Remember Fukushima?

Remember Fukushima, the wild boars do.  Since the catastrophe they have boars 2been reproducing like rabbits albeit with one significant side affect, they are all contaminated with high levels of caesium-137.  With no natural predators and no human consumers the radioactive boars have overrun the countryside.

With the plethora of news stories being disseminated to the public on a daily basis Japan’s nuclear power plant disaster that occurred 5 years ago and continues to occur has faded into the into the shadows.

On March 11, 2011 the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant suffered catastrophic meltdown.fukushima 1

Here is an update:

“What we found is the wind and the rain and the movement of radioactive dust everywhere is recontaminating areas that TEPCO claims are clean … and Fukushima fishermen take their contaminated fish and seafood further south to markets that don’t know the sources are Fukushima waters.”                          – Arnie Gundersen, Nuclear Engineer, Fairewinds
Nuclear Energy Education, Burlington, VT

Five years after the accident Fukushima and the surrounding areas remain a ghost towns.

600 tonnes of reactor fuel is still missing.

It will cost upwards of $240 billion and 40 years to decommission the plant.

10 million bags of contaminated soil has been collected and stored several stories high in and around Fukushima.

800,000 tons of radioactive water are being stored onsite.

Every day 300 tons of radioactive water continues to enter the Pacific Ocean.

Experts have found very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast of the U.S.

Radioactive cesium originating from Fukushima has been detected in several species of fish that have been sold to consumers in Canada.

Trace amounts of cesium-134 have been detected within several hundred miles of the U.S. west coast as well as offshore from Canada’s Vancouver Island.

The radiation levels are so high within the Fukushima power plant that the robots sent in to scope out the disaster and clean up spent fuel rods have died.

Fukushima forests, dubbed ‘radiation reservoirs,’ are full of mutated life forms.

Greenpeace has seen evidence of DNA damage in worms and mutations of fir trees indicating that the radiation contamination is so extensive the forest cannot be decontaminated.

Thyroid cancer rates in the Fukushima prefecture have been detected at 20 to 50 times higher than the national level.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, is in the process of freezing the ground soil surrounding the power plant with the hope that such an ice wall fukushima 4will create a barrier preventing fresh ground water from entering the site and thereby stop the contamination of the ocean and environment.

It will take another 4 years before TEPCO knows if the ice wall will be successful; a $300 million gamble in which the results will not be known until the commencement of the 2020 Summer Olympic games being held in Tokyo, Japan.

 

Proposition 66, The “Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016,” is Fool’s Gold for Californians

Californians for Death Penalty Savings and Reform“—an advocacy group spearheaded by district attorneys and several family members of murder victims—has collected enough signatures to qualify the “Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016“[PDF] for placement on the November 8 ballot. On July 1, California’s Secretary of State officially certified the measure, issuing it a number, “Proposition 66.” The group claims this initiative will “reform” California’s fractured death penalty and “speed up” executions in our state where currently 748 [PDF] men and women wait to die.

On the other side of the issue is “Justice That Works,” lead by Mike Farrell, the actor who starred in MASH, a longstanding death penalty abolitionist and internationally renowned human rights activist. Joining Mr. Farrell are an impressive array of politicians from across the political spectrum, religious leaders, attorneys, writers, artists—and just like the Californians for Death Penalty Savings and Reform group— influential law enforcement leaders and the family members of murder victims. They too secured enough signatures to qualify proposed new legislation, Proposition 62, “The Justice That Works Act of 2016,” for the November 8 ballot. Proposition 62, they say, would: (1) replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole; (2) require death row inmates to work and pay wages to their victims’ families; and (3) save California taxpayers a projected 150 million dollars a year.

With these basics in mind about the grave and complicated choice Californians are soon to make—a decision that will greatly influence the continued existence of the death penalty in America—I respectfully submit that, despite its fanfare, Proposition 66 is no “Eureka!” moment for Californians. Instead, unlike carpenter James Wilson Marshall’s historic discovery of gold at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1848, Proposition 66’s proposed turbo-charging of California’s “machinery of death” is, underneath its sheen, twenty-four carat fool’s gold.

Out of the gate it needs saying that this “speedy death penalty” initiative, if it were to become law, would do absolutely nothing to reduce the current massive backlog of condemned state prisoners to whom it could not retroactively be applied without a long, bruising, legally dubious and extremely expensive fight.

Perhaps of equal or greater importance, voters need to remember that, when we talk about a “backlog” of death row inmates, we are not talking about curtailing an exploding population of coyotes. We are talking about a population of human beings, many of whom suffer from serious mental illness, a frequent byproduct of a childhood where poverty, abuse, violence, and neglect were the norm. Moreover, it bears noting that in order to clear this “backlog” of 748 souls, California would have to execute a person a day—every day, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays—for more than two years.

If ushered into law, Proposition 66, intended to rev up California’s “machinery of death” to similar macabre-type output, would do anything but. Not only would it deprive Californians of their rightful seat at the table of civilized, just and peaceful people around the world—whose countries long ago rejected capital punishment—it would result in a flurry of even more death penalty appeals (sucking money from voters’ wallets and exhausted state coffers at a faster clip than wildfire burns).

Here are just three of the more obvious cataclysmically-bad provisions in the initiative:

1. The proposed law would “require attorneys who are qualified for appointment to the most serious non-capital appeals and who meet the qualifications for capital appeals to accept appointment in capital cases as a condition for remaining on the court’s appointment list”; this provision will open a floodgate of new ineffective assistance of counsel cases due to an increased number of incompetent, unqualified, and/or improperly trained lawyers taking death penalty cases—some motivated solely by financial need.

Forcing lawyers to take cases they otherwise would not is death penalty proponents’ wrongheaded way of addressing the fact that there are not enough willing and qualified lawyers in California to take these kinds of cases—the most difficult, emotional, time-intensive, resource-draining cases our legal system has. Clearly the logical answer is not the forced conscription of lawyers in these, the most serious of cases.

2. The initiative’s express language seeks to snatch the independence the law currently gives California’s Habeas Corpus Resource Center (HCRC) to decide which attorneys are qualified to represent death row inmates in postconviction proceedings; specifically, the proposed language of the bill provides “that the final determination of whether to include an attorney in the roster shall be made by the Supreme Court and not delegated to the center.”

The first of many problems with this provision is it constitutes a per se violation of Guideline 3.1.B of the 2003 American Bar Association’s (ABA) Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases[PDF]. The ABA Guidelines are standards established by a blue-ribbon panel of experts in the capital defense arena including lawyers, judges, scientists, think tanks, and many other accomplished individuals and organizations. Guideline 3.1.B very explicitly makes clear that the HCRC “should be independent of the judiciary and it, and not the judiciary or elected officials, should select lawyers for specific cases.”

Second, it is hard to see this provision as anything but a desire by death penalty proponents to punish the HCRC for its longstanding and effective efforts advocating for the condemned—such as its litigation before United States District Court Judge Cormac Carney—leading to Judge Carney’s ruling in Jones v. Chappell. (In that heralded case, Judge Carney vacated the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones declaring “California’s Death Penalty System Unconstitutional”[PDF] because it is arbitrary, it serves no penological purpose, and it violates the Constitution. Judge Carney’s order was subsequently overruled on procedural grounds, and not on the merits, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.)

The insertion of this vindictive-minded provision, which does nothing but hurt the quality of California justice, underscores why the bill as a whole is not reform-centric and should be defeated.

3. The bill arbitrarily ramps up filing periods and adjudication timetables for death row appeals and post conviction motions when more and more states—including California, which in 2012 lead the nation in exoneration’s of wrongfully convicted citizens, are realizing the horrific mistakes caused by a rush to justice atmosphere these new deadlines would duplicate. (As just one of many examples of what can happen when there is a rush to judgment in the death penalty context, take the case in which “Scalia Once Pushed Death Penalty For Now-Exonerated Inmate Henry Lee McCollum.”)

To sum up, the choice voters have to make in November—one that goes to the core of who we are as Californians—Proposition 66, the “Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016,” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it would yield no savings, and it does not reform.

Reform and savings will only be realized when California’s barbaric, antiquated, and failed experiment with the death penalty, ends. For this reason, and for many others, Californians would do much, much better to vote for Proposition 62, “The Justice That Works Act of 2016.”

Liberated from Britain to be Bound Once Again

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks.  Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.  And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”  D.H. Lawrence

240 years ago today the Declaration of Independence was adopted legally constitution 2severing all ties between the U.S. Colonies and the British government.  The main reason why the colonists bolted from their own government was that their own government refused them representation in Parliament, the equivalent of our Congress.  The British countered the colonists by asserting that the colonists had “virtual” representation through the men already elected to Parliament.

The colonists and their supporters in England responded by declaring that there is no representation if a man is not allowed to vote.

Fast forward to the present and we in America have a government in which most Americans do not have a vote over their affairs; their laws; their policies.

When America was created; when America was young, the people residing in the states and specific political/geographical locations, the Congressional Districts, shared common interests and values so that when they elected a person to the Senate and the House of Representatives the interests of most every individual of each Congressional District was represented in Congress.

When the Senator or Representative in Congress voted on a Bill he was voting exactly how the vast majority of his constituents would vote if they themselves were the person in Congress voting.

Today, due to the immense population growth, the interests of the people in every state as well as the majority of congressional districts are so diverse and in great degree opposite one another that it is impossible for two Senators and one Representative to represent the interests of a large percentage of their constituents and sometimes they don’t even represent the interests of the majority of the people of their particular states or districts.

In 1792 there was one Representative for every  33,000 persons.

In 1811 there was one Representative for every  42,613 persons.

In 1911 there was one Representative for every 238,230 persons.

In 2014 there was one Representative for every 733,333 persons.

One person cannot represent the widely varied interests of 733,333 persons.

For all intensive purposes, every given day close to 50% of the people of America are not represented in Congress.

There will be no Republican candidate running for Barbara Boxers’ California Senate seat this year.  There has not been one Republican Senator representing California’s Republicans in over 24 years, not since John F. Seymour.  Including Boxer’s Senate seat this year that tally increases to 30 years.  In 2013 there were 5.2 million registered Republicans in California, that’s approximately 5 million people who have not had representation in the Senate for 24 years.

If the person[s] elected to office from your Congressional District consistently and persistently vote against your interests year in and year out then you are not represented in Congress.  And that is the case for many Congressional Districts across the nation.

In the 2008 Minnesota Senate Race:

Democrat Al Franken received 1,212,629 votes 41.99%

Republican Norm Coleman received 1,212,317 votes 41.98%

Independent Dean Barkley received 437,505 votes, 15.15%

Franken beat Coleman by .01%, 312 votes out of  2,862,451 votes cast.

To put that in perspective:

1,649,822 Minnesotans voted against Franken and

1,212,629 Minnesotans voted for Franken.

For six years 57.13%, the majority of voting Minnesotans’ interests were not represented in the Senate

Most election results are not as extreme however this example illustrates the blatant problem with the current election process inherent in every state and district.

In the 2008 election for Senator of South Carolina :

Republican Graham received 1,076,534 votes and 58% of the votes cast.

Democrat Conly received 790,621 votes and 42% of the the votes cast.

For six years 790,000 South Carolina Democrats will not be represented by a Senator in the government.  That’s not Democracy nor a Republic.

Notable columnist Charley Reese penned a poetic farewell article titled, 545 people are responsible for the mess, but they unite in a common con,” 545 PEOPLE Vs 300 million” in which he points out the failures of Congress and that the solution is for the people to vote them out of office.

There is one major flaw with that logic, we could vote every Senator and Representative out of office but each and every one would be replaced by someone no better and possibly worse for what Mr. Reese fails to see is that it is impossible to eliminate the stranglehold that the special interest groups have over the 435 seats in Congress, the 100 seats in the Senate, the 9 seats on the Supreme Court bench and the 1 seat in the White House.

How did these special interest groups commandeer Congress in order to monopolize public policy; they did it by changing the Constitution without ever legally amending the Constitution.

In 1911 Congress enacted Public Law 62-5 which limited the number of Representatives to 435 and thereby destroyed the Republican and Democratic form of government the Founding Fathers envisioned and framed into the Constitution.  This law was cemented into existence with the Reapportionment Act of 1929.

Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution states:

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…

A Republican government is one in which a group of People with shared interests andconstitution 1 needs appoint one person from among the group to represent and advocate for all of the others members of the group in the government’s system.

Article I Section 2 of the Constitution states: “Representatives…shall be apportioned among the states…according to their respective numbers….”   “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand.”

In 1792 President George Washington signed into law the “Apportionment Act of 1792” which set the number of Representatives at the ratio of 1 for every 33,000 persons in the respective states.”

In The Federalist, No. 57, James Madison wrote,

“The house of representatives … can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.”

Elsewhere in the Federalist letter:

“The members of the legislative department … are numerous. They are distributed and dwell among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the society…. They are more immediately the confidential guardians of their rights and liberties.”

The intent of the authors of the Constitution is clear in that they determined for there to be a high percentage of representatives per citizen.

“A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.”  John Adams

Public Law 62-5 violates Article IV Section 4 and Article I Section 2 of the Constitution eviscerating the representative form of government that was created.

Question: would the majority of the founding fathers look upon the present American government and its excessive power, taxation, corruption and lack of representation and approve of it or disapprove of it?

The answer is self-evident in the response given by Americans today.

90% of Americans give Congress a negative rating.

60% of Americans give the President a negative rating.

67% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the two candidates that have been provided to the people to elect for president, have record high disapproval ratings.

This is nothing new; the majority of Americans’ approval rating of Congress has been negative for decades.

The only way to restore representation in Congress and eliminate the power that lobbyists and special interest groups hold over American politicians is to repeal Public Law 62-5 and the Reapportionment Act of 1929 and reenact proportional, Republican representation pursuant to Article IV Section 4 and Article I Section 2 of the Constitution.

The problem is the only people who can repeal these laws are the ones currently residing on Capitol Hill and they have absolutely no incentive to reduce the power they possess by sharing it with more American citizens which in and of itself reveals that they are not true Americans of and by and for the People for true Americans would do anything to increase democracy, to increase representation in government; not decrease democracy,  not eliminate representation in government as our Congress has done by enacting and perpetuating Public Law 62-5.

Just as the British Parliament once brushed off the Colonists’ grievance with “virtual representation” so too do today’s U.S. Congress toward the American people.  The lack of representation in government that existed in 1776 exists today.

Ponder this while you partake of this Independence Day’s festivities:

The National Debt is $19,338,225,000 and rising $1.68 million every minute.

A child born, today, on the 4th of July 2016 owes the U.S. government $59,977.74.

That is not liberty; that is perpetual servitude.

This is what happens when there is taxation without representation.  Do you think that if there were 1 Representative per every 30,000 citizens we would have a $19 trillion debt?  Do you believe that lobbyists and deep pocket special interest groups could dictate public policy if Congress was saturated with thousands of Representatives?

Contrary to Charley Reese’s assertion, we cannot vote out 435 seats of Congress but we can create 10,000 more seats if we so choose.  We’ve been riding this vehicle for 240 years perhaps it’s time to put in a new and more powerful engine.

Donald Trump wants to “Make America Great Again.”  Well here is a way to do it, if he is up to sharing the power of the government with more citizens.

A few more stats:

In the 2012 Congressional Election:

Democrat Julia Brownley received 52% of the vote

Republican Tony Strickland received 48% of the vote.

So 48% of the voters in the 26th District of California were NOT represented in Congress for at least 2 years.

That is not a Republican form of government.

Democrat Daniel Val Demings received 48.2% of the vote

Republican Daniel Webster received 51.8% of the vote.

So 48.2% of the voters in the 10th District of Florida were NOT represented in Congress for at least 2 years.

That is not a Republican form of government.

Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney received 51.7% of the vote

Republican Nan Hayworth received 48.3% of the vote.

So 48.2% of the voters in the 18th District of New York were NOT represented in Congress for at least 2 years.

That is not a Republican form of government.