Thom Hartmann on the News: November 18, 2013
You need to know this. Over the weekend, a deadly string of nearly 80 tornadoes ripped through the Midwest. Meteorologists called the storms “a rare and very dangerous late-season weather outbreak” that came on quickly and gave people little time to find shelter. As of Monday morning, at least six deaths had been reported from the storms that spanned seven states, and the worst of the damage occurred in the town of Washington, Illinois. Homes in that town were completely leveled, and debris is scattered for miles in every direction. Other towns were also hit hard by the twisters, and there were numerous reports of injuries. Matt Friedlein of the National Weather Service said, “Weather doesn't get more extreme than this in Illinois very often.” He explained that “You've got wintertime winds in the atmosphere above summertime moisture. While unusual, when that happens, you're going to have very strong storms that move very quickly.” The string of tornadoes came just days after the strongest storm on record - Typhoon Haiyan - hit the Philippines, proving that these deadly events are the new normal. Warmer weather, more moisture in the atmosphere, and rapidly changing weather patterns are leading to larger storms that leave more death and destruction in their wake. We can't stop these storms from forming, but we can do our best to prepare for extreme weather. And, we must demand that the world acts fast to prevent this deadly weather from getting any worse.
In screwed news... The dangerous process of moving spent fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has begun. Although the operation was supposed to start earlier this month, TEPCO has confirmed that they will begin relocating the brittle, damaged fuel rods today. If these fuel rods fall, or break, they pose a serious threat to the lives of billions of people, as they contain 14,000 more radiation than Hiroshima. And, their damaged condition makes this process even more dangerous. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson described the operation, saying it's “like trying to pull cigarettes from a crushed pack.” In total, there are more than 1,300 fuel rod assemblies in the cooling pool, which is located about 100 feet in the air. In the past, moving these assemblies used to be done by a computer, but it will all have to be done manually because of damage to the plant. An accident during this process could result in the largest nuclear catastrophe in history, but the world is watching closely, and hoping that this dangerous task is completed without incident.
In the best of the rest of the news...
According to the Burlington Free Press, Senator Bernie Sanders is considering a presidential run. The independent senator said that he may get into the race if no true progressive candidate steps forward. Senator Sanders said that we need a 2016 candidate who is willing to stand up for the middle class, take on Wall Street, and protect our social safety net. He said, “Under normal times, it's fine, you have a moderate Democrat running, a moderate Republican running. [But] these are not normal times.” Sanders acknowledged that a presidential run would be more difficult for a candidate like him, because he wouldn't be getting huge donations from Wall Street or corporate America. He also said that he would support Elizabeth Warren in a presidential run, although it's unlikely that Wall Street would be any more willing to donate to her campaign. Both of these lawmakers fight hard for the middle class, and it would be amazing to see either of them on Pennsylvania Ave. Better yet, they could run together, and we can put some real progressives in the White House.
According to RadCast.org, the radiation waves that started last week have finally hit the East Coast. Readings from Kennesaw, Georgia to Chicopee, Massachusettes are hovering in the mid-to-high 40s, and spikes are all at 60 counts per minute or above. In the Midwest, levels are sill high, with Frederic, Wisconsin at 53 counts per minute, and Craig, Montana sitting at 41 counts per minute, with spikes of 61. Thankfully, levels near the West Coast have finally calmed down a bit. North Portland, Oregon is reporting 38 counts per minute, and Olympis, Washington is sitting at 28. Of course, the big news that RadCast is watching is the fuel rod removal at Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. RadCast.org will keep us informed of any changes in the next few days as that dangerous operation gets underway.
And finally… Last week, Sarah Palin had a bone to pick with Pope Francis. After the pontiff's recent statements about gay marriage, abortion, and the love of money, Palin attacked the Pope, saying that his statements sounded “kind of liberal.” By last Thursday, Palin apologized for her comments, and claimed she was “reminding viewers that we need to do our homework on news subjects.” She implied that the left-wing media mis-characterized the Pope's comments to seem more progressive than they really were. In response, the great Bill Maher weighed in over the weekend, saying “If she thinks Pope Francis is liberal, wait until she sees what Jesus has been saying.” But, we're sure she'd just blame the liberal media for all that “feed the poor” and “care for the sick” stuff too.