Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Last Call

Kodachrome, you give us those nice bright...uranium reactors?

Kodak has the bomb.

 … OK, not really. But according to a report from the Rochester, N.Y., Democrat and Chronicle, an Eastman Kodak facility had a small nuclear reactor and 3 ½ pounds of weapons-grade uranium for more than 30 years.

Kodak. The company that makes cameras and printers.

“It’s such an odd situation because private companies just don’t have this material,” Miles Pomper, a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C., told the Democrat and Chronicle.

No kidding. A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the Los Angeles Times that the company had enriched 1,582 grams of uranium-235 up to 93.4%, a level considered weapons-grade. Good thing Kodak isn't in Iran; that’s the kind of thing Israel’s been threatening to go to war over.

The company was using the reactor to check its chemicals and perform radiography tests, the commission said, and had upgraded to its in-house system after using one at Cornell University, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. It was reportedly guarded and monitored carefully.

Kodak, not known as one of the world’s nuclear powers, filed for bankruptcy protection in January and has been shedding some of its holdings.

Lest this story conjure up memories of the anxiety over “loose nukes” after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kodak ditched the uranium in 2007 with the coordination of the U.S. government, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Just sitting in a basement in Rochester.  And they kept that awesome little secret for 30 years.  "Everything looks worse in black and white", indeed.

California Scheming, Again

Meet the new California governor's draconian budget cuts because nobody can get a tax increase of any kind passed, same as the old California governor's draconian budget cuts because nobody can get a tax increase of any kind passed.

California governor Jerry Brown proposed spending cuts Monday, including shutting down state offices one day a week, as well as tax rises to curb an estimated $16 billion budget deficit.

Brown warned that the budget hole could balloon further if California voters reject plans to increase sales tax and levies on high earners, in a November public vote in the huge western US state.

“I’m linking these serious budget reductions with a plea to the voters: please increase taxes temporarily,” Brown told reporters as he unveiled a revised plan for the budget year that begins July 1.

Brown said over the weekend that California’s deficit has swelled to nearly $16 billion, almost double the expected figure in the Democratic governor’s initial budget proposal in January.

The shortfall was due to lower-than-projected tax revenues and increased spending on schools, among other things.

Brown’s updated draft budget included proposed cuts in Medi-Cal, the state’s healthcare program for the poor, and saving $400 million by shifting government offices to a four-day week.

Brown warned that, if voters reject tax hikes in November, funding for state schools would be cut by $5.5 billion, and the University of California and California State University systems would be cut by $250 million each.

And of course these tax measures are going to fail.  Republicans will simply flood the airwaves saying "You know if these tax measures pass, the rest of the state's rich people will simply move elsewhere.  Then what?"   The answer to that is California's schools basically stop functioning, period.  I know I've talked about Greece and France and Spain as issues affecting our economy, but if California falls apart this summer, it's going to be a lot worse for the country as a whole.

And please note Moonbeam's choice here is major suffering for everyone, or massive suffering for anyone with kids in school.  What a guy.

Some days, I'm glad all my lousy Democratic governor does is fund dinosaurs in arks rather than threaten to cut $5.5 billion from schools.

Casting A Paul Over The Proceedings

Diggy Diggy Hole is out, presumably to spend more time with his gold and weed.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said Monday in a surprise announcement that he will no longer be campaigning in states that have not yet held primary elections.

“Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process,” he explained in a campaign email. “Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have.”

The statement would seem to indicate that while he’s giving up on the remaining primary races, Paul’s not out of the running completely.

Though badly trailing presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, Paul has been gaining marginal ground by helping his supporters take over local and state Republican parties, mastering the old rules of party politics to jam as many of his delegates into the Republican National Convention (RNC) as possible. 

So at this point, all he's got are parlor tricks and technical maneuvers that will at best embarrass Mittens and at worst make Paul look even more like a crackpot than he already is.

I'll tell you what, if Ron Paul's message was so awesome, how come he couldn't convince people to give him the "tens of millions of dollars" needed to win?  Seems to me in the "free market of political ideas" where people vote with their fundraising donations, Ron Paul was a product that not even nutjob Republicans actually wanted.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ronny.

Breakdown In Communication Doesn't Even Begin To Cover It

Imagine being lost at sea, and watching a friend die of exposure and thirst.  Sick and weak, and growing worse by the minute.  The hunger and terror must have been extreme, with nothing to think about other than inevitable death.  Death may even start to look good after suffering for sixteen days.  This is what happened to Adrian Vasquez.

Then his dreams were answered, or so he thought.

A cruise ship passed by, and the stranded men waved a red sweater.  They felt good that they had likely established contact, and clung to this hope while they waited.  And waited.  They were correct, passengers had seen them and told staff there were men afloat who needed help.  However, due to a "breakdown in communication" that information was never relayed to the captain.  So nothing was ever done.

Vasquez is suing, and he has a hell of a point.  An employee of the cruise line decided to sit on that information, and led to the death of at least one man.  To work at sea is to understand the most common rule: when someone is stranded, you freaking help them.

To die believing help is on the way is a horrible fate.  To wonder why help isn't coming would be torture as you feel your body wither and give up.  I don't have what it takes to survive that, I imagine few people do.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court.  I do not know how the enforcement works, or what obligations a vessel has to the stranded.

Bachmann Lies Again. Pretend To Be Surprised.

Yahoo News covers Bachmann's newest load of BS:

In several urgent fundraising appeals, Rep. Michele Bachmann falsely claims that biased “liberal judges” redrew her congressional district “in retaliation for repeatedly standing up to President Obama.” The truth is that only two of the five judges were Democratic appointees, and Bachmann’s Minnesota district has become even more Republican than it was before.
It’s true that a bipartisan panel of judges redrew district lines and placed the town where Bachmann lives in an abutting district represented by a Democrat. But she has chosen to again run in the 6th District, the one she has represented since 2007. And she doesn’t even have to move to do that.
I guess I have to change my constant gripe that she can't do anything without working "Obamacare" into the conversation.  But she can still blame everything on him whether it makes sense or not.  I mean, he has nothing better to do than mess with the (snicker) devastating threat that is Michele Bachmann.

But that’s certainly not the impression Bachmann leaves in the email when she states: “As the TEA Party Caucus Chairwoman in the U.S. House and one of President Obama’s sharpest critics, the Democrats are licking their chops over Minnesota’s new political map and will spend MILLIONS to defeat me.”
Delusions of grandeur, methinks.

Only In America

A lot of folks have torn into Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin for renouncing his US citizenship last week in order to avoid his tax bill from the company's IPO, which is really about as high up the Wall Street scumbag scale as you can get considering he's A) turning his back on the country that made this possible and B) stiffing the American taxpayer for about half a billion.  Ilyse Hogue at The Nation:

Saverin exemplifies the spoiled 1 percenter who erodes the fabric of the country that afforded such opportunity by not paying back the investment America made in him. His decisions are a slap in the face of every person who recognizes that, to be a place that can facilitate the birth of new innovations like Facebook, the United States needs resources. Doubt that? Remember what government funded the research that created the Internet and the web? Harvard University, where the Facebook plot was hatched, took in almost $700 million in federal grant support for tuition and research last year alone. But Saverin’s decision is even more insulting to the millions of his less wealthy fellow immigrants who work hard to gain the privilege of giving back to the country that affords them opportunity to pursue their dreams in relative safety. Not to mention the DREAMers who offer to fight and possibly die for the country that they yearn to make their own.

But no, Eduardo just got himself printed on the One Douchebag bill...on both sides.   When I say the problem in this country is "I got mine, screw you peons" this is exactly what I mean.

Good luck to him somewhere else.  I can't wait for the argument from the right that actually making Saverin pay any taxes at all is what drove him away from America, so we should just exempt rich people from everything:  taxes, laws, death.  Otherwise they'll go somewhere else, you know.

A Bunch Of Southern Prom Queens

Ahh the month of May, where news turns to Mother's Day celebrations, graduation statistics as a brand new class heads into the great unknown of the workforce, and gay and lesbian couples getting banned from various high school proms.

A teenage same sex couple was denied entrance to their Kentucky high school’s prom Saturday night because of the school’s Catholic principles.

According to Lex18 TV in Lexington, Kentucky, 18-year-old Hope Decker and her girlfriend Tiffany Wright explained their disappointment with Lexington Catholic High School not allowing them entrance with their fellow classmates.

“What I did experience in the dean’s office was blatant homophobia,” Decker said. “We were told this school had Catholic principles and so they we couldn’t let it happen.”

“Well first, I was really upset,” Wright said. “I mean, we both cried. I was like, this was ridiculous, there’s got to be something we’ve got to do about this. I just think it’s ridiculous that a school that fosters love and equality is doing something like this to its own students.”

Decker and Wright decided to still dress up and hold an outdoor version of their prom with their friends right outside.

Lexington Catholic High School has yet to comment on the issue but says that it adheres to the principles of the Catholic church. 

And Lexington is about as progressive at Kentucky gets, generally.   Still Kentucky.  Still pretty damn awful.  Still needs to be fought to the point it ends.  Still a long way to go, folks.


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