Smash the Banker Oligarchy

Oligarchs Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan and Lloyd Blanfein, Goldman Sachs

JP Morgan Debacle Reveals Fatal Flaw In Federal Reserve Thinking

MIT professor; Co-author, ’13 Bankers’ and ‘White House Burning’; Columnist on fiscal affairs

Experienced Wall Street executives and traders concede, in private, that Bank of America is not well run and that Citigroup has long been a recipe for disaster. But they always insist that attempts to re-regulate Wall Street are misguided because risk-management has become more sophisticated — everyone, in this view, has become more like Jamie Dimon, head of JP Morgan Chase, with his legendary attention to detail and concern about quantifying the downside.

In the light of JP Morgan’s stunning losses on derivatives, announced yesterday but with the full scope of total potential losses still not yet clear (and not yet determined), Jamie Dimon and his company do not look like any kind of appealing role model. But the real losers in this turn of events are the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the New York Fed, whose approach to bank capital is now demonstrated to be deeply flawed.

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Update on Challenging Voter ID

Yet Another Reason to Defeat All GOP Candidates—If You Needed One

 

Viviette Applewhite is 93-year-old and has voted in nearly every election for the last 60 years. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Georgia. She has tried for years to obtain photo ID to no avail. Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, Ms. Applewhite’s vote will not be counted. She is a plaintiff in our lawsuit to stop voter ID.

Learn more about ACLU-PA’s challenge to Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional voter ID law at: http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/applewhiteetalvcommonwealt/index

Progressive Democrat for Congress – Norman Solomon

Progressive Election Strategy and the Norman Solomon Campaign

We can’t devise a successful electoral strategy for “The Left”—meaning the forces of peace, social/economic justice and sustainability—unless we face a simple fact: We’re getting our asses kicked.

For three decades, our country’s politics have moved steadily rightward and become more corporate-dominated. With few exceptions (gay rights, for example), the right wing has been winning on almost every issue. That’s why we have record levels of war-spending, with near record levels of poverty and wealth disparities. Labor is weakened and under attack, while corporate power over government and both major parties keeps increasing. Our earth faces environmental disasters while the mindless “Drill, Baby, Drill” slogan gains popularity. Issues we thought we’d won decades ago—like reproductive rights and separation of church and state—are under constant threat.

There’s an essential reason for this sad state of affairs: Rightwing activists have seized one of the two major parties, the GOP, and used that party to amass power and dominate the terms of debate on most issues since Reagan was elected in 1981.

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Top Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima

The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima

The Greatest Single Threat to Humanity: Fuel Pool Number 4

We noted days after the Japanese earthquake that the biggest threat was from the spent fuel rods in the fuel pool at Fukushima unit number 4, and not from the reactors themselves. See this and this.

We noted in February:

Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years.

Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0 or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4.

Tepco is doing some construction at the building … it is a race against time under very difficult circumstances, and hopefully Tepco will win.

As AP points out:

The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster worse than the three reactor meltdowns.

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Gundersen (who used to build spent fuel pools) explains that there is no protection surrounding the radioactive fuel in the pools. He warns that – if the fuel pools at reactor 4 collapse due to an earthquake – people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside for a while.

The fuel pool number 4 is apparently not in great shape, and there have already been countless earthquakes near the Fukushima region since the 9.0 earthquake last March.

Continue reading Top Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima

Bailout Student Loan Debt – Tax Wall Street

End Student Debt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest. President Obama sensibly called for extending the lower rate, stumping at colleges and on talk-shows to enlist students and others in the cause.

Republican leaders quickly realized the perils of angering young voters. In another flip-flop, Mitt Romney decided to support extending the lower rate, while the House GOP passed an extension but taunted the president by stipulating that it be paid for with money taken from the preventive health fund created by the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democrats propose paying for it by closing a loophole that doctors, lawyers and small businesses use to avoid payroll taxes.

Ignored in the standoff is that even at the lower rates, more and more students can’t afford the college education or advanced training everyone but Rick Santorum believes they need. Since 1982 the cost of living has doubled and healthcare costs have tripled; college tuition and fees have exploded more than four times. All this comes amid revelations about the hundreds of billions in loans—at below-market rates—ladled out to the banks by the Federal Reserve and Treasury during the financial crisis.

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PA Governor Corbett Bankrolled by Gas Drillers

Chesapeake Energy CEO bankrolled Corbett starting in ’04; McClendon’s contributions pivotal for PA governor

June 30, 2011

Philadelphia Daily News reporter Will Bunch, in  “How a Natural-gas Tycoon Tapped into Corbett,” has helped reveal the tragic impact of massive gas industry campaign contributions on Pennsylvania politics (for the big picture see MarcellusMoney.org, meticulously researched up to the minute by Common Cause).   Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon has been bankrolling Pennsylvania’s current gas-loving governor as far back as 2004.

Will Bunch’s feature on Governor Corbett’s rise to power and the role the gas industry has played in it was the cover story in yesterday’s Daily News. (Source: Keegan Gibson/politicspa.com)

In the Daily News’ June 29th cover story,  Bunch explains that a wildcat well is “when a prospector takes a big risk drilling deep in an unexplored area.” Bunch then suggests that a “flamboyant Oklahoma City multimillionaire” did just this – and struck it big – back in 2004:

The $450,000 in campaign checks that energy mogul Aubrey McClendon wrote that fall helped elect a man he said he’d never even met – a relatively obscure GOP candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett.

And so the story goes in Bunch’s high-profile article exploring the power relationships behind Governor Corbett’s devotion to the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. While Bunch begins by raising unanswerable questions of intent and foresight on the part of McClendon, the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, the overall impact of industry donations is unquestionably terrible for the environment and public health.

Continue reading PA Governor Corbett Bankrolled by Gas Drillers

Fukushima Spent Fuel Rods Greatest Threat

Why Fukushima Is a Greater Disaster than Chernobyl and a Warning Sign for the U.S.

April 20, 2012 · By Robert Alvarez

The radioactive inventory of all the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools at Fukushima is far greater and even more problematic than the molten cores.

In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world posed by the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site are far from over.   After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. Senator, it is sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins may have far greater potential offsite consequences  than the molten cores.

After visiting the site recently, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. stating that, “loss of containment in any of these pools could result in an even greater release than the initial accident.”

This is why:

  • Each pool contains irradiated fuel from several years of operation, making for an extremely large radioactive inventory without a strong containment structure that encloses the  reactor cores;
  • Several  pools are now completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were  demolished by explosions; they are about 100 feet above ground and could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake;
  • The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding – resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds of miles.

Irradiated nuclear fuel, also called “spent fuel,” is extraordinarily radioactive.  In a matter of seconds, an unprotected human one foot away from a single freshly removed spent fuel assembly would receive a lethal dose of radiation within seconds. As one of the most dangerous materials in the world, spent reactor fuel poses significant long-term risks, requiring isolation in a geological disposal site that can protect the human environment for tens of thousands of years.

Fukushima's devastation two weeks after the tsunami.
Fukushima’s devastation two weeks after the tsunami.