FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 06-10
Days That Shook Asia
Obama's Nuke Rhetoric
GMOs in Food
Greece & Crisis
Global War on Tribes
Zaps - 06-10
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Barack Obama's Nuclear Rhetoric
Barack Obama was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 in part for stating that America was committed to seeking a world without nuclear weapons. In his acceptance speech, he noted that one can, "bend history in the direction of justice." This award placed Obama among some of the most influential and renowned freedom fighters, as well as some of the most insidious war criminals and architects of colonial oppression and human suffering. Henry Kissinger received the prize in 1973, the same year he orchestrated the fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet's rise to power in Chile, overthrowing Salvador Allende. Menachem Begin received the prize in 1978. Four years later, he oversaw the invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli Defense Force.
Obama stated in his acceptance speech that he was commander-in-chief of two destructive wars in the Middle East, a reality that does not marry well with a peace prize. He also stated that he wished to make disarmament of the U.S. nuclear arsenal his foreign policy centerpiece. This last statement, however, stands in contradiction to the realities of Obama's political career.
Take, for example, the recent announcement of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE)'s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for the fiscal year of 2011. Early in 2010, Obama submitted his first comprehensive budget, which included a 13 percent increase of government funding for the NNSA and a 14 percent increase of for nuclear weapons activities. There was additional funding for "research and development in nuclear weapons science and technology and to build new infrastructure for the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium parts for nuclear weapons." This brings the total amount of money that the United States will spend on new nuclear weapons in 2011 to over $7 billion, the most money ever requested by an Administration for nuclear weapons.
These actions contradict Obama's comments regarding his position on the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. This contradiction is complicated by several other political realities: the increase in permit and license requests for new uranium mines and nuclear power plants; the expansion of existing nuclear weapons facilities; and Obama's history of weakening nuclear regulatory legislation during his time as senator in Illinois.
Following the meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, as well as public dissent and organizing against nuclear plants, nuclear power generation lost popularity and there has been no construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S. for the last several decades. When uranium prices dropped drastically in 1992, uranium mining activity also slowed. Interest in mining has been rising of late, however, alongside the price of uranium. In 2003, the price of a pound of yellowcake uranium was $7. In 2008, it was $138. Currently, there are 17 new nuclear power plants in the licensing process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). And there are 13 new uranium mines in the process of opening, along with 10 project expansions and one project restart.
Nuclear weapons and energy are intrinsically linked. Both are direct consequences of the Manhattan Project of the 1940s and neither would exist without the uranium fuel cycle, from the mine through the enrichment process. The difference between weapons grade and energy grade uranium is only one more enrichment cycle. Thus, the influx of uranium production and enrichment drives not only the nuclear power sector, but also nuclear weapons capabilities. It is likely not a coincidence that at the time we see the resurgence of the U.S. uranium mining industry that we also see the proposed expansion of weapons production capacity.
With the increase in the NNSA's budget in 2011 comes "critical infrastructural improvements" at Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Y-12 in Tennessee. Los Alamos National Laboratory is planning a new building deemed the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement nuclear facility to operate as a plutonium pit factory. Y-12 will be graced with a new uranium processing facility to enrich uranium for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. A weapons facility in Kansas City, Missouri also expects an expansion in weapons production capabilities in the near future.
A number of news articles have covered the links between Obama's presidential campaign finances and the nuclear industry. Obama received over $150,000 from Exelon during his 2008 presidential campaign. Exelon is the nation's largest nuclear energy utility, and is based in the state with the largest number of nuclear power generating stations, Illinois, Obama's home state.
Obama's history with Exelon philanthropy goes back to before his presidential campaign and further links between Obama and Exelon have surfaced in the past few years. David Axelrod, a political consultant whose firm AKP&D Message and Media helped to elect Barack Obama, also worked as a corporate consultant for Exelon with his Chicago-based company ASK Public Strategies.
Obama's legislative history ties in with his corporate sponsorship. In 2005, Obama helped to defeat an amendment to Bush's energy bill that would have eliminated loan guarantees for investment in new energy projects by corporations such as Exelon. The result was that the financial burden for these energy projects has been shifted to U.S. taxpayers.
In 2006, as an Illinois senator, Obama introduced the Nuclear Release Notice Act of 2006, S. 2348, which initially mandated that state and local officials be notified within 24 hours of unplanned radioactive discharge from a nuclear facility. This legislation came about because of an Exelon power plant in Braidwood, Illinois, a town in Obama's congressional district, that was leaking tritium into the groundwater. Public outcry prompted Obama to put the bill into motion. However, Obama made significant changes that took out much of the bill's regulatory power. These changes were largely influenced by Exelon and the nuclear industry's strong opposition to the bill, including dissenting voices from the Nuclear Energy Institute, a pro-nuclear think tank. In the end, Obama removed the language requiring disclosure of leaks by the nuclear industry and the bill never got out of Congress.
Just recently, the Illinois Senate voted to lift a 23-year ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants. (The ban was initiated in 1987, the year of the meltdown at Chernobyl.) If it passes in the House, it will allow companies like Exelon access to the billions of dollars earmarked by Obama's administration for expansion of the nuclear sector.
The lull in nuclear industrial activity over the past 30 years has allowed frightening reminders of the toxicity of nuclear power and weapons to slowly recede from the public eye. A generation has passed since disasters like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, while nuclear weapons issues are kept largely under wraps. There are communities, however, that can never forget the deadly legacy of the uranium fuel cycle or the horrors of even the "smallest" nuclear power leaks and spillages. Nuclear waste and contamination is forever.
Now that the government is opening the legislative door and the taxpayers' pocketbook for new nuclear endeavors at a time when energy issues—such as mountaintop removal and foreign fossil fuel dependency—are high-profile, "nuclear" is again being posed as an "alternative." So far, that discourse has been framed by nuclear corporations set to profit enormously from the expansion of the industry, and by politicians who have made their careers pandering to corporate interests .
When Obama speaks of nuclear disarmament, we must remember how he turned his back on the people of Braidwood. We must remember where he is allocating taxpayer dollars. We must keep in mind the difference between political rhetoric and political reality. Finally, we must again add a human voice to the discourse on nuclear weapons and energy, one that speaks to the horrific human and environmental costs that don't fit so neatly onto corporate ledgers.
Rebecca Riley is a freelance researcher, musician, and puppeteer. She currently organizes with the nation's largest youth network for nuclear abolition, Think Outside the Bomb.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.