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Posts published in “Day: May 6, 2008”

An outright disservice

Today's recommendation toward more informed voting and citizen participation: Turn off your cable TV news - C-SPAN and some special events like debates excepted. Really. Put a block on those channels. You too can recover from past exposure to this trash masquerading as news: Your take on the world as it actually is will rapidly recover from the endless distortion those operators purvey.

The reasons for that rant are enough to fill several books (and several have been written). Today it is brought to you by one particularly trashy, idiotic and hateful stunt pulled by one of the worst offenders, Bill O'Reilly, one that has a distinct Northwest connection.

It starts [and see this post too from Firedoglake] with two men, business consultants, from the European Union who flew to Seattle to transact business. They've been described as appearing as if they might have some Middle Eastern background (to our eyes, based on the photos, they could've come from a whole bunch of countries round the globe, including this one). After their business wrapped in Seattle, they decided to have a look around, and hopped a ferry ride.

Their appearance was enough to draw the attention of another passenger, who in turn notified Washington State Ferries officials. Someone followed the two men around, snapped pictures of them (this should start to get a little spooky right about here), and someone apparently concluded they "showed an inordinate interest in the operation of the shipboard systems." (Tip to ferry passengers: Avert your eyes from the machinery, not that this will be easy since it happens to be all around you.) (more…)

Areva’s arrival

The announcement by Areva corporation that it wants to build a uranium-enrichment plant, estimated to cost $2 billion, west of Idaho Falls, could be a good thing for eastern Idaho. The mere possibility that it might not seems not to have been discussed, pretty much at all. Idaho's elected officials seem in a permanent come-hither mode as regards businesses moving in; often the news really does signify something good, but the blanket assumption can cover a range of problem areas.

Enthusiasm over the possible plant construction has been ongoing for months, even before the Idaho Legislature passed and dangled a major tax break - let's be plain, that means a shift in taxes to other, already-present Idahoans - to lure it. The announcement press release went out under the cover of the governor and the region's congressional delegation - all wanted to get a say in. "Phenomenal news," "a natural fit," and so on.

This may be a good thing. Some hundreds of jobs will be created, and they are likely to pay well, no small consideration.

But the public hasn't seen a whole lot more than that; a lot of obvious questions haven't been much asked. (Here's one from the underground.) Areva will be engaging in uranium enrichment; what exactly will be entailed? Might more tasks be added, or changed? What are the implications of Areva's ownership - which is, in an area not culturally thrilled with France in recent years, the French government? What are the environmental considerations; where will the waste go?

(A shorthand description from Wikipedia: "a French public multinational industrial conglomerate that deals in energy, especially nuclear power. It was created on 3 September, 2001, by the merger of Framatome and Cogema (now AREVA NC). Its main shareholder is the French owned company CEA, but the German company Siemens also retains 34% of the shares of AREVA's subsidiary, AREVA NP, in charge of building the European Pressurized Reactor. The parent company is incorporated under French law as a société anonyme (SA - public corporation). The French State owns more than 90%.") It does have close ties to the Bush Administration, which we know because its U.S. subsidiary is now led by former Bush Administrator Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. What implications all that may have, we don't know.

Guess we'll find out.