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After such a convoluted week, this weeks’ Op/Ed may seem a bit convoluted as well, so bear with me. I’ll do my best to tie everything in.

After suffering one of the worst earthquakes in history, followed by a massive tsunami that may have caused more death & destruction than the quake itself, Japan’s worst disaster may yet to be written as no fewer than SIX nuclear reactors on the island nation are in danger of meltdown. Already, the condition of ALL SIX reactors are almost on par with the America’s “Three Mile Island” (Pennsylvania) disaster in 1979, which resulted in a partial meltdown and the need to vent a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. Japan has not vented any three of its reactors yet, but there are already reports that a partial meltdown has already occurred within at least two reactors (UPDATE: Already THREE of Japan’s reactors have suffered huge hydrogen explosions. – 3/15)

29 years ago next Sunday, I received my very first computer (yes, I AM that big a geek). There wasn’t a lot of commercial software back in 1982, so one of the first programs I owned was a nuclear powerplant simulation called “SCRAM“, which the manual explained stood for “Start Cutting Right Away, Man!” When a nuclear powerplant is shutdown… “Scrammed”… the “control rods” are lowered into the core to slow the nuclear reaction. Leaving them in there permanently results in a total shutdown. Interestingly, the object of the “game” was to try and figure out what part of the reactor was damaged following a simulated earthquake (the entire screen would shake side to side and a rumbling sound was heard, followed by the “ping” of a pipe breaking.) By monitoring the different readouts, it was your job to deduce which system had broken. If you failed, the core would overheat to the point of meltdown. That’s not too far from what’s going on in Japan right now.

If anything good were to come of this tragedy, it might be to finally slow down the renewed push for more nuclear energy in this country. I’ve complained for years about the joint misconceptions that nuclear power is both “green” and “cheap”. It is neither. Not by a longshot. Nuclear power plants require millions of gallons of cold water to keep its reactors cool, and the resulting superheated water waste-heat (that didn’t seem right to me, so I researched the issue. The water itself would be radio active. What is dumped/released into the air/rivers is the *heat*, not the water itself. – Mugsy) is then pumped back into rivers and streams where it kills the fish and aquatic plant life. Water around the core becomes radioactive waste that we put into barrels and bury underground, where it has been known to leak into the environment. And, of course, no one wants a nuclear waste site in their backyard (NIMBY).

New plants also aren’t cheap. $11 Billion to build a single powerplant with only 30 to 40 years of useful life at a cost of $1.5 to $3 Billion a year to operate. No one will insure one, and no company will take on the financial risk of building one w/o insurance. Enter the Federal government. On top of all that, it takes ELEVEN YEARS of nuclear power generation to counter the air pollution created in its construction and mining of the ore used in it. Best case costs to build/run/decommission a single plant: $506 Billion dollars. Worst case costs: $1 Trillion, 31 Billion dollars (roughly $10,800 per kWh when you factor in external costs).

And nuclear power plants are also a choice terrorist target. Add in the costs of securing them. We should be getting rid of the ones we have, not building new ones.

(UPDATE 3/24: The Nation has an excellent article this week saying much the same thing, pointing out that currently only 9 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear, easily replaced with Green Energy sources.)

During Fox “news” Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked his guest Mitch McConnell if he thought the Japanese nuclear disaster would derail America’s renewed support for nuclear power? Rather than admit the obvious, McConnell instead criticized “dwelling on the future of nuclear power in America” in the midst of the nuclear crisis in Japan. “Emotions are running high”, McConnell declared. “Not the time to be making rash decisions.” You know, like Rumsfeld planning the invasion of Iraq on the evening of 9/11.

Which brings me to disaster #2: Iraq.

Next Saturday (March 19th) marks the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, justified by fictitious “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that Saddam was supposedly amassing. And only now, later this Summer, will the United States finally “largely” be out of Iraq (with roughly 5,000 service men/women permanently left behind “in an advisory role”). “Mission Accomplished”, so to speak.

I’ve written a number of Op/Ed’s and posted numerous videos regarding the Iraq War over the years. But the bullet-point that strikes me most is just how much oil cost before the war vs how much it costs today. In fact, one of the key arguments for invading Iraq was the possibility of cheap oil. The Bush Administration had “oil” on the brain so bad, it even called the mission “Operation Iraqi Liberation“… “O.I.L.”, for any dull-witted Conservatives out there reading.

Three years ago this June, I wrote about the sudden surge in oil prices that led up to $4/gal gas a month later. The day before the invasion of Iraq, oil was trading for $31.67/barrel… a figure that seems “quaint” by today’s standards. I highly recommend going back and reading my old report from three years ago. It’s a short read, but the information is still topical today.

Also on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, former Bush spokesmodel Dana “Dren” Perino…
 
(Is it’s just me, or can you not look at Dana Perino without thinking of “Dren”, the mutant child from the movie “Splice“?):
 

Perino & Dren

 

Anyway, Perino criticized President Obama “for trying to take credit for the 17% increase in domestic oil production” compared to 2003. “Energy policy takes at least ten years before its true impact is felt” she tried to argue. Yeah Dana, I think of that every time I fill up with $3.50/gallon gas. Ever notice how Republicans try to give credit for everything good during a Democratic presidency to the preceding Republican Administration (like crediting Bush-41 for the Clinton economy), yet blame everything bad on the Democrats? (Obama hadn’t even taken office yet when Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity called the continued Stock Market decline “the Obama Recession”. The DOW has nearly DOUBLED in the two years since Obama took office.)

Oh, and just a brief follow-up on last week’s “Special Edition” regarding pseudo-journalist James O’Keefe and his most recent over-hyped, selectively-edited, “expose'” that shows nothing of any great controversy until you play out-of-context snippets on Fox 24/7. Yesterday, Fox “news” Sunday declared O’Keefe their latest “Person of the Week” for “adding another scalp” to his resume for “exposing NPR”. O’Keefe told Fox that he enjoyed “exposing the hypocrisy of the Left”, but damned if I could tell you what “hypocrisy” he thinks he “exposed” in his NPR hidden-camera tape (and I doubt O’Keefe himself could tell you). Fox (naturally) played the clip of NPR VP Schiller saying “NPR might be better off without government funding”, but naturally left off the second sentence where he explained why (because so many people are under the misconception most of their funding comes from the government that “it hinders fund-raising”… money that small stations desperately need or else… also omitted from the Fox interview… “many stations would go dark”.)

FnS also conveniently omitted any mention of the second half of O’Keefe’s video, in which his fake Muslim benefactor’s “donation” is dutifully rejected due to a lack of documentation certifying where the money was coming from.

Yes, this certainly was a week of disasters.
 


 

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