Friday Reads: What Fresh Hells?Posted: July 15, 2011
Well, the extremist Christianists are still at it. While our military is off fighting against religioust extremism in the middle east, we need to start fighting it at home. Once again, religious hysteria overtakes reason, reality, and women’s and medicine’s ability to make decisions.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced today that he will not veto an anti-abortion bill that restricts doctors and hospitals from performing an abortion on a “viable fetus.” The new law eliminates Missouri’s “general health exception” that allowed abortions to preserve the life or health of the woman. Come Aug. 28 when the law goes into effect, abortions will only be allowed “to save the woman’s life or when the pregnancy poses a serious risk of permanent physical harm to a major bodily function.” This narrow exception effectively eliminates a woman’s mental health as a justifiable reason and runs headlong into the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which only permits such bans “provided the life or health of the mother is not at stake,” a much more comprehensive definition of a woman’s health. Doctors who violate this new law “could face prison sentences of up to seven years, fines up to $50,000 and the loss of their medical licenses.”
This week the NRC has released a report outlining the problems with the nation’s aging nuclear plants that could give us a Fukushima-style meltdown.
Last month, we reported on the widespread deficiencies found in the procedures and equipment the country’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors are supposed to rely on in the event of a catastrophe like the one that hit the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant in Japan.
This week, a special task force of Nuclear Regulatory Commission experts proposed to do something about those problems and other safety issues raised by the Fukushima disaster, where the fuel in three reactors melted down and an unknown amount of radioactive materials escaped into the surroundings.
The NRC’s Japan Task Force said that U.S. nuclear plants are safe but called for potentially sweeping and costly changes to protect against catastrophic events like earthquakes and long-term blackouts.
The panel’s 83-page report calls for upgrades at many plants and broad revisions to what it called a “patchwork” of NRC regulations governing catastrophic events that need to be streamlined.
Groups ranging from nuclear industry representatives to nuclear power critics and regulators cautioned that the NRC report is only the first step in what will almost certainly be a long process of adopting lessons from the Fukushima disaster, where three reactors partially melted down.
That’s not very high on the list of priorities for GOP rep Sandy Adams from the backwoods of Florida. She’s shocked and upset that the DOE teaches children about energy efficiency and those damned light bulbs. Out! OUT! Damned light bulbs!
Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) has introduced an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill that would limit funds for any DOE website “which disseminates information regarding energy efficiency and educational programs to children or adolescents.”
The “Energy Kids!” site has a potpourri of energy-related information for kids, parents and teachers, ranging from science fair project suggestions to puzzles, an activity book and scavenger hunt. Kids can even earn a certificate for completing an expedition with “Energy Ant.”
In introducing her amendment Thursday night, Adams flipped through blown-up charts of cartoons and jokes from various DOE websites, including the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s “Kids Saving Energy.”
“How did Benjamin Franklin feel when he discovered electricity? He was shocked,” she said, reading from a poster.
It’s unclear how much money taxpayers would save from removing the sites, and Adams said she was frustrated with Energy Secretary Steven Chu for not providing her with those details.
The House is set to vote on the amendment Friday.
The House is adding this important issue to it’s agenda that includes passing a Dirty Water Act and evidently those damned lightbulbs that Republicans like Adams and Bachmann have become obsessed with have to go too!! I guess caring about the environment is an act of Satan.
On Wednesday, the House approved the cynically named “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act,” a bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to oversee state water quality standards and to take action when the states fail to measure up. This bill is not about protecting states’ powers. It is about allowing industries, farmers and municipalities to pollute.
Among its chief sponsors are John Mica, Republican of Florida, who is angry at the E.P.A.’s recent crackdown on the agricultural pollutants that are destroying the Everglades, and Nick Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia, who is furious at the agency’s effort to stop mountaintop mining from poisoning his state’s rivers and streams.
President Obama has rightly threatened to veto the bill if it survives the Senate. Absent federal oversight, states are likely to engage in a race to the bottom, weakening environmental rules to attract business.
This assault on the Clean Water Act reminded us, briefly, of 1995, when a Republican-controlled House under Newt Gingrich tried to undermine the same law. That effort enraged independent voters and energized moderate Republicans.
One of the most interesting stories is the seemingly inevitable fall of the media empire built by Murdoch. The FBI has opened an inquiry on wiretapping if 9-11 families similar to ones that plague Murdoch’s holdings in the UK. Murdoch is using the Wall Street Journal as his mouthpiece at the moment.
While it is unclear if the review will expand into a full investigation, the FBI’s involvement heightens the scrutiny faced by the media giant, which is under intense fire in Britain over allegations that its journalists hacked into the phones of thousands of people.
The FBI probe also raises the politically delicate possibility that the Obama administration— which has questioned the objectivity of News Corp.’s Fox News — could bring criminal charges against employees of the network’s parent company. Murdoch is a political conservative, and last year he directed a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association on behalf of News Corp.
U.S. officials cautioned that it is too soon to tell if charges will be filed, and they indicated that the probe could face a range of complexities, including jurisdictional issues and statutes of limitation that may have expired. Federal investigators also are expected to consult with their counterparts in Britain, which could slow their pace.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is unfolding.
Here’s hoping we lose enough Murdoch franchises in the world to bring back some truth and honesty in media. If Roger Ailes goes down in all of this, that will just be frosting on the triple chocolate brownies. Speaking of Fox and egos from the fascist right, Bill O’Reilly has offered to broker the debt talks. What’s next? Rush Limbaugh painting smoke messages across the skies of Tripoli stating surrender Ghadafi?
“So now I am offering to broker the debt compromise. I’ll go down there. I’m ready to answer the call. Because I’m looking out for you. Not some crazed ideology or political party,” O’Reilly said.
Earlier in the segment, O’Reilly bashed the president and congressional Democrats’ “spending madness” as well as Michele Bachmann and other tea party-affiliated Republicans, whose current stance is against raising the U.S. debt limit no matter the deal.
O’Reilly’s debt plan would eliminate tax loopholes — with no increase in income taxes — as well as at least $2 trillion in immediate spending cuts. He believes discussion on entitlement spending must wait until after the 2012 election.
On Wednesday, Carney name-dropped the influential commentator as a constructive voice during the discussions.
“There is a growing chorus out there, of Republicans and Conservatives who acknowledge that we need to do this in a balanced way,” Carney said. “Bill O’Reilly on Fox News expressed that sentiment last night.”
Okay, with that, I’ll ask what’s on your blogging and reading list today?