KT Tunstall - Black Horse And The Cherry Tree
KT Tunstall, the One-Woman Band, an example of poetry in sound and motion.
It is time to take back our country AND our Bill Of Rights from religious fanatics and right wing nuts!
The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home. -President James Madison
We need not fear the expression of ideas; we do need to fear their suppression. -President Harry Truman
KT Tunstall, the One-Woman Band, an example of poetry in sound and motion.
How many of you saw the "Make Them Accountable" headline about the Judge in Kansas City?
Breaking News: BPU Could Face Thousands in Fines
A confidential report reveals the utility didn't follow federal pollution regulations when upgrading its plants.
Published: March 1, 2007
The Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kansas, may be liable for thousands of dollars in fines for failing to comply with anti-pollution regulations, according to a confidential document obtained by the Pitch.
The document was prepared November 16, 2004, by lawyer Stanley A. Reigel. It weighs the pros and cons of admitting to the Environmental Protection Agency that upgrades at BPU power plants did not comply with the federal Clean Air Act.
The report was hand-delivered to Marc Conklin, BPU general counsel and human resources director. The report is stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” and warns against duplication without Conklin’s approval. Conklin did not return a call from the Pitch.
BPU spokeswoman Susan Allen also declined to comment and instead sent an e-mail that read: “BPU cannot comment on a BPU confidential report. The Pitch should be aware that it possesses a confidential, legally protected document. The document should be returned to BPU.”
Mary Gonzales, president of the board of directors that oversees the utility, said Thursday that she was unaware of the report. Reigel did not immediately return a phone call on Friday to his office at the law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker in Kansas City, Missouri.
When Reigel’s report was written, the EPA was auditing utility companies to see whether upgrades and repairs made after 1980 at coal-powered power plants followed federal guidelines. The letter indicates that the BPU was preparing to respond if audited by the EPA. However, it’s unclear what action, if any, the BPU took after Reigel delivered his letter.
Kim Olson, an EPA spokeswoman in Kansas City, tells the Pitch that the BPU has not contacted the agency to disclose its failure to seek repair permits and follow regulations when making upgrades.
According to Reigel’s letter, his report was spurred by a November 14, 2003, analysis of BPU’s coal-fired power plants by Burns & McDonnell Engineers. The engineering firm estimated that upgrades to the plants to make them comply with federal regulations would cost the utility nearly $160 million.
Reigel’s 15-page document identifies 73 repairs or upgrades that may not have followed EPA rules. The work was done at the utility’s three power plants: Nearman Creek Power Station, Quindaro Power Station and the now-closed Kaw Power Station. The work was completed between January 1980 and November 2004. Reigel determined that 15 of those repairs and upgrades were “questionable” and another 15 projects would be “probably not defensible” if the EPA conducted an audit.
Any one of those projects “puts BPU at risk” for an audit by the EPA, Reigel warned. Fines for utility companies in similar cases amounted to $1,000 for each megawatt of energy produced by the plant. Together, the Nearman and Quindaro plants produce 631 megawatts.
The audits Reigel refers to in his letter fall under an EPA initiative called New Source Review. The program was established by Congress in 1977 as part of the Clean Air act. It requires permits before construction on new power plants. It also calls for modifications at plants to be “as clean as possible,” according to the EPA’s Web site.
Reigel’s report indicates that the BPU did not get the permits “for any of the projects.”
“Thus, failure to conduct pre-project NSR and failure to monitor post-project emission constitutes a violation itself, unless the project is exempt, even if the project does not increase actual emissions above the allowable increment,” the report says.
The Kansas City Star Article is copied below, and is archived here: BPU Document details Possible clean Air Violations:
BPU document details possible clean-air violations
At least 15 projects and upgrades at power plants operated by the Board of Public Utilities of Kansas City, Kan., may have violated federal clean air laws, according to a confidential BPU document.
The document, obtained from an anonymous source by The Kansas City Star, was prepared in 2004 by an attorney to lay out the odds for the BPU of the risks of penalties by the Environmental Protection Agency. It examined 73 projects that may not have followed regulations.
Of those, 15 were “probably not defensible” and another 15 were “questionable,” it said.
The document, which calls itself a “liability analysis,” says that the utility could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines. It also says the BPU has the choice of approaching the EPA to reach a settlement or waiting for the EPA to initiate action.
It is unclear which course the BPU took.
EPA and Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials said they did not know anything about possible violations. BPU officials could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Karen Dillon, firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish to thank Carolyn Kay and makethemaccountable.com for archiving these articles and getting the word out about this judicial idiocy. Please head over there and get informed!
It has been a while, what with illness and lack of energy and despair, but I have read something to give us hope, and post it here, from Sean Penn, and the Huff Post:
On Receiving the 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award
by Sean Penn
Sean Penn received The 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award from The Creative Coalition on December 18, 2006, in New York City, where he delivered the following speech.
The Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award. For the purposes of tonight and my own personal enjoyment, I'm going to yield to the notion that I deserve this. And in the spirit of that, tell you that I am very honored to receive it. And for this I thank the Creative Coalition and my friend Charlie Rose. It does seem appropriate to take this opportunity to exercise the right that honors us all - freedom of speech.
Note for later:
The original title for the Louis XVI comedy called "Start The Revolution Without Me" was one of my favorites. That original title was "Louis, There's a Crowd Downstairs." But I'll come back to that...
Words may be our most civil weapons of change, when they connect to actions of sacrifice, or good will, but they have no grace or power without bold clarity. So, if you'll bear with me, borrowing a line from Bob Dylan, "Let us not talk falsely now - the hour is getting late."
Non-stop U.S. war in Iraq
Attacks on civil liberties under the banner of war on terror
You and I, U.S. taxpayers, spend 1 1/2 billion dollars on an Iraq-war-'focused' military everyday, while social needs cry out.
And, levy building.
We depend largely for information on these issues from media industries, driven by the bottom line to such an extent that the public interest becomes uninteresting.
And should we speak truth, we stand against government efforts to intimidate or legislate in the service of censorship. Whether under the guise of a Patriot Act or any other benevolent-sounding rationale for the age-old game of shutting down dissent by discouraging independent thinking and preventing progressive social change.
The most effective forms of de facto censorship are pre-emptive. Systemically, we are encouraged to keep our heads down, out of the line of fire - to avoid the danger, god forbid, that someone in the White House, on Capitol Hill, or a media blow-hard might take a shot at us.
But, as a practical matter, most of the limits on creative expression and other forms of free speech come from self-censorship, where the mechanism of corporate clout offers carrots and brandishes sticks. We avoid a conflict before the conflict materializes. We reach for the carrots and stay out of range of sticks.
Decades ago, Fred Friendly called it a "positive veto" - corporations putting big money behind shows that they want to establish and perpetuate. Whether in journalism or drama, creative efforts that don't gain a financial "positive veto" are dismissible, then dismissed. We may not call that "censorship." But whatever we call it, the effects of a "positive veto" system are severe. They impose practical limits on efforts to bring the most important realities to public attention sooner rather than later...
We're beginning to see more revealing images of this war. But it's later now, isn't it? What we have to pay attention to are the results of these "practical limits." One, is that wars become much easier to launch than to halt.
I've got a feeling about how we can begin to change this process and I want to pass it by you. Children grow up in our country -- many by the way, under conditions of extreme poverty -- and are told from a very early age "You will be accountable!" "With freedom, comes responsibility!" And so the lecture goes...Democratic and Republican alike. Lie-cheat-steal, and there will be consequences! Theft will be punished. Actions that cause the deaths of others will be severely punished. The message, from leaders in Washington, news media, mom, dad, and church is clear. Criminals MUST be held accountable.
Now, there's been a lot of talk lately on Capitol Hill about how impeachment should be "off the table." We're told that it's time to look ahead - not back...
Can you imagine how far that argument would go for the defense at an arraignment on charges of grand larceny, or large-scale distribution of methamphetamines? How about the arranging of a contract killing on a pregnant mother? "Indictment should be off the table." Or "Let's look forward, not backward." Or "We can't afford another failed defendant."
Our country has a legal system, not of men and women, but of laws. Why then are we so willing to put inconvenient provisions of the U.S. constitution and federal law "off the table?" Our greatest concern right now should be what to put ON the table. Unless we're going to have one set of laws for the powerful and another set for those who can't afford fancy lawyers, then truth matters to everyone. And accountability is a matter of human and legal principle. If we're going to continue wagging our fingers at the disadvantaged transgressors, then I suggest we be consistent. If truth and accountability can be stretched into sham concepts, we may as well open the gates of all our jails and prisons, where, by the way, there are more people behind bars than any other country in the world. One in every 32 American adults is behind bars, on probation, or on parole as we stand here tonight.
Which is to say that, globally, the United States is number one at demanding accountability and backing up that demand with imprisonment. But, when it comes to our president, vice president, secretary of state, former secretary of defense...this insistence on accountability vanishes. All of a sudden, what's past is prologue. And we're just "forward-looking." But some people can't just look forward. Men and women stationed in Iraq at this moment, under orders of a Commander-in-Chief so sufficiently practiced in the art of deception, that he got vast numbers of American journalists and the most esteemed media outlets of this country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and PBS to eagerly serve his agenda-building for war. And the process also induced vast numbers of artists and performers (probably even some in this room tonight) to keep quiet and facilitate the push for an invasion in Iraq.
I'm sure many people who I met in Baghdad, both in my trips prior to and during the occupation, now similarly cannot just look forward. With lives so entirely shattered by a violence of occupation - an ongoing U.S. war effort and the civil war that it has catalyzed. All on the back of a crumbled infrastructure, following eleven years of devastating U.N. sanctions.
And, where is the accountability on behalf of the American dead and wounded, their families, their friends, and the people of the United States who have seen their country become a world pariah. These events have been enabled by people named Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Rice, as they continue to perpetuate a massive fraud on American democracy and decency.
On January 11, 2003, I made an appearance on Larry King's show following my first trip to Iraq. I suggested that every American mother and father sit down with a scrap of paper and pencil and scribble the following words: Dear Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so -- We regret to inform you that your son or daughter so-and-so, was killed in action in Iraq. I then asked that those mothers and fathers complete that letter in whatever way might comfort them should they receive it. When one considers what a bewildered continuation of those words a parent might attempt to write today, it seems inconceivable that this country could've ever bought into this war. Who were those mothers and fathers believing in?! We know it's not the administration alone, but a culture at large, cloaking itself in self-righteousness, religion, and adolescent hero-dreaming machismo. Would they have believed Rush Limbaugh if they'd known he was high as a kite on OxyContin? Would they have believed the factually impaired Bill O'Reilly if they knew he was massaging his rectum with a loofah while telephonically harassing a staffer? Hannity, had they known he was simply a whore to the cause of his pimps - Murdoch and Ailes? Or the little bow-tie putz, if they knew all he was seeking was a good laugh from Jon Stewart? Maybe our countrymen and women were listening to Ted Haggert while he was whiffing meth and boning a muscle-headed gigolo? Or Mark Foley seeking junior weenis? Joe Lieberman, sitting Shiva? And Toby Keith, singing about how big his boots are?
"Oh, there goes Sean...he had to go and name-call. They say he can't help himself." Or, did I name-call? Maybe I just quickly summed up 7 or 8 little truths. Oh, no, you're right - I name-called. I said, "putz". I take it back. Or, do I? Did I say "whore?" Pimp? These are questions. But, the real and great questions of conscience and accountability would not loom so ominously -- unanswered or evaded at such tremendous cost -- without our day-to-day failure to insist on genuine accountability. Of course we'd prefer some easy ways to get there. But no easy ways exist. Not a new Congress. Not Barack Obama. And, not John McCain. His courage in North Vietnamese prison makes him a heroic man. His voting record in Congress makes him a damaging public servant. We have gotta stand the fuck up and show the world how powerful are the people in a democracy. That's how we regain our position of example, rather than pariah, to the world at large. And that is how we can begin to put up our chins and allow pride and unification to raise our own quality of life and security.
They tell us we lost 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Is that enough? We're about to match it. We're within weeks, if not less, of killing 3,000 Americans in Iraq. I ask Speaker Pelosi, can we put impeachment on the table then? Without former FEMA chief Mike Brown being held accountable, post Katrina (scapegoat though he may have been) we'd have had the same chaos and neglect when Rita hit Houston. Think about it. And, the same people who trumpet deterrence as a justification for punishment when we speak of "crime and punishment," will boast their positive thinking when dismissing the deterrent qualities of an impeachment proceeding.
What is impeachment? It's not a Democratic versus Republican event. Not if used responsibly. If the House of Representatives votes to impeach this president, is he thrown out of office? No, he is not thrown out of office. That is not what impeachment is. Impeachment is the opportunity to proceed with accountability and give our elected senators, democratic and republican, the power to pursue a thorough investigation. The power to put the truth on the table. Mothers and fathers are losing their kids to horrifying deaths in this war every single day. Horrible deaths. Horrible maimings. Were crimes committed in enlisting the support of our country in this decision to go to war? For the moment we're living the most spineless of scenarios; where the hawks abused impeachment eight years ago, now, the rest of us politely refuse to use it today. Let's give the whistle-blowers cover, let's get the subpoenas out there, and then, one by one, put this administration under oath. And then, if the crimes of "Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" are proven, do as Article 2, Section 4 of the United States Constitution provides, and remove "the President, Vice President and...civil officers of the United States" from office. If the Justice Department then sees fit to bunk them up with Jeff Skilling, so be it.
So...look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a blowjob, yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave. You know, I was listening to Frank Rich this morning, speaking on a book tour. He said he thought impeachment proceedings would amount to a "decadent" sidetrack, while our soldiers were still being killed. I admire Frank Rich. And of course he would be right if impeachment is all we do. But we're Americans. We can do two things at the same time. Yes, let's move forward and swiftly get out of this war in Iraq AND impeach these bastards.
Christopher Reeve promised to get out of that chair. Well, I don't know about you, but it feels like he's up now and I wouldn't be standing here if it weren't on his shoulders. Let it be for something.
Georgie, there's a crowd downstairs.
Thank you and good night.
Copyright 2006 © HuffingtonPost.com,
Well, having been ill these 9 months, and slow on writing, I must apologize for not posting.
Is no one else ashamed?
Am I the only person to see the aid coming in from
For me, this is even more shameful than for most folks. I spent almost 10 years as a Regional Manager for the National Communications Systems (NCS), and served as a Federal Emergency Communication Coordinator (FECC), on numerous Stafford Act Disaster Response and recovery teams under the administrations of President Bush (senior), and President Clinton.
During the 1990s, we responded within a few hours to numerous disasters, activating the response teams from cell phones at all hours, and flying into the nearest airports, renting numerous cars and driving into unknown conditions. Working with FEMA and all the Federal Agencies that respond to disasters, we went as soon as the Disaster Declarations were signed by the President. The signature was the signal for the Federal community to move.
Our teams were on the ground with the first planes into Florida, Hawaii, Guam, Texas, the Carolinas, Oklahoma, Missouri, California, Oregon, Alaska, and every other state and territory where Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Floods, Tornadoes, and terrorists caused havoc for Americans.
At the Northridge Earthquake in
My personal responsibility was to ensure that communications were available to the local, state, and Federal Response Community, and to give absolute priority to the needs of the victims and the on-scene responders. Sometimes, this meant rebuilding the entire regional Infrastructure on an emergency basis. It was stressful, demanding work, but every member of FEMA and the Federal Agencies deployed with FEMA were ready and willing to do it.
After almost 10 years, I took a more relaxing position with the Department of Defense, and last year I retired.
And now, for the last week, I have watched in shame and horror as the disaster in
The Declaration for this Disaster was not signed by the President until 3 days after the State of
The Director of FEMA and the head of the Dept. of Homeland Security are not normally the on-scene coordinators of the Response Effort, the PFO and FCO are the on-scene Response leaders. It is they who activate the Emergency Support Function Teams, who authorize the requests for Defense Support of Civil Authorities, who take all the requests from State Officials and return people, food, shelter, material, money, and expertise to mitigate the consequences and put the region back on its feet.
And my question is: Where were they? In fact, I’d like to know where they are now. We are still having the President and the Directors of DHS and FEMA give out wrong and bad information. Even former President Clinton has commented on it.
For pity’s sake, John Travolta was delivering water and food faster than FEMA.
OK, The President and the other staff at the White House have said they want to fix things first and talk blame later. And I have spent most of my working life saying “fix it, don’t blame it.” Perhaps we don’t need blame, but we really need to know what happened here. I am just sick when I think of all the available resources and systems that could have been available, that somehow got left out of the response here.
So I think that the people of the USA, and the Media, and the elected representatives in the House and Senate, need to familiarize themselves with some of the past actions taken regarding Hurricanes in Louisiana, and with the National Response Plan (NRP) structure and requirements, which is the plan that DHS and FEMA use to decide how to respond to disasters. And I think we need to start asking hard questions now, so these points aren’t forgotten in the days ahead.
A copy of the NRP is on the FEMA Web site in PDF format.
FEMA and the Federal Response Community (a group of 15 Federal Agencies called the Emergency Support Functions - ESF), evacuated
It was known then, because it was tried then, that the Superdome was a poor idea for shelter for longer than one or two days.
These plans didn’t just disappear. FEMA Region 6, all the state Emergency Managers, and all the ESF Agencies (DOT, NCS, DOJ, DOA, DOE, COE, GSA, Red Cross, White House, DOD, etc.), maintain these plans, review them regularly, and update them as necessary. In 2002 the New Orleans Community was treated to a review of the scenarios and plans in a newspaper series. In 2004, a FEMA exercise familiarized ALL responding ESF agencies with the scenarios and the response and recovery plans.
The Disaster Declarations under the
President Bush signed the Stafford Act Declaration for the Hurricane Katrina situation on
Within 12 hours, the FEMA FIRST teams (Federal Incident Response Support Team), The ERT-A (Emergency Response Team A, out of
The JFO SHOULD have been jointly operated by the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO), and the State Coordinating Officer (SCO), both reporting to the Primary Federal Official (Appointed for the disaster by the President, or by the Director of Homeland Security, or by the Director of FEMA.
Our first questions then need to be:
I don’t know why the plans fell apart, but I have a suspicion.
In a joint or Disaster Field Office, the ability for the ESF teams to respond rests very much on the presidential appointees who are charged with managing the disaster. If the Appointee doesn’t have the sense of urgency or leadership necessary, only a few Federal Managers may risk their careers to take a greater role in the response activity.
The key is leadership. The NRP requires the FEMA Leaders to take a proactive stance, and to lead the response and recovery effort, not simply to wait for the States to determine what they may need. FEMA has the experience and the resources to manage these recovery efforts. If the DCO doesn’t want to be seen spending too much, or wants to allow the State to solve most of its own problems, then the response will be low key, and most ESF personnel will not be activated.
At a disaster in 1996, I activated a very expensive FEMA resource and authorized its delivery by USAF C-5A, which is fast but expensive. The FEMA coordinator 400 miles away thought this was extravagant, and ordered the system transported by ground. So an 8 hour response time turned into a 48 hour response time (the ground was flooded and many roads were washed out). In the after-action sessions, we set up a new line of communication to prevent that situation from happening again.
Rather than take a leadership role and determine the necessity of an action, this individual took a safe role in terms of response and budgets.
I don’t want to think that this lack of risk-taking is to blame for all this horror in
There is one last question to be asked. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, FEMA looked very hard at itself, and worked hard to change into the world-class Emergency Management organization that it was throughout the 90s. So the last question here is: What happened to that expertise and ability?
We need to find that ability, because this is surely not the last hurricane or catastrophic incident this country will face. And I never again want to see the poorest continent in the world bringing relief to Americans.
Read this article.