Since Japan's earthquake and following nuclear crisis, the CBS Evening News has done two reports on the Obama administration blocking use of the Yucca Mountain storage facility in Nevada to safely dispose of U.S. nuclear waste. Meanwhile, NBC and ABC have ignored the controversy.
The first CBS report on the issue came on March 22, when Evening News anchor Katie Couric declared: "The crisis in Japan has renewed the debate over nuclear power in this country. Today a federal appeals court heard arguments in a lawsuit over what to do with spent fuel rods." Correspondent Jim Axelrod explained: "An estimated 66,000 metric tons of spent fuel are stored at 77 sites around the country. That's more than 145 million pounds….Plans to make Yucca Mountain in Nevada a long-term storage site were scuttled by the Obama administration a year ago, after 20 years of planning costing $ 14 billion."
In a follow-up piece on Thursday's Evening News, correspondent Armen Keteyian went further in laying blame on the Obama administration: "There was one site designed to hold all of our nation's nuclear waste and it's right here in the high desert of Nevada, at a place called Yucca Mountain. Today, the federal government won't let our cameras anywhere near it. It's shut down, locked up, caught up in what critics charge is nothing more than pure politics."
Fill-in anchor Erica Hill teased Keteyian's report at the top of the broadcast: "Why did plans to bury nuclear waste inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain get killed? Was it safety fears or politics?" Keteyian described how the, "Obama administration kept its campaign promise….And shut down Yucca Mountain. Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must decide if it wants to restart what is already a 25-year, $ 14 billion project, in the face of tough opposition, like that from Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader from Nevada."
Keteyian also pointed out the political background of the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Obama: "A former staffer for Senator Reid, Greg Jaczko, now chairs the NRC. Jaczko recently came under fire after shutting down the agency's safety review of Yucca Mountain and after key safety recommendations were redacted, cut out, from a long-awaited NRC report."
In the March 22 report, Axelrod noted: "The head of the NRC may not see a pressing problem, but the states now suing did not want to take that risk before Japan's disaster and certainly don't want to now."
On Thursday, Keteyian challenged Jaczko: "Critics charge that you were simply doing the bidding of your former boss, Senator Harry Reid, a fierce opponent of this project."
Keteyian concluded his piece: "The NRC inspector general and Congress are now investigating the decision to shut down the safety review. Still, nuclear waste is scattered across 35 states, and Yucca Mountain sits silent and empty."
Here is a full transcript of Keteyian's March 31 report:
6:30PM ET TEASE:
ERICA HILL: Why did plans to bury nuclear waste inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain get killed? Was it safety fears or politics?
6:38PM ET TEASE:
HILL: And when we come back, it was supposed to store all of America's nuclear waste, so why then is this desert facility now deserted?
6:40PM ET SEGMENT:
HILL: For more than 50 years a debate has raged over where to store radioactive nuclear waste in this country. And that debate has been reignited by the crisis in Japan. The solution was supposed to be here at a place called Yucca Mountain in Nevada, but the multibillion-dollar storage project has been shelved and as chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian explains, a congressional committee wants to find out why.
ARMEN KETEYIAN: Nuclear waste – the radioactive guest on the doorstep of many of America's most populous cities. Nearly 70,000 tons from 104 reactors often piling up within 50 miles from cities like New York, Chicago, and San Diego.
There was one site designed to hold all of our nation's nuclear waste and it's right here in the high desert of Nevada, at a place called Yucca Mountain. Today, the federal government won't let our cameras anywhere near it. It's shut down, locked up, caught up in what critics charge is nothing more than pure politics.
Gary Holis and Darrell Lacey are key officials in Nye County, Nevada. They want the waste at Yucca Mountain for the jobs and money it would bring.
DARRELL LACY [NYE COUNTY NUCLEAR WASTE REPOSITORY PROJECT OFFICE]: The people in this area are all fairly comfortable with Yucca Mountain. Many of them have worked at Yucca Mountain.
KETEYIAN: Four previous presidents funded safety reviews of the project but last year the Obama administration kept its campaign promise.
CAMPAIGN AD: Barack Obama opposes opening Yucca.
KETEYIAN: And shut down Yucca Mountain. Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must decide if it wants to restart what is already a 25-year, $ 14 billion project, in the face of tough opposition, like that from Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader from Nevada.
JEFFREY LEWIS [PH.D., NUCLEAR SAFETY EXPERT]: If the U.S. government wanted to do Yucca Mountain, it would have had to shove it down Harry Reid's throat.
KETEYIAN: A former staffer for Senator Reid, Greg Jaczko, now chairs the NRC. Jaczko recently came under fire after shutting down the agency's safety review of Yucca Mountain and after key safety recommendations were redacted, cut out, from a long-awaited NRC report. Three NRC staffers formally protested the decision to derail the safety review, charging it caused 'confusion, chaos, and anguish'. Today, Jaczko told us the safety report was preliminary, a draft, and that he had nothing to do with the redactions.
Critics charge that you were simply doing the bidding of your former boss, Senator Harry Reid, a fierce opponent of this project.
GREGORY JACZKO [PH.D., CHAIRMAN, U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION: It was a difficult decision and – because it is such a controversial program – but, again, it was one that was made in, I believe, in the best interest of the agency.
KETEYIAN: The NRC inspector general and Congress are now investigating the decision to shut down the safety review. Still, nuclear waste is scattered across 35 states, and Yucca Mountain sits silent and empty. Armen Keteyian, CBS News, Nye County, Nevada.
— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
The governing council of the United Methodist Church of the U.S. wants to make clear to American Muslims that its members firmly condemn the burning of the holy Qur’an and other acts of disrespect for Islam—and it’s putting its money where its mouth is. Noting with alarm the violence and danger to human life entailed in several retaliatory church burnings that occurred in Pakistan as the inevitable backlash to the provocative actions of Rev. Terry Jones, the United Methodists have made a very special offer to the worldwide Muslim community, to show their spiritual unity with Muslims who feel themselves threatened as a result of Jones’ actions.
At a press conference at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria attended by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Catholic Abp. Theodore McCarrick of Newark, religious scholar Karen Armstrong, and Egyptian sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Methodist Bishop Walter M. Itty issued the following statement:
“Every time a Qur’an is burned every religious believer in the world is threatened with harm. Each time a bigoted individual offends the sensibilities of a billion Islamic believers around the world by mocking or depicting the prophet Muhammad, each of us is sick at heart. We people of faith will not permit ourselves to be divided against each other by the apostles of intolerance. We will, we will not be moved. I noted with particular grief in recent days the latest, unavoidable consequence of Rev. Jones’ irresponsible and hurtful actions: the destruction of three churches in faraway Pakistan—attacks that entailed armed militants, the hurling of stones, and fires in which civilians could well have been injured. It is fortunate that fire-fighters did not reach any of these churches in time, or those public servants also might have been hurt. I hope that Rev. Jones looks deep into his conscience, and asks himself in prayer how much more damage he is willing to inflict on people of faith worldwide.”
Pausing for a moment, overcome by emotion, Bishop Itty continued by making a pledge of “unconditional solidarity” with Muslims worldwide. “I want to offer my Muslim friends a solemn promise: On the next occasion when someone commits such a bigoted act against Muslims, when a Qur’an is burned or desecrated anywhere in the world, we in the United Methodist community will respond promptly and concretely, by demolishing one of our own church buildings—safely, with the help of licensed explosives professionals, and under the supervision of the relevant local Islamic authorities. There is no need for armed militants or the use of force; I have asked Sheik Qaradawi to work with me and with Muslim groups in foreign countries to make sure that this process is orderly and non-violent, in the hope that we can take what might be a moment that divides Christians from Muslims, and instead make it into a celebration of unity.”
In a brief follow-up statement, Sheik Qaradawi accepted Bishop Itty’s offer. “We are willing to undertake this, out of honor for the prophet Isa (Peace be upon him), and as an act of mercy toward these People of the Book.”
“It’s the bombs that the government has been dropping around the world that are now blowing up inside the U.S. borders. We’ve got something stronger than bombs, we have solidarity. That dream of revolutionary change is stronger than bombs.”
Sounds like a job for the shooting star graphic …
In February 2009, Continental flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, plunged into a suburb of Buffalo, NY, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground. Pilot error was named as the chief cause of the crash, and investigators focused on pilot fatigue as one of the primary problems. The co-pilot had taken a cross-country, overnight flight the day before the crash, and only slept briefly in an airline lounge before she was required to pilot the flight.
When the plane encountered an ice storm as it attempted to land in Buffalo, the pilots struggled to respond appropriately, and The National Transportation Safety Board found that their “performance was likely impaired because of fatigue.” Both pilots were heard yawning on the cockpit voice recorder.
Families of the victims channeled their grief into action in the following months, launching a 15-month campaign to convince Congress to enact a variety of pilot performance safeguards. The bill passed last summer and, among other things, required the FAA to create tougher rules aimed at controlling pilot fatigue.
But today, the Republican House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) to a Republican-drafted aviation bill that would essentially gut the planned pilot fatigue rules by requiring extensive tailoring to many different segments of the aviation industry, and exempting several others.
Hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger blasted the amendment yesterday before it passed, saying “it creates a huge obstacle to new regulations,” and that, “at some point in the future, we don’t know when, it’s likely people will die unnecessarily.” Last night on the Ed Show, Sullenberger said the bill is a “slap in the face” to the Flight 3407 families. He also decried “special interests only interested in the bottom line.”
Family members of those killed on Flight 3407 are already speaking out against the Republican vote. “You can try to dress this up however you like, but we all know which special interests that [the amendment] is attempting to help and what it’s attempting to do for them, which is make it more difficult for the FAA to do its job and regulate them,” said Susan Bourque, who’s sister, Beverly Eckert, was killed in the crash.
Eckert’s husband, Sean Rooney, was killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and in the years following his death, Eckert became a leading 9/11 activist and helped lead the push for the 9/11 Commission. She was flying to Buffalo that evening to attend the unveiling of a scholarship in her late husband’s name.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to prevent the Shuster Amendment from becoming a part of the final aviation bill, after the House and Senate versions are reconciled.
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation gave notice this week that it has begun considering whether to grant the Canadian company Bruce Power permission to move 16 radioactively contaminated steam generators through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
In a notice in the March 30 Federal Register DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wrote that on Feb. 24 Bruce Power asked for special arrangements so that it could transport the large generators for recycling and volume reduction in Sweden.
The initial leg of transport would be by road and entirely within Canada. The steam generators would then be loaded on a vessel in Owen Sound, Ontario for transport to Sweden via Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario and interconnecting waterways as well as the St. Lawrence River. At various times the vessel would necessarily enter U.S. waters. Therefore, under IAEA special arrangement provisions, the U.S. would need to revalidate the Canadian certificate in order to permit transport.
PHMSA is recognized as the IAEA Competent Authority for the U.S. and is responsible for competent authority approval in these cases.
PHMSA intends to conduct a fully independent review of the proposed transport including safety, environmental, and fitness assessments, in consultation with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Coast Guard. PHMSA must approve, deny, or institute additional controls regarding
the transport in the request for competent authority approval.
A group of over 70 mayors from U.S. and Canadian towns along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway have warned that this shipment could endanger public water supplies.
Earlier in the week, Howard Dean told an audience that Democrats should be rooting for a government shutdown rather than agree to budget cuts, because voter anger would punish Republicans. That may have been true in 1995, but as Rasmussen discovered it its latest polling, the political and fiscal environment in 2011 is far different. […]
As we watch the Egyptian revolution unfold half-way across the world, George Washington’s words come to mind:
It is yet to be decided, whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.
Nothing can be taken for granted with revolution—and nothing is certain about Egypt’s future.
In the wake of Mubarak’s departure, CNN characterized Egypt’s revolution as “people from every walk of life…united in a common cause…to reclaim their dignity, control of their lives and the right to determine their government.” Many hoped, and even expected, that an educated and proactive populace would damper the influence the Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, this extremist group—which worries everyone except Jimmy Carter—has established a working relationship with the Egyptian military and appears to be gaining influence.
Recently, the New York Times shared “growing evidence” of the Brotherhood’s influence over the outcome of Egypt’s referendum. Blitzing TV networks and distributing propaganda, the Brotherhood encouraged Egyptians to vote for a quick election scheduled in September, thus giving newer parties less time to organize. If the Muslim Brotherhood is the only effective and well-established political party five months from now, Egyptians will be left with few electoral options and their revolution may be endangered.
As September approaches, we hope that the Egyptian people will refuse to be lured into the excesses of popular passion, which could endanger the safety of ethnic and religious minorities, including Egypt’s substantial Christian population. Exhibiting this vigilance in his timeless Federalist #51, Madison observed: “If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.” We must moreover hope that the military can find inspiration in the actions of then-General George Washington and relinquish power when a government is elected. As Thomas Sowell argues, whether or not they follow a model of successful democratic revolution largely depends on whether “the preconditions for freedom and democracy” exist.
Amidst these uncertainties, it is helpful to remember that this isn’t the first time Americans have watched an overseas revolution. Alexander Hamilton, in 1794, grappled with the nature of the French Revolution and whether a man like Robespierre was “predominant in influence as in iniquity.” Ten years later, Latin American nations sought U.S. aid as they fought for independence. President Monroe eventually recognized the new republics for the same reason Washington left the French revolutionaries to their own devices: prudence. While Latin American nations successfully transitioned into working democracies, France fell from anarchy into tyranny. Mubarak’s departure is only the beginning, and the ultimate influence of the Muslim Brotherhood is yet to be seen. Time will reveal the true character of this revolution.
Michael Sobolik is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation.
The U.S. Senate has passed a Boxer/Feinstein-sponsored resolution honoring Elizabeth Taylor. It reads, in part:
Whereas Elizabeth Taylor used her fame to raise awareness and advocate for people affected by HIV/AIDS;
Whereas, at a time when HIV/AIDS was largely an unknown disease and those who were affected by HIV/AIDS were ostracized and shunned, Elizabeth Taylor called for and demonstrated compassion by publicly holding the hand of her friend and former costar, Rock Hudson, after he had announced that he had AIDS;
Whereas Elizabeth Taylor testified before Congress saying, “It is my hope that history will show that the American people and our leaders met the challenge of AIDS rationally and with all the resources at their disposal, for our sake and that of all humanity.”;
Whereas, in 1985, Elizabeth Taylor became the Founding National Chairman for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (commonly known as “amfAR”);
Whereas, in 1991, Elizabeth Taylor founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to provide direct support to those suffering from the disease;
Whereas the extensive efforts of Elizabeth Taylor have helped educate the public and lawmakers about the need for research, treatment, and compassion for those suffering from HIV/AIDS;
Resolved, That the Senate recognizes and honors the courageous, compassionate leadership and many professional accomplishments of Elizabeth Taylor; and offers its deepest condolences to her family.
(Via – LGBTPOV)
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From Sunlen Miller and Jon Garcia Goodbye to gas-guzzling fleet vehicles like the ubiquitous big brown UPS trucks? President Obama hopes so, saying it’s not only good for the environment, it’s good for business. “From gas-guzzlers to hybrids, … there’s…
Robodawg asks: Chip, I was glad to hear of Georgia basketball’s pickup of Nemanja Djurisic. Is his signing likely to wrap up this year’s class? And can you give a quick run down of how the next class is looking?
Chip: As far as I can tell, recruiting for the 2011 class is likely complete for the Bulldogs. Djurisic, a 6-8 forward from South Kent, Conn., by way of Montenegro, will officially become the fourth member of the class — joining 6-6 guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Greenville (Ga.) High; 6-10 forward Tim Dixon of Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian School and 7-foot center John Florveus of Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College — when he signs during the spring period later this month. Since they will lose only seniors Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price to graduation, that actually puts them one over the NCAA limit of 13 players on scholarship, depending on what juniors Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins decide to do as far as entering the NBA draft. Georgia did place on
The situation in Syria continues to smolder:
Several deaths have been reported as anti-government protests got under way in several Syrian cities after Muslim prayers on Friday, activists have said. Protest marches against Baath Party rule demanding freedoms broke out in cities in the north and south, including the flashpoint city of Daraa. … Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Damascus, said at least four people were killed in the afternoon after government forces started using live fire against the protesters in the Douma suburb.
The rallies, taking place for the third week in succession after Friday prayers, come two days after Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, labelled them a foreign conspiracy. Assad defied expectations during his first public address since the protests began that he would announce sweeping changes.
Witnesses in Daraa, a southern town that has been one of the main focal points of rising dissent, said hundreds gathered after leaving a mosque shouting "death rather [than] humiliation" and "national unity".
Enduring America has tons more footage from today.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was on Hannity’s show last night to talk about the upcoming 2012 race and when she’ll make her decision.
Says one Democratic operative of Messina: “I hope he’s better at political campaigns than at managing big, important pieces of legislation.” – Jim Messina, Obama’s Enforcer, by Ari Berman
As Jim Messina begins his role in Obama’s reelection campaign it’s a perfect time for Berman to share this insider tale so familiar to many of us who watch this from the cat bird seat of Washington, because it gives you a window into just how differently 2012 is likely to be from 2008.
Nothing frosted me more than watching the White House bungle the health care messaging. Ari Berman’s piece in The Nation quotes top Democratic sources, many of whom stay off the record for fear of retribution, revealing the extent of the Democratic disaster.
Jim Messina is the guy who got beat by Sarah Palin’s “death panels” squeal. I was one of the first to give Sarah Palin the credit she earned, though there was criticism too, all the way up and through the midterms, Palin’s ability to seize the midterm moment left the establishment power of both parties stymied, but the damage she did to Democrats on health care was incalculable. Of course, since then Palin’s power has waned, with her blood-libel video after Tucson an embarrassment, while the Tea Party activists continue to be a double-edged machete.
However, Jim Messina’s mistakes led the Democrats into a legislative quagmire and electoral disaster in 2010 that still has Democrats and progressives spitting mad.
Jim Messina is also the guy who bought Andrew Breitbart’s smear tactics, then praised the quick firing of Shirley Sherrod to staffers, which I wrote about here, based on the reporting of Ben Smith at Politico.
Messina begins the re-election campaign with a significant amount of baggage. As a former chief of staff to Baucus and deputy to Emanuel, Messina has clashed with progressive activists and grassroots Obama supporters both inside and outside Washington over political strategy and on issues like healthcare reform and gay rights, alienating parts of the very constituencies that worked so hard for Obama in 2008 and that the campaign needs to reinspire and activate in 2012. Obama’s fixer has arguably created as many problems as he’s solved. “He is not of the Obama movement,” says one top Democratic strategist in Washington. “There is not a bone in his body that speaks to or comprehends the idea of a movement and that grassroots energy. To me, that’s bothersome.”
[…] Under Messina, Obama ‘12 could more closely resemble the electoral strategy of Baucus or Bill and Hillary Clinton—cautious, controlling, top-down in structure and devoted to small-bore issues that blur differences between the parties—than Obama ‘08, a grassroots effort on a scale modern politics had never seen. “It was a major harbinger to me, when Obama hired him, that we were not going to get ‘change we can believe in,’” says Ken Toole, a former Democratic state senator and public service commissioner in Montana. “Messina has a lot of talents, but he’s extremely conservative in his views on how to do politics. He’s got a tried-and-true triangulation methodology, and that’s never gonna change.” The Democratic National Committee declined to make Messina available for an interview.
To refresh, Messina is the “veal pen” man and was instrumental on muscling the health care bill away from anything progressives wanted and toward the private deal with insurers, particularly PhRMA, that sunk and stunk up the plan. More from Berman:
The administration deputized Messina as the top liaison to the Common Purpose Project. The coveted invite-only, off-the-record Tuesday meetings at the Capitol Hilton became the premier forum where the administration briefed leading progressive groups, including organizations like the AFL-CIO, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood and the Center for American Progress, on its legislative and political strategy. Theoretically, the meetings were supposed to provide a candid back-and-forth between outside groups and administration officials, but Messina tightly controlled the discussions and dictated the terms of debate (Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake memorably dubbed this the “veal pen”). “Common Purpose didn’t make a move without talking to Jim,” says one progressive strategist. During the healthcare fight, Messina used his influence to try to stifle any criticism of Baucus or lobbying by progressive groups that was out of sync with the administration’s agenda, according to Common Purpose participants. “Messina wouldn’t tolerate us trying to lobby to improve the bill,” says Richard Kirsch, former national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the major coalition of progressive groups backing reform. Kirsch recalled being told by a White House insider that when asked what the administration’s “inside/outside strategy” was for passing healthcare reform, Messina replied, “There is no outside strategy.”
As for the never ending promises to the gay community, Joe Subday says DADT passed “in spite of Messina.” If Joe says this is the truth, it is. Many people won’t be so blunt, because progressive groups don’t want the backlash and to be frozen out.
But if there is one thing that resonates with what I hear constantly it is this sentence from Berman’s piece:
Corporate America no longer regards Obama as an ally, while many donors from 2008 are disillusioned with the administration’s legislative compromises and political timidity.
Couple all of this with progressive disappointment and disgust over the trajectory of Obama’s first term and you’ve got a whole lot of depressed Democrats and progressives as 2012 rolls around and the Republicans get ready to do what they’ve been waiting to do since 2008. Defeat Pres. Obama at all costs.
The most committed wins and 2012 won’t come close to 2008 on the enthusiasm meter for Barack Obama. That’s a factor already baked into the election.
The good news for Messina and the Obama camp is that the Republican field remains unimpressive, with contenders like Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio content to wait until Barack Obama is out of the picture. Though if Messina does for Obama in 2012 what he did for health care this could get ugly for Democrats.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.