plant.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s office this afternoon issued a cryptically worded press release about a news conference Thursday afternoon that will include representatives of Ameren and Westinghouse Electric, the manufacturer of the current nuclear reactor at Ameren’s Callaway County facility.

The release promises a “transformative announcement.” For the last several years, Ameren has been working on a site permit with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a new reactor at Callaway.

Officials to reveal plans for Mo. nuclear reactor

Posted: Apr 19, 2012 6:27 AM CDT Updated: Apr 19, 2012 8:53 AM CDT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and officials of 2 energy companies are preparing to make an announcement that could include plans for a second nuclear reactor in the state.
Nixon and leaders of Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric are scheduled to make the formal announcement Thursday at a news conference in Jefferson City. Nixon's office says the announcement will be significant for energy development and economic growth in Missouri.

St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri operates Missouri's only nuclear power plant, located in Callaway County about 25 miles northeast of Jefferson City. Two efforts in recent years to expand nuclear power in Missouri have stumbled, largely amid opposition from consumers and industrial users over protections for electric ratepayers.

Nixon endorsed a previous nuclear power proposal in November 2010.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mom, Apple Pie and Gun Ownership... well maybe not in that order

Busy weekend in St. Louis. The Cubs are in town for the Cardinals baseball seasonal opener at home, The Blues are battling San Jose in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and in between fists flailing through the air from the icemen that com-meth you can look up in the crowd and  see all those happy St. Louis faces.

Oh and there is an NRA Convention going on in town as well so it looks like all the bases are covered. Baseball has that hard round ball that can be directed toward a players head in time of strife, and we all know that before the gloves come off in hockey those sticks the players wield can be pretty deadly in the right hands.

So I guess it just a natural progress to want to wander on over to the NRA gun show and look around and find that little something that will preserve and protect your Second Amendment rights.

"Anyone walking through the annual convention at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in St. Louis will be witness to seven acres of what many here have called "Nirvana" for gun enthusiasts." ~ Chesterfield Patch

And like the proverbial icing on the cake in-between gun sales the NRA is handing out political endorsements to ever patient Republican Candidates that are standing in line for the organization's blessings.

During national convention, NRA endorses Wagner

 Wagner, in a statement, said she was honored to have their support and praised the group.

“Our Second Amendment right to bear arms is a founding principle that shall not be infringed upon, I look forward to defending this right in Congress,” Wagner said in a statement. “I will never waiver and I will never flinch in my defense of our personal freedom and individual 2nd Amendment rights.”

Once again I am glad to see that the Republicans have got their priorities straight, "the right to bear arms', yep that's what most people out of work are thinking about, that and why they have no affordable health care insurance for their family. 

When discussion turns to ending the wars in the middle east and bringing our military home, someone always raises a hand and says "wait a second here - let's make sure our Second Amendment right to bear arms is not infringed upon before we move on to middle-east issues. Oh, and when we want to discuss  woman's right  and gay rights, are we going to have to take a seat until the Second Amendment right to bear arms is secure?

This Ann Wagner looks like a Sarah Palin clone without  a bear in the background.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Military Spending

China's military spending to top $100 billion in 2012, that's $100,000,000,000 for those of you used to buying lottery tickets.

Are you muttering to yourself, grumbling into your bowl of cold cereal? Maybe even shaking a clenched fist into the air.... hold on a minute that's not the story here.

The story is the United States unveiled a military spending budget of $645,700,000,000 in 2012 and is estimating a slight reduction in 2013 to $613,900,000,000. Full details of the U.S. numbers can be found in the government document Overview US Budget Defense Spending

Percentages depicted are for fiscal year 2011

"When we look at the absolute spending amount, the United States is by far the largest spender. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2011, America spent nearly $700 billion in 2010. This accounts for about 43% of the entire global military spending and is nearly 6 times more than the amount spent by the next largest, China. In fact, the United States spends more on its military than the total spent by the second largest (China), third largest (United Kingdom), fourth largest (France), fifth largest (Russia)... and fifteenth largest (Turkey) combined." Source: HuffingtonPost / Howard Steven Friedman / 11-29-11
But look how much we (the United States) spend on military expenditures, far more than China, the UK, France and Russia combined. In fact we darn near spend more than the rest of the world combined.

And we do this with a straight face while arguments continue here at home over healthcare, social security, collage loans, affordable housing...heck the list goes on and on.

Over the years there has been more and more increase in the use of private defense contractors. War has become a big business for many American companies. You know how hard it was to consider giving up an automobile manufacturer in Detroit, one can only imagine the impact at letting go of these military contractors.

This is only a guess on my part, but I would imagine one would see a significant amount of political donations going to both Republicans and Democrats from sources in this industry. War, like a drug, can become a major addiction to those that use it. A cure won't come easily.

Love this little tidbit for 1961:

Critics argue that the use of a massive private sector army and the expenditure of hundreds of billions for other services are creating a new, out of control military-industrial juggernaut. They point to the late general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, who warned when leaving office in 1961 that Americans should be alert to the growing influence of the arms industry within the military. It was the Cold War and an arms race was under way, yet he saw the danger of private weapons companies acquiring what he called “unwarranted influence” on America’s political and military policy making. He became the first person to use the term, “military-industrial complex,” suggesting that its growth could impact not only the military but the spiritual and economic life of the nation.Source: U.S. Military Increasingly Privatized by Richard Walker

Friday, April 6, 2012

Drone Surveillance in the U.S. by 2015?

I heard Kathy Bates, yes that wacko women from "Misery", talk about drone surveillance coming to America in 2015. Well, it was mentioned on the Craig Ferguson show and that's entertainment so you tend to just shrug it off.

Well imagine my surprise when this Scientific American article popped up, High-Altitude Surveillance Drones: Coming to a Sky Near You.

Last week President Obama signed a sweeping aviation bill that, among other things, will open the skies to “unmanned aircraft systems,” more commonly known as drones. Much of the discussion regarding the coming era of domestic drones has been focused on the many important questions regarding their use at low altitudes. To what extent will it be legal, for example, for drones to hover 300 feet above residential neighborhoods snapping pictures into backyards and windows? What level of human-in-the-loop control is needed to ensure safety in a crowded airspace? And how can we stop terrorists from piloting drones at treetop level towards a target?
I swear you have to be diligent people, on the surface one would get the idea that nothing is ever accomplished in Washington, but I would say this little act is pretty major. Be sure to read the full story, it does say it isn't happening tomorrow, but on the other hand it could be.

As bad as the attack on 9/11 was, the sweeping changes that happened with the passage of the Patriot Act was worse. No one really want to talk about this, it's un-American, but just try to take away gun ownership or a woman's right to choose and all hell breaks loose.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who has time for Augusta Membership!

The Right-Wing of the Republican Party is working very hard to keep women barefoot and pregnant. Not sure where we would find time to fully use an Augusta Golf membership, even if they were offering. It seems my credit card will still work at Williams-Sonoma however.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Beautiful San Onofre, California

Along the old U.S. Route 101 you will find a 3.5 mile stretch of beach which is San Onofre State Park. A very popular surfing and swimming spot in Southern California. It's not new really, if you go back 8,000 years you will find that the area, Panhe, was an ancient Acjacheman village and was the site of the first baptism in California. In 1769 the first close encounter between Spanish explorers, Catholic missionaries and the Acjachemen people took place there. You can go here for more information on the Acjacheman Nation.

Certainly modern day has brought many controversies to this little area by the sea. There was the Toll Road Controversy which was a move by the TCA to construct a six lane toll highway through San Onofre State Beach Park and a habitat reserve in Orange County. Finally in 2008 the California Coastal Commission denied a permit to  the TCA.

That same year there was the Nude Beach Controversy that prohibited nudity and ended the 'clothing optional area' that existed at the extreme south end of the San Onofre Bluffs.

So with all this rich history of protecting the public from such man-made disasters as automobile traffic and the wantoned display of naked humanness you might wonder how did these three nuclear power plants ever find there way upon the pristine beach of San Onofre, California.

The first nuclear plant at San Onofre was opened in 1968 and closed down in 1992. Plants #2 and #3 were opened in 1982 and are licensed to run until 2022. Both plants #2 and #3 are currently shut down pending further investigation of the leaks that began occurring two months ago.

They must have been grandfathered in before the creation of the California Coastal Commission in 1972 by voter initiative / Proposition 20. These days it is hard to add on bathroom to your existing home if you live within the zone of influence of the Coastal Commission.

What rattled my cage on this lovely spring day was an article in Power Engineering which states how Southern California Edison Company, operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Plants lied [mislead] to the NRC, in order to avoid having to amend their license agreement.

"The NRC lets you replace a component if you're replacing like for like," Gundersen said. "Southern California Edison said these new steam generators were like for like, and the NRC bought that.
"But they weren't like for like. On the outside, they may look identical, but on the inside, they're dramatically different. It's like taking a Model T and slapping a V-8 engine in it. Southern California Edison didn't want to admit they were dramatically different, because that would open up a license amendment, and the public would get involved.
 "They changed so many things, it was almost inevitable a problem would develop," he said. 

Read the full article in Power Engineering, it's interesting. One of the problems I have with nuclear power is that it is potentially so very dangerous and the effects of an accident so long-lasting, that every caution needs to be taken to operate these plants safely. You can't have operators lying [misleading] about what they are doing just so it makes life easier for them. The NRC has to be doubly vigilant and above reproach at all times.

And if these requirements can't be met then the correct thing for the people and the planet is to shut down all nuclear power plants right now. There are other power options available out there - use 'em!

Power Engineering:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye

All the top Republican Presidential Candidates, in a surprise move, called it quits today. Apparently they experienced the Mist of Truth shroud over-night and came to realize they have nothing to offer and all will be returning to their former lives. This leaves President Obama uncontested in the November election.

The Supreme Court also surprised, by making a quick decision on mandated healthcare, stating in a vote of 8-1 to uphold the Constitutionality of the law. Thomas was the only dissenting vote, but only because he was unable to find his pen in time to vote.

And that's the way it is on this day April 1, 2012.