Gonna Raise Shell
May 2, 2022
Some Good News
- House unanimously passes Asian American and Pacific Islander museum bill (NBC)
- Siamese cat found in Essex garage ‘hitchhiked’ 280 miles (BBC)
“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Singing A Nuke Tune
The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is California’s only remaining nuclear plant. It’s scheduled for closing by 2025, but last Friday, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom suggested the state might face future power shortages, perhaps requiring the plant to continue operating beyond 2025. A spokesperson said the governor wanted to “keep all options on the table to ensure we have a reliable (electricity) grid … as we transition to clean energy.” Newsom floated the idea that the plant’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, could seek a share of the $6 billion in funding the Biden administration established to rescue nuclear plants at risk of closure.
Diablo Canyon’s twin reactor units sit on a bluff above the Pacific near Avila Beach, midway between L.A. and San Francisco. In February 1969, two Shell Oil geologists discovered and mapped the Hosgri Fault , a monster fault capable of generating a 7.5 earthquake just three miles offshore of Avila Beach. PG&E officials, who later claimed ignorance of the discovery, began building the plant. There were protests, blockades, hearings, and litigation over earthquake safety and environmental quality throughout the 1970s. Retrofits were needed before Unit 1 could begin operation in 1985.
In 2008, U.S. Geological Survey geologists revealed the newly discovered Shoreline Fault, located even closer to the nuclear facility. New seismic mapping in 2015 showed interconnected fault lines, with the Diablo Cove Fault running directly under Unit 1. The next year, PG&E made a deal with environmentalists and union workers to close both Diablo Canyon’s units by 2025. The company said California’s new energy policies would “significantly reduce the need for Diablo Canyon’s electricity output.”
That’s debatable, but the mere thought of Newsom’s idea coming to pass terrifies anyone worrying about what can happen to nuclear power plants built near fault lines. Several reactors are located on or near known faults in California and New York, and although seismic activity in the Central and Eastern U.S. (CEUS) is considered less worrisome, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission notes that CEUS states still face an appreciable risk of earthquakes. New information on earthquake source and ground motion models reviewed by the NRC in 2018 showed the likelihood of earthquakes occurring at some current CEUS operating sites might be “slightly higher” than what was previously expected. (AP News, Santa Barbara Independent, kcet.org, nrc.gov)
Gonna Raise Shell
- Former President Trump broke with decades of American policy when he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, located in southwest Syria. Israel captured the territory from Syria in the 1967 war; the area saw heavy fighting then and in another Arab-Israeli war in 1973.
- In 1981, Israel annexed the strategic plateau and has been occupying two-thirds of it over Syria’s objections. Today, it’s a major tourist draw with wineries, popular hiking spots, and a small ski resort. But as places in the Golan are known to contain unexploded munitions, those areas are clearly marked and fenced off.
- That’s why it was so disturbing when an American family showed up at Ben Gurion International Airport Thursday with an unexploded artillery shell they’d found and intended to bring back as a souvenir. Videos circulated on social media showing passengers running and screaming and ducking for cover. At least one person was injured after trying to run on a conveyor belt. The shell was removed, and the family was released after questioning. (AP News)
- On Saturday, Serbia publicly displayed a recently delivered Chinese anti-aircraft missile system, raising concerns in the West and among some of Serbia’s neighbors that an arms buildup in the Balkans could threaten fragile peace in the region. The sophisticated HQ-22 surface-to-air system was delivered last month by a dozen Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes in what was believed to be the largest-ever airlift delivery of Chinese arms to Europe.
- Serbia is officially seeking membership in the European Union, but has been arming itself mostly with Russian and Chinese weapons. U.S. officials warned Belgrade in 2020 against purchasing HQ-22 missile systems, saying if the country really wants to join the E.U. and other Western alliances, it must align its military equipment with Western standards.
- After the arms display at a military airport near Belgrade, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the Chinese missiles and other recently delivered military hardware are not a threat to anyone and only represent a “powerful deterrent” against potential attackers. (ABC News)
Additional World News
- Dozens missing after building collapses in China in latest incident (Guardian)
- Hacking Russia was off-limits. The Ukraine war made it a free-for-all. (WaPo, $)
- Israel arrests Palestinian attackers who killed guard (ABC)
- Temperatures break monthly records in India as heat wave scorches region (Reuters)
- More than 2,000 exhibits taken from Mariupol museums by Russian forces (The Hill)
- As Beijing tightens COVID curbs, hard-hit Shanghai sees signs of life (Reuters)
- School officials in Rochester, New York put a white seventh-grade social studies teacher on leave after he allegedly told his class of mostly Black students to pick seeds out of cotton and put on handcuffs and shackles during lessons on slavery. Jahmiere O’Neal, one of the School of the Arts students, told reporters “It made me feel bad to be a Black person.”
- O’Neal’s mother said the teacher let white students refuse to take part in the cotton-picking, while not letting children of color opt-out. After another Black student refused to put on the handcuffs and shackles, the teacher threatened to send her to the principal’s office or to the school counselor. The school is investigating, but many parents are calling for the teacher to be fired and his license to be revoked. (Guardian)
Doing Quite Dwell
- 65% of homes in America are owner-occupied, and over the past two years, the 79.36 million Americans who own their own homes gained more than $6 trillion in housing wealth. Most of this money has been created simply because housing – in short supply and high demand across America – has appreciated at a record pace during the pandemic.
- The national vacancy rate of U.S. households is just 1.6%. And while such newly-found housing wealth is remarkably positive for those who own homes, there’s a housing affordability crisis for those who don’t. For the latter group, rents are rapidly rising, inflation is whittling away their incomes, and home-ownership as a means to creating wealth is being pushed further out of reach.
- As for that $6 trillion sum estimated by the Federal Reserve – it doesn’t even count all the equity in rental properties. So it’s an understatement of the riches piling up in the housing market of late. (Policy Advice, NYT ($))
Additional USA News
- Second woman publicly accuses Trump-backed candidate of sexual misconduct (The Hill)
- Marjorie Taylor Greene accused of lying in hearing in Capitol attack case (Guardian)
- DOJ files challenge to Alabama law that makes it a felony to administer gender-affirming health care to minors (CNN)
- Judge rejects Trump bid to remove $10K daily fine in NY attorney general probe (NBC)
- Pelosi leads Congressional delegation to meet with Zelenskyy in Kyiv (NBC)
- Wildfire’s Rapid Spread Worries New Mexico Officials (NYT, $)
- 15 people injured when ‘pedal pub’ overturns in Atlanta (NBC)
A Separation Of Search And State
- Neil Parish, a member of the British Parliament since 2010, announced on Saturday that he was resigning. It seems the 65-year-old, who’s also a member of the governing Conservative Party, wasn’t able to convince colleagues that he just accidentally happened upon a pornography website as he was searching for tractors on his phone in the House of Commons chamber.
- Parish is chairman of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee. He explained that he was trying to look at a tractor website, but stumbled into a porn site with a similar name, and watched it for “a bit.” Of course, that doesn’t explain why he deliberately visited the site a second time.
- Britain is holding local elections May 5, and Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already facing a voter backlash over lockdown-breaking parties in government offices during the pandemic. He’s been trying to diffuse sleaze allegations attached to a ‘bring-your-own-booze’ party at Downing Street during the country’s first coronavirus lockdown. As for Parish, Conservative Party members must have assumed that Londoners would think the “I was looking for tractors” excuse was a bridge too far. (NBC)
- Journalist seeks answers from a one-time Texas attorney with ties to five dead men (CBS)
- Pablo Neruda’s question poems, now translated and illustrated for children (NPR)
- COVID’s new Omicron sub-lineages can dodge immunity from past infection, study says (Reuters)
- As war rages in Ukraine, ballet dancers of the Lviv National Opera return to the stage (CNN)
- Jupiter and Venus will seem to nearly collide in rare celestial spectacle (Guardian)
- Your dog’s personality may have little to do with its breed (AP)
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