Meet Donald Drumpf!

SUBHEAD: John Oliver finally takes on "serial liar" Donald Trump and it's brutally fantastic.

By Inae Oh on 29 February 2015 for Mother Jones -

Image above: Still frame from video below when John Oliver reveals illuminated sign of Donald Trumps historical family name.

"Donald Trump is America's back mole—it may have seemed harmless a year ago, but now that it has gotten frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it."

And with that, John Oliver finally took on the politics of Donald Trump on Sunday, after spending months largely ignoring the real estate magnate's meteoric rise in the polls since launching his presidential campaign last summer.

"But he has now won three states, has been endorsed by Chris Christie, and polls show him leading most Super Tuesday states, which is a big deal," Oliver said.

While he claimed to understand why Trump's campaign is resonating with voters, Oliver explained that upon closer inspection, Trump's appeal reveals to be quite horrifying, much like the attractiveness of a "buffet lunch at a strip club."

The Last Week Tonight host went on to suggest supporters start imagining the candidacy of a man named Donald Drumpf—the last name one biographer recently uncovered was the Republican front-runner's original family name—to help expose Trump and his empty, often racist promises to make America great again.

"Stop and take a moment to imagine how you would feel if you just met a guy named Donald Drumpf, a litigious serial liar with a string of broken business ventures and the support of a former KKK leader who he can't decide whether or not to condemn."

Yep, let's #MakeDonaldDrumpf again.

Video above: Donald is often angry. In 2014 the former "official voice" of Donald Duck in the Middle East is ruffling feathers claiming the Disney Company fired him over anti-Israel tweets. From (

Mistakes Were Made

SUBHEAD: When truth and reality become de-linked, a society literally doesn’t know what it is doing.

By James Kunstler on 7 March 2106 for -

Image above: Wrong from the beginning. Lloyd C. Blankfein (R), Chairman & CEO of Goldman, Sachs watches as President Barack Obama (C) greets another guest after an event for US bankers in the White House February 13, 2009. From (

Beyond the Kubler-Ross maelstrom of denial, anger, depression, etc., besetting this spavined republic, lies the actual grief provoking it all — especially the shocking loss of national purpose embodied by the muppets and puppets onstage nightly vying to bring out the worst in us in an election season far from just silly.

Judging from their demeanor in the so-called debates, the candidates seem not only sick of their opponents but of themselves, a fitting outcome perhaps in a nation that hates what it has become.

The moment that got me in Sunday night’s Democratic boasting contest, hosted by CNN, was Hillary crowing about the great achievement of Obamacare — getting thirty million uninsured Americans on some kind of health plan!

The part she left out, of course, is that most of those plans have “deductable” ceilings in the multiple thousands of dollars, guaranteeing that the policy holder goes bankrupt if he/she seeks medical help. Who does she think she’s fooling, anyway? This sort of arrant lying is what drives millions into the camp of Trump.

Even valiant old Bernie muffs every opportunity to explain the death-grip that Wall Street crony politics has on this land: the US Department of Justice did nothing under six-plus years of Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute criminal misconduct in banking.

And then President Obama, who is ultimately responsible, did absolutely nothing to prompt that Attorney General into action or replace him with somebody who would act.

Obama’s lame excuse back in the days when informed people were still wondering about this, was that the bankers had done nothing patently illegal enough to warrant investigation — a claim that was absurd on its face.

Obama didn’t do any better with the regulating agencies that are supposed to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, especially the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged with keeping financial markets honest.

There was nothing that difficult about those criminal matters now fading in the nation’s memory: for instance, the bundled bonds (CDOs) of “non-performing” mortgages designed to pay off the issuers handsomely when they failed.

A child of ten could have unpacked the Goldman Sachs Timberwolf bond caper. Eventually Goldman and others were slapped with mere fines that could be (and were) written off as the cost of doing business.

What a difference it would have made if Lloyd Blankfein and a few hundred other bank executives were personally held accountable and sent to cool their heels in federal prison.

As the politicians are fond of saying, "make no mistake": this was Barack Obama’s failure to act.

Likewise, regarding the Citizens United Supreme Court’s decision that equated arrant corporate bribery of public officials with “free speech;” Mr. Obama (a constitutional lawyer by training) had a range of remedies at his disposal.

Foremostly Obama could have worked with the then-majority Democratic congressional leadership to legislate a new and clearer definition of so-far-alleged corporate “personhood,” its duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest — and its limits!

Not only did Mr. Obama fail to act then, but nobody in his own party even coughed into his-or-her sleeve when he so failed. And now, of course, nobody remembers any of that.

The effects of all this fundamental dishonesty have thundered through our national life to the degree that American society is now divided into the swindlers and the swindled, loosing the monster of collective Id known as Trump on the public.

This is what comes of attempting to divorce truth from reality, which has been the principal business of American life for several decades now.

When truth and reality become de-linked, a society literally doesn’t know what it is doing. With that goes the collective sense of purpose, replaced with bromides and platitudes such as Trump’s “I'll make America great again!,” and Hillary’s “In America, every family should feel like they belong.”

Unbeknownst to the cable news hustlers, events are in the driver’s seat, not the personalities of the puppets and muppets in the spotlight.

Come July, there may not be anything that could be called the Republican Party. And Hillary is the first leading contender for the highest office with a possible indictment looming over her.

Yes, it’s really there percolating on the FBI’s front burner. Even if the machinery of justice trips over itself again on that, imagine how the questions behind it will color the final battle for the general election.

We also fail to appreciate how, if there is just a little more trouble in banking and financial markets before November 8th, we can’t even be certain of holding the general election.


The End of Night

SUBHEAD: There’s a growing medical consensus that all this artificial light is bad for our health.

By Emmett Fitzgerald on 25 February 2016 in Yes Magazine -

Image above: The Milky Way from a tent above the city. From original article.

Since the invention of electric light, the night has been getting progressively brighter. But a growing body of research shows experiencing total darkness is critical to our well-being.

Throughout history, humans have gathered in the dark to marvel at the starry blanket overhead. Nowadays, artificial light pollution obscures the night sky in much of the industrial world—which could lead to unforeseen consequences for the environment and for human health.
Too much light at night can actually make cities more dangerous.
Since the invention of electric light in the 19th century, the night has been getting progressively brighter, but things really took off in the 1990s. “It’s about ten times as bright as it was just 20 years ago,” says Paul Bogard, author of the book The End of Night.

The acceleration has to do with population growth, an increase in nighttime labor, and the widespread belief that more light makes cities safer. Paul Bogard says that light does increase safety, but only up to a point. Too much light at night can actually make cities more dangerous.

“There’s so much light in our nights and its glaring lights that make it hard for us to see,” he says. “Too much light tends to create the illusion of safety; we think we can be reckless purely because it’s light out, and that’s obviously not the case.”

With overlit gas stations and bright LED streetlights shining skyward, a clear night sky is harder and harder to find. And our eyes, which developed the ability to see in low-light settings, rarely have the occasion to use that skill anymore.

“Forty percent of Americans and Western Europeans never or rarely experience night vision,” says Bogard. “We’re in the light so much that our eyes never switch.” Even inside it’s hard to avoid the glow of streetlights, and we often glance at brightly lit cellphone screens right up until we fall asleep.
There’s a growing medical consensus that all this artificial light is bad for our health. It interrupts our sleep patterns, confuses our circadian rhythms, and inhibits our ability to produce melatonin.
“Melatonin is only produced in the dark,” says Bogard, “and what scientists are finding is that a lack of melatonin in our bloodstream is linked to an increased risk for breast and prostate cancer.”
Doctors are not saying that the light in your cellphone will give you cancer, but increasingly they recognize the importance of darkness to our overall wellbeing. “We’ve evolved in bright days and dark nights, just like all life on Earth,” Bogard says, “and we need both for optimal health.”

Wildlife also depends on darkness. Sea turtles, for example, need a dark sky to navigate. When hatchlings climb out of their nest on the beach, they need to crawl their way to the sea. “They’ve evolved to swim or scurry to the brightest light on the horizon,” says Bogard, “which for all those hundreds of millions of years has been the stars and the moon reflected on the water, but now it’s the hotels and parking lots in the wrong direction.”

Concerned about the impacts of light pollution, a growing movement is working to reduce excess lighting in our cities and protect dark skies. This is playing out in the National Park Service, which has created the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. “They measure how dark the skies are in parks,” says Nate Ament, who works for the National Parks in Moab, Utah. “I think they’ve taken measurements in over 400 locations. So we have this really rich dataset of darkness all over the entire country.”

One metric for darkness is the Bortle Scale, which rates the sky from 1 to 9. Las Vegas or Times Square would clock in at a 9. Humans have lit up so much of the world that it’s almost impossible to find a Bortle Class 1 anymore, but some of the darkest skies in the country are in the four corners region, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet on the Colorado plateau.

Canyonlands National Park, just down the road from Moab, has been measured at a Bortle Class 2 and was recently named an International Dark Skies Park—the seventh on the Colorado Plateau. “That’s by far the highest concentration of these parks in the entire world,” says Ament, “there’s only 28 worldwide.”

With so much federally protected land on the plateau, Nate wants to preserve a really large swath of darkness right in the heart of the West. He works with towns like Moab to cut unnecessary lighting and introduce technologies like light shields that reduce sky glow.

Smart lighting is an easy sell when you explain how much money it can save. One town that’s been particularly forward thinking is Flagstaff, Arizona. “There’s one study that estimates if the entire state of Arizona were to take up Flagstaff’s lighting practices, it could save the state $30 million a year,” says Ament. “That gets people's attention.”
For years, the National Park Service has worked to protect some the most beautiful views in the country—Sentinel Dome at Yosemite, Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon. Ament’s job is to protect the increasingly rare view of a clear night sky. He says that if we want our children to see the stars, we’re going to have to turn some lights off.


What's a forest worth?

SUBHEAD: When we fail to measure the economic value of nature, we treat it as expendable.

By Laurie Mazur on 4 March 3016 for Mongabay -

Image above: A Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest in California that began on Aug. 17, 2013. Photo by U.S. Forest Service. from original article.

  • A backyard shed gets destroyed by fire, that’s a $2,000 loss. But when 77,000 acres of Yosemite National Park are reduced to smoking embers? Nada.
  • It was only after calculating the dollar value of the forests destroyed by a 400-square mile swath of California near Yosemite in 2013 that Governor Jerry Brown was able to secure federal funds to help the state and its residents cope with the loss.
  • Fast forward to 2016, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $1 billion to 13 communities through the National Disaster Resilience Competition — and actually required applicants to calculate the value of nature and other non-traditional benefits in their proposals.
 If a tree falls in the forest, what does it cost?

From the perspective of federal disaster assistance, the answer traditionally has been “not much.” But now — thanks to improved number-crunching — the federal government is taking nature into account when it tallies the cost of disasters.

And, even more importantly, it is recognizing the value of nature — forests, wetlands, parks — in preventing or mitigating disasters.

Remember the Rim Fire, which incinerated a 400-square mile swath of California near Yosemite in 2013? When the state of California first asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a “major disaster” declaration, it was turned down. Why? Because most of the damage was inflicted on forests, rather than man-made structures — and there was no way to put a price-tag on that loss.

Just think: a backyard shed gets destroyed by fire, that’s a $2,000 loss.

But when 77,000 acres of Yosemite National Park are reduced to smoking embers? Nada.
Enter Earth Economics, an independent non-profit that helps decision makers assess the financial value of natural systems. The group’s economists looked at the services the forest provided — filtering drinking water for the City of San Francisco, preventing floods, sequestering carbon, providing recreational opportunities — and calculated the dollar value of what was destroyed by the fire.

Armed with those numbers, Governor Brown appealed FEMA’s decision — and won.

Fast forward to 2016. The once-radical notion of valuing nature’s services is now more widely accepted by the federal government. Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $1 billion to 13 communities through the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) — and actually required applicants to calculate the value of nature and other non-traditional benefits in their proposals.

The competition asked applicants to use a holistic benefit-cost analysis developed by Earth Economics with support from The Kresge Foundation, which incorporates natural ecosystems’ value and services, long-term environmental sustainability, and community benefits such as health and employment. Earth Economics provided training, tools, and resources throughout the competition to help applicants calculate those values.

“The Earth Economics team helped us to capture the full range of benefits of the Community and Watershed Resilience Program, including the tremendous ecological benefits that it will provide not just to Tuolumne County, but to the State as a whole,” said Louise Bedsworth, Deputy Director of the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

The winning proposals all make use of natural systems to build resilience to climate change impacts and other disasters. For example:
  • A California county that was devastated by the Rim Fire received an NDRC grant to restore the health of its forests and watershed, generate energy and support the rural community.
  • Lower Manhattan, which was inundated by Superstorm Sandy, got funding to construct a coastal protection system that includes much-needed green space.
  • In Hurricane Katrina-pummeled New Orleans, the Gentilly neighborhood won a grant to restore coastal wetlands and build water-absorbing parks and green streets.
Recognizing the value of nature and other overlooked social and economic benefits simply drives better decision making, according to David Batker of Earth Economics, who helped coach a number of the NDRC’s winning applicants.

“Benefit-cost analysis that includes nature helps us make smarter investments at federal, state, and local levels,” said Batker. “We owe it to ourselves and future generations to use this tool to identify the best, most robust and resilient investments.”

Indeed, investing in nature produces a bigger bang for the buck. For example, on a good day, the Lower Manhattan greenway is a park and bike path; on a bad day, it protects the city by absorbing potentially deadly storm surges. That is more than you can say for most single-purpose “gray” infrastructure, such as concrete levees.

Investing in natural infrastructure is a good way to get the most from taxpayers’ money, says Harriet Tregoning, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development.

“We are learning together about how to encourage a broader range of benefits from every federal dollar that gets expended,” Tregoning said during an announcement of the NDRC winners.
Valuing nature may seem like a no-brainer to many; the majestic forests of Yosemite obviously have tremendous value. But, too often, our public policies are structured by rules developed back when natural resources seemed inexhaustible. As the economists say, “you get what you measure.”

When we fail to measure the economic value of nature, we treat it as expendable. That is why the United States — one of the most resource-rich countries in the world — is now running an ecological deficit, according to the Global Footprint Network.

So, nature counts for more than pretty postcards and vacations. New tools to measure the dollars-and-cents impact of nature help planners, officials and taxpayers make the wisest choices for both the planet’s people and the natural systems that support them.


Farmer's guide to Political Season

SUBHEAD:  The rhetoric of conservatism and liberalism mean less and less to the rural life we live. 

By Brian Miller on 28 February 2016 for Winged Elm Farm -

Image above: Donald Trump speaks in Knoxville, Tenn. on Nov. 16, 2015 and Hillary Clinton speaks in Grinnell, Iowa on Nov. 3, 2015. From (

Monday night we spent a couple of hours loading yearling wethers. They were destined for the slaughter the following morning. A fairly straightforward operation, Cindy pointed and I grabbed, hoisting the hundred-pound castrated ram lambs off their feet, the two of us then carrying them out of the barn. A better chute system would help, but we work with what we have today.

Wednesday night, in a rain just above freezing and a mud just below boot tops, we loaded a hog also earmarked for slaughter. We slid and stumbled in the muck, cursed and shot accusatory looks, then laughed with relief when she finally walked onto the trailer unassisted.

Thursday night, during a late season arctic blast, our newest sow farrowed 11 healthy piglets. We provided her an ample bedding of hay in an improvised stall in an open shed, adding a sheet of plywood to block the brutal north wind and a heat lamp for warmth, and, beyond providence, we trusted in the maternal instincts of an experienced mother to keep the newborns comfortable and well fed.

By Saturday the late-winter chill had begun to abate, and we were gifted with a rare sunny day and highs around 50 degrees. I spent the day crossing the smaller lamb paddocks on foot, oversowing a mix of oats, rye, and turnip seed that will hopefully provide some fast-growing early-spring forage for the sheep.

Early afternoon I took a break to help Cindy welcome 20 guests from the area Master Gardeners club. They were on hand to conduct a pruning practice in our half-acre orchard, which had been seriously neglected since the last big pruning two years ago — a pruning that is needed annually. In a short couple of hours, armed with pruning knives, loppers, and tree saws, the crew had cut away the deadwood, the water sprouts, and a host of unwanted branches.

Pruning crew gone, we retired to the front porch for a beer with friends, who afterward pitched in and helped with chores, then we all caravanned to another farm and joined in unloading some newly arrived weanling pigs.

I find that as the years go by, the rhetoric of conservatism and liberalism mean less and less to the life we live. Rhetoric aside, no candidate or party speaks for the rural farms or communities. Left or right the language is of the city: eternal growth and happy days (past, present, or future).

As a farmer I know a couple of truths. First, that the manure I sling has real value. Second, that growth is a part of a larger cycle and is never eternally sustained; that the wheel turns and winter always follows spring, summer, and fall.

So, green grass must be carefully harvested and stored. Orchards must be pruned of deadwood, a diseased peach tree ruthlessly cut down and burned. Lambs serve a purpose and must be sold and eaten when that day comes. Sows will farrow, cute piglets will grow to 300 pounds before being butchered, and gardens will be tilled, planted, harvested, and prepared for the fallow months.

Manure needs to be conserved and used with care. Seed must be sown in order to grow. Resources must be nurtured. Infrastructure must be repaired and improved. And it is partnership and cooperation, not partisanship, that sustain connections in a rural community and on a farm.

And if adequately prepared for, the winter is traversed relatively unscathed into spring.

No Fear - No Caution - No Prudence

SUBHEAD: Could it be that America's ruling classes, its Imperial state and the Federal Reserve, no longer rule their own destiny?

By Charles Hugh Smith on 5 March 2016 for Of Two Minds -

Image above:This stunning McMansion is conveniently nearby CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia can be yours for 12.5 million dollars. From (

America's smug ruling classes are supremely confident: they feel no fear, no caution, and exhibit no prudence. I outlined the five ruling classes in America's Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy.

The Deep State is confident that its Imperial toady Hillary Clinton will win the election, beating the Upstart Crow, paving a smooth path to unhindered Imperial entanglements around the world. Hillary never saw an Imperial entanglement she didn't like, and her track record of abysmal failure doesn't faze her.

The Obama Administration, from the president on down, are confident their thin legacy will remain untarnished, and will provide them a cash-out in the tens of millions in book advances, speaking fees, and all the other rewards that flow to those who served the Financial Oligarchy and the Deep State.
The Financial Oligarchy is also supremely confident.

Obama's complete surrender to the Oligarchy in 2009 enabled a vast expansion of their wealth and power, and Goldman Sachs Hillary stands ready to do her masters' bidding.

The New Nobility (everyone between the .001% and the .05%) is also confident that the Federal Reserve will continue inflating their private wealth by whatever means are necessary--up to and including expropriation of middle class savings via zero interest rate policy and other financial tyranny.

The Upper Caste of technocrats that have skimmed billions in government contracts and stock options in Silicon Valley's Unicorn era are also supremely confident: thanks to the Federal Reserve, they can borrow money for essentially zero interest and use the free money to buy back millions of shares, boosting their own private wealth immensely.

The flim-flam of "innovation" will continue to sell their shares and their gadgets, and their dominance of New Media guarantees they have a lock on the devilishly effective soma of distraction, social media, mindless mobile gaming, etc. that persuades the debt-serf masses that they love their servitude.

The State Nomenklatura is also smugly confident that their privileged spot at the bloated Federal trough of trillions is guaranteed.

- Wealthy lobbyists are buying multi-million dollar McMansions in the cultural wastelands of Northern Virginia (the gaudy ugliness of the homes matching the pretensions of the Nomenklatura).

- Contractors are billing taxpayers billions for questionable services to the National Security State, and public union employees are confident that the Federal government will bail out their unaffordable pension and benefits plans once their local Democratic machines have strip-mined the taxpayers and bankrupted what's left of the local government.

This is hubris on an unimaginable scale. If there was any karmic justice in this Universe, all these classes would be ground into the dust of an era that they thought would last forever--an era doomed by their smug confidence that nothing could ever threaten their privileges, wealth and power.

Here's an interesting chart (courtesy of of financial profits as a percentage of GDP and the ratio of debt to GDP. In the virtuous cycle of rapidly expanding financialization/credit, expanding debt pushes growth as measured by GDP (a misleading measure, but that's another story).

The cycle has reversed and is now unvirtuous: more debt is not pushing GDP higher, hence the declining ratio. Adding debt is not generating growth. Diminishing returns have grabbed the parasitic, predatory monster of financialization by its surprisingly vulnerable neck.

Meanwhile, financial profits are cratering. Wait, how could this be happening? Where's the Federal Reserve? Wave your wands, do some more magic!

Could it be that America's ruling classes, its Imperial state and the Federal Reserve, no longer rule their own destiny? Could their smug confidence be their undoing?

Only two things could upset the ruling class apple cart: a financial crash that the Fed can't stop, much less reverse, and Donald Trump winning the presidency.

Indian Point Nuclear Accident

SUBHEAD:  Operator unable to prevent its highly radioactive coolant from leaking into groundwater.

By Admin on 26 February 2016 for ENE News -

[IB Publisher's note: Emphasis below provided by ENE News Admin. Indian Point Nuclear Plant provides about one quarter of the regions electrical power and includes New York City. There is no politically or economically acceptable way to shut it down - at this time.]

Image above: Smoke rises from the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York, where last May an explosion and fire led to thousands of gallons of transformer fluid being released into the Hudson river. Photograph by Ricky Flores/AP. From (

Inhabitat  on 26 February 2016
No matter where you live, “uncontrollable radioactive flow” is not a phrase that you want to hear in relation to your local water source … According to the Huffington Post’s report, for more than a decade, the Indian Point plant has been unable to prevent its highly radioactive reactor and spent fuel pool coolant from leaking into groundwater routes that eventually lead into the Hudson River. Entergy, the operator of the plant, seems to zero in solely on tritium… The most recent leak, however, according to an assessment by the New York Department of State as part of its Coastal Zone Management Assessment, contains a variety of radioactive elements such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, and nickel-63 in addition to tritium…

 Huffington Post on 15 February 2016
For more than a decade, it has been impossible for operators of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to stop highly radioactive reactor and spent fuel pool coolant from leaking into the groundwater and migrating to the Hudson River… there is no indication that the company has developed the ability to prevent the latest uncontrolled leaks from following the underground waterway into the Hudson. And because the river is a tidal estuary flowing as much as 20 miles above and below the nuclear site, radioactive contaminants may be sucked into the drinking water systems of several river towns… Entergy representatives declined to comment on planned and unplanned radioactive discharges into the environment. The sequence of events leading to leaks of radioactive liquids from Indian Point 2 is the subject of an intense investigation… to determine how the leak occurred and whether or not it can be stopped… In the past, the Coastal Zone Management report states, “radioactive releases have been detected at the Indian Point facility from cracks in two different spent fuel pools. Leaks of radioactive liquids from the Indian Point 2 spent fuel pools have reached the Hudson River”…

See also: CBS: Radiation leak "getting worse" at nuclear plant near NYC -- Levels increase over 120,000%, almost 15 million pCi/L -- Governor: "Extremely disconcerting" -- Expert: I don't think they know where it's coming from -- Radioactive Antimony now being detected (VIDEO)
Watch a local news broadcast on the most recent leak here

Previous Reports on Indian Point

SUBHEAD: Indian Point Plant contaminates the Hudson River with uncontrollable radioactive flow.

NY Daily News 11 February, 2016
 Cuomo to launch probe into troubled Indian Point power plant as radioactive leak gets worse — The amount of radioactive tritium leaking from the Indian Point nuclear power plant is growing, officials said… New samples from groundwater monitoring wells show 80% higher concentrations of tritium compared with when the leak was first reported Saturday… Wednesday, [Cuomo] ordered a more sweeping investigation… “Last week the company reported alarming levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000%,” Cuomo said… “The news just keeps getting worse,” said Paul Gallay, president of the watchdog group Riverkeeper.

The Journal News 11 February 2016
Tritium levels reported last week were the ‘highest that they’ve seen to date‘ at the plant

WAMC 11 February 2016  
Tritium Levels Spike In Groundwater… Additional testing has turned up higher levels of radioactive tritium in groundwater than what was reported last week at the Indian Point nuclear power plant… One reading showed an 80 percent increase in tritium levels over the 65,000 percent increase initially reported… [An NRC spokesman said] “So given the migration of that water, we would expect those to continue to go up for a period of time… Our specialist inspector will be there… tasked with trying to better understand exactly what happened”…

Associated Press 10 February 2016
New testing has shown that the amount of tritium in the groundwater below the Indian Point power plant in Buchanan, New York, is about 740 times the amount allowed in drinking water… Entergy Corp., which operates the plant at the edge of the Hudson River, said Wednesday that the latest samples from monitoring wells found tritium at a level of 14.8 million picocuries per liter [up from 12,300 pCi/L, a 120,000% increase]. The [EPA] has set a limit of no more than 20,000 picocuries per liter in drinking water… [C]ritics of nuclear plants said the mere fact of the leak’s occurrence is cause for concern, partly because investigators had yet to pinpoint how it happened. “There a leak somewhere, and I don’t think they know where it is,” said Arnold Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and former industry executive… Gundersen said he was concerned that other, potentially more problematic elements could also have leaked out… [Indian Point spokesman Jerry Nappi] said testing had also found elevated levels of antimony, at about 5,500 picocuries per liter… “It’s like an old car ready to fall apart“… said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti…

Reuters 10 Feb  2016: Entergy said it continues to look for the source of the tritium leak

CBSNY/AP 10 February 2016
The radioactive water leak at the Indian Point Nuclear power plant is getting worse. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday that the level of radioactive tritium-contaminated water that leaked into the groundwater at the nuclear facility has increased by 80 percent since last week’s initial report… Cuomo called it “extremely disconcerting.” “Today, I have further directed that the three agencies integrate their investigations to thoroughly explore whether the operational problems that are suspected to have caused the uptick in unexpected outages of the plant may also be causing the leak of radioactive water into the environment”… the New York governor said.

WAMC 10 February 2016
Additional testing has turned up even higher levels of radioactive tritium than what was reported last week…

Watch FOX 5 NY’s broadcast here


The Decline & Fall of Hillary

SUBHEAD: Ordinary working Americans are refusing to accept the status quo because their backs are to the wall.

By John Michael Greer on 24 February 2016 for the Archdruid Report -

Image above: "Cthulhu for President" yard sign. From (

 The last couple of weeks in American politics have offered an interesting confirmation of some of the main themes I’ve discussed on this blog.

For that matter, those weeks would have come as no surprise to one of the thinkers whose work has guided these essays since this blog started a decade ago, the philosopher of history Oswald Spengler.

I can all too readily imagine the hard lines of Spengler’s face creasing in momentary amusement as he contemplates the temporarily divergent fates of those two candidates for the US presidency that, less than a year ago, nearly everyone insisted would be facing one another in the general election: Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

Bush is in some ways the perfect poster child for the theme I have in mind just now. When he launched his campaign last year, it was a letter-perfect copy of the successful presidential campaigns of the last three decades.

He lined up plenty of big-money sponsors; he assembled a team of ghostwriters, spin doctors, and door-to-door salesmen to run his campaign; he had a PR firm design a catchy logo; he practiced spouting the kind of empty rhetoric that sounds meaningful so long as you don’t think about it for two minutes; he took carefully calculated stands on a handful of hot-button topics, mouthed the conventional wisdom on every other issue, and set out to convince the voters that their interests would be harmed just a little bit less by putting him in the White House than by any of the alternatives.

That sort of content-free campaign is what got George Bush I, Bill Clinton, George Bush II, and Barack Obama onto the list of US presidents. What it got Jeb Bush, though, was a string of humiliating defeats.

Some have suggested that his tearful exit from the race in the wake of the South Carolina primary was the act of a child who had been promised a nice shiny presidency by his daddy, and then found out that the mean voters wouldn’t give it to him.

I think, though, that there was considerably more to it than that. I think that Bush had just realized, to his shock and horror, that the rules of the game had been changed on him without notice, and all those well-informed, well-connected people who had advised him on the route that would take him to the presidency had basically been smoking their shorts.

If anything, though, Hillary Clinton’s campaign offers an even clearer glimpse into the festering heart of the American political process. She did exactly the same things that Jeb did—it’s indicative that the two of them both splashed their first names across their equally banal campaign logos—and she also managed, as he never did, to get the apparatchiks of her party lined up solidly on her side before the campaigning season got under way.

By the ordinary rules of US politics, she should have enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the primaries to the Democratic convention while Jeb Bush wrestled with his opponents, and then gone into the general election with plenty of money to spare, saturating the air waves with a deluge of advertisements designed to convince the American people that four years under her leadership would be ever so slightly less disastrous for them than four years under Bush.

This time, though, the rules have changed. Clinton is facing a spirited challenge from party outsider Bernie Sanders, and though she’ll still probably get the nomination—it’s a source of wry amusement that just now, the Democratic Party’s nominating procedure is significantly less democratic than that of the GOP—it’s pretty clear at this point that she’s not going to get it without a fight.

Once she does, in turn, instead of facing another bland insider in a tepid race to the center that can easily be clinched by an ad blitz or two, she’ll be up against Donald Trump, whose popularity soars with every petulant denunciation the pundits of the privileged classes fling at him, whose take-no-prisoners style of bare-knuckle campaigning is exactly the sort of challenge that neither Clinton nor her lumbering campaign staff have shown the least ability to handle, and who is prepared to offer the voters something other than the very slightly lesser of two evils.

Now of course Clinton has made things considerably worse for herself by the way she’s approached the campaign. She’s got a whopping case of that weird mental blind spot I labeled, in a post that appeared here last year, “the delusion of control”—the notion, as pervasive as it is preposterous, that when a member of America’s privileged classes does something, the rest of the cosmos is obliged to respond to that action in a wholly passive, wholly mechanical manner.

For a world-class example, watch the way Clinton’s handlers simply look blank each time they find out that most of the American people loathe and distrust their candidate, and try repeatedly to “reintroduce” her, as though they think they can just hit a reset button on the campaign machinery and start all over again.

For that matter, Clinton’s own attitude during the campaign so far reminds me of nothing so much as what happens when someone puts money into a defective vending machine. She’s fed the thing her quarters and pushed the right button, but the desired product hasn’t dropped to the bottom where she can get it.

Now she’s jabbing the button over and over again, and in due time she’ll be pounding her fists on the thing and screaming at it because it won’t give her what she’s paid for.

 I honestly don’t think she’s ever, even for a moment, considered the possibility that the voting public isn’t simply a passive, mechanical mass that will spit up a presidency for her if she just manipulates in in the right way. I doubt it has entered her darkest dream that the American people might just up and decide to cast their votes to further their own interests rather than hers.

That analysis seems plausible to me for a variety of reasons, but high among them is the way that Clinton’s supporters among her own class-and-gender subcategory have demanded that all American women back the Clinton campaign.

I’m thinking here particularly of Madeleine Albright, who made the news a little while back with a irate public statement insisting that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” That’s a common trope among a certain well-paid class of Second Wave feminists.

It’s become controversial, and for good reason, among a great many other feminists, particularly in the partly overlapping sets of women of color and women in the wage class. Listen to them, and you’ll hear at some length how they feel about being expected to help rich and influential women like Madeleine Albright pursue their goals, when they know perfectly well the favor won’t be returned in any way that matters.

What, after all, does a Clinton presidency offer the majority of American women, other than whatever vicarious thrill they might get from having a president with a vagina? The economic policies Clinton espouses—the current bipartisan consensus, from which she shows no signs of veering in the slightest—have already brought poverty and misery to millions of American women who don’t happen to share her privileged background and more than ample income.

Her tenure as Secretary of State was marked by exactly the sort of hamfisted interventions in other people’s countries to which Democrats, once upon a time, used to object: interventions, please note, that have already been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, and may yet—especially if Clinton takes the same attitudes with her into the White House—treat a good many American women to the experience of watching their kids come home in body bags from yet another brutal and pointless Mideast war.

The reaction to Albright’s public tantrum is in many ways as instructive as the tantrum itself. A great many American women simply aren’t buying it.

More generally, no matter how furiously Clinton and her flacks hammer on the buttons of the vending machine, trying to elicit the mechanical response they think they ought to be able to expect, the voters aren’t falling into line. Trump and Sanders, each in his own way, have shown too many people that it’s possible to hope for something other than an intolerable state of business as usual.

 In the wake of their candidacies, a great many voters have decided that they’re no longer willing to vote for the lesser of two evils.

That’s a point of some importance. To my mind, it’s far from accidental that for the last few decades, every presidential election here in the US has been enlivened by bumper stickers calling on voters to support the presidential ambitions of Cthulhu, the tentacled primeval horror out of H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of cosmic dread.

I’m sorry to say that the Elder God’s campaign faces a serious constitutional challenge, as he was spawned on the world of Vhoorl in the twenty-third nebula and currently resides in the drowned corpse-city of R’lyeh, and as far as I know neither of these are US territory.

Still, his bid for the White House has gotten further than most other imaginary candidacies, and I’ve long thought that the secret behind that success is Cthulhu’s campaign slogan: “Why settle for the lesser evil?”

The reason that this slogan reliably elicits laughter, in turn, is that the entire rhetoric of presidential politics in the United States for decades now has fixated on the claim that one party’s pet stooge won’t do anything quite as appalling as the other side’s will, even though they all support the same policies and are bought and sold by the same corrupt interests.

Over and over again, we’ve been told that we have to vote for whatever candidate this or that party has retched up, because otherwise the other side will get to nominate a Supreme Court justice or two, or get us into another war, or do something else bad.

Any suggestion that a candidate might be expected to do something positive—that he or she might, for example, reject the bipartisan policies that have crashed the standard of living for most Americans, consigned the nation’s infrastructure to malign neglect, and pursued gargantuan corporate welfare programs, such as the worthless F-35 fighter, at the expense of anything more useful or necessary—is dismissed out of hand as “unrealistic.”

What the insurgent candidacies of Trump and Sanders show conclusively, in turn, is that the lesser-evil rhetoric and its fixation on “realistic” politics have just passed their pull date. There are very good reasons for this.

The pursuit of the lesser evil means that the best the American people are supposed to hope for is the continuation of the current state of things—that’s what you get, after all, if your only talking points fixate on stopping things from getting worse—and for most Americans today, the current state of things is unbearable.

Cratering wages and soaring rents, a legal environment that increasingly denies even basic rights to everybody but corporations and the rich, an economy rigged to load ever-increasing costs on working people while funneling all the benefits to those who already have too much—well, you can fill in the list as well as I can.

If you don’t happen to belong to the privileged classes, life in today’s America is rapidly becoming intolerable, and the “realistic” politics that both parties have pursued with equal enthusiasm for decades are directly responsible for making it intolerable.

Thus the reason that a large and growing number of ordinary working Americans are refusing to accept another rehash of the status quo this time around is that their backs are to the wall.

That’s a situation that comes up reliably at a certain point in the history of every society, and it’s a source of wry amusement to me that Oswald Spengler predicted the situation currently facing the United States—and, mutatis mutandis, the rest of the industrialized world as well.

Spengler’s historical analysis covers a vast amount of territory, but the point at issue here appears late in the second volume of The Decline of the West, where he sketches out the immediate future of what we call Western industrial civilization and he named the Faustian Culture. His theme was the way that democracies die. He argued that democracy suffers from a lethal vulnerability, which is that it has no meaningful defenses against the influence of money.

Since most citizens are more interested in their own personal, short-term advantage than they are in the long-term destiny of their nation, democracy turns into a polite fiction for plutocracy just as soon as the rich figure out how to buy votes, a lesson that rarely takes them long to learn.

The problem with plutocracy, in turn, is that it embodies the same fixation on short-term personal advantage that gives it its entry to power, since the only goals that guide the rich in their increasingly kleptocratic rule are immediate personal wealth and gratification.

Despite the ravings of economists, furthermore, it simply isn’t true that what benefits the very rich automatically benefits the rest of society as well; quite the contrary, in the blind obsession with personal gain that drives the plutocratic system, the plutocrats generally lose track of the hard fact that too much profiteering can run the entire system into the ground.

A democracy in its terminal years thus devolves into a broken society from which only the narrowing circle of the privileged rich derive any tangible benefit.

In due time, those excluded from that circle look elsewhere for leadership.

The result is what Spengler calls Caesarism: the rise of charismatic leaders who discover that they can seize power by challenging the plutocrats, addressing the excluded majority, and offering the latter some hope that their lot will be improved.

Now and then, the leaders who figure this out come from within the plutocracy itself; Julius Caesar, who contributed his family name to Spengler’s term, was a very rich man from an old-money Senatorial family, and he’s far from the only example.

In 1918, Spengler predicted that the first wave of Caesarism in the Western world was about to hit, that it would be defeated by the plutocrats, and that other waves would follow. He was dead right on the first two counts, and the current election suggests that the third prediction will turn out just as accurate.

To a very real extent, Hillary Clinton’s faltering presidential campaign is a perfect microcosm of what Spengler was talking about in his cold analysis of democracy in extremis.

Her entire platform presupposes that the only policies the United States can follow are those that have been welded in place since the turn of the millennium: more government largesse for corporations and the rich, more austerity for everyone else, more malign neglect for the national infrastructure and the environment, more wars in the Middle East, and more of the fantastically stupid policy of confrontation—there really is no gentler way to describe it—that has succeeded, against all odds, in uniting Russia, China, Iran, and an assortment of smaller nations against the United States, by convincing their leaders that they have nothing to gain from a US-centric world order and nothing to lose by challenging it.

Those policies have not brought any of the good things their promoters insisted that they were going to bring. Another four years of the same policies aren’t going to change that fact. Every American voter knows these things, and so does Hillary Clinton, which is why her campaign focuses so precisely on everything but the issues that actually concern the majority of American voters today.

That’s what lends a savage irony to Madeleine Albright’s brittle demand that American women support Clinton even though, for all practical purposes, she’s offering them very little more than they got from George W. Bush. Albright’s is the classic voice of a senile plutocracy on its way down, demanding a loyalty from others that it has done precisely nothing to earn.

I suspect we’ll see plenty of the same sort of irony as the current election season lurches toward its end.

No doubt Clinton and her flacks will keep on trying to reintroduce her to voters who already know her quite well enough, thank you; no doubt we’ll hear all sorts of encomiums about what a nice person she is—as though that matters one jot to people who know that four more years of the policies she supports may well land them out of a job and out on the street.

For that matter, facile claims that everything is fine, the economy is booming, and the American people are happier than they’ve been in decades are already appearing in the mass media.

No doubt things look that way if you live in a bubble of privilege, and take good care never to step outside it and see how the other 80% live; for that matter, it’s true that if you take the obscene gains raked in by the privileged few and average them out across the entire population, that looks like economic betterment—but those gains are not being shared by the entire population, and the entire population knows this.

For the connoisseurs of historical irony, there will doubtless be plenty of entertainment to be had in watching the Clinton campaign as it tries one tactic after another to get that vending machine to cough up the prize Clinton so obviously and desperately craves.

None of those veerings matter in any broader sense, because Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have already demonstrated that rejecting the consensus of America’s dominant minority is a ticket to electoral success.

It’s possible—indeed, I think it’s likely—that Clinton will manage to squeeze past Sanders and get the Democratic nomination by fair means or foul; it’s considerably less likely that she’ll be able to overcome Trump in the general election; but even if she does, others will follow where Trump and Sanders lead, and sooner or later one of them will triumph.

The more likely option just now, I think, is that the Clinton campaign will meet a crushing defeat at Trump’s hands, and the decline and fall of Hillary Clinton will also mark the end of the failed consensus that has dominated American politics for decades.

That fact alone doesn’t guarantee improvement; no law requires that whatever policies replace the conventional wisdom must be better.

Nonetheless, things will change, and it’s at least possible that some of the changes might remove at least a few of the worst features of the bleak era now stumbling to its end around us.