The 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that effectively destroyed Tokyo Electric Power Company’s six-reactor Fukushima Daichi complex have claimed another victim, Japan’s fast breeder reactor program.
Fukushima’s effect on Japan’s atomic energy program has not had the consequences of a nuclear blast, but more the relentless drip of acid rain, slowly eroding public confidence in the country’s nuclear power industry, which last month saw 49 of the country’s 54 nuclear power plant (NPP) reactors idled. The figure is hardly insignificant, as the nuclear power plants (NPPS) collectively generated more than 47,000 megawatts, nearly 30 percent of the country’s electrical needs.
Now another nail has apparently been driven into Japan’s civilian nuclear future.
On 23 February . . . → Read More: Another Nail Driven into Japan’s Civilian Nuclear Future
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Dayen's news roundup from late Monday, including stories on Attorney General Holder, oil speculators, Federal Reserve, John Kasich, Rush Limbaugh's sponsors, Kucinich vs Kaptor, George Will, education protests, "bad" teachers, and much more.[...]
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Fmr. Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ)Representative Donald Payne, the dean of New Jersey's congressional delegation and first African American elected to Congress from his home state, has died:
U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, the dean of New Jersey's congressional delegation, died after a months-long battle with colon cancer today, according to three sources close to the Payne family. The longtime politician was 77.Condolences to Congressman Payne's family and friends.
Payne announced last month he was under treatment for colon cancer but said that he expected to make a full recovery. Last week, though, his health took a turn for the worse.
He was hospitalized at Georgetown University Hospital, but on Friday was flown back to New Jersey on a medical transport. After arriving at Teterboro airport, he was taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Payne, a Democrat who represented New Jersey's 10th congressional district for 23 years, was placed in hospice care and died early this morning.
This is the second in a two-part series on Israel's policies toward its Palestinian minority. To read the first part, click here.
A few weeks ago an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset was interrupted repeatedly by a female member of a far right party. He finally told her to ?shut up,? whereupon she stood up and poured a cup of water over his head.
The video went viral, and the joke was: ?The only good Arab is a wet Arab.?
Relations between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel are worsening. According to Shalom Dichter, executive director of Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel, ?a harsh stream of ugly racism seems to dominate public debate.? One phrase I heard over and over on a recent trip to Israel was, ?It?s a tinderbox.?
Under the current government?the most right-wing in Israel?s history?a flood of new legislation has targeted Palestinian citizens. The ban on family unification? making it virtually impossible for Israeli Arabs to marry non-Israelis?is just part of a pattern of tightening restrictions on the Arab minority.
Over the past year, for example, the Knesset has passed:
In addition, at least 20 other repressive bills are under discussion in the Knesset. They include a bill that would allow libel suits and even criminal charges to be filed against anyone who speaks ill of the State of Israel or its authorities and a bill that would enable the Knesset to veto appointments of Supreme Court justices, a move that would curb the independence of an entity that has been the principal protector of human rights and civil liberties in the country.
Progressive NGOs in Israel are reporting increasing arrests, interrogations, and police violence against human rights activists.
The chief Rabbi of Safad has issued a ruling forbidding the sale or rental of apartments to non-Jews, with endorsements from more than 50 municipal rabbis?whose salaries are paid by the state of Israel.
The rising intolerance is not just aimed at Arabs, but also at dark-skinned Ethiopian Jews, who are subject to educational and housing discrimination. ?We?re not even third class citizens, maybe like the Arabs,? an Ethiopian demonstrator told a reporter from Haaretz recently. ?And I?m shocked at how Arabs are treated, I identify with them.?
Attacks on women?s equality are also becoming more frequent. Images of women have been removed from advertisements in Jerusalem; religious soldiers have boycotted military ceremonies where female soldiers sing; and women?s voices are not allowed on certain public radio stations. Although forcing women to sit in the back of public buses has been prohibited, the practice continues. A religious conference on female fertility actually forbade women to speak, until the ban was successfully challenged by a coalition of rights groups.
But, Israeli Arabs do bear the brunt of the growing intolerance. They are seen by many Jewish Israelis as a ?Fifth Column??despite being citizens?more loyal to their brethren outside of Israel than to the Jewish state, and a ?demographic time bomb,? that will eventually overwhelm the state with a Muslim majority (In fact, the time bomb has stopped ticking. Over the past decade the Jewish birth rate in Israel has grown by nearly 20 percent while the Muslim rate has fallen by 5 percent. In 2010, 76 percent of births in Israel were Jewish, 22 percent were Muslim. The change is a result of rising educational levels of Arab women in particular, and the growing numbers of religious Jews ).
The religious are the most anti-Arab. When asked whether Israeli Arabs are part of Israeli society, only 20 percent of secular Jews said no, while 65 percent of the Ultra Orthodox said no.
The problem is beginning to concern American Jews. In January, a one-day conference on ?Strengthening Israel?s Democracy: Arab Citizens of Israel? was held in Washington, D.C., sponsored by numerous synagogues and Jewish philanthropies. ?We?re at the cutting edge of a movement that?s still finding its voice in the American-Jewish community,? Ami Nahshon, president of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, told the audience of more than 200 people.
Aviva Meyer, associate director of the New Israel Fund, put it bluntly, ??it can?t be good for the Jews? if one-fifth of the population is alienated ?. if you care about the Jewish state, if you care about social justice, anything that makes Israel less democratic, less tolerant ? isolates the state and ultimately weakens it ? We are not helping Israel if we abandon it to regressive, undemocratic, and extremist forces.?
At one panel, a man protested that the Arabs in Israel still had it better than their cousins in the Arab countries of the Middle East.
?The day when Israel compares itself with Iraq and Saudi Arabia and other Arab dictatorships we?re in deep trouble,? replied Nahshon, to applause.
The people who vote in presidential primaries might be more partisan than the median voter, but that says nothing about their overall knowledge of the political process, or the candidates in particular. For the most part, presidential primaries are low-information elections: Few voters know anything about the candidates outside of what they learn from media, and the circumstances of presidential primaries?a relatively short window for campaigning, multiple candidates, and the fact that everyone belongs to the same party?make it difficult for voters to form strong opinions. Go to almost any primary event in any state, and you?ll meet a large number of attendees who are there with an open mind?they just want to see what the candidate "is all about.?
Under these circumstances, money goes a long way. Regardless of the content, sustained advertising can shape the electorate and bring low-information voters to one side or another. Look no further than the major Super Tuesday races for evidence of this. In Tennessee, Rick Santorum finished February with a massive 21-point lead over Mitt Romney, who earned 19 percent support from the state?s voters. But in the week that followed, the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC pumped more than $1.4 million worth of anti-Santorum ads into the state, swamping the efforts of the former Pennsylvania senator by a factor of 10. By the beginning of this week, according to Public Policy Polling, Santorum?s lead had dropped to 34 percent, while Romney could claim a 10-point gain.
The same was true for Ohio, where last week?s polling gave Santorum 37 percent support to Romney?s 26 percent support. After one week and $2.8 million in anti-Santorum advertisements, however, Santorum lost his lead and Romney turned the election into a toss-up. The former Pennsylvania senator wasn?t helpless?he spent more than $1 million?but he was overwhelmed. In the most recent poll from Quinnipiac University, Romney earns 34 percent support to Santorum?s 31 percent.
The important thing about all of this is what it doesn?t say. Money was a necessary part of Mitt Romney?s quest to catch up with Santorum in those two states, but it wasn?t sufficient to the task; if Santorum had had six months or a year to build his reputation?and thus seed more information?the change wouldn?t have been so dramatic. But as long as we?re dealing with low-information voters, we should expect to see the potency of money.
Now, I wonder.... did my arguing with Noam on WWL Radio have anything to do with changing his mind? He was gonna vote Obama on Friday, when I spoke with him. And after, he came out with this endorsing Jill Stein![...]
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He's back at it again. Pat Robertson continues to lower the IQ points of anyone unfortunate enough to actually watch his show with this nonsense.
From Right Wing Watch -- Pat Robertson Says People could have Stopped Deadly Tornadoes through Prayer:
Pat Robertson, who earlier called tornadoes a sign of the End Times, was asked today on the 700 Club about the tornadoes that have ravaged parts the country and killed at least thirty-nine people. He said that the storms weren?t a malicious act of God and instead turned it around on the victims, asking, ?why did you build houses where tornadoes were apt to happen??
However, Robertson in 2010 did believe that God used natural disasters to hurt people, saying that Haiti?s earthquake was a result of the Haitian people?s alleged ?pact to the Devil.?
Robertson continued that the tornadoes may not have happened if people had prayed for divine intervention, ?If enough people were praying He would?ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms.? He also told people who live in areas prone to natural disasters that it?s ?their fault, not God?s.?
This is the Limbaugh/Fox News factor at work. The slow dumbing down of the GOP. From PPP:
-In Tennessee only 33% of GOP primary voters think Barack Obama was born in the United States, while 45% do not.PPP also reports that Limbaugh is dropping in popularity with GOP voters, especially women.
-In Georgia 40% of Republican primary voters think Obama was born in the United States, while 38% do not.
-In Ohio 42% of Republican primary voters think Obama was born in the United States, while 37% do not.
There's a memo going around stating Tim Geithner was indicted last week, in custody for a brief moment and released the same day. I haven't seen it. Yesterday we talked a little about accountability for the economic meltdown and the looting of America in the final days of the Bush Regime. In China, dozens of corrupt officials-- starting with their version of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson-- and most of the Wall Street banksters would have been given speedy trials and then lined up against a wall and shot. But we don't do that here. In fact, we don't hold our ruling elites accountable for economic crimes. We celebrate them instead.
So wasn't I shocked when Fox News reported that Geithner could be facing criminal charges in regard to the bailout of AIG. Last week, in a NY Times OpEd, Phil Angelides, former chairman of the short-lived Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, asked a simple question: Will Wall Street Ever Face Justice? Obviously the nexus of the kind of massive criminality we're talking about isn't Wall Street alone, but Wall Street and Washington, DC. The Bush Regime may not have conspired in 9/11 but they sure were behind the looting of America that Wall Street is (barely) blamed for. And Angelides, a former Democratic Treasurer of California, warned his readers that Holder's claims to be fighting financial fraud are utter bullshit.
Four years after the disintegration of the financial system, Americans have, rightfully, a gnawing feeling that justice has not been served. Claims of financial fraud against companies like Citigroup and Bank of America have been settled for pennies on the dollar, with no admission of wrongdoing. Executives who ran companies that made, packaged and sold trillions of dollars in toxic mortgages and mortgage-backed securities remain largely unscathed.
Meager resources have been applied to investigate the financial assault on our country, which wiped away trillions of dollars in household wealth and has resulted in 24 million people jobless or underemployed. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which Congress created to examine the full scope of the crisis, was given a budget of $9.8 million-- roughly one-seventh of the budget of Oliver Stone?s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations did its work on the financial crisis with only a dozen or so Congressional staff members.
Despite their limited budgets, both inquiries turned over rocks and exposed disturbing financial practices, and both entities referred potential violations of law to the Justice Department. The final reports from the two investigations were completed last year, but the resources that were needed to dig deep beneath those rocks-- or the rocks turned over by private litigants or other investigatory efforts-- weren?t mobilized. One example: The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission?s report contains evidence about Clayton Holdings, a company hired by more than 20 major financial institutions to perform ?due diligence? on mortgage loans those companies were buying, bundling and selling. Clayton sampled 2 to 3 percent of those mortgages and found a significant number of defective loans. Yet the other 97 percent were not sampled, and that fact and the information about loan defects were never disclosed to investors-- ?raising the question,? the report noted, ?of whether the disclosures were materially misleading, in violation of securities laws.?
In numerous court cases, plaintiffs, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, have cited this evidence to support their claims of fraud and misrepresentation. But, inexplicably, there is no indication that the Justice Department promptly convened a high-level investigation to thoroughly examine who knew what when at these banks. In contrast, after the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s, more than 1,000 bank and thrift executives were convicted of felonies. But today the rate of federal prosecutions for financial fraud is less than half of what it was then.
The belated creation of a Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, led by federal officials along with New York State?s aggressive attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, offers hope that the needed surge of investigation and enforcement may finally be initiated. But for it to succeed, the Obama administration must give the group the wherewithal to do so.
First, the working group must have a strong and independent staff with the budget, expertise and training to do the job. This is vital given the bureaucratic inertia so far. Mr. Holder?s commitment of 55 lawyers, investigators and other staff members is a start, but far short of what is needed. Keep in mind that the Dallas Bank Fraud Task Force from the savings-and-loan era, cited as a model at the time, had more than 100 law enforcement professionals on the job. And the new working group also needs to be free from political meddling, including from the House Republicans who have regularly run interference for their big-bank allies.
Second, bank regulators, who are currently not part of the group, should be. During the savings-and-loan crisis, regulators aided law enforcement by filing more than 30,000 suspicious-activity reports, making referrals and sharing expertise. During the deregulatory mania that led up to the crisis, regulators like the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision (since abolished) made next to no referrals. Regulators can begin to atone for their past laxity by helping the working group now.
Third, the working group?s scope needs to be broader-- it should include mortgage origination, not just securitization. It should eschew a narrow view of mortgage fraud that focuses primarily on borrowers in favor of one that also encompasses the wholesale creation, sale and packaging of defective mortgages led by corporate executives.
Finally, the working group needs to prioritize the cases that caused the biggest losses and damage, moving with the creativity and flexibility that state attorneys general like Mr. Schneiderman have urged. The clock is ticking. During the S.&L. crisis, Congress extended the statute of limitations to 10 years from 5 for financial fraud affecting banks and some other types of financial institutions, but it?s already been nearly eight years since the F.B.I.?s now famous warning of an epidemic of mortgage fraud. Congress should review the law to ensure that the 10-year period applies to the range of activities and institutions under investigation by the working group. And it should extend the statute of limitations if needed to permit a thorough investigation.
No one should seek or condone prosecutions for revenge or political purposes. But laws need to be enforced to deter future malfeasance. Just as important, the American people need to believe that a thorough investigation has been conducted; that our judicial system has been fair to all, regardless of wealth and power; and that wrongs have been righted.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but let us know what you?re checking out as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) celebrated 20 years of service this weekend.
- Andy Birkey has a round-up of conservative efforts to roll back LGBT protections across the country.
- Will President Obama speak out against North Carolina’s anti-gay Amendment One when he speaks in Charlotte tomorrow?
- North Carolina’s Brunswick County unfortunately endorsed the measure last night.
- Legislators in Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington have been inspired to vote for marriage equality by personal stories.
- The Baltimore Sun sat down with Maryland first lady Katie O’Malley to discuss her support of marriage equality.
- A gay student at a Virginia high school has been suspended just for wearing high heels.
- Teenage sex offenders are more likely to be tried as adults if they’re gay.
- Britain’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien condemned marriage equality as an “aberration” akin to legalizing slavery.
- Iraq has faced a brutal wave of anti-gay murders.
- Sara Gilbert, who was herself a teen actress on Roseanne, worries that Kirk Cameron’s condemnation of homosexuality could have a very negative impact on young gay people.
- ABC takes an in-depth look at a new documentary about the federal government’s anti-gay “Witch Hunt” in 1953: