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Environmentalists fear that reclassifying some nuclear wastes means abandoning clean-ups

Energy Department Plan to Reclassify Nuclear Waste Worries Environmentalists
At a Glance

    • The U.S. Department of Energy wants to reclassify some of the waste that meets highly technical conditions.
    • The agency says the change could save the federal government $40 billion in cleanup costs at nuclear sites across the nation.
    • About 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous chemical wastes are stored in tanks in Washington state.
    • Environmentalists fear a U.S. Department of Energy proposal to reclassify some radioactive waste left from the production of nuclear weapons is simply a way to abandon the cleanup of places like the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.The Trump administration proposal to lower the status of some high-level radioactive waste would make disposal cheaper and easier. Reclassifying the material to low-level could save the agency billions of dollars and decades of work by essentially leaving the material in the ground, critics say.
    • The proposal joins a long list of Trump administration efforts to loosen environmental protections. Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency acted to ease rules on the sagging U.S. coal industry.Tom Carpenter of Hanford Challenge, a nuclear watchdog group, said it wants a thorough cleanup of the Washington state nuclear site, which is half the size of Rhode Island. That includes building a national repository somewhere else to bury the waste once it has been stabilized.
  • “The cleanup of the site is really at stake,” Carpenter said about the proposed change.

    He noted that Hanford is located in an environmentally sensitive site adjacent to the Columbia River and susceptible to earthquakes, volcanoes and flooding.

  • Hanford was established by the Manhattan Project in World War II to make plutonium, a key ingredient in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. The plant went on to produce most of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.As a result, the site also contains the nation’s largest collection of nuclear waste. The most dangerous is stored in 177 aging underground tanks, some of which have leaked. The tanks hold some 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous chemical wastes waiting to be treated for permanent disposal.Cleanup efforts at Hanford have been underway since the late 1980s and cost about $2 billion a year.

    Current law defines high-level radioactive waste as resulting from processing irradiated nuclear fuel that is highly radioactive. The Energy Department wants to reclassify some of the waste that meets highly technical conditions.

    The agency says the change could save the federal government $40 billion in cleanup costs across the nation’s entire nuclear weapons complex, which includes the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina and Idaho National Laboratory.

  • Environmental groups and the state of Washington, which has a legal commitment with the Energy Department to oversee the Hanford cleanup, said the proposal is a concern.”They see it as a way to get cleanup done faster and less expensively,'” said Alex Smith of the Washington state Department of Ecology.Carpenter said there “is not much point in doing much else if they don’t clean up the high-level waste.”

    At the request of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, the agency extended the public comment period on the proposal to Jan. 9. The agency can make the change without the approval of Congress.

    “No one disputes the difficulty of retrieving and treating high-level waste from Hanford’s aging storage tanks,” Wyden wrote to the DOE. “However, lowering the bar for level of protection of future generations and the environment by changing the definition of what has always been considered high-level waste requiring permanent disposal is a significant change.”


December 13, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Maine watchdogs keep close eye on Trump’s bid to change nuclear waste storage rules

December 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment


December 13, 2018 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

Pacific island countries accuse USA of obstructing talks at UN climate change summit

US accused of obstructing talks at UN climate change summit
Vanuatu’s foreign minister says worst offenders on global warming are blocking progress,
Guardian, Ben Doherty in Katowice @bendohertycorro, Wed 12 Dec 2018 

 The United States and other high carbon dioxide-emitting developed countries are deliberately frustrating the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, Vanuatu’s foreign minister has said. His warning came as Pacific and Indian ocean states warned they faced annihilation if a global climate “rule book” could not brokered.In a bruising speech before ministers and heads of state, Vanuatu’s foreign minister, Ralph Regenvanu, singled out the US as he excoriated major CO2-emitting developed countries for deliberately hindering negotiations.

“It pains me deeply to have watched the people of the United States and other developed countries across the globe suffering the devastating impacts of climate-induced tragedies, while their professional negotiators are here at COP24 putting red lines through any mention of loss and damage in the Paris guidelines and square brackets around any possibility for truthfully and accurately reporting progress against humanity’s most existential threat,” he said.

Regenvanu said the countries most responsible for climate change were now frustrating efforts to counter it.

The UN’s climate change talks in Poland have been distracted by a semantic debate over whether the conference should “welcome” or “note” the IPCC’s special report warning of dire consequences if global warming rises more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, with a bloc of four oil-producing countries – the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait – insisting the report be only “noted”.

Documents from the conference presidency, seen by the Guardian, indicate the issue of how to acknowledge the report will be returned to later in the week and is likely to further slow progress on negotiating a final outcome. Negotiators said they are growing increasingly pessimistic that talks can be concluded by their deadline on Friday…….

As 193 countries at the climate talks seek to establish a “rule book” on how to implement the commitments made in the Paris agreement three years ago, Regenvanu condemned a two-tier system that exempted high-emissions countries from reductions obligations, saying the world needed “one common rule book, in which rules apply to all”.

The US state department declined to comment on his remarks……

December 13, 2018 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Washingtonhelping nuclear workers to get compensation State will defend its law

State will fight feds over Hanford worker compensation, Q13 FOX, , DECEMBER 11, 2018, BY ASSOCIATED PRESS SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Officials for the state of Washington said Tuesday they will defend a new law that helps employees of a former nuclear weapons production site win worker compensation claims, after the federal government filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee criticized the lawsuit as outrageous and “depraved.”

“The people who fought communism shouldn’t have to fight their federal government to get the health care they deserve,” said Inslee, who is weighing a run for the White House in 2020.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the lawsuit on Monday in federal court for the Eastern District of Washington.

The Washington Legislature last spring passed a law that says some cancers and other illnesses among Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers are assumed to have been caused by chemical or radiological exposures at work, unless that presumption can be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

…….The legislation signed into law in March by Inslee was propelled through the Legislature by the concerns of sick Hanford workers frustrated by state denials of their compensation claims…..

Ferguson said he presumed the federal government was worried the new Washington law might spread to other states where federal employees were involved in dangerous work. He predicted the issue would likely be resolved at trial.

“Before this, workers had to prove that whatever illness they had was not caused by something else in their lives,” Ferguson said.

Inslee called it another attempt by the Trump administration to take health care away from people in the state.

“They want to tell workers at Hanford to go hang,” said Inslee, who used to represent the Hanford site in Congress.

Lynne Dodson of the Washington State Labor Council said the federal government should be working to improve worker safety, rather than pursuing this lawsuit.

“Donald Trump and (Energy Secretary) Rick Perry would kick these workers while they are down,” Dodson said.

December 13, 2018 Posted by | employment, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

White House fury as Russian nuclear planes visit Venezuela 

December 13, 2018 Posted by | Religion and ethics, Russia, SOUTH AMERICA, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s intractable nuclear waste problem: a new approach is needed

U.S. must start from scratch with a new nuclear waste strategy, a Stanford-led panel says

Thousands of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel are in temporary storage in 35 states, with no permanent solution being discussed. International experts led by Stanford show how to end this status quo. Stanford News, BY KATHLEEN GABEL CHUI AND MARK GOLDEN, 10 Dec 18 The U.S. government has worked for decades and spent tens of billions of dollars in search of a permanent resting place for the nation’s nuclear waste. Some 80,000 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and millions of gallons of high-level nuclear waste from defense programs are stored in pools, dry casks and large tanks at more than 75 sites throughout the country.

A Stanford University-led study recommends that the United States reset its nuclear waste program by moving responsibility for commercially generated, used nuclear fuel away from the federal government and into the hands of an independent, nonprofit, utility-owned and -funded nuclear waste management organization.

“No single group, institution or governmental organization is incentivized to find a solution,” said Rod Ewing, co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and a professor of geological sciences.

The three-year study, led by Ewing, makes a series of recommendations focused on the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The reportReset of America’s Nuclear Waste Management Strategy and Policy, was released today.

A tightening knot

Over the past four decades, the U.S. nuclear waste program has suffered from continuing changes to the original Nuclear Waste Policy Act, a slow-to-develop and changing regulatory framework. Erratic funding, significant changes in policy with changing administrations, conflicting policies from Congress and the executive branch and – most important – inadequate public engagement have also blocked any progress.

“The U.S. program is in an ever-tightening Gordian knot – the strands of which are technical, logistical, regulatory, legal, financial, social and political – all caught in a web of agreements with states and communities, regulations, court rulings and the congressional budgetary process,” the report says.

The project’s steering committee sought to untangle these technical, administrative and public barriers so that critical issues could be identified and overcome. They held five open meetings with some 75 internationally recognized experts, government officials, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, affected citizens and Stanford scholars as speakers.

After describing the Sisyphean history of the U.S. nuclear waste management and disposal program, the report makes recommendations all focused around a final goal: long-term disposal of highly radioactive waste in a mined, geologic repository.

“Most importantly, the United States has taken its eyes off the prize, that is, disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste in a deep-mined geologic repository,” said Allison Macfarlane, a member of the steering committee and a professor of public policy and international affairs at George Washington University. “Spent nuclear fuel stored above ground – either in pools or dry casks – is not a solution. These facilities will eventually degrade. And, if not monitored and cared for, they will contaminate our environment.”

The new, independent, utility-owned organization would control spent fuel from the time it is removed from reactors until its final disposal in a geologic repository.   ………

December 11, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The worst performing countries for climate action- USA and Saudi Arabia

US, Saudi Arabia back-of-the-pack on curbing climate change,  Researchers have identified the United States and Saudi Arabia as the climate change laggards. United States and Saudi Arabia rank last when it comes to curbing climate change among the 56 nations accounting for 90 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Monday.A large number of laggards means the world is dangerously off-track when it comes to slashing the carbon pollution that has already amplified droughts, flooding and deadly heatwaves worldwide, they reported on the margins of UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

Only a few countries have started to implement strategies to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit),” the cornerstone target of the 2015 Paris climate treaty, according to NewClimate Institute and Germanwatch, an NGO.

Most governments “lack the political will to phase out fossil fuels with the necessary speed.”  Continue reading

December 11, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

No answer to clean up Washington’s Hanford nuclear site

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Cold war efforts to provide bunker protection against nuclear bombing

December 11, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge 

Guardian, Jonathan Wattsand Ben DohertyMon 10 Dec 2018 , Move shocks delegates at UN cnference as ministers fly in for final week of climate talks The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C.

After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of high-level discussions.

It has also raised fears among scientists that the US president, Donald Trump, is going from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively undermining them alongside a coalition of climate deniers.

Two months ago, representatives from the world’s governments hugged after agreeing on the 1.5C report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commissioned to spell out the dire consequences should that level of warming be exceeded and how it can be avoided.

Reaching a global consensus was a painstaking process involving thousands of scientists sifting through years of research and diplomats working through the night to ensure the wording was acceptable to all nations.

But when it was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on Saturday, the four oil allies – with Saudi Arabia as the most obdurate – rejected a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they said it should merely be “noted”, which would make it much easier for governments to ignore. The motion has not yet been able to pass as a result of the lack of consensus.

t opened up a rift at the talks that will be hard to close in the coming five days. During the plenary, the EU, a bloc of the 47 least developed countries, as well as African and Latin and South American nations, all spoke in favour of the report. Several denounced the four countries trying to dilute its importance. ………

Scientists were also outraged. “It is troubling. Saudi Arabia has always had bad behaviour in climate talks, but it could be overruled when it was alone or just with Kuwait. That it has now been joined by the US and Russia is much more dangerous,” said Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy in the Union of Concerned Scientists….

Ministers have only five days to establish a rulebook for the Paris agreement. A wild card is the role of the host nation, Poland – the most coal-dependant nation in Europe – which will chair the final week of the meeting………

As well as acceptance of the report, there are several other potential fights brewing regarding transparency rules for reporting emissions and proposals for wealthy high emitters to provide financial support to poorer nations struggling to adapt.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium – the cancer-causing weapon still taking its toll in Iraq

Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq Counter Punch, by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR , DECEMBER 7, 2018, At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.

Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”

Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren’t soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq’s repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.

This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.

Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren’t the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.

Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.

Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.

When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert winds for decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.

In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause “permanent lung damage.” In the late, 1950s Al Gore’s father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.

After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton’s orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.

Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it’s not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.

The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US’s NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.

If the US has kept silent, the Brits haven’t. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths.”

The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn’t. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a “nuclear cocktail,” containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.

Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy’s sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller.: “The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced.”

Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports: “during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant… created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium”

But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered “safe”. He knows where to place the blame. “There can be no reasonable doubt about this,” Rokke told Australian journalist John Pilger. “As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”

Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there’s a grim one that will stay around for an eternity.

This article is adapted from Been Brown So Long, It Looked Like Green to Me.


December 10, 2018 Posted by | environment, health, Iraq, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The negative legacy pf President George HW Bush

Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq,   Roaming Charges, Counter Punch, by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR, 7 Dec 18  

+ As the neoliberal establishment rushed to eulogize Poppy and lament the degeneracy of honor and ethics in American politics, let’s not forget that Bush’s fingerprints are all over the October Surprise of 1980, when emissaries from the Reagan campaign convinced the Iranians to delay the release of the hostages in Tehran until after the elections, an illegal meddling that almost certainly sealed the election of Ronald Reagan. This was a far more serious crime than than Michael Flynn’s calls to Sergei Kislyak.

+ National Cathedral in a Republic built on the of separation of church and state seems like a bad idea.

+ The legacy of Poppy Bush shows just how deadly bi-partisanship can be. Political gridlock saves lives.

+ Poppy Bush went to war on Iraq in 1990. It hasn’t ended yet…

+ 88,500 tons: amount of bombs, by weight, dropped on Iraq and Kuwait by Poppy Bush.

+ Mark Thiessen, a columnist at the Washington Post, encouraged all Americans to become “the nation George HW Bush wanted us to be.” How do we go about doing that? By setting up a Go Fund Me page for death squads in El Salvador?

+ As a general rule, the more guns fired off in a funeral salute, the more people the departed dignitary has killed.

+ Leave it to the “historian” Jon Meacham to deliver the rosiest and most distorted hagiography of Bush of the day. According to Meacham the “real” George Bush is the one who cried in Cracow in the presence of a child with leukemia and not, I presume, the George Bush whose DU bombs caused thousands of childhood leukemias in Iraq.

+ I didn’t find the odious Alan Simpson funny. If they really wanted comedy, the Bush family should have treated the nation to five minutes of Dan Quayle at the podium.

+ Simpson’s incessant quipping has always disguised the fact that he is one of the meanest bastards in DC.

+ Too bad Alex Cockburn wasn’t around to render his final judgment. Not on Poppy Bush, but on the two women he found himself so irresistibly attracted to: Marilyn Quayle and Laura Bush.

+ Cockburn on Bush at CIA: “Bush Sr., like JFK, sanctioned a Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean, and wilted under pressure from the [Scoop] Jackson Democrats, aka Military Industrial Complex. It was Bush who appointed the notorious “Team B” to contradict in-house CIA analyses suggesting the Soviet threat was not as fearsome as that depicted on the cartoon (aka editorial) page of the Wall Street Journal.”

+ More Cockburn on the Bushes: “Sr. arrived in Midland in 1948, later recalling that “We all just wanted to make a lot of money quick.” The time I interviewed her back in 1980, I thought Barbara Bush one of the meaner women I’d met in a long time.”

+ James Gibney (former US diplomat): “George W. Bush took another step on the road to national redemption with his address and its delivery.”

+ Those fizzing sounds in the background were the fonts of Holy Water beginning to boil when John Bolton and Dick Cheney entered the Cathedral…

Remind me of the first steps W. took on his road to redemption? Was it when he picked up a paintbrush or shared a candy with Michelle O?

+ Emmanuel Macron is probably despairing that he didn’t get an invite to Poppy’s funeral. Anything to get out of Paris before the yellow-vested san culottes storm the Elysée Palace…

+ Remember when George HW Bush called Michael Dukakis a “card-carrying member of the ACLU,” as if it was evidence of the Duke’s treachery against all the great things the Republic stands for. The best endorsement the ACLU has ever gotten.

+ Tim Shorrock: “A minister (Russell Levinson) who jokes about the US war against the Sandinistas during his eulogy for a dead president betrays the Christianity he is claiming to represent. How tawdry. There is nothing beautiful about empire.”

Last laugh: the Sandinistas are still here and George HW Bush is not.

+ Rev. Levinson: “Mission…..Accom-…uhm…no…Complete…yeah…Complete.”

+ Sorry, Rev., people didn’t forget “all President Bush did for us,” they are simply too overwhelmed by all he did to us…

+ Sitting in the second row at Bush’s funeral was Al Gore, the first politician to covertly use Willie Horton in a racially-motivated smear of Michael Dukakis, during the early (Gore didn’t last long) Democratic primaries in 1988. But Bush and his henchman, Lee Atwater, weaponized the Horton story with some of the most racist ads ever to air on network TV. The ads were sponsored by a group run by rightwing activist Floyd Brown. The name of his group? Citizens United.

+ As much as Trump enjoys maligning the Bush family, I’m sure his lawyers are closely scrutinizing Poppy’s pardons of the Iran/contra gang: Cap Weinberg, Elliott Abrams, Dewey Clarridge, Alan Fiers, Claire George and Robt. McFarlane…

+ Too bad Dan Rather isn’t there to reenact Poppy’s greatest victory (aside from bombing the hapless retreating Army snarled in traffic on the Highway of Death), when with Roger Ailes as his cornerman, Bush TKO’d Rather with a counterpunch accusing of him walking off the CBS set, then boasted on an open mic: “The bastard didn’t lay a glove on me.”. . . .(After his debate with Geraldine Ferraro, Bush bragged about “kicking a little ass tonight.”)

+ Thanks W. for the thrilling anecdote about James Baker messaging Poppy’s feet. But that begs the question: Who will rub Trump’s feet? Paulie? Pence? Miller?

+ Odd, that W. didn’t thank Poppy for the nanny he hired for him back in 2000, Dick Cheney…

+ W. joked that Poppy used to call him and Bill Clinton brothers with different mothers. I guess we finally know who Bill Clinton’s real father was …

+ The network commentators are now following Bush’s hearse as it winds its way to Andrews Airbase with the same attention to detail and narrative nuance that they gave to the OJ’s van on the 405.

+ Poppy named Jeb! and W. the executors of his estate. I guess he still didn’t trust Neil (Silverado S&L) Bush with the checkbook…

+ Disappointed that W. didn’t thank his dad for pulling those strings to get him out of Vietnam. This is the kind timely of confession that would spotlight the common ground in Washington, heal the country and bring the Bushes, Clintons and Trumps closer together.

+ With Trump not messing on the carpet at Poppy’s funeral and news that he is poised to nominate Bill Barr, GHWB’s former AG, to replace Sessions, the icy relationship between the Trumps and the Bushes seems to be thawing. The next thing you know Trump will be sharing hard candies and Diet Cokes with Laura and hanging one of Shrub’s paintings in the Lincoln Bedroom.

+ Barr, a fanatic proponent of the unitary theory of executive power, was the architect of Bush’s Iran/contra pardons.

+ Now that both families have spilled rivers of blood in the Middle East, I guess all is forgiven…

+ Another thing Bush and Trump share: both of their fathers were Nazi sympathizers, the difference being that while Fred attended solidarity rallies for the Nazis in New York, Prescott the Banker actually helped finance their rise to power.

+ The Washington Post’s slobbering eulogy for Bush praises Poppy’s “competence.” Competence? The man picked the male Sarah Palin as his VP running mate: Dan Quayle.

+ The Post’s editorial department also hailed Bush’s alleged “restraint.” Tell it to the 408 civilians who perished when Bush targeted the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad with two “smart” bombs.

+ Chris Matthews keeps nattering on about how the Bush funeral was a showcase for “nobility in government.” I thought the point of the American Revolution was to expunge nobility from government?

+ Give me a raw Trump Tweet over this disingenuous froth any day…

December 10, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | 2 Comments

Donald Trump – ” It’s time to scrap the Paris climate accord


December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia tried to erase meaning of UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming  

Climate science on 1.5C erased at UN talks as US and Saudis step in Climate Home News,  08/12/2018In a moment of drama in Poland, countries closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming  By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen

Four big oil and gas producers blocked UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as a meeting in Poland descended into acrimony on Saturday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary. “This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying islands and coastal villages in the Arctic. But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45% by 2030……….

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

It was a long and emotional plenary meeting to mark the halfway point in a fortnight of negotiations.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talksfrom welcoming the most influential climate science report in years – and met backlash from a broad range of poor, developing and rich countries. The battle was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia wanted the final statement to merely “note” the UN science report on the effects of 1.5C rise in the global temperature. But a call that started with the alliance of small island states pushed to “welcome” the findings.

The plenary chair’s attempt to find a compromise fell flat, setting the scene for a big political fight when ministers arrive in Katowice next week.

And that wasn’t the only moment of drama on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the Paris Agreement. “You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” one negotiator said.

The change will mean new proposals could come next week.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment