Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nuclear Power Safety in the United States

It is easy to make the whole nuclear power argument into one of expense for the amount of power generated, into one of carbon emissions, or into one of safety (historically) per KWH generated in comparison to other power sources. But though a coal fired power plant pollutes more in terms of emissions, you can essentially turn it off if needed. A nuclear power plant has no such luxury, as the fuel rods...even the spent ones...need to be kept cool, and thus require power for 10+ years after the nuclear fuel is used up. That doesn't work so well when there are mishaps or natural disasters, as seen in Japan.

"Everybody gets that nuclear power is better than fossil fuels in terms of carbon emissions and climate change. But making that case is not the same thing as realistically assuring the country that nuclear power is safe." - Rachel Maddow from the video below.

The United States' nuclear power facilities have had many more 'mishaps' than you've probably heard about. Rachel discusses those issues in the video. But one thing is clear, the narrative that needs to be dominant in discussion about nuclear power is one about long-term safety of the technology.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More on GE Paying Nothing in Taxes, and Getting a Refund Anyway

Jon Stewart has a few comments about GE paying nothing in taxes, and additionally getting a refund.

Budget Problems? Stop the tax giveaways to corporations.

If we want to fix the budget, first we'll actually start taxing corporations, as well as stop giving them rebate checks. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has compiled a top 10 list of the worst offenders:

  1. Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.

  2. Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

  3. Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

  4. Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

  5. Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

  6. Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

  7. Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

  8. Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

  9. ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.

  10. Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Canadian Government Toppled Over Budget Issues

Opposition parties succeeded with a vote of no-confidence in the Conservative government in Canada on Friday over the issue of lack of transparency and mismanagement of the budget.

What does this example mean to us in the United States? Rachel Maddow examines that question, and gives examples where supposed fiscally conservative Republicans say "we're broke", but still have no problem with tax-giveaways to business.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

SNL Spoofs Corn Sugar Ads

If you haven't seen the "corn sugar" advertisements, here is the one being spoofed:

And here is SNL's spoof:

High fructose corn syrup is found in just about every kind of processed food anymore. Can't imagine this artificially made sweetener is a very good thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rob Bell Responds to Opponent's Claims

He responds to claims about advocating universalism, and addresses what narrative he does participate in.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Previously Unseen Footage of the Tsunami in Japan

A couple previously unseen pieces of footage of when the tsunami hit Japan. Amazing footage of a vehicle being swept away by someone inside a car. Also of a Japanese news crew abandoning their taxi right before the water swept in.

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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tax Money from Public Programs Given Directly To Corporations

The Governor of Wisconsin still maintains that the issue in Wisconsin with union rights and collective bargaining is about needing to balance the budget. This is after it has been shown that the budget won't end up shrinking at all, but instead all the money from any cuts made in the budget will be reallocated to tax breaks for corporations.

Even though workers of Wisconsin still have not won the battle against the Governor and Republican legislators in Wisconsin, this clip from TRMS last week underscores why the government is not addressing the budget as they claim.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Understanding the Nuclear Power Plant Issues in Japan

Rachel Maddow speaks with her guest Frank Von Hippel, nuclear physicist and co-director of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, on understanding the basic mechanics of a nuclear reactor and the dangers of what is occurring in Japan presently.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Whirlpool Off the Coast of Japan

As I find more video on YouTube, these images still amaze me.

Whirlpool created after the earthquake in Japan:

Friday, March 11, 2011

NOAA Tsunami Wave Height Model

Check this graphic out of the NOAA's wave-height model for the Pacific:

As a side note, the Republican budget proposals would like to take money away from NOAA that would cripple the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the very place that generated this model.

More video of the earthquake in Japan

Republicans Attacking Civil Rights, Voting, and Democracy

I don't mean to take anything away from the devastation in the Pacific, but there are also some crazy things happening in the U.S. with our own state's governments. I would hope others are asking these same questions:

Why are there new laws being created to limit voter rights in many states, like Florida and Wisconsin? Why are there new laws in Wisconsin to unilaterally rescind workers rights? Why are there new laws in Michigan for the governor to disperse a city's government and impose a corporation to run it? Why are there new laws in Pennsylvania who can override environmental laws so that the governor can choose to let oil, gas, and coal companies drill, frack, or blast where ever they would like, whether you have property there, or it destroys a water supply, or whatever? Is this what the United States stands for?

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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As a bonus, you get to learn what 'fracking' actually is, and it isn't the same thing as the slang popularized by Battlestar Galactica.

More on the Tsunamis in the Pacific

I got an unusual call this morning from my father. He was calling because he, and some others in my family, had heard about the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan, and the tsunamis all over the Pacific basin, including the Hawaiian islands, where I just was a couple weeks ago. They had forgotten the dates of our trip, so they were calling to make sure we were safe.

On the Hawaiian islands Bloomberg reported that 1-meter high waves struck the island, but on NPR one of the correspondents had reported witnessing 2-meter high waves (about 6 feet). After the volcanic eruption on Hawai'i, where we also were a couple weeks ago, I'm happy to be home.

Japan had nearly 50 aftershocks from their initial quake. Some of the aftershocks were measuring 6.0 magnitude. In addition to the tsunami there is quite a bit of damage and loss of life that has occurred. Here is some video of the tsunami coming inland and the damage it has caused:

My prayers go out to the people affected by this disaster.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

8.9 Earthquake and Tsunami Hit Japan

Just learning of this on the BBC World Service while driving home. Here are some initial pictures:

Video of some of the earthquake:

They said that the entire Pacific basin was on alert right now, from Russia to Taiwan to Hawaii, and various places have tsunami alerts for what will hit within the hour (which is by 4:00am where I am) in some places.

President Obama's Proposed Budget

He has committed to cut the budget deficit in half. Looks like that will occur in 2 years with his budget.

Governors Look to Usurp Rights of the People

Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore have a conversation about the insanity of the Legislators of Michigan voting to take away the rights of the people and city governments in their state, and being able to instate a corporate body to manage a city. They also talk about voting away union negotiation and workers rights in both Michigan and Wisconsin. This is pretty crazy. We are heading down a slippery slope to the time of robber-barons.

Moore's conversation is pretty emotional, but there is still a lot of good information here.

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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Tax Breaks vs. Budget Cuts

Just to put things in put things in perspective:

From the Center for American Progress

State Shortfalls Aren't About The Budget

It is about more corporate tax breaks, and transference of power from the people to corporations. How would something seemingly so ridiculous in the United States occur? By using 'shock doctrine'. They say that there is a crisis and this is the only way to take care of it, making sure to cause panicked decisions along the way.

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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Economy Cannot Grow Indefinitely

I've stated something similar to this in past posts, but this gentleman says it very well...talking about it being a misconception that the U.S. economy can just continue to grow forever.

From the audio: "Tyler Cowen is an economist at George Mason University. His new book is The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better."

Monday, March 07, 2011

Kilauea Volcano Erupts

We were just there a mere 12 days ago. I don't know that I could handle living there with these kinds of possibilities.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Striking teachers compared to Wall Street

Jon Stewart again points out how ridiculous the comparison of the striking teachers in Wisconsin to Wall Street investors that conservatives and conservative commentators have made truly is. The most crazy part is where one of the commentators claims that $250,000 income for a family sending their kids to college is near poverty.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Sitting Next to G.E. Smith

Last night my friend Derek and I got together to get some dinner and a couple beers. We decided to head to one of our favorite places to eat in Springfield, Haruno's for a little sushi. After a few minutes they seated a gentleman to my left that looked very familiar. I thought for sure it was G.E. Smith, who is a guitarist that used to lead the Saturday Night Live Band quite a few years ago. But it had been a long time since I had seen him that I wasn't certain, and didn't want to bug a stranger having dinner.

Well, Derek looked up G.E.'s touring schedule today, and it was indeed him. He has a show tonight (March 3) with a blues band he is a guest guitarist for, Hot Tuna, at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall here in Springfield, MO. Not sure if his band's laid-back, acoustic blues style is my cup of tea, but it may be interesting to see the show.

So, if you ever see this post, G.E., I hope you had an excellent dinner and sake at Haruno's. You picked a fantastic place.