By Ralph Nader
President Obama’s pick of Kansas to win the “March Madness” collegiate basketball tournament ended with their defeat by Virginia Commonwealth University this past Saturday. He must know how the Jay Hawks are feeling because he is entangled in his own March Madness that will continue after this month ends.
The expanding nuclear meltdown disaster from Japan’s cluster of nuclear plants gets worse by the day, yet President Obama continues to reassure the nuclear industry that he supports more plants guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers because Wall Street otherwise will not risk loaning billions of dollars per plant.
Mr. Obama, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and their atomic power allies say that they’ll learn from the Japanese failures and make the U.S. plants safer. That puts off the urgency to act for an indefinite period.
What Mr. Obama should realize is that Japan’s human and economic catastrophe was a gigantic wakeup call to stop playing Russian roulette with the lives of millions of Americans and swing into action. First, he should shut down any plants near large population centers where untested evacuation plans are tragic farces. That means San Onofre and Diablo Canyon in California and the troubled Indian Point plants 26 miles from Manhattan that are near active seismic faults. That means closing all aging nukes as recommended by Russian scientist Alexey Yablokov (a member of the prestigious Russian Academy of Sciences), who had a news conference in Washington last Thursday (ignored by the major newspapers and network television but covered by CNN and C-SPAN) regarding 5000 scientific papers in Slavic languages on the consequences of the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl (See his report at: http://books.google.com/books?id=g34tNlYOB3AC&lpg=PP1&ots=O15UeQYVf5&dq=alexey%20yablokov%20chernobyl&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) He estimated at least one million lives have been lost since.
Third, there should be an immediate analysis of substitute electric generating capacity and the many ways to reduce energy waste so as to close out the uneconomic, unnecessary and unsafe nuclear industry forever. (See: RMI.org)
Corporations must not be allowed to jeopardize the habitability of American land and the lives of the American people with a technology that’s only purpose is to boil water to produce steam. An area half the size of New Jersey around Chernobyl is uninhabitable with abandoned towns and villages. The Japanese, with reactors manufactured by General Electric (whose $14.2 billion in profits escaped taxation last year and got $3.2 billion in tax benefits) are in the early stages of figuring out how many square kilometers will have to be abandoned by families and workers.
Yesterday, New York Times reporter George Johnson wrote: “With radiation, the terror lies in the abstraction. It kills incrementally—slowly, diffusely, invisibly. ‘Afterheat,’ Robert Socolow, a Princeton University professor, called it in an essay for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, ‘the fire that you can’t put out.’”
Professor Socolow works on energy conservation and renewable energy. He and hundreds of other experts know that efficient renewable technologies and conservation can substitute more safely and more efficiently far more megawatts than 104 nukes are producing now from their deadly hot radioactive nuclear cores.
It is way past time to end this government guaranteed, corporate Mutational Madness once and for all.
On Capitol Hill, President Obama still is surrendering to House Republican extortions in return for them agreeing to extend every three weeks the budget resolution so as to avoid a government shutdown. The President simply doesn’t know how to throw the Republican know-nothings on the defensive by discrediting their craven inebriating ideology of fact-starved abstractions. He prefers to do his fighting overseas.
While on the other side of the world, the wars of Obama have added Libya, notwithstanding his Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed disclination to start this latest attack, before it started. Again, no end strategy and no candor to tell the American people and their Congress that the no-fly zone is moving into a full fledged attack, under NATO cover, with ground forces aided by U.S. special forces already in Libya. So much for our Constitution’s allocation of authority.
Long ago, humanitarian interventions should have been initiated by an independent United Nations standing military capability pursuant to the appropriate UN resolutions. After all, over 190 countries—just about all the countries of the world—are members of the UN and adhere to the UN Charter, which has the force of international law upon signatory countries. You would think that King Clinton, King Bush and King Obama would have advanced this concept to relieve the American Empire of some of its burdens. Then our government could pay more attention here to saving lives and advancing health by reducing the millions of preventable deaths, injuries and diseases from toxic pollution, occupation perils, hospital malpractice and infections, product defects and poverty. Imagine real healthcare for all!