Thursday, March 31, 2011

So Sumi sez so!

I wish the Judge would have been pissed off enough to hold Gov. Scott Walker & his toady Jeff Fitzgerald in contempt of court.  But the Wisconsin Judge, who ordered the halt the back door legislation to strip Union workers of bargaining rights, was none too happy.

As reported by USA Today:

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi chastised state officials yesterday for ignoring her earlier order to halt the law’s publication.
“Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of” the law “was enjoined,” Sumi said during a hearing. “That is what I now want to make crystal-clear.”
Republican lawmakers pushed the law through the Legislature earlier this month despite massive protests that drew up to 85,000 people to the state capitol. After diffusing a Democratic filibuster in the Assembly, Republicans used a parliamentary procedure in the Senate to circumvent a Democratic boycott meant to prevent a vote.
Walker signed the bill March 11, triggering a number of lawsuits from opponents. Sumi issued a temporary restraining order blocking Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the bill — typically the last step before a law takes effect.
Republicans got around that by having the Legislative Reference Bureau, another state agency, publish the bill Friday. They declared victory, saying the law went into effect Saturday.
Sumi’s order yesterday told state officials to stand down from any further action to put the law into effect. This time, she warned that anyone who defied it would face sanctions. She did not say what those sanctions might be.

Attorneys for the Department of Justice, which is representing the Republicans, contend the case means nothing because legislators are immune from lawsuits and Sumi has no authority to intervene in the legislative process.
“Her action today again flies in the face of the separation of powers between the three branches of government,” Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said in a statement."

So~ according to Wisconsin legislators, separation of powers means they can ignore the law!

It does not take a psychic to predict Scott Walker's future..... I see a recall in his future. 
It would be interesting to see Walker & Fitzgerald in jail for contempt. 
Daily Finance reports:

Gov. Scott Walker and his allies in the Republican-controlled Legislature believe they are on solid legal ground as they push forth on a course that could deepen an already toxic crisis in the state's government.
Sidestepping Democratic state senators who played hooky to block the law's passage may have angered political opponents, but defying a judge's orders — however imprecise — could put GOP lawmakers and state officials at risk of being found in contempt and could lend weight to accusations the Republicans consider themselves above the law.
"It's dangerous. Arguably they're in contempt of court already," University of Wisconsin law professor Howard Schweber said Wednesday, referring to preparations under way by Walker's administration to begin deducting more money from most public employees' paychecks for health and pension plan costs and to stop deducting union dues.
The deductions, which would amount to an average 8 percent pay cut, would be reflected in the workers' April 21 paychecks, Walker's top aide said Monday.
The Republicans argue the law, which also would strip most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights, took effect last weekend because a state office posted it online. Typically, a law takes effect in Wisconsin the day after it's published in the state's official newspaper upon the order of the secretary of state. But Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ordered the secretary of state not to have it published until she could hear arguments in one of several lawsuits challenging the law.

I cannot understand the legal rationale of attorneys who are apparently advising this administration to ignore this order for whatever reason," Democratic Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said Wednesday. "The very fabric of a just society is based on the rule of law. We don't have the option of which law we will obey and we don't have the option of which court order we'll ignore."
The Republicans are walking a political fine line by moving ahead as if the law is in effect while apparently defying the court, said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor.
"They naturally want to continue to support their side of the argument, but I think they run the risk of making this look like a claim to being able to do whatever they want regardless," Franklin said. "At some point strength starts to look like arrogance."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TEPCO ~ Winging it w employees

Can you believe this?
People working inside the nuclear power plant eating rations of crackers & water, sleeping on floors, no showers. 
The US military is present-- they can airdrop a cargo container of meals & water at minimum. 
TEPCO is abusing the "heroes" risking their lives to avert nuclear disaster. 
Get the frickin' CEO to drive a bus or van to get these workers basic needs like good sleep & 3 meals a day & daily showers taken care of- not just a bus ride to showers on scheduled days off.

All of these provisions are available in nearby Tokyo. 

Having workers running on empty puts them more at risk.
I want the crews risking their lives to avert a nuclear reactor meltdown disaster to be well cared for-good sleep in a bad, food & showers should be the minimum of what is provided. 

TEPCO sure is running roughshod. Why are they still in charge?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wal Mart's Women's Day in Court

"I'm not going after them because they are big,
 I'm going after them because they are wrong"
~ Plaintiff Christine Kwapnoski

Yes indeed! 10 years in the making Wal Mart corporation has to defend itself to the Supreme Court in the world's largest sex discrimination case.  Wal Mart is accused of paying women in the US less than men for the same work, and of passing them over for promotions. 
What the Supreme Court will decide is if it will be allowed to go forward as a Class-action lawsuit. 

WalMart would love to win this case, setting the precedent that corporations are too big to be accountable. 

This will be a landmark case:

Columbia University law professor John Coffee said that the high court could bring a virtual end to employment discrimination class actions filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, depending on how it decides the Wal-Mart case.

I can't tell you how glad I am we have  three women seated on the high court--Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kegan as well as Clinton appointee Breyer ,
because Alito,  Thomas, Roberts, & Kennedy tend to think corporations are people, and you get the impression this is how they view the Constitution:

Speaking of corporations, look at what other corporations are chiming in, to cover their asses, in support of allowing corporations to discriminate:

Other companies including Bank of America(BAC_)Microsoft(MSFT_) andGeneral Electric(GE_) have filed court papers in support of Wal-Mart. These companies contest that allowing the lawsuit to move forward will open the floodgates to employment, antitrust and product-liability suits.
The U.S. Chambers of Commerce also sided with Wal-Mart saying in a filing: "Employment cases are just the tip of the iceberg." If the suit is allowed to move forward, according to the Chamber, it "would bury American businesses in abusive class-action lawsuits to the detriment of consumers, the U.S. economy and the judicial system itself."

Wow! Class Action lawsuits against discrimination are detrimental to consumers!
Because everyone knows consumers favor discrimination?
If the majority of the corporate ass kissing Supremes deny the class action lawsuit, 
then employees can sue Wal Mart individually. 
Thank you to the Christine Kwapnoski's & Betty Dukes of this world, for taking a stand against a corporate Goliath. Yes, even in the 21st century, woman continue to fight for equal rights. 

Working Class heroes!  In solidarity, I have great respect for the Women who had the courage to stand up to this huge corporation.  Christine- let's hope no employer ever feels comfortable with the Men making more than women and getting promoted faster. Thanks to you, let's hope any employer will think twice before saying to a woman  "doll up" or "blow the cobwebs off" her make-up.
You have rocked the corporate world & stand for so 
many women who continue to be discriminated against. 

Japan Nuclear Reactor updates

Reactor #1-  No. 1 unit's reactor core has been damaged, but its containment vessel was not. The building was "severely damaged" by an earlier hydrogen explosion.

Reactor #2-  No. 2 unit's containment building, which houses and protects the reactor core, "is damaged and water is leaking." No. 2 unit's turbine building that had radiation levels some 100,000 times normal, utility company and government officials said Sunday, correcting an earlier finding of 10 million times normal. (Here we go again.... one hundred thousand, ten million times... they're not sure?)
High levels of radioactive substances may have come from "melted fuel," Edano said Monday. This could suggest a full or partial meltdown in the No. 2 reactor, which occurs when nuclear fuel rods get so hot that they melt the steel and concrete structure containing them, spilling out in a worst-case scenario into the air and water with potentially deadly results.

Reactor #3- The No. 3 reactor has been of particular concern, experts have said, because it is the only one to use MOX -- a combination of uranium and plutonium fuel considered more dangerous than the pure uranium fuel used in other reactors. This had 10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for that locale, Nishiyama had said. Three workers who stepped in it Thursday tested positive for 173 or more millisieverts of radiation, including two with direct exposure on the skin. Around noon on Monday, all three were released from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences after four scheduled days of treatment and monitoring, the research hospital said.
It was stated Friday that damage was suspected in the reactor, on Saturday its assessment changed to "unknown" -- a further acknowledgment of uncertainty as to whether the contaminated water was the result of a leak in the nuclear reactor core or had some other cause.
(Maybe yes maybe no, best to go with "unknown" as the official word)
The building of the No. 3 reactor was "severely damaged" after an explosion caused by the buildup of hydrogen gas, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum reported. Its core reactor is also damaged and its fuel rods are either partly or fully exposed.

Reactor #4- Along with the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors, the No. 4 was offline in a scheduled outage when the earthquake hit, and as a result the reactor's water level and pressure are safe. The nuclear fuel rods were in the unit's spent fuel pool, but not the reactor itself. The reactor's pool of spent nuclear fuel was "possibly damaged," which is why authorities have said its water levels are low and why they've made repeated efforts to fill it up with water.

Reactor #5- As with units No. 4 and 6, this reactor was offline in a scheduled outage when the quake hit and there are no major issues with the reactor and core itself. The cooling system in the pool of spent nuclear fuel is thought to be functioning, though there are continued concerns about powering the reactor's cooling system to ensure the fuel rods contained within remain cool. As with unit No. 6, three holes were punched in the building earlier to relieve pressure and prevent a hydrogen explosion.

Reactor #6- Same as #5. 

* As reported by CNN

I am convinced the Tokyo corporation that owns these nuclear power plants, needs to have a higher level of oversight, and by oversight I don't mean official announcements that vary from 10,000 to  10 million times radiation leakage numbers.  I understand they are in crisis mode and in the midst of a serious & unplanned disaster, but let's face it, if you build a nuclear power plant on an earthquake fault line, it was a disaster they should have been better prepared to handle. 
For the record, this is an international matter. Trace levels of radiation from Japan have been registered as far away as the east coast of the U.S. in Massachusetts rainwater. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Circling the Nuclear power plant meltdown drain

I'm having a hard time dealing with the news from Japan re the Nuclear reactor situation. We keep getting these vague reports. Yesterday it was water in the reactor floor exceeded 10,000  what is a safe level, & control room workers had to evacuate. Officials use the word "dire situation". Today they say seawater has radioactive iodine levels 1,250 times higher than normal-- 330 meters from the coast, while just yesterday it was 104 x higher. (Today, 3/27 the levels are 1,850 times normal)
"These high levels suggest there may have been some sort of leakage directly into the ocean, unlikely to be because of atmosphere emissions alone. "

"Still, an official w Japan's nuclear safety agency told reporters that while drinking such tainted seawater would be dangerous, given the radiation's potential to cause cancer, the effect on aquatic life may be relatively minimal".

So yes, we all know if you put toxic chemicals in a bigger body of water it will be diluted, but they are finding radioactive iodine & cesium 30 kilometers (19 miles) offshore. 
The water safety levels  should be below 100 becquerels to be considered safe-- many prefectures are at 97 count... skirting the edge of what is safe & many have had several days of readings of 119 to 230. 
The places closest to the failing nuclear power plants are not being tested or the test results are not being 
CNN reports:
"its potential effect on Japan's fishing industry -- even if consumers stay away, for simple fear of contamination -- remains a major concern. So, too, is the fact that authorities have yet to pinpoint the exact source of the radiation, and thus to determine if it's stopped. The latest data, from Friday, posted online by Japan's education, science and technology ministry show continuing evidence of airborne radiation in prefectures around the nation. Still, in no cases is the exposure considered harmful to human health -- and, in fact, in many cases, radiation readings have gone down."

This is reminiscent of the Chernobyl incident where Russia announced they have "little problem" with Nuclear reactor. Japan has extended the evacuation zone to 20 miles, the ocean water has cesium 19 miles offshore, the drinking water is marginal at best, the vegetables in the region are determined to be contaminated, yet experts are trying to figure out the source & status? Soil 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had radiation 430 times normal levels when tested Monday, Japan's Science Ministry reported, according to broadcaster NHK.

All of these announcements are seasoned with the ever hopeful comments:
 "There should be no immediate health impact. If this situation continues for a long period of time, some impact can occur," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters."
We know they have had fires, explosions, and at least partial meltdowns as a result... or we would not be having the radioactive readings we are seeing. 

Meanwhile, radiation levels in Portland, Oregon (Monthly average dated 3/25/11) are 48.15, last month's average 21.35.  Some impact can occur!

I'm sure part of the goal is to avoid widespread panic, but let's face it- it almost seems like Japan could have a full blown core reactor meltdown, the people could have so much radiation, they glow, with oceanic dead zones for many miles, & the officials would still be saying all is well, everyone should be safe. 

So perhaps now we can dispel the myth that Nuclear power is safe & clean?

That being said, I heard the term "Radioactive Refugee". Many people who live in the 20 mile radius zone beyond the failed Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, had survived or whose homes were spared in the Earthquake/Tsunami, were later told they must evacuate their homes.  Perhaps homes that could have been shared for giving shelter to neighbors or family members who lost everything. But now they are required to evacuate to go live lives in crowded shelters. I can only imagine how very stressful that would be- packed in school gyms or sports centers with minimal accommodations, very small amounts of food/water, no privacy. 
A room full of worries, sorrow, as so many have died or are still missing. 
How does one rebuild their life in such a situation?

Furthermore, there are less people donating to Japan. Perhaps there is a thought that Japan is a prosperous country & there is less a need, as opposed to Haiti, which was one of the most impoverished countries in the world, when they were hit by a major earthquake?
A year later, much of Haiti is in ruins. A 7.0 quake in a country void of infrastructure build to withstand a quake is probably comparable to a 9.0 quake. They are dealing w a cholera outbreak.
It makes sense for local countries to deliver goods to Japan, it will be the most efficient. 
But aid in the form of cash assistance will be needed for quite some time. 

An International Red Cross worker posts this journal log:

On the way to Yamada town, where he is working, we passed many petrol stations that were closed; others had queues of cars stretching for kilometres.
Even though some were in marked emergency vehicles - like those of the Red Cross - a priority, we were still allowed to get only 10 litres at a time.
The lack of fuel is one of several obstacles in the struggle to help the people of Japan get back on their feet.
But things are expected to improve in the near future. One of the country's largest oil refineries is back on-line, and that should help ease the shortage.
Until that happens, I'm afraid recovery is going take longer than anticipated."
The official death toll from the 11 March earthquake and tsunami has passed 10,000, and more than 17,440 people are missing.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless; an estimated 250,000 people are living in emergency shelters. Food, water and fuel are in short supply.
Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency has reiterated its position that it believes the reactor may have been damaged but it is going no further than that, says the BBC's Mark Worthington in Tokyo.
The agency has denied any suggestion that the reactor core may have cracked, Kyodo news agency reports.

Today's update has officials saying the numbers were not as high as reported yesterday, yet reading from the Pacific ocean seawater are now at 1,850 times higher radiation level.

How can things be "better than earlier reported", yet the seawater radiation numbers are higher?

Hideyuki Koyama, the company's associate director, said pooled water had been discovered in the basement of the No. 1 reactor six days earlier. But a sample was not taken for analysis until March 24, after the three workers were exposed to between 173 to 181 millisieverts of radiation.

The Tokyo power plant people increased the level of what they are calling "safe" for workers to be inside the power plant, and had reported the injured workers were not wearing proper equipment, and they worked 40 to 50 minutes after radiation alarms went off, assuming it was a false alarm.

You have multiple damaged nuclear power plant reactors, they increased what is an acceptable radiation exposure level, workers allowed in the failing reactors without proper safety equipment, they knew of a leak in the basement of the reactor, but waited 6 full days to test it & workers are allowed to ignore radiation alarms?

They called in worldwide experts to assist & all of those serious violations are allowed to occur?

Perhaps it is time to have the Tokyo power company step down from being in charge?

Friday, March 25, 2011

A stroll down nostalgia lane.....

A e mail post got me to thinking about things of the past that I remember in my life, that are now more historic (makes me feel old).

For instance a a young kid, I remember an appliance like this old clothes washing machine.
Ours had a hand crank for the "spin cycle".

In fact I think my Mom & Grandma wore aprons!

The actual washtub looked more like this one. 

Come to think of it-- we lived on the 2nd story, 
so Mom had to haul all of our laundry up & down 2.5 flights of stairs to & from the basement.

The push mower.
 Mom also mowed the corner lot using a push mower.
This was done in the hot as hell & twice as humid, summer midwest weather. 
I did my fair share of lawn mowing as a kid, but my parents quickly shifted to the power mower. 
If you ever used a push mower you would remember. 
It is a fully aerobic endeavor, requiring grunt work by the pusher-- if the grass was remotely tall, wet, or the blades were at all dull- you had your work cut out for you (pardon the pun!). 

She also shoveled that corner lot by hand. 

All this mowing, and hauling laundry, and shoveling was done while she was 
not a "working Mom". She was a stay at home Mom, raising 2 kids. 
This raises 2 issues.... 
• No wonder she wanted to get back into the work force-- she needed a break!
• Also no mystery why, years later she wound up with severe back issues. 
Can't help but wonder if all that back breaking physical labor took it's toll?

Cotton Diapers

We did cotton diapers for both our kids in the 80's.
The really good Gerber ones lasted forever. 
For me it was a choice for multiple reasons. 
The environment yes, besides who knows what kind of chemicals there are in disposables?
But I was also quite broke & it was cheaper to buy diapers & continue to reuse them, rather than have to fork out more & more $ we did not have for disposables. 

Plus diapers can be used for spit up, drool, & all other bodily fluids babies spew on any given day. 

Back then I also used  diaper pins:

These ones were on the internet listed as "Vintage diaper pins". 
Now they have rainbow colored hemp diapers, with velcro closure tabs... 
thus making diaper pins "vintage". 

And finally, did things go better with Coke?

Remember this kind of dispenser machine?
The little door on the left opened so you could get your soda. 
This one cost 10 cents!
Now they charge $1.25 each & some charge more if the thermostat says it is hotter out!

The Coke soda came in glass bottles & those bottles were recycled & reused. 

We even had a little corner pharmacy that had a tiny soda fountain-
 maybe only 4 or 5 of the classic soda fountain chairs. 
If you ordered a Cherry Coke, the Pharmacist actually mixed in the Cherry flavoring@
the fountain.  

So what things do you remember from "back in the day"?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

War & Peace

Sign at the peace rally commemorating the 8th year of the Iraq war:


One man wore a Veteran's for Peace shirt with this quote imprinted on it:




I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Caption this....

Palin visits Isreal, but apparently spent too much time at the Wailing Wall. 

Palin asked reporters "What does meshugganah mean?", they keep calling me that name. 

Quitter, ex governor Palin has a bad hair day in Israel. 

Palin found the Orthodox Jewish people a rough crowd to entertain,
 they did not get her Hockey Mom jokes, and did not find the Drill Baby Drill chant at all amusing. 

What captions can you come up with?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In solidarity

Students in India have a candle light vigil in solidarity with Japan.

Some quiet reflection of their loss, and suffering is in order. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm there!

I'm getting my ass kicked by a nasty throat burning bug, in pain like never before. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Erin go Bragh

Erin go Bragh  is a Gaelic phrase, and is used to express allegiance to Ireland. It is most often translated as "Ireland Forever".

* A bit of background about Dick Gaughan
Richard Peter Gaughan usually known as Dick Gaughan (born 17 May 1948, Glasgow) is a Scottish musiciansinger, and songwriter, particularly of folk and social protest songs.

Dick Gaughan has always been regarded as a radical, in his artistic life as well as in his politics.  A staunch union and left wing activist, he has never chosen the easy way and through it all he has had an unwavering passion for the underdog, the downtrodden and the socially disadvantaged.  He is without doubt Scotland’s greatest contemporary singer and musician.