Thursday, March 29, 2007

GNEP Hearing Hood River, OR March 26, 2007 Report: Great Success

The turnout was fabulous given the 13 day notice we had for this hearing. At 6PM 120 people were in attendance as USDOE began its presentations. At least 30, and as many as 50 additional people came, filling the room and with a large standing group in back. Many people thanked Natalie and I for phone calls from Heart of America Northwest (CRK gave us a list of around 200 members of theirs to call, and we reached many of them in addition to the Heart of America members in the Gorge / Portland area).

TRIDEC did bring a bus with GNEP supporters down from the Tri-Cities. TRIDEC is the Hanford contractor group which is both the “applicant” proposing GNEP for Hanford, and the grantee given over $1 million by USDOE to study the site and report on regional stakeholder concerns. They seemed surprised that we had such a strong turnout, and prevented them from having their pro-GNEP / pro-FFTF reactor message on equal terms. Several of them commented to me that the opponents were articulate and well informed, while others called names and made threats.

Many thanks to all the concerned citizens and groups’ representatives who came – with wonderful statements.

Media coverage was excellent: OPB (NPR affiliate) ran a news story throughout the afternoon with our concerns about trucking High-Level Nuclear Waste through Portland and the Gorge, reprocessing and lack of openness. Hood River news ran article from news release put out by Natalie, and two of the three main Portland TV stations responded to the news release by sending crews all the way to Hood River (60 miles up the Columbia Gorge) – which has never happened before for any hearing.

USDOE opened the hearing with its standard presentation and Powerpoint slide show on GNEP – used at all the GNEP hearings. This touts the wonders of nuclear power, the benefits of reprocessing Spent Fuel (“recycling”), and has only two slides about generic facilities being considered for applicant sites, with no specific information.

Following the presentation, I (politely) raised a point of information inquiring why USDOE had not presented a single detail about what facilities and wastes were proposed for Hanford, e.g., how much Spent Nuclear Fuel would be imported, what size and number of reprocessing facilities were proposed (and whether use of old, contaminated facilities was proposed)... since USDOE’s own slides stated that the point of a “scoping” hearing was for the public to provide input on the scope of impacts to be studied from the proposal. This was greeted by GNEP FFTF supporters cat calls and one big guy standing up to threaten to make me sit down. Scores of other attendees then applauded and called on USDOE to answer why there was no information, and demanded to know how we were expected to comment without disclosure. A lame answer came from a USDOE official who said they would provide those details in a few months, after TRIDEC did its “siting study”. Numerous citizens pointed out that this would deny them their chance to comment on the scope. The official, if I heard correctly, said they would respond.

GREAT Opening Comments by Oregon and Senator Wyden:

The State of Oregon’s Ken Niles was the first speaker. The State’s position is very strong against GNEP: “it is lunacy”. The State opposes siting GNEP at Hanford, noting “skepticism”about USDOE’s “amazing claims” that USDOE could make reprocessing work, would reduce wastes – when, in fact, reprocessing would add more wastes to Hanford.

This was loudly applauded.

The Yakama Nation’s speaker noted the need for consultation with the Tribe before USDOE could proceed and objected to such use of ceded lands without cleanup.

Senator Wyden’s statement opposing GNEP and siting GNEP at Hanford was very strong and loudly applauded (delivered very well by Mary Gautreaux). In fact, at least three citizens quoted from it in their testimony later in the evening.... especially the line that reprocessing was like King Midas on steroids, and everything touched by reprocessing would be radioactive and become waste requiring cleanup on top of all the wastes already at Hanford.

Tri-City Benton County Commissioner Claude Oliver also spoke under state and local officials. Oliver has been leading the fight to restart FFTF for years. He referred to using “assets” without saying the words: “FFTF Nuclear Reactor” and “restart.” He played well by appreciating the turnout and saying this would be so much better of a forum if there were scientific experts at the front of the room who would answer the public’s questions, instead of just having USDOE officials sitting there without responding. Claude Oliver insinuated that there would be developments coming out of the study... but he offered no info on what was being proposed despite being on the team.

Public comment was then limited to 2 minutes per speaker – due to the number signed up and to the fact that the Hood River – White Salmon bridge across the River was closing at 9:30 due to construction. Testimony was very articulate despite the limit. Many people thanked our groups (CRK, PSR, HoA) for providing them with information which was not otherwise available... one man noting that he had to “donate to Heart of America Northwest to protect him from his own government.”

themes of opponents:

- cleanup first;

- Honor the public’s vote for Initiative 297 and public sentiment against adding any new wastes to Hanford when USDOE has not been able to cleanup what is already there;

- Public relations gimmick “glib terminology” calling chemical processing of spent fuel “recycling” only increased distrust;

- Transporting Spent Nuclear Fuel had serious risks – including terrorists as well as accidents and unnecessary radiation exposures along routes. Keep SNF at reactors.

- Terrorist risks for facilities at Hanford would increase;

- Groundwater and River impacts from making more wastes and disposing of them at Hanford;

- Invest same funding in renewable, sustainable energy and conservation would get far more done for energy independence. This was called on to be studied as a reasonable alternative.

- Calling nuclear power “clean” for Global Warming is like calling coal clean because it doesn’t release radiation.

- Where would waste from overseas be imported... study impacts and hold hearings in each potential port and each transportation route.

- Incredible waste of funds for GNEP in hundreds of millions for this year and proposed for next year.

- Cleanup funds diminishing at same time USDOE wants to create more waste.

- vitrification plant is $8 billion over budget and decades behind for just half the liquid High-Level Nuclear Wastes at Hanford, while USDOE wants to create more.

- Reprocessing not cost effective in France and serous problems

- Reprocessing sets bad precedent for other nations to reprocess and extract weapons usable Plutonium and Uranium.

- Reprocessing actually increases volume of waste even if less goes to repository. This is just a way for USDOE and nuclear utilities to get around lack of repository.

- Many thanked State of Oregon and Senator Wyden;

- lack of notice from USDOE of this hearing... including from two local officials.


- FFTF Reactor a valuable asset, its use would save billions from building a new Advanced Burner Reactor;

- FFTF Reactor can be restarted safely and make medical isotopes... cure cancer...

- US needs nuclear... if US doesn’t build more nuclear plants we will no longer be a ‘world power”

- France and Britain reprocess and leave us behind, can be done safely.

- Reprocessing is non-proliferation

- Decrease the volume of radioactive waste

- Hanford best place to reprocess and already has FFTF (not as much of this as at Pasco hearing, of course)

- Anti GNEP people are “hysterical”... Heart of America should “get a heart” instead of opposing cure for cancer.

- Oregon should welcome reprocessing of Spent Fuel stored at Trojan... bet Oregon would want to send its Spent Fuel to Hanford for reprocessing.

- alternative energy can not meet energy demand.

Last note: USDOE apparently asked for security at the hearing. There were several private security guards present. This bears watching. At the FFTF restart hearings, USDOE made claim that police and security, including undercover, was needed due to claimed threats from citizen group. Obviously, there were no such threats about this hearing (nor about the FFTF... but, there the only violence came from FFTF supporters assaulting us).

43 people filled out “ballots” developed by Angela of Oregon PSR on GNEP and USDOE’s priorities. Good way to gather additional comments for submission. We will submit them all.

Gordon Sturrock of Vets for Peace from Eugene posted this debrief, and has photos on their website:

Another trip to speak out against the proposed GNEP (Global Nuclear Exchange
Program), this time to Hood River, Oregon where the bussed-in pro-nuke crowd
was severely out-numbered. The tables had turned from the previous meeting
which took place in Pasco, Washington, home base of the selfish nuclear
scientists and workers who clearly were more interested in putting their own
financial welfare ahead of the health and safety of their fellow humans
beings all along the Columbia River and the entire Pacific Northwest...


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

GNEP - Hell No We Won't Glow!

My mother's official response to the Global Nuclear Energy Plan, or, as she likes to call it: George's Nuclear Energy Plot. Go Mom!

Mr. Timothy A. Frazier

Office of Nuclear Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

100 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20585-0119


RE: GNEP PEIS Comments

Complete text of my public

hearing testimony re:Hanford

March 13, 2007

My name is Judith Cosby; I’m from Walla Walla, Washington. I’m here tonight because I cannot believe it an impossible task to convince the United States of America that it is an unwise proposal to ship 63,000 metric tons of nuclear waste that will remain radio-

active for thousands of years across thousands of miles of American highways and rails, across the Cascades, the Blue Mountains, the Rockies, dodging drunken drivers, rockslides, snowstorms, and black ice, for the purpose of planting this high-level radio-

active waste virtually alongside one of the largest rivers of the world, and next door to the only active volcanoes in the contiguous United States.

Listen to me: Over a million gallons of radioactive wastes have already leaked out of storage tanks at the Hanford reservation. The nuclear industry and the federal government want us to believe that high-level radioactive wastes are safe for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Right here at Hanford, we’ve been unable to contain them for even 50 years. We are told the best expertise in the nation is work at Hanford.

My request is RESULTS FIRST. I want the people of Washington state and America to require the Department of Energy to keep the last three promises they made: Clean-up, Containment, a completed Vitrification Plant—first.

I’d like to point my own government and the nuclear industry consortium toward two crucial issues—the first is accountability; the second is the human right to environmental health and safety. Accountability—who is it that is providing the technical information on site selection? safety? feasibility? Someone who has the continuation of nuclear power or defense as an economic incentive? -- Fluor? ($800 Million contract)

Bechtel? (Vitrification Plant) CH2MHill? (High Level Waste Tanks)

Battelle? AREVA? Westinghouse? The Washington Group?

ALL of the reassurances of industry and federal representatives about the relative safety of nuclear power must be weighed on the scale against Price-Anderson Act guarantees that no major corporation or power company involved in nuclear technologies is financially responsible for damages.

What do Fluor’s assets come to? Bechtel’s assets? Let all the utilities, corporations and private companies sincere about their claims as to the safety of nuclear power, the safe long-term storage of nuclear wastes, their reassurances about transcontinental transportation agree to put their money where their mouth is. Let the nuclear industries put their assets on the line (instead of our tax dollars) and insure each other! If nuclear technologies are as safe and economical as they’ve been telling us for 50 years, this should pose no problem.

Listen to me. For all the "expert" reassurances over the years, a nuclear catastrophe is always a real possibility. ALL reactors have a severe accident potential. Shall we multiply this terrible fact tenfold by shuttling radioactivity all over the country? Mothers Against Drunk Drivers think they’ve got problems now—just wait. No. Don’t wait. Just say NO.

May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, ending 123 years of inactivity. It unleashed mudflows that disrupted ship traffic 60 miles downstream in the Columbia River. Aren’t we glad there weren’t any barges of radioactive waste on the river? (Would we have been told if there were?)

My home is 50 miles from Hanford. We raise food in Washington state that feeds America and the world. Our award-winning wines are being shipped world-wide. Thousands of acres of fertile land are irrigated with Columbia River water. Many more thousands of acres of agricultural land share the winds that blow across Hanford. . . . .

Chernobyl, April 26, 1986. Chernobyl was not a terrorist act. Nor an act of war or aggression. Chernobyl was not an unavoidable act of nature—a hurricane, tornado, volcano, or earthquake. (Though all of these in the nuclear age have an increasing likelihood of being a nuclear disaster. –Just have to be in the right place. –More places all the time, too.)

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the radioactive plume advancing toward our own beloved Columbia River are all messages that we have as much to fear from our own nuclear stockpiles as from our enemies’. Nearly three decades ago, the United States decided (on non-proliferation grounds) to NOT process spent fuel from U.S. power reactors, but instead to directly dispose of it in a deep underground geologic repository where it would remain isolated from the environment for at least tens of thousands of years.

Billions of taxpayer dollars later, we are no closer to achieving any of those goals than we were 30 years ago. "Clean Up" is years behind schedule, we can’t even keep up with containment of the wastes we have already produced. The deep geologic repository is in limbo, Yucca Mountain may never happen. -- And "remaining isolated from the environment for at least tens of thousands of years" is a lie. The best scientists in the nation haven’t even been able to accomplish this for 50 years. If the United States Department of Energy has the billions of dollars for reprocessing, why can’t they pay first for cleaning up the mess they already made?

This is not my first hearing. In the last 25 years I’ve been lied to by some of the best names in the business, General Electric, Westinghouse, Rockwell. I’ve been lied to about bids. I’ve been lied to about budgets. I’ve been lied to about Environmental Protection. I’ve been lied to about "clean up". I’ve been lied to about safety. For years.

Listen to me. These are the lies we’ve been told: Atoms for Peace. With nuclear power plants, electricity will be too cheap to meter. "Clean Up" is in process. "Clean up" is "progressing". --Listen to me: When DOE or Fluor or Tri-Dec says "permanent storage site" they really mean permanent site. No one in this field has demonstrated yet that there is any such thing as permanent storage. Not a single country in the world.

Wake me from this word-play nightmare! "Clean up" means ongoing pollution; "long terms safe storage" means extremely short term highly hazardous waste dumping. The nuclear industry, in cahoots with our federal government, say nuclear power is clean, safe and affordable—when it’s really polluting, toxic, and exorbitantly expensive! When they discuss "secure interim storage", "secure" is another lie and that "interim" is a hell of a long time. Hundred of years, at the very least.

Nuclear fuel "recycling" sounds harmless, benign, when the truth is-- high level nuclear waste reprocessing from spent fuel is dirty, dangerous and deadly, with hundreds of years worth of economic expenses and thousands of years worth of environmental costs. High level nuclear waste transportation, even just continent-wide, is a Homeland Security nightmare. And this is a Global Nuclear Energy Proposal, folks.

Wake up. "Incident-free trucking" by their OWN guess-timates and testimony, really means fatal cancers to adults, and even more to children, along the routes. "Nuclear waste reduction" means global nuclear waste proliferation and world-wide transportation of high level nuclear wastes.

We already gave you our citizen input. We said no more nuclear waste will be imported until clean up is accomplished. 70% of us in the state of Washington already said no to this dangerous idea three years ago. (I-297, 2004) You, the United States Department of Energy, you are fighting us in court even as we speak! Read my lips: No new wastes.

Now you ask us to trust you, to trust these corporations, industry lobbyists, and the local nuclear booster club—while they are absolved from any real liability, remember—to trust you to be the caretakers of some of Mother Earth’s most toxic poisons, right here in our homeland, for not only the next seven generations but for the next few thousand years?

Before you use any more of my taxpayer dollars on this madness, admit that you cannot keep up with the time-schedule or the run-away costs of "treating", "cleaning", temporary storage", more permanent—but still temporary—storage of the deadly wastes we already have right here at Hanford.

A good first step toward regaining citizen and tribal trust would be for the DOE to drop their lawsuit against the state of Washington mandate to clean up the highly radioactive mess they’ve already made. Prove that you are worthy of further public trust by showing us that you can clean up/contain the waste that’s already here. Show us that vitrification works first, before selling us the song and dance of reprocessing.

The United States Department of Energy and these corporations must complete the projects they’ve already started first. Do not reopen or start up the FFTF until clean up/containment is successfully demonstrated. Fund no new proposal, including GNEP, until the vitrification plant is completed. Contain the toxic radioactive poisons that are corroding old tanks here at Hanford. Decontaminate our soil. Clean up and restore our beloved Columbia River. Before creating any more waste or importing these deadly substances from anywhere else, much less world-wide!

Along with your Environmental Impact Statement I want to read a detailed report from the Office of Homeland Security on GNEP. We’re taking knitting needles away from little old ladies at airports and confiscating Swiss Army Knives from Boy Scouts on busses, at the same time that we’re proposing to truck and ship high level radioactive wastes all over kingdom come ? Wake up! Snap out of it!

I implore you to hold more public hearings in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Olympia, Spokane, Portland, Salem, Eugene. Also, I beg Governor Christine Gregoire to not abandon the 2004 mandate from the overwhelming majority of Washington State voters to clean up existing high level radioactive toxins before adding any more from anywhere. Washington is already bearing far more than its "fair share" of the national nuclear waste problem, as it is. Enough. Call a moratorium until we get some results.

Surely Washington state does not have to fight this battle alone. Look at a map of the United States. At the eastern side of North Dakota, draw an imaginary line south. Follow state lines to the Gulf of Mexico. On the west side of that line lies far more than half of the territory of the United States. Home. Also home to 15 operating nuclear reactors.

East of my imaginary line are 88 operating reactors. Almost six times as many reactors as we have in the western half of our country. Eleven of our western states are nuclear free. One of the politicians at the last hearing I attended said, "Well, they’ve got to put it somewhere." This is true. I’d like suggest moving Mohammed to the mountain. Especially when both are radioactive.

The state legislatures and state representatives of at least the western 17 states should be included in these discussions, because of the possible environmental impacts of interstate/transcontinental transportation of huge amounts of extremely hazardous waste.

I request, as part of the EIS for GNEP, statistics on routes, numbers of shipments, frequency, mileage, and total civilian populations along all proposed transportation routes-- land and sea. An alliance of western governors at a National Governors Conference would be an existing forum for objecting to this dangerous proposal.. Surely there exist other forums. Surely we can create still others.

DOE has an abysmal record as far as clean up/containment of the wastes we already have at Hanford. Broken promises litter this landscape. Because of a history of delays, cost overruns, and blatant misrepresentation, I request external independent regulation. Perhaps the Union of Concerned Scientists, Heart of America Northwest, Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council and the sovereign nations of American Indian Tribes.

We have the legal right to a hearing, but the Bush Administration and you, the United States Department of Energy, refuse to allow us to read the secret proposal on which you are pretending to offer us a chance to comment! Thus, this "public hearing" is a farce and a travesty. We insist that you disclose the Tri-Dec/Hanford contractors’ proposal and then hold public hearings.

Thank you.


Judith Cosby


Governor Christine Gregoire

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Maria Cantwell

Representative Bill Grant

Representative Maureen Walsh

Jay Manning, WA State Department of Ecology

Grandmothers’ Roundtable, Walla Walla

Heart of America Northwest

Union of Concerned Scientists

Yakama Nation

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hanford High-Level Nuclear Waste Import scheme (GNEP) - Tri-City Herald article acknowledges message of WA voters on I-297 is obstacle, now trying... claim no liquid High-Level Wastes

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 13:08:28 -0700

TRIDEC's public relations drumbeat for GNEP at Hanford, including import of Spent Nuclear Fuel and reprocessing... continues in the Tri-City Herald (article below). Note that the article acknowledges Washington's voters overwhelming message of I-297 (cleanup before being allowed to add more waste) stands in way. The claim made that liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste will not be "stored" on site is false -- reprocessing creates liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste. They parse words by claiming they will turn it into a solid. But, Hanford is, at best, 12 years away from being able to prove it can glassify any liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste (and just $8 billion over budget for a plant which will only handle half the volume in Hanford's existing tanks). They can't truck the liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste offsite. So, where will it be vitrified??? Expect them to say they will add another vitrification facility.... while the GNEP national proposal calls for other extremely radioactive solid wastes to be buried onsite, adding to the long-term contamination threat. See fact sheets on the Heart of America Northwest website for detailed citations showing liquid High-level Nuclear Waste results from reprocessing as proposed. Bear in mind that the Tri-City Herald publisher sits on the board and executive committee of TRIDEC, and this is TRIDEC's proposal.

Mark your calendar for Monday, March 26th Hood River Best Western 6PM for the only other hearing on this proposal in the Northwest. That's just one hour away from Portland. The Hotel is visible from I-84 at the 2nd Hood River exit (heading east). Talking points and detailed fact sheets on the wastes that would be imported and produced from GNEP are available at . We have asked that the official Hanford Clean-Up mailing list be mailed notice of the hearing... but, of course, USDOE refuses to do so. So, please forward email and urge your friends and relatives to come... remind them that this involves trucking High-Level Nuclear Waste through Portland and I-84.

Can't attend? Send in your comments today to address at bottom of article (and be sure to ask USDOE to send you a response and to add you to mailing list)!

TRIDEC says Hanford reservation good site for nuclear fuel recycling

Published Saturday, March 17th, 2007 Tri-City Herald


The Hanford nuclear reservation offers many benefits other sites cannot match as it competes to be the home of a nuclear fuel recycling program that could bring 8,000 jobs, a top official of the Tri-City Development Council said Friday. Gary Petersen, vice president for Hanford programs, outlined Hanford's possible role in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at TRIDEC's annual meeting.

TRIDEC won a $1 million grant to study Hanford as the site of a nuclear fuel recycling center and an advanced burner reactor to use the recycled fuel. As part of that grant, Columbia Basin Consulting Group is studying whether Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility could be restarted as part of a GNEP research center.

The Bush administration is proposing the project as a way to reduce the amount of used commercial reactor fuel that must be disposed of and to limit expansion of nuclear weapons by limiting the number of countries that would have to enrich or reprocess nuclear fuel for nuclear power.

At the Tri-City level, the project also could solve a potential economic problem. "Just about the time Hanford is ramping down drastically, this could come on line," Petersen said. Cold War production of plutonium at Hanford and the cleanup of massive contamination left behind have been a key driver for the Tri-City economy. But Hanford jobs should decrease as the site is cleaned up. DOE is projecting that the nuclear fuel recycling center, advanced burner reactor and research center would be in full operation by 2020 to 2025, with some work starting earlier.

Hanford has the advantage of being the only place to have on site an operating commercial nuclear power reactor licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Petersen said. And using the FFTF, a shut-down research reactor, could speed up the project by many years, he said.

The site also has on DOE land much of the infrastructure the project needs, including lay-down yards for the fuel; buildings built for previous nuclear projects; a sewage treatment plant; power transmission lines; a training center; and roads, railroads and nearby access for barges, he said.

The decision on whether to go forward with the project and where it would be located is to be made by the energy secretary in June 2008, just months before the presidential election. "There's nothing done in June 2008 that the next energy secretary can't change, so it is very important to have broad bipartisan support," said Mike Lawrence of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, operated by Battelle. Battelle, Areva and Washington Group International are working with TRIDEC on the siting study.

Dealing with concerns about nuclear waste may be an important issue in gaining support. In 2004, Washington voters approved Initiative 297 to bar the Department of Energy from bringing more waste to Hanford until waste already there is cleaned up. Although the initiative was ruled invalid in federal court and remains the subject of legal proceedings, voters made clear what many in the state thought about Hanford waste, including 53 million gallons of liquid and solid radioactive waste stored in underground tanks.

There would be no storage of liquid waste on site under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Lawrence said. One benefit pushed by the Bush administration is that the plant would reduce waste produced by U.S. commercial nuclear reactors by reusing their fuel. Now commercial fuel is used just one time, then stored to eventually be sent to Yucca Mountain, the nation's unopened nuclear repository. Reprocessing would reduce both the toxicity of the waste and also its volume up to 100-fold, Lawrence said. The world might need just five nuclear repositories like Yucca Mountain rather than hundreds, he said.

The recycling process to prepare fuel to be reused would leave excess uranium that would be disposed of or enriched for use again. The process also would separate out some shorter-lived radioactive isotopes such as cesium and strontium that would lose their radioactivity over hundreds rather than thousands of years. All secondary waste from the project would be turned into a solid, Lawrence said. DOE is continuing to take comments on its environmental study of the project. They may be sent until April 4 to Timothy Frazier, GNEP PEIS Document Manager, Office of Nuclear Energy, Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, DC 20585-0119, or e-mailed to GNEP-PEIS@nuclear. energy .gov. Mark envelopes and e-mails as "GNEP PEIS Comments."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Dragon's Take on Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook

I always like the Dragon's 'tude when he posts. Plus Anthony Bourdain kicks ass. Word up to Tod and his chef buddies in Seattle for turning me onto his delectable culinary arts and nefarious wit. Oh, and Dragon? Don't ever mention Borders again or we'll dismember you and flavor some sea water with yer bones. Arrrrhhh!

...By way of explaining my personal aesthic to other creative friends, I use to say that I wanted to be the love child of Captain Kangaroo and William S. Burroughs. I want to synthesize a certain sense of whimsy, with a darker, edgier side. In the culinary arts, Alton Brown represents the geeky, playful side of that equation. The edgier, more punk side is best represented by Anthony Bourdain. And fortunately for me, Borders had his Les Halles Cookbook in stock.
Now, I've never really had any aspirations to master French cuisine. I always viewed it as hoity-toity and pretentious. My predilictions have always been towards simple, basic peasant fare, with perhaps a little something extra added, but built on a solid working class foundation. Of course, the more I have managed the kitchen in our household, the more this working class frugality has led me to do things like save every bone that comes off a plate. I'm using more and more stock in my cooking, and it seems ridiculous to pay the exorbitant prices grocery stores ask for what tastes like sea water with a hint of meat flavor...Read More...

Thanks Honky Tonk Dragon!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Big Postal Changes Don't Sit Well With This Independent Bookseller

This does not bode well for the independent book world, good old HR6407, Bush's Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act: Bush's Postal Signing Statement - Great, so now they can just open our mail without a judge's warrent?

" No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant to the authorization of the addressee.

The intent of Congress seems to be to ensure that domestic mail remains a private communication. But in the signing statement, President Bush said he would ignore the law and 'conduct searches in exigent circumstances.'

What is an "exigent circumstance"? It's a legal term, and it means, in lay terms, "emergency." Interestingly, Attorney General Gonzales noted in 2005 that only in a rare circumstance could the government open mail in 'an emergency.' "

Could you be a little more confusing?

More here: Fight Bush & management's attacks on postal workers!

Add to that Boing Boing's disturbing/funny reportage of the sudden absence of clocks in 37,000 of our nation's post offices and I smell an over-arching conspiracy. Or maybe my girls just have shit in their diapers again.

But I've always considered postal employees to be the pinnacle of government workers and members of the least corrupt and most efficient government organization on the planet. No wonder Bush wants to take power away from them too, he must be jealous!

Seriously though, when my rebellion gets rollin' I'm recruiting all the postal employees right off the bat. Get them and the dock workers and the young parents and you've got yourself a revolution!

An Organic Recipe for Development

Published on Monday, December 18, 2006 by the Inter Press Service
An Organic Recipe for Development
by Stephen Leahy

Organic agriculture is a potent tool to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, but also to alleviate poverty and improve food security in developing countries, many experts now believe.

Organic agriculture's use of compost and crop diversity means it will also be able to better withstand the higher temperatures and more variable rainfall expected with global warming.

The University of New England (Australia) is offering a new unit of study that will prepare people in rural industries for one of the most important developments of twenty-first-century farming: organic agriculture.

"Organic agriculture is about optimising yields under all conditions," says Louise Luttikholt, strategic relations manager at the International Federation of Organic Agriculture (IFOAM) in Bonn, Germany. IFOAM is the international umbrella organisation of organic agriculture movements around the world.

For example, a village in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia that had converted to organic agriculture continued to harvest crops even during a severe drought, while neighbouring villages using conventional chemical fertilisers had nothing, Luttikholt told IPS.

Because compost is used rather than chemical fertilisers, organic soils contain much more humus and organic carbon -- which in turn retains much more water.

"They can also absorb more water faster which means they are less likely to flood," she said.

It took more work to make the conversion to organic but it paid off when the drought stuck in the third year, according to Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, director general of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia.

Tewolde, who pioneered the organic revolution in a number of communities in northern Ethiopia as a way of ensuring food security, reported that the early success has prompted government agricultural departments to adopt organic techniques.

Organic and other forms of sustainable agro-ecology do not depend on chemical fertilisers, so they must find other ways to enrich soil and keep it that way. That also means there are more minerals and other nutrients in the soil so yields are generally good and food quality high.

And the added benefit is that organic soils hold much more carbon than soils farmed with conventional methods.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is the principal cause of global warming. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and can put it more or less permanently into the soil under the right conditions.

In a 23-year side-by-side comparison, the carbon levels of organic soils increased 15 to 28 percent while there was little change in the non-organic systems, according to the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trials conducted in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

If just 10,000 medium-sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road, Rodale reported in 2003.

And there's more.

Making chemical fertilisers like nitrogen requires huge amounts of energy, and tractors also consume large amounts of fossil fuel. In the United States, organic farming systems use just 63 percent of the energy required by conventional farming systems, David Pimentel of Cornell University in New York State found.

Going organic also offers a number of other environmental benefits, including waterways free of chemical pollution and improved biodiversity. In North America and European farming regions, expensive systems must be used to remove agricultural chemicals from drinking water.

"Those external costs of conventional agriculture have to be paid by someone," said Volkert Engelsman, the CEO of Eosta BV, a European distributor of organic fruits and vegetables.

"Organic brings a wide range of social and economic benefits, making it a much better and more efficient way of farming," Engelsman said in an interview from Eosta's head office in Waddinxveen, Holland.

For low-income countries, that means more jobs because organic farming is labour-intensive. It also values local expertise and traditional knowledge. That makes more economic sense than being dependent on the technical expertise of Western corporations, he said.

Engelsman has just returned from India where organic farming is undergoing "explosive growth".

Faced with rapidly depleting soils, the Indian government is now supporting organic techniques because no amount of chemical fertiliser can improve the soil. In addition, water shortages, increased disease problems and higher costs of chemicals and hybrid seeds have forced India to rethink its agricultural strategy, he said.

"It is more economically sustainable to invest in the soils of your land than to make the chemical companies richer," Engelsman told IPS.

The problem of global hunger is not about food production -- it is about poverty and food distribution, since the world already produces enough food, he said.

Engelsman agrees with the noted Indian scientist and environmentalist Vandana Shiva that research into ecologically-friendly agriculture has proved that it is highly productive and is the only solution to hunger and poverty.

That view, once considered radical, is beginning to gain wider acceptance as hunger has increased under the globalised food production system.

Ten years after the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, where countries pledged to halve the number of hungry in the world by 2015, there were more hungry people in the developing countries today, said the head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FA , Jacques Diouf, in a statement.

"Far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing -- at the rate of four million a year," Diouf said from Rome.

And finally the FAO is looking to organic to play a role in reducing hunger and alleviating poverty and will host a major conference in May 2007 in Rome. Many countries request FAO's assistance to develop organic agriculture, said Alexander Müller, assistant director-general of FAO, in a statement.

"There is a need to shed light on the contribution of organic agriculture to food security," Müller said.

Many countries are already moving in that direction.

Brazil's Minister of Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues has said he wants organic farming to grow from three percent of the country's agricultural output to 20 percent in the next five to six years.

Last month, 308 delegates from the Philippines' farming sector agreed to shift to organic production, in part because it can help poverty alleviation in rural communities.

Studies done by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a U.N. agency set up to assist the rural poor to overcome poverty, have shown that organic agriculture reduced poverty. In almost all of the countries where the IFAD evaluations were carried out, small farmers needed only marginal improvements to their technologies to make the shift to organic production.

"Everyone is embracing organic agriculture now. And climate change will only boost that interest," Engelsman said.

(*This story is part of a series of features on sustainable development by IPS and IFEJ - International Federation of Environmental Journalists.)