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Wild women don’t get the blues

Cyndi Lauper with the old blues classic:

State of emergency

This remains my main concern about nuclear power plants. The last time I wrote about them, I was inundated with emails and comments from readers telling me how “safe” they are — yes, they’re relatively safe. Until they’re not, and we all saw that in the aftermath of Japan’s massive earthquake:

TOKYO — Japan declared states of emergency for five nuclear reactors at two power plants after the units lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday’s powerful earthquake. Thousands of residents were evacuated as workers struggled to get the reactors under control to prevent meltdowns.

Operators at the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s Unit 1 scrambled ferociously to tamp down heat and pressure inside the reactor after the 8.9 magnitude quake and the tsunami that followed cut off electricity to the site and disabled emergency generators, knocking out the main cooling system.

Some 3,000 people within two miles (three kilometers) of the plant were urged to leave their homes, but the evacuation zone was more than tripled to 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) after authorities detected eight times the normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal inside Unit 1′s control room.

The government declared a state of emergency at the Daiichi unit — the first at a nuclear plant in Japan’s history. But hours later, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the six-reactor Daiichi site, announced that it had lost cooling ability at a second reactor there and three units at its nearby Fukushima Daini site.

The government quickly declared states of emergency for those units, too, and thousands of residents near Fukushima Daini also were told to leave.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency said the situation was most dire at Fukushima Daiichi’s Unit 1, where pressure had risen to twice what is consider the normal level. The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement that diesel generators that normally would have kept cooling systems running at Fukushima Daiichi had been disabled by tsunami flooding.

Officials at the Daiichi facility began venting radioactive vapors from the unit to relieve pressure inside the reactor case. The loss of electricity had delayed that effort for several hours.

Plant workers there labored to cool down the reactor core, but there was no prospect for immediate success. They were temporarily cooling the reactor with a secondary system, but it wasn’t working as well as the primary one, according to Yuji Kakizaki, an official at the Japanese nuclear safety agency.

As I say

Republicans only win when they lie and cheat. They don’t actually approve of democracy!

Unbelievable. Turning the state in to a dictatorship wasn’t enough, he had to pull this out of his CorporateBastard bag of tricks. Detroit Free Press:

LANSING — One $100 bill could block voters from a chance to stop more than a billion dollars in higher taxes.

Whether you think it’s a dirty trick or a smart move, a House bill to implement Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to eliminate tax credits and exemptions contains a $100 appropriation — enough to make the plan immune from a voter referendum.

The plan has incensed some Michiganders. On Tuesday, AARP is holding a rally at the Capitol for senior citizens angry about Snyder’s plan to tax pensions and other retirement income while cutting business taxes.

In 2001, the state Supreme Court ruled that legislation with a state expenditure — even just $1 — can’t be repealed by voters.

On Thursday, minority House Democrats assailed the move to block a potential repeal vote. “I think there’s a natural, built-in constituency that would sign that petition” to repeal tax changes, said Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said the $100 appropriation in the 180-page bill is legitimate, and would be increased to cover the

Hah

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Randy Hopper, a close ally of Gov. Scott Walker, is dimed out by his wife, who told protesters he was living with his 25-year-old mistress (a right-wing lobbyist whose name has suddenly disappeared from her company’s website) in Madison. Oh, and his maid signed the recall petition!

Bet his dog doesn’t like him, either.

Oh me oh my (I’m a fool for you baby)

Aretha Franklin from “Young, Gifted and Black”:

Stray cat blues

Rolling Stones:

The American dream

George Carlin:

Earthquakes

And oil drilling. The theory.

‘A corporate coup d’etat’

Naomi Klein warns us that Wisconsin is only the beginning of the attack on democracy:

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I just found out about this last night, and like I said, there’s so much going on that these extraordinary measures are just getting lost in the shuffle. But in Michigan, there is a bill that’s already passed the House. It’s on the verge of passing the Senate. And I’ll just read you some excerpts from it. It says that in the case of an economic crisis, that the governor has the authority to authorize the emergency manager—this is somebody who would be appointed—to reject, modify or terminate the terms of an existing contract or collective bargaining agreement, authorize the emergency manager for a municipal government—OK, so we’re not—we’re talking about towns, municipalities across the state—to disincorporate. So, an appointed official with the ability to dissolve an elected body, when they want to.

AMY GOODMAN: A municipal government.

NAOMI KLEIN: A municipal government. And it says specifically, “or dissolve the municipal government.” So we’ve seen this happening with school boards, saying, “OK, this is a failing school board. We’re taking over. We’re dissolving it. We’re canceling the contracts.” You know, what this reminds me of is New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, when the teachers were fired en masse and then it became a laboratory for charter schools. You know, people in New Orleans—and you know this, Amy—warned us. They said, “What’s happening to us is going to happen to you.” And I included in the book a quote saying, “Every city has their Lower Ninth Ward.” And what we’re seeing with the pretext of the flood is going to be used with the pretext of an economic crisis. And this is precisely what’s happening. So it starts with the school boards, and then it’s whole towns, whole cities, that could be subject to just being dissolved because there’s an economic crisis breaking collective bargaining agreements. It also specifies that—this bill specifies that an emergency manager can be an individual or a firm. Or a firm. So, the person who would be put in charge of this so-called failing town or municipality could actually be a corporation.

AMY GOODMAN: Whose government they dissolve, a company takes over.

NAOMI KLEIN: A company takes over. So, they have created, if this passes, the possibility for privatization of a whole town by fiat. And this is actually a trend in the contracting out of public services, where you do now have whole towns, like Sandy Springs in Georgia, run by private companies. It’s very lucrative. Why not? You start with just the water contract or the electricity contract, but eventually, why not privatize the whole town? So—

AMY GOODMAN: And what happens then? Where does democracy fit into that picture?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, this is an assault on democracy. It’s a frontal assault on democracy. It’s a kind of a corporate coup d’état at the municipal level.

The long view

You mean job-killing regulations actually saved lives? Who’d have believed it?

From seawalls that line stretches of Japan’s coastline, to skyscrapers that sway to absorb earthquakes, to building codes that are among the world’s most rigorous, no country may be better prepared to withstand earthquakes than Japan.

Had any other populous country suffered the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, tens of thousands of people might already be counted among the dead. So far, Japan’s death toll is in the hundreds, although it is certain to rise somewhat.

Over the years, Japan has spent billions of dollars developing the most advanced technology against earthquakes and tsunamis. The Japanese, who regularly experience smaller earthquakes and have lived through major ones, know how to react to quakes and tsunamis because of regular drills — unlike Southeast Asians, many of whom died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami because they lingered near the coast despite clear warnings to flee.

Wow. When was the last time you heard of America spending money to prepare for anything?

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