RED ALERT! CALL TO DEMAND SHUT DOWN OF INDIAN POINT NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, NOW!

They’ve shut the subways. They’ve shut the schools. They’ve shut the parks, tunnels and shortly the bridges. But the nuclear power generators at Indian Point, just 26 miles north of New York City? Those they’re keeping open.

This is insane!

Should the waters of the Hudson flood into the plant, that will be an utter disaster. Should any of the spent fuel rods stored in pools at Indian Point be washed into the Hudson, we can kiss New York City goodbye. (How’s that for an early morning TV show — “Goodbye, New York”?)


There are 16 nuclear power plants in the path of hurricane Sandy, as it whips its way back from the Atlantic (at noon today) and up the coast.

Please call the following numbers immediately, and tell them to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant:

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo
(518) 474-8390, line #3

Westchester County government
(914) 864-5450 and (914) 231-1819

Nuclear Regulatory Commission hotline
(301) 816-5100

It’s really that serious. And this much, at least, we can do right now! Thank you!

THE OBAMA-NUKES CONNECTION

The nuclear nightmare is entirely man-made and profit driven. There is nothing “natural” about it. It is the result not just of technology gone “inexplicably” haywire but, predictably, of a certain kind of technology – a centralized, metered and capitalist technology,1 very expensive and made economically profitable only by a boatload of government subsidies to the nuclear industry.2

And yet, even amidst the current catastrophe, and even as the government of Venezuela halts its nuclear program in response to public requests to reconsider the direction for society in light of Fukushima,3 the U.S. government is dead-set on shoring up the industry and constructing new nuclear power plants. Along with Wall Street brokerage house Goldman Sachs, nuclear reactor operator Exelon Inc. – one of the largest employers in Illinois where Obama was Senator (a state that gets approximately half of its electricity from nuclear power, more than any other state) – was a top contributor to Barack Obama’s campaigns, officially donating over $269,000.

The company currently operates 10 reactors at six sites. The Quad-cities Nuclear Power Plant, located on the banks of the Mississippi River, is a GE Mark-1 plant, with the identical design and nearly the same age as the Fukushima reactors. Exelon barely averted disaster at its Braidwood nuke in Joliet, IL last year, caused by several problems that the company had refused to correct — including a poor design that led to repeated floods in buildings housing safety equipment. The company allowed vented steam to rip metal siding off containment walls and used undersized electrical fuses for vital safety equipment, according to the NRC.4

As candidate for president, Obama knew about the deadly dangers of nuclear power. “I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal and so I am not a nuclear energy proponent,” Obama said at a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa on December 30, 2007. “My general view is that until we can make certain that nuclear power plants are safe. … I don’t think that’s the best option. I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel and strategies [for] alternative fuels.”5

As he told the editorial board of the Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire on November 25, 2007: “I don’t think there’s anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up …and irradiate us … and kill us. That’s the problem.” But as president, he hired a nuclear power proponent out of the national nuclear laboratory system, Steven Chu, as his energy secretary. Chu, who had been director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, minimizes the impacts of radioactivity, as do many of the atomic physicists in the national laboratory system. Obama’s two top White House aides, meanwhile, had been deeply involved with Exelon — the utility operating more nuclear power plants than any other in the U.S. Rahm Em­an­u­el, his former chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicago, was an investment banker central to the $8.2 billion corporate merger in 1999 that produced Exelon. David Axelrod, senior advisor and Obama’s chief political strategist, was an Exelon PR consultant. Frank M. Clark, who runs ComEd, helped advise Obama before he ran for President and is one of Obama’s largest fundraisers. Candidate Obama received sizable contributions from Exel­on president and CEO John Rowe, who in 2007 also became chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry’s main trade group. As Forbes magazine wrote, “Ties are tight between Exelon and the Obama administration,” noting Exelon’s political contributions and Emanuel’s and Axelrod’s Exelon links.6 Upon becoming President, Obama appointed Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Energy Future.

The revolving door between government and industry rotates just as fast in Japan as it does in the U.S. In fact, the former director general of METI left the agency and joined TEPCO as a senior adviser. Another METI board member became executive vice president at TEPCO.7

Not surprisingly, given who funded his campaigns, as president Obama betrayed his campaign statements and began promoting “safe, clean nuclear power.” He pushed for multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies for the construction of new nuclear plants, and made them a central part of his energy policy. He now proposes allocating $36 billion in federal loan guarantees to jump-start the construction of new nuclear reactors. Unfortunately, he has maneuvered some who have argued fervently for the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce or reverse global warming, such as NASA scientist James Hansen, into supporting his pro-nuclear policies by falsely posing coal mining and sequestration, mountaintop removal, deep sea oil drilling, and hydro-fracking for natural gas as the options to nuclear power – all of which the Obama administration is aggressively promoting. Opponents of nuclear power, in contrast, vigorously oppose every one of those Obama proposals and argue instead for funding for development of decentralized sustainable energy alternatives like solar and wind power. Contrary to the claims of nuclear supporters, anti-nuke activists also strongly oppose expansion of oil and coal-burning power plants and support phasing them out, as they are rightly seen as prime contributors to air pollution, asthma and greenhouse gases involved in global climate change. But nuclear power is not the answer.

John Rowe’s Nuclear Energy Institute praises legislation that would facilitate the development of smaller, scalable nuclear reactors. The legislation, sponsored by Democrats as well as Republicans,

was introduced March 8 2011 in the U.S. Senate. The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 512) was introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), along with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). The legislation directs the Secretary of Energy to implement programs to develop and demonstrate two reactor designs, one fewer than 300 megawatts of electric generating capacity and the other fewer than 50 mega­watts. This public-private, cost-shared program would facilitate the design certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of two small reactor designs by the end of 2017 and the licensing of the reactors by the end of 2020.8

Even as the nuclear nightmare plays out in Japan, the President, the nuclear industry and its proponents in Congress bull ahead, disregarding the potential for causing global catastrophic events. Just as former President George W. Bush increased allowable arsenic in drinking water when that water was found to have higher arsenic levels than expected, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Obama is preparing to dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in water, food and soil, in preparation for what they are calling ‘radiological incidents.’9

This is taking place entirely behind closed doors, warns the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Because this plan is considered ‘guidance’ it does not require public notice as a normal regulation would. The radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) “are protocols for responding to radiological events ranging from nuclear power-plant accidents to ‘dirty’ bombs.” Under the new guides, nuclear energy plants would be allowed to vent much higher levels of radioactive isotopes into the water supply and expose many more people to higher doses of radiation, including

  • A nearly 1000-fold increase in strontium-90;
  • A 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for iodine-131; and
  • An almost 25,000 rise for nickel-63.

The new radiation guidelines would also allow long-term cleanup standards thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted, permitting doses to the public that EPA itself estimates would cause cancer in as many as every fourth person exposed.10 These relaxations of radiation protection requirements are favored by the nuclear industry and allies in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Energy Department.

Fortunately, there are some in the regulatory agencies resisting the proposed increase in allowable radiation guides. The idea that there could be any “acceptable level” of radiation – let alone these drastically “enhanced” levels – is being vigorously opposed by public health professionals inside EPA where a critical debate is now taking place, according to documents PEER obtained by suing the EPA under the Freedom of Information Act. Even Exelon CEO John Rowe said lawmakers shouldn’t expand U.S. guarantees for loans for new reactors, and that he is reassessing a $3.65-billion plan to boost output by upgrading Exelon’s existing reactors11 – not for any newfound moral, environmental or health-related concern but as a smokescreen for reducing corporate expenditures.

NOTES

1 Just because nuclear power was used by the former Soviet Union and is widespread in China, etc., does not make it less of a “capitalist technology.” It is true that some leftists argue that nuclear power (like genetic engineering) is only a problem under capitalism and if only workers had control over it in a truly socialist society, it would be safe. Some discussion of that concept can be found in Mitchel Cohen, The Capitalist Infesto: Is Marx’s Critique of Science and Technology Radical Enough?, Red Balloon Pamphlets, 2010; also, by the same author, Big Science, and the Left’s Curious Notion of Progress (2005).

2 $13 billion in cradle-to-grave subsidies and tax breaks, as well as unlimited taxpayer-backed loan guarantees, limited liability in the case of an accident, and other incentives have been approved this year to go to the nuclear industry to build new nuclear reactors. Public Citizen.J Also, note that the designer of the Fukushima nuclear reactors as well as many here in the U.S., the General Electric Company, paid no taxes at all in 2010 even though it made billions in profits.

3 Venezuela is suspending development of a nuclear power program following the catastrophe at the nuclear complex in Japan, President Hugo Chavez announced. Reuters, March 16, 2011. Venezuela “had hoped that a planned Russian-built nuclear power plant would provide 4,000 mega­watts (MW) and be ready in about a decade. But Chavez said events in Japan showed the risks associated with nuclear power were too great. ‘For now, I have ordered the freezing of the plans we have been developing … for a peaceful nuclear program,’ he said during a televised meeting with Chinese investors.”

4 Union of Concerned Scientists, op cit.

5 Karl Grossman, “Behind the Hydrogen Explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant,” http://www.KarlGrossman.blogspot.com.

6 Jonathan Fahey, “The President’s Utility,” Forbes, January 18, 2010. Rahm Emanuel “was hired by Rowe to help broker the $8.2 billion deal between Unicom and Peco when Emanuel was at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort). In his two-year career there Emanuel earned $16.2 million, according to congressional disclosures. His biggest deal was the Exelon merger.”

7 John Bussey, ”Japan Will Rebuild From Quake But Faces Other Daunting Tests,” The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2011.

8 “NEI Welcomes Senators’ Legislation to Advance Development of Small Reactors,” Nuclear Energy Institute, March 09, 2011. http://www.nei.org

9 Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), “Radiation Exposure Debate Rages Inside EPA,” April 5, 2011, http://www.peer.org/ news/news_id.php?row_id=1325

10 ibid. Also, Brian Moench, MD, “Radiation: Nothing to See Here?” Truth­out, March 25, 2011 – a popular compilation of the dangers of radiation.

11 John McCormick, “Nuclear Illinois Helped Shape Obama View on Energy in Dealings With Exelon,” Bloomberg News, March 23, 2011.

FOR MORE ON NUKES, FUKUSHIMA, ET AL. CLICK HERE

*     *     *

LIVESTREAM

Occupy journalist Tim Pool is once again putting himself in harm’s way in order to bring us the real story … Click HERE

*     *     *

UPDATE: 2:40 PM MONDAY — KEEP UP THE PRESSURE, IT’S WORKING!

Signe Waller, in North Carolina, writes:

I just called these 3 numbers. The Westchester county box was full but they gave another number to call in case of emergency. That number is 914-231-1819. That is the number people should call. The guy said, Who is this, What organization are you with, You’re the 800th person to call today.. or something similar. He didn’t stay on the line long enough to me to answer. At all three numbers, I left the message that I am in NC, but I have family and people I love in NY and they must shut down the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant right away, we must not have what happened in Japan happen here, and it could.

Mitchel Cohen writes:

I just called Governor Cuomo’s office as Chair of WBAI radio Local Board, and raised the two concerns listed above — storage of spent fuel rods, and water flooding the plant itself — and asked the Governor to shut down immediately the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The secretary there listened patiently, wanted my zip code, and said she’d pass it along. (If you call at (518) 474-8390, make sure you press #3 to talk to a live person.)

I then called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 816-5100, and talked with a live person there as well, who listened to my concerns, was clear to get my name right and WBAI affiliation, and asked for my telephone number (which I gave him). He said, “Thank you, we can get someone to give you a call back.”

I think they’ve gotten a zillion calls today, thanks to WBAI and the viral tweets …. We’ll see what happens.

I just decided to go out for a walk, having been cooped up at the computer all day. Well, the winds have really picked up, and I made it around 1 block very wary of heavy branches dangling precariously from trees. One already took out a car in front of my building. I watched a squirrel for a while balancing on top of the hedges (!), and decided that I really didn’t need to get to the pizza or bagel stores (great pizza and great bagels, in opposite directions), and that they would probably be closed anyway. So I returned to my apartment defeated but strangely exuberant.

Now about to make dinner for my mom. The revised forecast is for Hurricane Sandy to hit New Jersey in 3 hours, around 7:30 pm as it has sped up a bit, and a little further south than anticipated … but not by much.

 

Atlantic City pier collapsing photo by AJ Arias

 

Red Hook, Brooklyn at 12 noon, Monday photo by Angela Leeds

Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, Oct. 29, 2012     (Photo: Todd Maisel/New York Daily News)

 

For more terrific pictures, click HERE.

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  • […] RED ALERT! CALL TO DEMAND SHUTDOWN OF INDIAN POINT NUCLEAR POWER POINT, NOW!  […]

  • jeppen says:

    Come on. Uranium is extremely heavy and therefore won’t get “washed into the river”. And if it did, a fuel rod in a river won’t be much of a disaster and definitely won’t make anyone kiss New York goodbye.

    Also, they will withstand flooding without losing core cooling. Relax.

  • Janine Nichols says:

    How much evidence do we need of the threat, the growing threat, to Indian Point, as a consequence of global warming? Shut it down!

  • Diane Screnci, Nuclear Regulatory Commission says:

    At Salem 1, high river levels and storm debris affected the plant’s condenser, on the non-nuclear side, and the plant’s staff manually shut the reactor down. At Indian Point, storm-related grid disturbances triggered an automatic shutdown. At Nine Mile Point 1, an issue in the plant’s switchyard caused a similar automatic shutdown; Nine Mile Point’s staff is still examining whether that was caused by the storm. All plants are stable. There is no impact on public health and safety.

    Diane Screnci
    Sr. Public Affairs Officer
    USNRC

  • Riverkeeper says:

    As Threat of Sandy Looms, Riverkeeper Calls for Powering Down of Indian Point

    Wind speeds near federal limits for nuclear plants, and public’s ability to evacuate severely compromised

    Ossining, NY — October 29, 2012 ­ Hurricane Sandy is picking up momentum and expected to reach 80-90 mile per hour winds as the storm progresses into the evening and into tomorrow morning. This coupled with a flood alert for Westchester County and several closings of major bridges and roads in the area paints a potentially threatening scenario should the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant remain in operation during the largest storm system our area has ever experienced. Following is a statement by Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper Hudson River Program Director:

    The NRC requires Indian Point to be shut down if winds reach a sustained speed of 75 mph. NOAA is predicting winds of 75-80 mph in Buchanan later tonight, not to mention major flooding from a historic storm surge. Given the high wind estimates, and the closure of so much critical transportation infrastructure during the early impacts of Hurricane Sandy on the region, Riverkeeper is calling for Indian Point to power down immediately because there is no credible way to evacuate the public in case of emergency.

    In addition to numerous local roads closed due to flooding, major current or planned closures include the Tappan Zee, George Washington, Throgs Neck, Bronx-Whitestone, Verrazano-Narrows and Henry Hudson, among other bridges; as well as New York State and county roads, including the Bear Mountain Bridge Road (Route 6/202), part of Route 9W in Rockland County and all Connecticut state highways. Other Hudson River crossings may be closed as wind speeds increase.

    Even under optimal circumstances, plans for evacuating the public from a 10-mile zone around the plant have been flatly labeled “unworkable” after exhaustive study by former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt. A disaster could easily require evacuation of people within 50 miles, which could include an area stretching from Manhattan in the South to Kingston, NY, in the North; and from Bridgeport, CT, in the East to Middletown, NY, in the West.

    Riverkeeper is also concerned about other aspects of emergency preparedness at the plant, given the extraordinary consequences of a disaster at a plant situated in the midst of 20 million Americans. These are ongoing issues of concern that Riverkeeper, the State of New York and Clearwater are arguing in hearings that will determine whether the reactors should be granted a
    new 20-year operating license. During an emergency situation at a nuclear power plant, as we witnessed to disastrous effect in 2011 at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi meltdown, the viability of backup cooling systems are key to preventing the widespread release of radiation. Riverkeeper sought and received confirmation from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Monday that Entergy has more than one week’s worth of diesel fuel on-site to run emergency generators designed to run both reactor and spent fuel pool cooling systems simultaneously.

    Despite this assurance, Riverkeeper is calling for the powering down of Indian Point because an evacuation caused by high winds or other conditions is simply impossible under these circumstances.

    Riverkeeper urges the public to call the NRC at 1-817-200-1868 to voice your concerns, and call for Indian Point to be shut down until the storm has safely passed.

  • Nuclear Plant in N.J. on Alert as Sandy Tests Industry-Lessons From Fukushima?

    By Kasia Klimasinska, Mark Drajem and Christine Harvey

    Oct 30, 2012

    Rising waters from Hurricane Sandy put a nuclear power plant in New Jersey on alert as federal regulators dispatched inspectors to monitor it and nine other facilities in the path of the storm, the biggest test for the U.S. industry since a crisis in Japan more than 18 months ago.

    The nation’s oldest nuclear power plant, Exelon Corp. (EXC)’s Oyster Creek facility, declared an alert last night due to elevated levels of water in its water-intake structure, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a statement. The plant, about 33 miles north of Atlantic City and near the center of the storm’s landfall, was already offline for a refueling outage.

    Sandy, the Atlantic Ocean’s biggest-ever tropical storm, moved along the East Coast for five days before slamming into the mid-Atlantic yesterday, unlike the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Still, Sandy may disturb intake of water for cooling or sever plants’ links to external power.

    “Some plants seem likely to lose access to grid power, possibly for extended periods of time,” Peter Bradford, a former NRC commissioner, said in an e-mail yesterday. “This is not uncommon, and they have had some warning of it, which Fukushima did not. They also have Fukushima itself to thank for advance warning of the possibility of extensive flooding and so should be reasonably well prepared.”

    Public Safety

    Exelon said last night there was “no challenge to plant safety equipment and no threat to the public health or safety,” according to an e-mailed statement. “Exelon has staffed on-site and off-site emergency operations centers to monitor weather and plant conditions and to provide updated information to local, state and federal officials.”

    Exelon said the alert was declared when water levels rose above six feet above sea level, the threshold for an alert — the second lowest of four levels of emergency declaration. A disruption was also reported at the plant’s switchyard, which delivers power to the plant, though diesel generators kicked in automatically.

    Oyster Creek began operating in December 1969 as the nation’s first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant. The company announced in 2010 plans to close it by the end of 2019, when it will have been in operation 50 years. Its single boiling water reactor produces 645 net megawatts, enough electricity to power 600,000 homes.

    ‘Breadth, Intensity’

    On its website, the Chicago-based company called Oyster Creek “a robust and fortified facility, capable of withstanding the most severe weather.” Earlier yesterday, Exelon said it repositioned emergency gear, activated back-up communications and boosted staffing at its three Pennsylvania plants in the path of the storm: Limerick, Peach Bottom and Three Mile Island.

    The Washington-based NRC sent inspectors armed with satellite phones to facilities from Maryland to Connecticut and said all plants remain in a safe condition. Procedures require plants to shut before winds are forecast to exceed hurricane force, the commission said in a statement yesterday.

    “Given the breadth and intensity of this historic storm, the NRC is keeping a close watch on all of the nuclear power plants that could be impacted,” NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said in an e-mailed statement. “Our extra inspectors sent to the potentially affected sites will continue, on an around-the- clock basis, to independently verify that the safety of these plants is maintained until the storm has passed and afterwards.”

    Survive Repeats’

    Analysts said loss of outside power, which is necessary to keep nuclear cores and spent fuel cool, would test adjustments being made at the plants after an earthquake-triggered tsunami led to radiation releases at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in 2011. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) plant lost off-site power and backup generators failed after the earthquake.

    Just as with Fukushima, plant owners “look back to see what flooding heights, wind speeds, etc. have occurred at the site and design their plants to survive repeats,” Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an e-mail. “But when nature reaches new levels, as at Fukushima, past protections may be insufficient.”

    “Designing by rear-view mirror works when nature cooperates and stays consistent with the past,” he said.

    U.S. nuclear plants are well-equipped to handle the threats from Sandy, said Arthur Motta, chairman of the Nuclear Engineering Program at Pennsylvania State University. “In terms of comparative risks, a nuclear power plant is safer than most of the other things nearby,” he said in an interview.

    Flood Protection

    Plants in the path of the storm include Entergy Corp. (ETR)’s Indian Point in New York and Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, owned by Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC, a joint venture of Exelon and Electricite de France SA in Paris.

    “All plants have flood protection above the predicted storm surge, and key components and systems are housed in watertight buildings capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds and flooding,” the NRC said.

    At Indian Point, debris in the Hudson River, which could disturb water-intake, poses a greater risk than flooding, Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman, said in an interview. All the plants in the storm’s path were told to examine their vicinity for large objects that could become “airborne missiles” in high winds, he said.

    Shut Plants

    Given the threat of loss of power, “it would be more responsible if NRC and plant operators would shut the plants down in advance,” Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a Takoma Park, Maryland, group that seeks to end nuclear power and nuclear weapons, said in an interview.

    It takes longer to cool down the radioactive core at a plant operating at full power, he said.

    “In terms of reactors, you had better hope those diesel generators work adequately,” Kamps said.

    Backup diesel generators and cooling systems at Fukushima failed after a 15-meter surge of water tied to a 9-magnitude undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011, led to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Hydrogen explosions occurred as water in the reactors and spent-fuel ponds boiled away and radiation leaked.

    Motta, member of a National Academy of Sciences panel on U.S. nuclear safety, disagreed, and said shutting the plants now wouldn’t make much of a difference.

    Hurricane Sandy, the largest tropical storm recorded in the Atlantic, crossed the New Jersey coast near Atlantic City. With winds extending 1,100 miles, the storm shut the federal government in Washington and state offices from Virginia to Massachusetts. It halted travel, prevented U.S. stock markets from opening and upended the presidential campaign.

    ————————————————————————-
    To contact the reporters on this story: Kasia Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net; Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net; Christine Harvey in New York at charvey32@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

  • BOB STONE says:

    Mitch,

    I really appreciate your passion.

    Betsy and I get only CNN & BBC down here at the Center for Global Justice in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. However, we have been glued to them since Sandy first started to threaten the Big Apple.
    Over the last 3 days we have been constantly astonished by the patent fact that two crucial topics have simply disappeared from the “news.” They are:

    1) A Fukushima/Chernobyl-like disaster in one (or more) of the threatened 16 nukes in Sandy’s path is more than usually likely, according to a nuclear expert interviewed by Amy Goodman. And,

    2) Global warming is already — by wide agreement — a factor in generating such superstorms in the first place. But we have never heard this possibility mentioned by CNN/BBC since Sandy started. (Of course this does not apply to Amy Goodman and Al Jazzeera, which we get over the internet and which have been splendid on these issues.)

    These facts are of direct pertinence and interest to the 20-million plus people in Sandy’s path, especially in light of the recent Fukushima disaster at nature’s hands. How can we explain such a blatant blackout of obviously newsworthy and audience-holding issues?

    As a former print journalist I can say that it is very unlikely the result of a choice by working media folks. They want stories, period.

    And these two topics are ready-made stories, easy picking. In the course of routine disaster coverage, editors would assign crews to such hot items — if only to quell natural and pervasive fears. Moreover the blackout is not restricted to a single network. It may even be due to a wider agreement to suspend of the usual inter-network competition.

    Still, why would corporate media oligarchs order their editors and producers to stay their natural impulses, thus directly suppressing discussion of these topics?

    It occurs to me that since the right favors both nuclear power and denial of global warming — as matters of official Republican party POLICY — just to admit these topics into public discourse might be construed as anti-Romney bias. Especially one week before the election.

    Yet is even this fear sufficient to explain suppression of the news judgement of one’s own professionals? Since their companies are behaving as if they expect a Romney victory, I can only surmise that these oligarchs want to err on the side of bland overlooking of issues important to the people. After all, the consequences of losing favor with such an ascendant political sponsor of all-things-corporate could be large. They could lose independence, be compelled to further water down equal time, further defer to advertisers interests over those of viewers, and lose access to government sources.

    Is this all speculation? It is at least a plausible hypothesis. It is not a big leap to conclude that this silence comes down to deferring to Romney over Obama. (But while Obama is scarcely better on these questions, at least nuke-boosting and warming-denial are not parts of his POLICY.)

    In any case, these two omissions by themselves constitute a global bias-by-silence, a distorting of what counts as news — not less effective for being hard to perceive and identify.

    What do you think?

    adelante juntos,
    Bob Stone
    Global Justice Center
    San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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