Nuclear Colonialism in New Mexico

❝ A proposal for New Mexico to house one of the world’s largest nuclear waste storage facilities has drawn opposition from nearly every indigenous nation in the state. Nuclear Issues Study Group co-founder and Diné organizer Leona Morgan told state legislators last week the project, if approved, would perpetuate a legacy of nuclear colonialism against New Mexico’s indigenous communities and people of color.

❝ Holtec International, a private company specializing in spent nuclear fuel storage and management, applied for a license from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct and operate the facility in southeastern New Mexico.

❝ The proposal, which has been in the works since 2011, would see high-level waste generated at nuclear power plants across the country transported to New Mexico for storage at the proposed facility along the Lea-Eddy county line between Hobbs and Carlsbad. Holtec representatives say the facility would be a temporary solution to the nation’s growing nuclear waste problem, but currently there is no federal plan to build a permanent repository for the waste.

No Plan, BTW, for permanent storage ANYWHERE ELSE!

Uncle Sugar spent $43 million for a $500K gas station in Afghanistan

Our Afghan CNG filling station

The U.S. Department of Defense spent an estimated $43 million to build a single gas station in Afghanistan, the federal government’s oversight authority for reconstruction in the Central Asian country said Monday. The revelation marks the latest example of alleged overspending identified by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction…

SIGAR’s report called the plan to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station in the small northern Afghan city of Sheberghan “ill-conceived,” and said it came at an “exorbitant cost to U.S. taxpayers.” The report noted that the gas station should have cost roughly $500,000…

The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera…

“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide an explanation for the high cost the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation or outcome,” Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko said in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter that accompanied the report.

Read the whole report [.pdf] if you feel like getting pissed off over millions of taxpayer dollars wasted, stolen, and misused. In a war that accomplished nothing other than decades of enmity and agony to come. A present from conservatives and cowards in Congress and the White House.

EPA may be way underestimating landfill emissions


Click to enlarge

Landfills may be emitting more methane than previously reported because the Environmental Protection Agency may be drastically underestimating how much garbage is being deposited in landfills across the US, according to a new Yale University study.

Banana peels, coffee grounds, plastic bottles and other detritus tossed in the garbage usually ends up in a landfill and emits methane as it decomposes.

Methane is a greenhouse gas up to 35 times as potent as carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change over the span of a century, and landfills are the United States’ third largest source of methane emissions, according to the EPA. The Obama administration is focusing on cutting methane emissions as part of its Climate Action Plan.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, examined more than 1,200 solid waste landfills, including those that are open and those that are closed and no longer accepting waste.

Using previously unavailable data from individual landfills, the study found that in 2012, about 262 million metric tonnes of waste were deposited in landfills across the country, more than double the 122 million tonnes estimated by the EPA. The agency may be underestimating the amount of waste landing in landfills because small waste disposal facilities are not required to report how much refuse they accept.

What great reasons do our politicians offer for blocking requirements to report? Anyone?

The study also found that open landfills emit 91% of all landfill methane emissions, while closed landfills are 17% more efficient than open landfills at capturing methane so it does not escape into the atmosphere…

The study’s primary goal was to learn more about the efficiency of methane capture systems at landfills, which are more effective after a landfill stops accepting new waste…

…Atmospheric physicist Raymond Pierrehumbert, who is among the scientists who believe cutting methane should be less of a priority than cutting carbon dioxide to tackle climate change, said the study is useful in evaluating methane capture systems at landfills. But it primarily underscores that landfill gas should be used more widely as an energy source and that people should throw less in the trash, especially organic matter…

Conclusions across the board are consistent with good sense waste management. Produce less waste. Recycle and reuse where and when possible. Utilize methane produced by landfills to generate electricity or power useful machinery.

The range of solutions from the scientific side of the equation are already well known. Only Know-Nothing political barbarians dispute either the need for research or the goals.

Economics 101 for our latest Coalition of the Willing

US/UK warplanes are flying sorties, at a cost somewhere between $22,000 to 30,000 per hour for the F-16s, to drop bombs that cost at least $20,000 each, to destroy ISIL hardware.

That means if an F-16 were to take off from Incirclik Air Force Base in Turkey and fly two hours to Erbil, Iraq, and successfully drop both of its bombs on one target each, it costs the United States somewhere between $84,000 to $104,000 for the sortie

Watching today’s endlessly repeated video clip of one of our heroic sorties bombing a freaking pickup truck. At a cost of $85K-104K.

Just send in some creepy salesman from a local used car lot and offer the bandit in charge $20K cash on the spot for his truck – and we’re in business – making the world safe for capitalism.

Army ready to waste $1.8 Billion for a rifle we don’t need

vote rand

The Army risks wasting as much as $1.8 billion developing a replacement for the M4 carbine that it may not need, according to the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The carbine replacement program is one the Army and Pentagon “may want to re-evaluate,” as the service is “seeking to acquire more rifles during a time when their total force structure will be reduced,” Lynne Halbrooks, principal deputy inspector general, said in a statement provided today to a House committee. The Pentagon plans to reduce Army ground forces to 490,000 by 2017 from about 560,000 in 2011…

The carbine replacement is among programs Halbrooks highlighted as having questionable value in the statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform…

The inspector general’s efforts are focused on deficiencies in financial management, acquisition processes, contract management, readiness, information technology security and equipping and training Iraq and Afghan security forces, according to a staff memo prepared for lawmakers.

The Army carbine program is an example of decisions the Pentagon and military services face in culling savings from the projected $27 billion expected to be spent in fiscal 2012 on major acquisition programs…

Halbrooks’s statement summarized areas of potential savings in financial and contract management completed by her agency such as the finding in 2011 of spare parts overpricing by Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft to support the helicopter maintenance at the Army’s Corpus Christi depot in Texas.

Those overcharges, which were previously disclosed, are cases in which the Army “did not effectively use” existing inventory before buying overpriced parts from the contractors, Halbrooks wrote…

In other words, the Pentagon doesn’t manage its purchases up to the standards of, say, Home Depot.

Anyone holding their breath until Congress and our military brass hats pay attention to the Inspector General’s report? Or should we just wait for the follow-up report which will detail continuing corruption on behalf of the military-industrial complex we have all come to know and revere?

More lessons about the failure of charter schools

The charter school movement gained a foothold in American education two decades ago partly by asserting that independently run, publicly financed schools would outperform traditional public schools if they were exempted from onerous regulations. The charter advocates also promised that unlike traditional schools, which were allowed to fail without consequence, charter schools would be rigorously reviewed and shut down when they failed to perform.

With thousands of charter schools now operating in 40 states, and more coming online every day, neither of these promises has been kept. Despite a growing number of studies showing that charter schools are generally no better — and often are worse — than their traditional counterparts, the state and local agencies and organizations that grant the charters have been increasingly hesitant to shut down schools, even those that continue to perform abysmally for years on end.

If the movement is to maintain its credibility, the charter authorizers must shut down failed schools quickly and limit new charters to the most credible applicants, including operators who have a demonstrated record of success.

That is the clear message of continuing analysis from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, which tracks student performance in 25 states. In 2009, its large-scale study showed that only 17 percent of charter schools provided a better education than traditional schools, and 37 percent actually offered children a worse education.

A study released this week by the center suggests that the standards used by the charter authorizers to judge school performance are terribly weak.

It debunked the common notion that it takes a long time to tell whether a new school can improve student learning. In fact, the study notes, it is pretty clear after just three years which schools are going to be high performers and which of them will be mediocre. By that time, the charter authorizers should be putting troubled schools on notice that they might soon be closed. As the study notes: “For the majority of schools, poor first year performance will give way to poor second year performance. Once this has happened, the future is predictable and extremely bleak. For the students enrolled in these schools, this is a tragedy that must not be dismissed.”

With phonies like Jeb Bush pushing charter schools – online as well as brick-and-mortar – you can bet this will continue to be a favorite Republican path to doing away with publicly-available schooling for American children.

Yes, those who hate the idea of an educated working class will continue their crap, utilizing every avenue they can run down screaming – whether it’s school vouchers for private schools, the “wonders” of parochial schooling, on and on. The track record for the whole alternative notion remains the same. Dismal and dumber.

Blair learned his lessons well from Bush, didn’t he? $16 billion in U.K. tax fraud from lack of oversight

martin20schranks20blair20bush20cartoon

The head of Britain’s Work and Pensions department charges that fraud in the country’s tax-credit system has cost taxpayers more than $16.2 billion.

Ian Duncan Smith said a system of tax credits targeting lower-paid Britons is open to abuse because of the inadequate number of checks on those who receive the assistance, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

In an article published in the newspaper, Smith wrote that Britain’s welfare bill rose 60 percent between 2003 and 2010, with nearly $278 billion disbursed during that period…

The tax credits are based on a person’s estimate of salary for the coming year. At the end of that year, tax collectors are supposed to compare the person’s actual earnings against the estimate and reclaim any overpayments.

Smith said the revenue department conducted only about 34,000 checks a year on individuals who received what were considered “high risk awards.”

Even those found to have been overpaid often have not repaid the money, he said.

Blair followed Bush’s best practices all the way from war to poverty. No oversight. No responsibility. Nothing achieved beyond death, destruction and deficit.

Republicans want Star Wars missile site on East Coast

Republicans who control the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee called on Wednesday for studies on what could become a third missile-interceptor site in the United States, this one on the East Coast. The plan would require the secretary of defense to conduct an environmental impact review by December 31, 2013, on “possible locations on the East Coast of the United States for the deployment of a missile defense site.”

U.S. forces currently deploy a combined total of 30 operational missile interceptors in silos in Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California…

This is the silly-ass Star Wars crap we laughed out of existence in Reagan’s day. Bush/Obama take this craptastic waste of taxpayer dollars very seriously.

…Such legislation is likely to be adopted by the full, Republican-controlled committee. It would have to be meshed with a companion defense authorization bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate…

It was not immediately clear whether the Obama administration would support such steps toward an East Coast missile site.

I can think of several suitable locations right off the bat:

…At the intersection of Wall Street and Exchange Place. This will allow future demonstrations at the New York Stock Exchange to include the military-industrial complex as a matter of convenience.

…Secaucus, New Jersey. If we’re lucky the whole site will sink into the swamps already polluted with lots and lots of industrial waste.

…Hempstead, Long Island, New York. Another slumlord town falling deeper and deeper into ruin. They could use the money spinning from construction and graft. The latter would certainly be guaranteed by the mob’s favorite Republican, Peter King.