SDB Evening News Reads for 062711: Women, Savages, Migrants and Slaves

Good evening, I am running a bit late today, so here are some items of interest that I found this afternoon.

A Nuclear Situation in Nebraska? | Mother Jones

The internet has been making much ado about the flooding currently affecting a Nebraska nuclear power plant. But via the Associated Press, it appears that, at least for now, the plant isn’t suffering major problems:

Missouri River floodwater seeped into the turbine building at a nuclear power plant near Omaha on Monday, but plant officials said the seepage was expected and posed no safety risk because the building contains no nuclear material.

An 8-foot-tall, water-filled temporary berm protecting the plant collapsed early Sunday. Vendor workers were at the plant Monday to determine whether the 2,000 foot berm can be repaired.

Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson said pumps were handling the problem at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station and that “everything is secure and safe.” The plant, about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been closed for refueling since April. Hanson said the berm’s collapse didn’t affect the shutdown or the spent fuel pool cooling.

The Missouri River flooding is no joke; neither is a power plant sitting in two feet of water. It’s certainly a situation worth keeping an eye on, but doesn’t appear to be a crisis.

I am not sure if any statements about being safe would make me feel any better about being around these nuclear plants.  The article does not address the chemical that Dakinikat was talking about, which seems to be something that is very hazardous to humans.

In abortion news, Texas is following in the footsteps of Wisconsin, Tennessee, Indiana and so many other states.

Texas votes to defund Planned Parenthood – Sarah Kliff – POLITICO.com

The Texas Legislature approved a bill Monday that would both compel the state to push the Obama administration to convert Texas’s Medicaid program into a block grant and defund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

The omnibus health bill also includes a number of other controversial provisions, including plans to save $400 million over the next year by increasing the use of Medicaid managed care.

The legislation now goes to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who has been generally supportive of both the Medicaid reforms as well as anti-abortion language.

We have a discussion about the group of people who are pushing this type of legislation here.  Go ahead and click that link if you have not seen this post yet.

Parts of Georgia immigration law blocked – Reid J. Epstein – POLITICO.com

A federal judge in Atlanta blocked portions of Georgia’s new law that would have punished people who aid illegal immigrants and allowed local police to check the legal status of anyone not carrying identification, the Associated Press reported Monday.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash wrote that Georgia was seeking to enforce immigration law that is the jurisdiction of the federal government.

The law, which was to take effect July 1, led to thousands of migrant workers fleeing the state or avoiding it entirely, leaving Georgia’s agriculture industry in peril as farms struggled to find enough workers to pick their crops.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal responded with a program to have the state’s probationers fill an estimated 11,000 vacant crop-picking posts, though most of those workers walked off their jobs or did not return for a second day, according to top officials in the Georgia farm lobby.

Brian Tolar, the president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, said he hoped but is not optimistic that the ruling will stop the flood of migrant workers leaving the state.

“We hope that it might slow down that fear factor,” he told POLITICO. “While we’ve already seen a significant amount of loss in those critical workforces. There was a feeling … that there were going to be more departing this week. Maybe now they won’t be so quick to depart.”

I don’t think using prisoners as pickers in the fields is such a good idea.  Makes me think of those chain gangs that seem to symbolize southern prisons in movies.

The State Dept blog has this post today that talks about the importance of women in agriculture.  Closing the Gender Gap in Agriculture: A Call to Action for Investing in Women | U.S. Department of State Blog

Women participate in farm science training near Cochin, India, undated. [UNFAO/ AP File Photo]

Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

The FAO’s 2010-2011 State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) Report, Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development, revealed some compelling and informative findings about the critical but underutilized role women play in the food and agriculture industry globally. It also gave some convincing reasons for why investing in women agriculturalists — including farmers, fishers and others who work in agri-processing and marketing — is so essential to food security, production, economic development, health, and related issues. In response to the SOFA report, this week at the 37th biennial conference in Rome, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) mobilized a call to action under the theme: “The Vital Role of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development” to spur multilateral support for investing in women in agriculture and strengthening the case for making this a global economic priority.

At a side event to the conference co-hosted by the U.S. and Kenyan Ambassadors, “A Dialogue on Women in Agriculture: Where to After SOFA?” — I had the privilege of speaking about the U.S. commitment to improving women’s agricultural contributions, encouraging investments in female farmers, and sharing with my counterparts some exciting initiatives we are implementing to close the gender gap in agricultural development.

It is well known that women are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to owning land, securing land rights, and accessing credit and other agricultural inputs. The contributions of rural women in developing countries are too often overlooked and underutilized. This agricultural gender gap imposes real costs on society in terms of lost agricultural output, food security, and economic growth.

I think it is safe to say that women and girls are extremely important to foster the continuation of the human species.  To be able to give women the same advantages as men should not a be controversial action.

This next link is to another State Dept blog post.  Working To End Modern Day Slavery | U.S. Department of State Blog

Child worker piles up bricks at kiln near Modhera, India, Feb. 5, 2011. [AP File Photo]

Sarah Mendelson serves as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID.

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will release the eleventh annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and the world’s attention will turn to the global fight against human trafficking and the persistence of this problem in at least 181 countries around the world.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 12.3 million people globally are victims of trafficking — trapped in forced labor, debt bondage, or sexual exploitation. An accurate number of victims is hard to determine, however, because they are often a hidden population, kept under guard in mines, fishing boats at sea, back alley sweatshops, and brothels. Trafficking is a crime, a human rights abuse, and a development problem.

In our development programs, USAID is tackling the conditions that enable the trafficking of humans, such as barriers to education and job opportunities, ethnic and gender discrimination, weak rule of law, and the drivers of conflict and corruption. Since 2001, USAID has worked in 70 countries to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators.

On to a little link about Casey Anthony, because it is obvious I just can’t help myself. 😉 Right now there is a PI giving testimony to searching the woods where Caylee was eventually found because of a tip from a psychic.  Not sure what to believe anymore. Anyway, here are a couple of links you may find interesting. They are more from the psychological perspective of today’s proceedings in court and a discussion on Florida Law.

This article from Orlando Sentinel breaks down the different local stations reactions to the questions of Anthony’s compentency:  Casey Anthony: Does this woman look competent to stand trial? – The TV Guy – Orlando Sentinel

This link explains the mental problems that can be used in criminal defense, insanity and incompetency, as it pertains to Florida Law:  How mental health issues can affect criminal trials

This past Friday, a big bill was passed and signed into law in New York.  This next link is from a very cool blog about classic film.  She Blogged by Night, has put together a list calledQueer Film Blogathon: GLBT Characters in Classic Hollywood.

This entry is for Garbo Laughs’ Queer Film Blogathon, held June 27. Because my post ran long, I put this part up early and posted the second half Monday, which you can find here.***Despite what you may have heard, portrayals of GLBT characters in early and classic Hollywood were not particularly rare, and they were often a lot less hidden or coded than you’ve likely been lead to believe.  Positive portrayals were very rare, of course, but GLBT charcaters have a long and complex history in U.S. films.  There are plenty of examples, and I’m going to give you about two decade’s worth of them. These examples will probably raise questions for which I’m not sure there are any solid answers.

Please give this blog post a read, the second part of the post is linked to here and also another link to Garbo Laughs.

It wasn’t only pre-code horror that used homosexuality to add more sinister layers to the bad guys in movies… but we’ll get to that in the second half of this post here. Please, don’t forget to check out all the entries by going to Garbo Laughs on Monday the 27th. Carolyn has dedicated the entire month of June to queer cinema, too, with plenty of amazing entries that are all highly recommended.

That is all I have today, if you would like to post any links or comments about any news or events going on today, please do!  Now that WordPress has changed it’s comment login, you don’t need to have a WordPress account. You can use your Twitter or Facebook….you do not even need to use that.  We love to read your comments. So give it a try!


How Safe are our Nuclear Reactors?

A June 14th picture of the Fort Calhoun plant surrounded by flood waters.

You may recall reading about my concerns about my two daughters who are in Omaha, Nebraska at the moment situated between two nuclear power plants.  One of the plants-the Fort Calhoun plant in Blair Nebraska run by OPPD–is already completely surrounded by water and has been shut down. The second plant at Brownville Nebraska–the Cooper plant run by NPPD–is about 1 1/2 feet of water away from being shut down.  Both face flooding and are part of a more serious problem. The biggest problem is they are both very old and none of the nuclear plants in this country would get renewed licenses to operate if it wasn’t for loosening of regulatory standards by our NRC.

I initially began my search for more on the possible danger to my daughters when I read about the two Nebraska reactors having ‘incidents’.  The mainstream media isn’t really reporting the story.  After reading so much about the flooding that devastated the Fukushima plant in Japan that started a spiral to meltdowns, I became concerned about the possibility of  a similar situation in the Nebraska plants.

Tensions are also rising over two U.S. nuclear reactors in Nebraska located on the banks of the Missouri River, which is now at flood stage. On June 20, the Omaha, Nebraska World Herald reported that flood waters from the Missouri River came within 18 inches of forcing the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, to shut down. Officials are poised to shut down the Cooper plant when river reaches a level of 902 feet above sea level. The plant is 903 feet above sea level. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant, 20 miles north of Omaha, issued a “Notification of Unusual Event” to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 6 due to local flooding. That plant is currently shut down for refueling, but will not restart because of the flooding. Compounding worries over these two plants is a shortage of sand needed to fill massive numbers of sandbags to hold off Missouri River floodwaters. One ton of sand makes just 60 sandbags, and hundreds of thousands of sandbags are needed to help save towns along the river from flooding. Sand is obtained from dredging the riverbed — and the companies that sell sand can’t dredge the river while it is flooding. These plants are already in a risky situation, and the flooding in Nebraska could easily be worsened just by a summer afternoon cloudburst.

A few days later and a big up to my mom anxiety, Minx found a wild internet story at some Pakistani website about there being some kind of massive meltdown in one of the plants that was being ‘covered up.’  Operators of both plants and the NRC have both denied the rumors and have insisted the plants are in no danger.  The story is way over the top, but I found other things that are very worrisome that are not. Read the rest of this entry »