From the Newsletter (3/16/2010)   

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The Mirage of DC Math Gains   by Tim D' Emilio


What Really Happened at Three Mile Island   by Karen Charman


Coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear leak on Democracy Now


Ecolocity  and the McMillan Reservoir Project  by Riley Hamilton

Ecosocialism or Eco-catastrophe by David Schwartzman


DC Nuclear Summit Update by John Steinbach


The AIDS Epidemic Continues - Is There Hope for a Cure?  by Everett Foy


Book Review: "Who Will Build the Ark", by Mike Davis  by Dave Schwartzman


Book Review: "Seasick", by Alanna Mitchell - by Richard Reinert



The Mirage of DC Math Gains, by Tim D’Emilio  Dec 2009

    The local press has used gains in scores for DC in student math achievement over the last four years to vindicate the mayor and chancellor's school reform initiatives.  Headlines such as "District Leaps Forward in Math" (Washington Post, 12/9/09) suggest a significant turnaround.  However,  a closer look at those gains reveals no such leap for the average DC public school (DCPS) student.  And in the larger context of global economic forces, the current education system isn't built to change prospects for average DCPS students.

Who are these average DC students, and what do the tests say about them over the two years since the reforms were implemented?  We can address these questions by looking at the scores of the majority population, African American students where the sample is large enough to support averages (the average scores of white students could not be reported because the sample size was too small), and add to our analysis the average scores for all DC students.

    *    Average FOURTH grade African American student scores rose three points over the last two years.  One point difference in the NAEP exam is statistically insignificant, so a difference of three points in two years shows little in the way of a "leap."
    *    Average EIGHTH grade African American progress "remained essentially flat, dipping by a statistically insignificant one point from 245 to 244."(1)  No leap here, either.

If significant gains weren't experienced by the majority population, where did the celebrated gains come from, and what does this say about the actual academic status of the average DCPS student?  Let's take a look:

    *    Only 17% of all DC FOURTH graders are proficient or above in math; forty-four percent are "below basic."(2)   The average score for DC fourth- grade African American students is 212 on a scale of 500 (1).  The fourth- grade public school national average is 282. 
    *    Only 11% of all DC EIGHTH graders are proficient or above in math; sixty percent are "below basic."  The national average math score for eighth graders in public schools is 282.  The DC African American eighth grader's average dropped one point to 244 (1).   

    These bullets disclose the actual picture of our average DCPS students: they are in deep academic trouble and, despite the headlines about gains, the average student is stuck in this dilemma.  But the "nation's report card" isn't just a verdict about our students;  it's an evaluation of the system responsible for serving them.  Why would the system so poorly prepare our children for the 21st Century while celebrating success?  The answer may lie not in education, but in the employment sector.

The 21st century workplace is changing.  In the context of the international economic meltdown and technological advances, fewer educated graduates are actually needed in the crowded labor market (with the exceptions of temporary contract work, or jobs that barely pay a living wage).  Education has been de valued as a social investment because labor has been devalued, yielding narrower profit margins year after year in the global economic system.  There's no resolution to the ongoing destruction of public education within a market system, anymore than there is a resolution to the ongoing destruction of the climate within a market system.  Education is only part of a larger struggle.  People are in a fight to secure the basics of life, and they are gradually confronting the state that has made up its mind to bail out Wall Street but not its average youth. 

For parents who can presently afford it, the system will provide some youths with an education that offers much more than test-prep courses in the basic skills.  But it's a matter of time before private forms of education, as with private health care, will be beyond the reach of families.  It's been happening in Latin America for decades: while universities are "free," youth educated in the public schools are not prepared to pass the stringent college entrance exams .

If this is the system's agenda for our "below-basic" children, what's ours?  Is there a different system that makes the lives of our kids priorities instead of casualties?  Discussion is invited:

    1.    Washington Post,  December 14, 2009
    2. and


What Really Happened at Three Mile Island

By Karen Charman


For 30 years the nuclear industry, its supporters within and outside of government and, more recently, the corporate media have insisted that nobody beyond the boundaries of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant was killed or injured as a result of the accident on March 28, 1979.  This incessantly repeated assertion is now taken as the truth.  The American nuclear industry and its supporters also claim that the fact that there has not been another major nuclear accident in the U.S. proves that the nuclear industry learned its lesson, and nuclear power is now safe. History, however, tells a different story.

Hundreds of residents living near the reactor reported having had a metallic taste in their mouths before the accident was even announced that bright spring day on March 28, 1979, the day of the meltdown.1  Scores of others broke out in rashes; saw their exposed skin turn red as if sunburned; vomited and/or got diarrhea, which in some cases lasted for months;  or lost all of their hair2 - all classic symptoms of radiation poisoning that have been reported by U.S. servicemen and downwinders of atomic bomb blasts.

Over time, unusually high numbers of both strange and common cancers began showing up among residents, particularly those living in the path of the radiation plumes that crept over nearby communities during the first few days following the accident.  Myriad other health problems appeared - miscarriages, stillbirths, infant deaths, thyroid diseases, various autoimmune disorders, heart problems, and the sudden onset of allergies - as did unprecedented numbers of sick and dying farm animals and strangely mutated plants.3

 Frustration over the lack of help from public health authorities and other government officials prompted citizens to go door-to-door to gather health data themselves.4  Mary Osborne, a nearby resident who lived there before Three Mile Island was built, was one of the survey takers.  ‘‘Our door-to-door studies showed horrendous problems everywhere,’’ she said.  At almost every household or every other household we found cancer or some kind of emergency problem, and in some cases, different family members had different cancers.’’5


Throughout this ordeal,   Metropolitan Edison (which changed its name to General Public Utilities after the accident and owned TMI until 2000),  the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,  then Pennsylvania governor Dick Thornburgh and his officials,  the state health department,  and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control all insisted that nobody outside the boundaries of the plant was exposed to any more radiation than what they would receive with a chest X-ray.  Therefore, they asserted, the health problems locals were complaining about could not be caused by the accident.  Instead, authorities past and present say that stress - the explanation of choice for polluters everywhere - or other ‘‘lifestyle factors,’’ like smoking, drinking,  poor diet, or taking too much anti-anxiety medication,  is what ailed them.6

Health studies conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Health,  various federal government agencies,  and Columbia University7  all supported the nuclear industry/government line.  The affected citizens contend that these studies were, for the most part, sloppy and included people who should not have been counted, excluded many who should have been,  or the researchers did not do the necessary follow-up to see what happened to people who moved out of the area after the accident.  The citizens also say study authors uncritically accepted the premise that not enough radiation was released to cause the illnesses people were complaining about so that even when higher disease rates were found,  they were attributed to other factors.8 Information about the extent of the accident was slow to come out.  The exact amount of radiation released will never be known, because crucial records from the first two days following the accident were destroyed,  and not enough radiation dosimeters were deployed in surrounding communities to give a true measurement.  What is known is that over several hours beginning around 4:00 am, a combination of technical problems and operator errors shut off both the primary and emergency cooling systems for the reactor core, resulting in a partial meltdown that damaged at least 70 percent of the core and caused more than one-third of its highly radioactive fuel to melt.9


Met Ed and the NRC maintained that the accident released 10 million curies of radioactive gases into the atmosphere. But David Lochbaum,  a nuclear engineer-turned-whistleblower who recently began working with the NRC in Tennessee, says that figure is grossly underestimated,  because it is based on a measurement of radiation levels in the most contaminated buildings on the TMI site a year after the fact and does not account for shorter-lived radionuclides,  like Iodine-131,  which would not have been measurable by that time.  Nor, he says, does the official figure include any leakage from the containment, the concrete dome surrounding the core of the reactor.  ‘‘All containments are known to leak, because of all the pipes and electrical conduit that pass through the walls,’’ he said.  ‘‘The costs of sealing all those penetrations are considered too high, so the federal regs allow a certain amount of leakage.’’  Accounting for all of those factors, Lochbaum estimates that at least 40 million curies were released.10   Others  estimate that the radiation releases could have been 100 to 1,000 times higher than NRC estimates.11


 Some scientists have attempted to find out what really happened to the community after the accident. Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, a tenured professor of radiation physics at the University of Pittsburgh, immediately sought every relevant health statistic he could find.  According to Sternglass, who was taught by Albert Einstein and who holds several patents on X-ray technology,  the health impacts fromthe accident were unquestionable,  significant,  and included a sharp spike in infant deaths and hypothyroidism.12  Dr. Gordon MacLeod, then Pennsylvania’s Secretaryof  Health, tried to ensure all health impacts from the accident were fully disclosed. He was sacked by former Governor Thornburgh for his efforts.13   More recently, Steve Wing,   an epidemiologist from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reanalyzed the data from the Columbia University study and concluded that people living closer to the path of the radiation cloud developed all types of cancers more frequently.  In the areas of greatest fallout, lung cancer rates jumped up to 400percent and leukemia rates climbed 700 percent.  These scientists - and others who question the nuclear orthodoxy - have all been either drowned out or viciously attacked as biased, unprofessional purveyors of panic with an anti-nuclear axe to grind.14


Besides pointing out methodological errors in the Columbia study, which was ordered by a U.S. District Judge,  Sylvia Rambo, in Harrisburg,  Wing revealed that she issued a court order that prevented the researchers from considering a worst-case radiation dose to the surrounding population and dictated that the study find no accident-related adverse health effects.15  Subsequently, Judge Rambo tossed out a class-action lawsuit by more than 2,000 plaintiffs seeking damages from the utility for health problems on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to prove the accident caused them.16   During the pre-trial proceedings,  she disallowed testimony from their expert witnesses.  The plaintiffs appealed that decision all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Even though the Court affirmed their right to go forward, it left much of Judge Rambo’s rulings intact,  which left them without experts to testify on their behalf,  and thus at a dead end in their pursuit of justice through the courts.17


An unknown number of cases settled out of court, though the terms of those settlements were sealed and must remain secret.18   Of the more than 2,000 who brought suit,  many have since died,  and the number of plaintiffs continue to dwindle.  Ten years ago, the NRC’s main talking point regarding the TMI accident was that a major catastrophe was averted,  and that it resulted in significant regulatory improvements that have made nuclear power safe.  In 1985 - six years after the TMI accident - the NRC itself testified in the U.S. Congress that there was a 45 percent chance of a severe reactor accident between 1985 and 2005.19


David  Lochbaum,  who has worked at twelve different nuclear power plants (including Three Mile Island) in states ranging from Georgia to New York, says sheer luck rather than good management or serious concern for safety has so far prevented another nuclear disaster.  He blames the risk on rogue plants that don’t pay enough attention to safety regulations and the advancing age of the majority of the nation’s 104 operating reactors - most of which are being granted license extensions that will allow them to operate for 20 years longer than they were designed to run.

But Lochbaum is also concerned about the newer plants that were built in the 1980s. At that time, double-digit interest rates and inflation meant that nuclear plants were often rushed online with less attention to safety considerations.20 Thirty years later, amidst renewed calls for a ‘‘nuclear renaissance’’ to help us deal with another ecological catastrophe, global warming, the cruel and Orwellian denial of tragedy thrust upon unsuspecting communities in central Pennsylvania does not end their nightmare.  Nor can it give any comfort to the 190 million U.S. citizens who live within 100 miles of at least one nuclear reactor,  or in the event of another meltdown, shield us from its deadly radiation.



1. Author interview with Three Mile Island area resident, Mary Osborne, at her home in Harrisburg on February 21, 1999; author interview with Three Mile Island area resident, Jane Lee, at her home in Middletown, Pennsylvania on March 28, 2004; letter from Pennsylvania State Representative Stephen Reed to NRC Chairman, Joseph Hendrie, August 9, 1979. See also S. Wing, D. Richardson, D. Armstrong, and D. Crawford, ‘‘A Re-evaluation of Cancer Incidence Near the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant,’’ Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 105, No. 6, January 1997, pp. 5257.
2. Author interview with Jane Lee, op. cit. See also Wing, et al, op. cit.; Joyce Maynard, ‘‘Three Mile Island: What Really Happened to the People Who Live There,’’ US Magazine, October 6, 1986, pp. 2634; Harvey Wasserman, ‘‘Three Mile Island Did It: The Fatal Fallout from America’s Worst Nuclear Accident,’’ Harrowsmith, Vol. 2, No. 9, May/June 1987, pp. 4155; Joyce Hollyday, ‘‘In the Valley of the Shadow of Three Mile Island,’’ Sojourners, March 1989; and Thomas Pawlick, ‘‘The Silent Toll,’’ Harrowsmith, June 1980, pp. 3349.
3. Ibid.
4. The Aamodt study on TMI accident health impacts and subsequent cancers was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 21, 1984 officially as ‘‘Aamodt Motions for Investigation of Licensee’s Reports Of  Radioactive Releases During the Initial Days of the TMI-2 Accident and Postponement of Restart Decision Pending Resolution of this Investigation’’ in the Matter of Metropolitan Edison Co. Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station Unit 1, Docket 50289; Katagiri Mitsuru and Aileen Smith conducted another survey, which is dated October 1982.
5. Author interview with Mary Osborne, op. cit.
6. Author interview with Victor Dricks, NRC press office, February 19, 1999; see also Pawlick, op. cit.; Mary Dalrymple, ‘‘Science on the Firing Line,’’ Endeavors Magazine, Fall 1997, online at: ; Harvey Wasserman, ‘‘Three Mile Island: Exposing the Government’s Cover Up of Our Most Infamous Nuclear Accident,’’ AlterNet, March 30, 2009, online at:
7. M. Hatch, J. Beyea, J. Nieves, and M. Susser, ‘‘Cancer Near the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant: Radiation Emissions,’’ American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 132, 1990, pp. 397412.
8. Author interview with Mary Osborne, op. cit.; Maynard, op. cit.; Wasserman, 1987, op. cit. and 2009, op. cit.
9. Wasserman, 1987, op. cit.; Maynard, op. cit.
10. Author interview with David Lochbaum, February 24, 1999.
11. Arnie Gundersen, ‘‘Three Myths of the Three Mile Island Accident,’’ presentation prepared for the 30th
anniversary of the TMI accident, March 28, 2009, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
12. Ernest J. Sternglass, ‘‘The Invisible Death (Part I): The First Casualty at T.M.I.,’’ The Nation,  February 28, 1981 and Ernest J. Sternglass,  ‘‘The Invisible Death (Part II): The Lethal Path of T.M.I. Fallout,’’ The Nation,March 7, 1981; see also Pawlick, op. cit.
13. Pawlick, ibid.
14. Dalrymple, op. cit.; Wasserman, 2009, op. cit.
15. Sylvia H. Rambo, U.S.D.J., Court Order, In the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, In Re: Three Mile Island Litigation, Civil Action No. 790432, filed December 15, 1986.
16. The Associated Press, ‘‘Federal Judge Rules Against Three Mile Island Plaintiffs,’’ The News & Observer, June 8, 1996.
17. Author interview with Arnie Gundersen, a leading technical expert on nuclear engineering, April 1, 2009.
18. Mary Warner, ‘‘Saga of Three Mile Island Started Six Years Ago: $40 Million in Damage Claims Paid,’’ Sunday Patriot-News, March 24, 1985.
19. David Lapp, ‘‘The Price of Power Atomic Energy’s Free Ride,’’ Multinational Monitor, January 1993, online at:
20. Author interview with David Lochhbaum, op. cit.



Coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear leak on Democracy Now

As U.S. Probes Radiation at Three Mile Island, Christian Parenti on Enduring “Zombie Nuke Plants” Nationwide

November 25, 2009 | Story  (

Radiation Leak At Three Mile Island Investigated:

Federal officials have launched an investigation of a radiation leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania on Saturday. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said about 175 workers were sent home when the contamination was detected. Some were exposed to low levels of radiation.
Tests showed the contamination was confined to surfaces inside the plant which is owned by Exelon, the nation’s largest generator of nuclear power. In 1979, a partial meltdown occurred in Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 reactor.

AMY GOODMAN: Federal officials have launched an investigation of a radiation leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania Saturday. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said about 175 workers were sent home when the contamination was detected. Some were exposed to low levels of radiation. Tests showed the contamination was confined to surfaces inside the plant, which is owned by Exelon, the nation’s largest generator of nuclear power. In 1979 on a partial meltdown occurred in Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 reactor. While nuclear power has long been considered environmentally hazardous, many are considering it as an alternative to fossil fuels in the face of climate change. The government has put up $18.5 billion in subsidies to fund a new crop of nuclear power plants.

But our next guest argues that the new atomic plants are prohibitively expensive. The real issue, he says, is what happens to our old nuclear plants, such as Three Mile Island. He says the country’s oldest plants—most of which opened in the early 70s, and were designed to operate for only thirty to forty years—should be dead by now. Yet, zombie-like, they march on, thanks to the indulgence of the NRC. Christian Parenti is a journalist and author of three books. He was guest editor of The Nation’s special issue on climate change, which just came out. His latest article in The Nation is called “Zombie Nuke Plants.” Joining us from New York, Christian welcome to Democracy Now!. Well, lay out what you mean, zombie nuke plants, where are they, what’s happening to them.

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Well, they’re all over the country. There are 104 reactors in the U.S., they’re all over the country. They were designed to last for 40 years. What has happened over the last several years is that half of this fleet of atomic reactors has been re-licensed for 20 years. There is actually a discussion of re-licensing some of them for another 20 years. What happens in many cases is that new companies bought them, frequently these old plants were unburdened of their dead at the expense of the ratepayers, and now you have companies like Exelon which gave over 225—$225,000 to Obama and has contracted regularly with Axelrod, David Axelrod’s PR firm. So they buy these plants and they are now running them for an extra 20 years.

One of the problems is that radiation makes metal brittle, so these plants are in serious disrepair. There were designed to last 40 years and now will be used for 60 years. On top of that, there’s a process called uprating whereby these operators can apply to increase the rate in which to operate the plant and in some cases up to 120% of design capacity. For example, Vermont Yankee outside Brattleboro, Vermont runs at 120% of its design capacity and it’s at the end of its life. All over the country there are these problems of leaks, emergencies and it remains largely under the radar. Many in the environmental movement talk about atomic power in terms of the future and whether or not we should build a new fleet of atomic power plants, how we’ll fight climate change. That is really not the issue, because new atomic power plants are extremely expensive. If all goes well, which never has in the construction of a single plant in the U.S., it would cost about $10 billion-$12 billion. Generally, they cost more. There’s $18.5 billion on the table.

The problem is, the federal government has ensured 80% of any private loans that will be made to build the new plant. But no one in Wall Street is prepared to invest in these things unless they get 100% public insurance. So there’s really not much investment there for it. There are these firms that would love to get on the gravy train of building atomic power plants; whether or not they ever come on line is another story. They would like to continue to build these indefinitely. That is the lobby behind pushing for atomic energy. Also, basically it functions as a canard to hide the real issue, which is that we continue to burn coal which is extremely dangerous for the climate and the real use of atomic power is to run this fleet of old plants into the ground and we have constantly these small accidents such as the leak a few days ago at Three Mile island.

The issue that I discussed in this article was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The President has the right to nominate commissioners, there are five commissioners who run this, and the Senate, unfortunately, has to approve them. We know how the Senate serves to block, to protect entrenched interests. Obama took the best commissioner, Jasko, and made him head of the commission, which was a good move. He then had two seats open. He appointed one guy who is clearly according to environmentalists a proponent of the industry, and one guy who is a safety-conscious professor from MIT. There is a third seat that will be open, but what has to happen is this: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to be run by safety-conscious people because we are stock with, at least half of our fleet of atomic power plants that will be online for the next 20 years and currently, there is very, very lax safety. These companies are again and again found to be in violation of basic safety rules. At Vermont Yankee, Entergy has not hired as many people as it should, it has skipped monitoring radiation, it has forgone routine maintenance, etc., etc. And similar situations obtain in all of these plants.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to read to you, Christian, from the Washington Post yesterday, which says, “the Obama administration and leading Democrats, in an effort to win greater support for climate legislation, are eyeing federal tax incentives and loan guarantees to fund a new crop of nuclear power plants across the United States that could eventually help drive down carbon emissions.” Your response to that?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: I think this is—they think this is a way of getting conservative Democrats on board because the construction lobby behind this process of building new plants, on or two new plants—what might happen with that $18 billion—they might increase that subsidy to $18.5 billion—one or two extremely expensive, probably quite safe but just incredibly expensive plants will be built.

In the meantime – while we are debating this future that may or may not happen—is that these old plants are getting re-licensed and upgraded continually and nobody is discussing it. There has not been a proper discussion of atomic power in this country for many years. It’s associated with the seventies and the old days, but these plants are all over the place and they need to be exposed for what they are, which is leaking, rickety old wrecks that are being run at extremely good profit rates by firms like Entergy and Exelon. And it also serves …

AMY GOODMAN: How serious was the leak, Christian, how serious was the leak at Three Mile Island?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: We don’t know yet. The NRC is investigating it. They say it wasn’t that serious, that the radiation did not escape out of the plant. Who knows? There have been leaks of contaminated water from Indian Point, from Oyster Creek, that at first go unnoticed. So the groundwater around all of those plans is contaminated. Atomic power plants routinely, as part of their proper operating, release small amounts of radiation.

There was a recent study that found by using children’s teeth, baby teeth that tracking contamination around a nuclear power plants, and found that cancer rates among children go up or drop off very precipitously as soon as the plant is decommissioned. It sounds like this technology works when you hear the fact there are 50-something plants being built around the world, that France has 50% of its energy from atomic energy. But what the issue is internationally with nuclear power is that it does provides energy security, you know, and this logic comes out of the Arab oil embargos of the early 1970’s.

So Japan, France have  these fleets of atomic power plants that no outside power can control. That does not mean they’re cost-effective. Those plants are heavily subsidized by the state and by the  rest of the economy, and also, it does not mean they are safe. The French system is much safer than ours. They have one design, one company, heavily regulated. And yet they too have suffered massive contamination in just the last year. The other thing is that, these plants are almost always linked to actual weapons programs or the quest for weapons programs. If you just look at a superficially, it looks like, well, the rest of the world is doing it so it must make sense.

But it does not make sense economically or it does not make sense climatologically, because what has to happen is a massive revolution in energy around the world and the time-frame for building a fleet of atomic power plants does not comport with the time-frame we face in terms of climate change. We have to make radical cuts immediately. The best way to do that is energy efficiency, and massive investments in wind, solar, tidal, kinetics, and all that. And the fact of the matter is, right now, wind power is much cheaper than atomic power. So this is just a matter of entrenched interests defending themselves.



Ecolocity  and the McMillan Reservoir Project:  
Sustainable McMillan is a project whose time has come!
By Riley Hamilton,  December 2009

Historic McMillan Park is threatened with senseless development, if concerned activists do nothing to prevent it. A permaculture solution is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.The McMillan complex is an engineering wonder that served  its original purpose until 1986. The park, located west of the Washington Hospital Center, was designed by Frederick Olmstead, Jr. as a memorial to Senator James McMillan. The McMillan Reservoir was designated a DC Historic Landmark in 1991.

Since its purchase by the District government in 1987, the site has deteriorated severely due to lack of maintenance.  It is now under consideration for commercial and residential development while many residents and  ECOLICITY are calling for its use as a green space projectTo support this project and get involved, visit our websites and

Sustainable McMillan is a project whose time has come!  The unique  nature of this site demands particular care, sensitivity and imagination for optimal restoration, preservation and development. Besides its historical significance, it is not just another 25-acre property.  The site consists of regulator houses, sand bins, washers, and underground sand filtration beds.  Its two levels offer a usable area of 50 acres.  Permaculture principles would suggest that we utilize and work with all existing features and conditions exposing Tiber Creek which currently runs underground and has caused subsidence, and will continue to undermine the south-eastern cells.

These are a few of the objectives that can be used to restore this engineering showcase originally built as a legacy of the City Beautiful Movement.   The project seeks to take the above-grade features of the current site and accomplish the following sustainable objective:

• Restore Olmsted's landscaping plan, substituting native • species for specified invasives.

• Restore and re-purpose the regulator houses

• Repurpose silos for rainwater storage and wind turbine bases

• Reserve open space for agriculture, including market gardens, vineyards, grazing animals, apiaries, butterfly and wildlife habitat

The following auxiliary objectives can be accomplished in the below- grade areas of the site:

• Reinforce concrete structure to current safety standards

• Dismantle damaged cells to expose underground stream and

• build useable beach

• Set up bottling plant for filtered water

• Establish artisanal glass works to produce bottles from the sand stockpiles.



Ecosocialism or Eco-catastrophe?
----- there must be some way out of here: "Alternative Solutions to the Ecological and Energy Crisis"

see ===> PowerPoint presentation by David Schwartzman <===

(Program took place February 11, 2010 at St Stephen's Episcopal Church, DC.  Media presentation will take a while to load.
See also Schwartzman, 2009, Capitalism Nature Socialism 20, No.1, 6-33)

"Revolutionaries who recognize the deep-seated inequality and injustice of the world economic order, growing out of centuries of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism by the coal- and-oil-burning capitalist powers, have a responsibility to support the call for a truly just [climate] treaty. Only such a treaty can begin to restore the necessary trust internationally that would then make possible rapid leaps forward to renewable-energy-based, sustainable and fair economic development throughout the world. Any 'revolutionary' or alleged revolutionary movement which doesn't do all that it can to prevent this worldwide catastrophe is a complete and total contradiction in terms". From "If You Want a Revolution, Start With a Clean Energy One" - July 11, 2009 By Ted Glick


DC Nuclear Summit Update

By John Steinbach


Early in December  The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Committee attended the DC Antinuclear Summit at the Washington Peace Center. The Summit discussed how to organize and mobilize for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 5-year review at the United Nations this Spring.

The group decided to focus on mobilizing the community to participate in the May 2 March and Rally for Nuclear Disarmament. We will have a fundraiser concert in late March to raise money for transportation to New York.

Proposition One plans a Walk for Nuclear Disarmament to the United Nations starting in early April. The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee plans to concentrate on supporting the Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) who plan to attend an anti-nuclear conference in NYC starting April 29. Nihon Hidankyo (the major Hibakusha organization) plans to send 50 survivors to New York City.  Because of their advancing age, this will be the largest and almost certainly the last such gathering of Hibakusha outside of Japan. Our plan is to send 4 or 5 volunteer interpreters to NYC to assist the Hibakusha to participate fully in the conference and the March and Rally. The Committee is working with several groups, including the 9-11 families, to hold a Global Hibakusha Conference titled "The Wisdom of the Survivor" on May 4

==>Please see the new on-line documentary film, Pictures from a Hiroshima Courtyard, 2009, directed by Bryan Reichardt and produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale.



The AIDS Epidemic Continues - Is There Hope for a Cure?


By Everett Foy, December 2008


Is there hope for a possible cure for the AIDS epidemic? As one of the great challenges facing modern civilization, it ranks right up there with the worldwide eradication of poverty or illiteracy. 1 The challenges to curing this total disease, affecting every part of the world seems to many to be a far-off dream subject to the the whims of hoaxers and the manipulations of economics .


The stage for having great hope for curing this disease is certainly set. Much steady progress has been made , changing the terms of treatment from the original palliative end-of-life measures to managing a chronic illness, to reducing its interference with the quality of life - and all within a generation. It would seem that despite the ultimate severity of the disease that modern society’s response to it has been at least as swift as to almost any illness existing, yet despite the best efforts of medical research , the epidemic’s threat continues to grow in every corner of the globe, every sector of society. It could look like a losing battle to its victims and some others.


What are the reasons for this paradox? Is there any answer that points to a way out of this overwhelming situation? Will the virus continue to escape and elude its hunters and prey at will on the people, or is there an inevitable end to this seeming road to nowhere? I will attempt to share with you some insights and information on the debate surrounding the future of the AIDS epidemic. It is one of the current great debates in science, not unlike the battles over whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa , is there really global warming, or of nature versus nurture; and other topics that have been surrounded in layers of controversy before any defining truths were settled.


Many of the sources of information that I quote in this article are so cautious that they are not even optimistic in their viewpoint about whether or not a cure for AIDS can be found. There is hope dawning in a few places, though, and so I feel there is light - albeit dim - at the end of the tunnel . One of the greater difficulties in the question of attempting to find a cure for AIDS lies in the definition of what such a cure would actually be. The AIDS virus is a new and atypical disease. Actually there has never been a cure for even the most common of viruses, because of their mutating genetic nature – they constantly change their biochemical composition so that they evade destruction by medicines and pass on resistance to drugs to their next generations. It is daunting to suppose that we might find a way to thwart these patterns of biochemical genetic resistance, yet that is exactly what research is setting out to do on several fronts.


The first front has been the nature of the illness itself. Over the years the some of the weak spots in the HIV virus have been targeted by medical research and a slew of medicines have been developed. The first ones were just as toxic to the body as they were eventually ineffective against the virus. However, later improvements in understanding of the nature of the virus and the human immune response to it have created a current generation of medicines with improved safety and efficacy.2


The next challenge was to look into the human immune response and the structure of the HIV virus. Great leaps in understanding led to developments that were useful in the understanding and treatmentof other diseases. AIDS remains a puzzle because of its constantly shifting nature, yet more research is unraveling its secrets. Some of the more salient points of the current state of the art in research include the nature of the ‘protein shield’ that surrounds the virus cell ; strengthening the ability of the body to fight off attacking diseases3; and some aspects of overall improvements in basic quality-of-life issues regarding health: underlying socioeconomic causes such as the great number of people living in poverty and the holistic and synergistic effects of its environmental effects4; and thus incrementally, dents in the devastation of the illness were made.


Initially there was immediate consensus that as a virus, AIDS was incurable5. Immediately peripheral to that opinion was a counter-consensus that the ‘incurable’ viewpoint was a socially self-serving morality driven by the profit motives of pharmaceutical industry cost-benefit analyses which would typically, if also cynically, state that it would be more profitable to even let people die, or at best, just let the illness become a ‘manageably chronic condition.’6 Such a cure would be hopeless, or at best , hopelessly expensive, because of the great expense of developing medicines.


Ironically that is the current state of the art in treatment - that HIV and AIDS is now a ‘manageably chronic condition.’7 But the advances in care leading to improvement in quality of life and improvement in technique of treatment have exposed that human characteristic unique to an oppressed situation: hope. Great numbers of people previously denied a future life at all, now advocate for a future as well as a present place in life for the HIV-infected.8 Large resources are gradually organizing to deliver the widely-demanded prevention campaigns as the epidemic’s potential to pose an overwhelming challenge continues to unfold in an out-of-control spiral around the world.


Nothing is actually satisfied in the long-standing battle against the AIDS virus. But as stated, continuing advances in prevention and treatment open up people’s hopes for an eventual permanent end to this pestilence. The logistics of the fight are daunting, to say the least. Measured against the still-increasing rate of casualties, the number of people considered to be successfully treated to the new standard of ‘manageability’ is miniscule. But it is increasing, and increasing at an exponential rate. This in itself is a sign of hope. Perhaps the next practical front of endeavor on the war on AIDS would be the economic redistribution of the complex curve of the cost of treatment. Compared to the relatively inexpensive economics of prevention, what drives the infamous cost-benefit ratios that so many fear are the underlying socioeconomic backgrounds of the AIDS epidemic: poverty, miseducation, fear, prejudice. The economics of developing new medicines has been a mystery to many for many years; now it is being analyzed as to how derivative benefits can be maximized. Increasing numbers of developing countries are researching and producing medicines at costs more congenial to the existence and survival of their affected citizenry and populations, and although the developed nations’ corporate reaction to this emerging trend has been at first economic outrage at a supposed encroachment on their proprietary profits , the ethical issue of who deserves more consideration from society – those who suffer a disease or those who stand to profit from treating it – has raised the stakes of the question of whether a permanent extinction of an epidemic can be practically reached.


The question is, does it have to cost billions of dollars and take decades to produce a medicine? The developing countries involved in answering that issue have responded with a resounding no, having already demonstrated reductions in costs and time, drastically flattening the learning curve and reducing the cost-benefit ratio. The next global step in medicine, a prevent ive vaccine, would probably at this time be still as expensive and long-term an undertaking as before, but redistributed against a less laissez-faire outlook, the mechanics of attempting to reach a cure for a disease would now seem much more manageable, just as the mechanics of attempting to raise the function of treatment of an illness from palliative to chronic to normative were at first unbelievable, but now commonplace. 


Perhaps once the cost of producing medicines is reduced, lowering the hurdles to efforts in other areas pertinent to combating the AIDS epidemic could be more easily overcome, raising the chances of a successful treatment and prevention campaign worldwide. Of note, and of interesting utility, could be a multidisciplinary and totally cooperative Manhattan Project-type approach to accelerate a worldwide push for eradication of the virus: if all aspects of research and development were combined , networked, assembled into a single project worldwide, then not unlike the supreme efforts to split the atom and make a destructive bomb of it, the analogy of high-energy explosives arranged to focus and explode the uranium fuel of a research target could be applied to totally new developments in modern science in medicine: the miracles of the unraveling of the human genetic code genome and the stem cell. These could be the high-energy areas of revolutionary research, among many others, namely – vaccines, prevention, medicinal advances, environmental and epigenetic developments, harnessed to yield untold amounts of information and rejuvenation to the heart and soul of a deeply strenuous effort beset by disappointing setbacks and obstacles at every turn of its journey.


Whatever the possibly huge scale and complexity of the project, it is only worthy of the dimension of the question it is faced with. This is where the decoding of the human genome and the developments surrounding the discovery of the stem cell come in. The human genetic code project was a great example of the use of networking across the globe making intensive use of computers to accelerate efficiencies in the applications of knowledge bases. The discovery of stem cells has led to an astonishing new level of developments in the field of medical research. They together offer proof of the belief that even when there seems to be no hope left for any future development, a new idea will come along to create a rising tide that will lift all boats. Hope is the greatest rising tide of all. Through its sustenance there is won the realization of expectations that the greatest of challenges can be met through the greatest of efforts. These great efforts were admittedly only won at great cost given the uncertainties of the modern economy. Perhaps in better times there would not be questions about the logistic achievability of overcoming organizational hurdles to leverage the material to see such a project to realization. But this writer tends to feel that it is not yet the time and place to allow for obstructionist questions such as who would build it, how much would it cost, etc. It distracts from the purity of the quest for a cutting-edge expression of motivation for ingenuity. In a second stage of an expression such as this, there would be perhaps room for the framework of development necessary to this pursuit.


The efforts of Man, through the lens of Hope, combine to form a focusing point that no matter how far, can be eventual pinpointed and measured into a realizable form that can be disseminated into objectives that once met, overcome even the most devastating of challenges. So far the light at the end of the tunnel is too dim for most to see, but it is only brighter, not further away. It remains only for visionaries to put grips on the slippery slopes of realizing these tantalizing objectives into accessible forms. There is nothing to me but a great and real hope that this virus can be cured..



1.  Christensen, Doblehamer, Rau, Vaupel. Living to 100:. Ageing Populations and the Challenge Ahead. The, Vol 374 # 9696, pp 1198-1208.
2.  Hellman, Hal. “Great Feuds in Science: Ten of the liveliest Disputes Ever” . 1998, John Wiley & Sons. New York. T.O.C.; Intro. to page V.
3.  McNeil Jr., Donald. For First time, AIDS Vaccine Shows Some Success.
4. World’s Poor Receiving More HIV Treatment.
5., Sept 2009. Scientists Find New Strain of HIV.
6.  Morgan, David. Study Isolates Virus in Chronic Fatigue Sufferers Reuters
7.  New Hope for HIV Eradication. June 5, 2009.
8.  Puigdomench, Massavella, Cabrerea, Clotet, Blanco, October 13, 2009.  On the Steps of cell-to-cell HIV transmission between CD4 T-Cells.





Review of   "Who Will Build the Ark" by Mike Davis, New Left Review,

by David Schwartzman


Mike Davis shows once again how brilliant and illuminating a writer he is.  His argument for a green (and red) approach to urban reconstruction is very welcome. Even now, cities like NYC are much more energy efficient than suburbia. Half of humanity lives in urban areas.  And now China, now the greatest carbon emitter on the planet (not per capita of course), has almost half its population urbanized (46%), with this percentage rapidly increasing.  Davis points out that very significant reductions in carbon emission could potentially occur with aggressive energy conversion in buildings and transportation in and around urban areas. So the urban question as a nexus of class struggle is now also a climate security challenge. This huge challenge is also a huge opportunity to create that other world that is possible, especially its metropolitan areas - a green and red utopia. Again a vision that will surely attract many more adherents than the “end of growth, we must all sacrifice” mantra of so many neo-Malthusian greens. Clean air and clean water, meaningful employment and more free creative time for all on this planet should be the transnational red and

green program.


Davis quotes $45 trillion as the estimated cost to halve greenhouse gas output by 2050, far short of the 90% or more that is necessary for preventing climate catastrophe. Others cite even higher costs for construction of a global solar energy infrastructure, not including transmission,  replacing fossil fuels and nuclear power (e.g., $100 trillion, Jacobson and Delucchi, 2009, Scientific American, November 2009  - but as these authors point out, this i would avoid tens of $trillions in the negative externalities of fossil fuels).  Indeed, barring some near future revolutionary development of very cheap high efficiency solar technology, it is very difficult to imagine that these investments could be made in the short time we have left to act, with business-as-usual conditions, especially with $1 trillion of annual military spending. Thus, the unmentioned elephant in the room in Davis' hopeful scenario is the military industrial fossil fuel nuclear complex ("MIC"), the present core of capital reproduction. MIC and its imperial agenda are arguably the most formidable obstacles to Davis' green path. There will be no climate security without peace, and surely no peace without climate security as Davis so eloquently argues. The rapid convergence of the climate security and peace/anti-imperialist movement is imperative.



Review of  "Seasick" by Alanna Mitchell, 161 pp. University of Chicago Press. 2009

by Richard L. Reinert

  Alanna Mitchell lives in Toronto, where she wrote for fourteen years at the Globe and Mail.  Many of her assignments included the sciences and environmental issues, which so whet her appetite for science writing that she left the newspaper to write on her own. In 2005 she wrote Dancing in the Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots. In the U.S., Seasick was published in October 2009.

  The author wastes little time in making Seasick poetic as well as informative. On the second page Mitchell describes the Great Barrier Reef: “It is a biological gold mine, more productive than tropical rainforests. Within earth’s most important medium for life, the Great Barrier Reef is arguably the most important part. It is the marine equivalent of the biggest city in the world, a vast maternity ward, the lushest, most productive, and probably most complex biological system on the planet. Innumerable different types of plants and animals live here. It is an engine of evolution.”

  Many publications forecast severe environmental conditions if carbon loading is not reduced, but in Seasick, Mitchell approaches the problems from the oceanic perspective. She opens Seasick by explaining how carbon dioxide threatens plankton, the smallest marine organisms, calling them “the lynchpin on which life itself depends.” She scuba-dives at two coral reefs with scientists from Australia and Puerto Rico and explains the symbiotic relationship between coral and certain plankton. She emphasizes the problem, writing: “Over the last twenty years, living coral has been destroyed more quickly than tropical rainforests.”

One-celled plants called phytoplankton form the base of the oceanic food chain, some so small, Mitchell says, “that 860,000 of them could fit in a teaspoon.” Mitchell maintains that phytoplankton “produce about one-half of the oxygen that we and other terrestrial animals breathe.” Zooplankton, the tiny animals that feed on phytoplankton, are the fodder for fish and some whales. This starts the fascinating path that Mitchell takes to build a case for controlling carbon loading by taking readers on a two- and one-half year tour of the world while absorbing the ambience of seventeen marine studies.

Mitchell visited the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, coral reefs off Panama, Chinese fish farms, shellfish farmers in Zanzibar, and a coral reef off Puerto Rico. She crawled into a bathyscaphe and went to a depth of 3,000 feet to capture sponges. She interviewed scientists at laboratories in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Plymouth, England. In the Pyrenees she examined the history of cataclysmic climatic changes. Mitchell usually pitched in to help the scientists around her and describes their successes as well as unwelcome disappointments and even portrays their small anxieties such as the biologist, excitedly tapping her foot more and more rapidly while waiting for coral to reproduce.


She also visited the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, calling it “Plankton Central.” One scientist there, Jerry Blackford, runs computer simulations of ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere.  His models predict that by 2050, the acidification of the ocean will be greater than any time in the previous twenty million years. If he is right, he says, “The oceans’ life forms will be disconnected from their own evolutionary heritage.”  The oxygen produced by phytoplankton enters the atmosphere. Up to a certain point, carbon dioxide that comes from the atmosphere is utilized by plankton. The excess becomes carbonic acid and inhibits plankton growth. At the pace that carbon dioxide is increasing, Mitchell says it will become troublesome by mid-century at a critical level of 450 parts per million. Surface waters will become inhospitable to plankton. Their hosts, like coral reefs, will be further threatened by a rise in sea level caused by melted polar ice. Mitchell postulates that all this will cause the extinction of a quarter of the earth’s creatures.

Seasick alerts us to 400 “dead zones” in the ocean. A large one in the Gulf of Mexico occupies a surface area of 17,000 square meters in which no live fish are found. Mitchell calls it a blob. Unlike blobs in sci-fi films, it is nearly lifeless. There are also growing layers of methane and hydrogen sulphide in stagnant parts of the global ocean created by bacteria that feed on dead plankton and other organic substances on the bottom. Methane is a very effective greenhouse gas. Some scientists wonder, she says - what if the stuff should “burp” to the surface? But, to her credit, she quotes Yale geophysicist, Mark Pagani: “It was a very sexy idea, and it’s had its day.”

Blobs and burps aside, Mitchell eloquently points out that fish populations, the oceans’ valuable source of protein have declined greatly since humans first cast their lines and nets into the sea. Over-fishing is blamed, but Mitchell’s primary concern is the health of the smallest plants and animals, the plankton. It is on them that the rest of life depends. So, while industries and governments reluctantly admit that greenhouse gases may be causing the profound atmospheric called “climate change,” Seasick warns of potentially disastrous effects on life in the sea, where it all began.


As one who has always loved the sea, I was impressed by Mitchell’s integration of philosophy, science and history. Her most challenging observation in Seasick is: “In all of humanity’s 150,000-year history, it seems to me that this is the moment to harness the human gift of being able to plan.”