‘New-clear’ energy?

Being that I’m always interested in language, I find this letter in the WalesOnline to be particularly good.

Is ‘new-clear’ the new nuclear energy?
SIR – May I congratulate Jack Harris (Letters, October 25) for his discovery of an entirely new energy generating technology.

I hadn’t heard of the safe and popular ‘new-clear’ energy before.

I’m glad it hasn’t got anything to do with the horrendously expensive, dangerous nuclear energy which is going to leave a toxic legacy for thousands of years.

I’m glad that it won’t lead to the same type of reports that have dogged uranium mining where it’s been reported that over 400,000 uranium miners working in East Germany between 1946 and 1990 were exposed to an increased risk of lung cancer of around 10%.

I’m glad it’s not the same generating technology that currently sees two of the 10 nuclear power stations in the UK lying idle for almost a year, with both reactors out of action due to corrosion, or another two which have had one of their reactors closed down for months, or even yet another two which are having to run both their reactors at less than three quarters of their normal power for safety reasons.

Of the four that are still in good working condition, one is due to shut down permanently in two years’ time, a second is partially closed for routine maintenance, and a third is facing safety questions following the discovery of flaws in similar reactors in Japan.

It’s comforting to know it has nothing to do with French nuclear power which in July this year saw an accident at the Tricastin site where about 75kg of uranium seeped into the ground and into the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers which flow into the Rhône.

Locals were ordered to drink bottled water, swimmers unable to bathe in lakes and rivers and farmers lost entire crop yields due to the ban on watering.

The area’s image has been so dented that the nearby Rhône Valley wine-makers whose label is Côteaux du Tricastin even want to change their name.

I’m glad it won’t be the same as nuclear energy which already leaves a toxic waste legacy which we don’t know what to do with.

In his documentary The Nuclear Comeback, director Justin Pemberton actually manages to get nuclear officials in Britain to admit on film that no-one really knows what to do with the spent nuclear fuel that will remain radioactive “for at least 100,000 years”.

Even school children know that you don’t create a new mess before you have cleared up your old mess.

Finally, I’m glad Jack Harris’ “new-clear” energy won’t cost anything like as much as nuclear energy with its projected bill for decommissioning and cleaning up our existing nuclear plants alone standing at over £73bn.

Glad tidings indeed and may we be preserved from all of this clean and plentiful renewable energy nonsense that is obviously highly dangerous and no doubt a threat to our very way of life.

Bathford, Bath

Uranium peak in 2025. Why bother?

Uranium’s energy peak is 2025.  Why are we wasting time even talking about this as an option for reducing GHGs, especially when the construction of reactors creates GHGs at every stage of the process and the costs are enormous?  Furthermore, the radioactive waste problem has not been addressed and the mining of uranium leaves ecological devastation in its wake.  Let’s get off this thought-train!

Here’s help.  Dr. David Fleming, an independent writer in the fields of energy, environment, economics, etc. has developed a handy booklet, The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy.  The first page lists good reasons to stay away from nuclear energy:

In Brief
1. The world’s endowment of uranium ore is now so depleted that the
nuclear industry will never, from its own resources, be able to
generate the energy it needs to clear up its own backlog of waste.
2. It is essential that the waste should be made safe and placed in
permanent storage. High-level wastes, in their temporary storage
facilities, have to be managed and kept cool to prevent fire and
leaks which would otherwise contaminate large areas.
3. Shortages of uranium – and the lack of realistic alternatives –
leading to interruptions in supply, can be expected to start in the
middle years of the decade 2010-2019, and to deepen thereafter.
4. The task of disposing finally of the waste could not, therefore, now
be completed using only energy generated by the nuclear industry,
even if the whole of the industry’s output were to be devoted to it.
In order to deal with its waste, the industry will need to be a major
net user of energy, almost all of it from fossil fuels.
5. Every stage in the nuclear process, except fission, produces carbon
dioxide. As the richest ores are used up, emissions will rise.

6. Uranium enrichment uses large volumes of uranium hexafluoride,
a halogenated compound (HC). Other HCs are also used in the
nuclear life-cycle. HCs are greenhouse gases with global warming
potentials ranging up to 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide.

7. An independent audit should now review these findings. The
quality of available data is poor, and totally inadequate in relation
to the importance of the nuclear question. The audit should set
out an energy-budget which establishes how much energy will be
needed to make all nuclear waste safe, and where it will come
from. It should also supply a briefing on the consequences of the
worldwide waste backlog being abandoned untreated.

8. There is no single solution to the coming energy gap. What is
needed is a speedy programme of Lean Energy, comprising: (1)
energy conservation and efficiency; (2) structural change in
patterns of energy-use and land-use; and (3) renewable energy; all
within (4) a framework for managing the energy descent, such as
Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs).

Download it here.

Writing Poetry = A Terrorist Act?

Here’s what happened to a young poet in the UK because of their new anti-terrorist legislation.

2pm GMT update

‘Lyrical terrorist’ sentenced over extremist poetry

Read the poetry penned by Samina Malik

Claire Truscott and agencies
Thursday December 6, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Samina Malik
Samina Malik, who called herself the ‘lyrical terrorist’, is the first woman to be convicted under new terrorism legislation. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

A 23-year-old former Heathrow shop assistant who called herself the “lyrical terrorist” and scrawled her extremist thoughts on till receipts has been handed a nine-month suspended jail sentence. Samina Malik became the first woman convicted under new terrorism legislation after writing poems entitled How To Behead and The Living Martyrs.

“The Terrorism Act and the restrictions it imposes on the personal freedom exist to protect this country, its interests here and abroad, its citizens, and those who visit here. Its protection embraces us all. Its restrictions apply to us all, whatever our personal religious or political beliefs.”

He told Malik that if she had been convicted of the more serious charge of possessing an article for terrorist purposes – of which the jury cleared her – she would have faced a jail term. But he said, while a custodial sentence was merited, she had already faced “extremely rigorous” bail conditions which were “tantamount to house arrest”.

The court heard that she also spent five months in custody after being arrested in October last year. Malik’s sentence was suspended for 18 months, with the condition that she be supervised for the whole period and undertake unpaid work.

Outside court Malik’s solicitor Iqbal Ahmed read out a statement on her behalf. He said: “The trial process has been a terrible ordeal for her and she is now relieved that it is all over. The jury found that she did not have the material for terrorist purposes which was an important part of her case. She now wants to get on with her life.”

Last month, Malik was found guilty of possessing records likely to be useful in terrorism by a majority of 10 to one. She cried as the verdict was read. Two female jurors were also in tears. The court heard that Malik stocked a “library” of material useful to terrorists at her family home in Southall, west London.

Now, I don’t know a whole lot about the Harperites’ new law-and-order legislation, but I sure as hell hope that it doesn’t contain provisions that will result in me being imprisoned for speaking my truth to power. [See Update, below!] I understand the Loyal Opposition aka the Liberals are supporting the law-and-order bill. As a Poet in Canada I rilly-rilly hope they’ve checked it out thoroughly because we already know that the Harperites cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of Canada. Can you say Bali?

UPDATE: “Proposed legislation will grant law enforcement and security agencies extraordinary powers to detain and question individual suspects accused of terror activities WITHOUT due process and evidence.”

Thanks to Lady Broadoak for the lead.

Thanks to Verbena-19 for the update.

Mission of Folly

The full piece by Laxer is also posted at Canadian Dimension.  It’s 30 pages long but definitely worth the read.

Mission of Folly: Why Canada should bring its troops home from Afghanistan (James Laxer)

Canadian troops have been fighting in Afghanistan for over five years. This military mission has endured for longer than the First World War and the Korean conflict. If the mission continues for another year, it will exceed the Second World War in duration, to become the lengthiest war in which Canadians have ever fought. To date, 44 Canadians have died in Afghanistan. On a per capita basis, more Canadians have been killed during the mission, than has been the case for any of the other allied countries who have sent forces to Afghanistan.

The Harper government has presented the mission to Canadians as combining a military element with the provision of aid to the people of Afghanistan. In fact, in dollars spent, the mission has been ninety per cent military, and only ten per cent reconstruction aid.troops out

The Chretien government propelled Canada into the Afghan War with little thought in the autumn of 2001. The mission has since been sustained and extended by the Martin and Harper governments. Despite the brief debate and vote on the issue in the House of Commons in May 2006, this country has had no authentic national debate on the Afghanistan mission.

In this 30,000 word long report, I have entered the debate not as an expert on Afghanistan, but as someone with considerable experience analyzing Canadian and American global policies. It is my belief that the Afghanistan mission is a tragic mistake for Canada. If prolonged, the mission will cost many more Canadian lives, without the achievement of the goals Canada and its allies have set for themselves in Afghanistan.

(This report will be published on-line on my blog, at http://www.jameslaxer.com, one chapter at a time, in February 2007. Then the report has a whole will be published there. The report will be available as well in PDF format. You are welcome to reproduce this report in whole or in part. I can be reached at: jlaxer@yorku.ca.

Chapter 1: Canada Went to War in the Absence of an Authentic National Debate

It’s inequality, love

Wimbledon is underway this week.  And the women who will still win less than the men who win.

From The Guardian

Monday June 26, 2006
The Guardian

For Venus Williams, who is defending her women’s title again this year, it’s a travesty. She has been vociferous in her attacks on the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club over the issue: on the eve of the championship she is still smarting over the announcement made earlier this year that the winner of the men’s competition will get £655,000, while the winner of the women’s will net less – £625,000.

It was, she tells the Guardian, a disappointment. “For us it’s not about getting paid because all the players love what we do, and that’s playing tennis. For us it’s about equality, it’s about treating a human as a human, no matter what the sex is, and it’s about women all over the world. It’s a bigger picture than tennis . . . it’s about a premier women’s sport setting an example all around the world.” In the coming contest, she says, she and her fellow women players will “do our best to show we’re equal on all fronts”.

So, a woman’s victory is worth  £30,000 less than a man’s and that’s because

“We believe that what we do at the moment is actually fair to the men as well as to the women,” says club chairman Tim Phillips. He says that because men play five sets to the women’s three, the top men rarely play doubles and so earn less overall than women.

“It just doesn’t seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men’s champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches.”

Oh, these old boys are just too, too much!

“It’s bullshit,” says Martina Navratilova, the nine-times Wimbledon champion who hasn’t grown mellow with the years. “How can anyone not feel strongly about this? Whenever there is inequality it doesn’t matter whether it is a penny or £100,000. It is about the principle – and the principle is wrong.

“We are willing to play five sets, but they won’t let us. Maybe the men should play three. After all, who wants to sit through a five-hour sporting event, unless it’s a Test match? It is quality, not quantity. Women’s rallies actually last longer so the ball is in play for longer . . . so maybe we should be paid more.

Thanks to brebis noire @ B&R for the lead.

Reproductive Rights under attack world-wide?

Seems that Canadian Liberal MP, Paul Steckle, was simply following in the footsteps of a Labour MP in the UK  in calling for restrictions on abortion.

What is this, part of a world-wide attack on women’s bodies?  Has anyone uncovered other attacks on women’s reproductive rights?

Thanks, WestCoastTiger @ EnMasse, for the lead.