Ralph is joined by M.V. Ramana, professor at the “School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia,” to lay out the false promise of small nuclear reactors, which still carry the risk of accidents, still produce waste, still produce plutonium for the weapons industry and are still economically noncompetitive with wind and solar. Plus, in an interview recorded before the tragic wildfires in Maui we welcome back citizen activist and organizer, Paul Deslauriers, to break down how his progressive group was able to take over the governance of Maui County and how with a little “Common Sense” you can do the same.
M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and a professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. Professor Ramana is the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, and is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, the International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group, and the team that produces the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report.
It seems inconceivable to me that anybody who has any sense of history would think about nuclear power— either the fission version or the hypothetical future nuclear fusion version— as an environmentally sustainable source of electricity.
Professor MV Ramana
What we are lacking in climate change today—simply because we’ve been so late in trying to act on it—is the urgency. The IPCC puts out report after report saying how high emissions are, how rapidly it has to be decreased if we have even a fighting chance of meeting a 1.5℃ target. And by putting off this kind of action, those calls are becoming more and more desperate. And I think that desperation is probably what’s driving some of these groups to say, “Well, you know, let’s make friends with everybody, and so on, and so forth.” But the challenge there is that every dollar we spend on nuclear power is a dollar that’s not spent on renewables, on energy efficiency, on other ways of trying to deal with [the climate crisis.]
Professor MV Ramana
As I’ve said on prior programs— nuclear power today is unneeded, unsafe, uninsurable, uncompetitive, irresponsible, very secretive, and not willing to suffer the verdicts of the marketplace.
Paul Deslauriers is a grassroots organizer, who has consulted over two hundred organizations involving mergers, restructuring, work process flows, teamwork, management coaching, and asset management. The work involved diverse groups such as the Alaskan Inuit, Icelandic communities. In 2002 Mr. Deslauriers became a full-time activist, coordinating nearly three hundred grassroots groups focused on government system change. He has written a number of guidebooks on organizing including Seven Steps to Reclaim Democracy: An Empowering Guide For Systemic Change, Reclaim Paradise: RESET for the Common Good, and Common Sense: How we are Reclaiming Democracy and Resetting for the Common Good.
When you have a core team that is really dedicated in trying to bring about systemic change, and you have the foundation that you need, then you can really develop and grow this without a lot of divisiveness.
When you have volunteers, you have to have the right motivation, the right structure, the right training so that you can work cohesively and collaboratively together. And that’s so crucial for anyone who wants to start a similar group.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. National Review reports that Senator Marco Rubio is leading the neo-McCarthyist inquisition against left-wing anti-war groups, most notably CODEPINK. Following a New York Times report supposedly linking the group to Chinese influence networks, Rubio is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate this connection. CODEPINK and their allies have decried this move, calling the article a pack of “lies, distortions, innuendo and hate.” David Swanson of World Beyond War wrote “The news has normalized hating China…Wanting to avoid a war with China so that human life can continue to exist is not a ‘Chinese talking point’ just because China might agree with it.”
2. In a win for consumers, Reuters reports that Live Nation has lost their legal battle to force consumers they ripped off via inflated ticket prices to enter into “mass arbitration.” Warren Postman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, celebrated this ruling, saying "Ticketmaster tried to force its customers into a group arbitration process that stacked the deck repeatedly in its favor." Now, the plaintiffs can move forward with their lawsuit and possibly even a class-action suit that could result in substantial penalties for the company.
3. A chilling story out of Kansas, where local police and sheriff’s deputies launched an “unprecedented raid,” seizing computers, cellphones and reporting materials from the office of the Marion County Record newspaper, per the Kansas Reflector. The Reflector emphasized “The search warrant, signed by Marion County District Court Magistrate Judge Laura Viar, appears to violate federal law that provides protections against searching and seizing materials from journalists. The law requires law enforcement to subpoena materials instead.” Viar did not respond to a request to comment for the Reflector’s story on the “potentially illegal,” raid.
4. The Jerusalem Post reports that Amiram Levin, a former IDF Commander, has publicly come out against the occupation. Levin told an Israeli radio program “For 57 years there has been no democracy [in the West Bank]. There is absolute apartheid there. The IDF against its will has to enforce sovereignty there and is standing by and watching the rampant settlers and is beginning to be complicit in war crimes.” Levin now joins the growing chorus of voices reckoning with the reality of Israeli apartheid.
5. Last week, “Starbucks customers and labor rights advocates across the United States…led a day of action targeting locations of the coffee chain where employees have not yet joined the more than 8,500 workers who have formed unions at over 340 stores,” according to Common Dreams. Groups that participated in this day of action included the New York City Central Labor Council, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO and Writers Guild of America (WGA), East.
6. The political scene of Ecuador has been rocked by the assassination of anti-corruption presidential candidate and former investigative journalist Fernando Villavicencio. According to NPR, Villavicencio had a real chance of making the runoff following the August 20th first round election. Villavicencio also pointedly refused to wear a bullet-proof vest and often criticized corrupt government officials, whom he accused of turning Ecuador into a “narco state.” With his death, his vice-presidential candidate, Andrea González Náder, will take his place on the ballot-line. Since Villavicencio’s assassination, two more left-wing, anti-corruption political leaders in Ecuador have been murdered.
7. The American Political Science Association is under fire for planning to cross a picket line. Jacobin reports that the APSA is planning to hold its annual conference at a Los Angeles Marriott, which has rejected the proposals of UNITE HERE Local 11. “The union has asked the APSA to cancel or postpone the conference, hold it elsewhere, or run it online… A host of other organizations — [including] the Council of State Governments, the Japanese American Citizens League, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the television show Vanderpump Rules — have done so.” But not the APSA. Most despicably, the APSA has cloaked their union-busting in social justice language, claiming the decision is in “the interests of our membership — especially underrepresented scholars, scholars from the Global South, and non-tenured scholars.” This has created a firestorm within the association that is likely to spur even more union organizing in higher education.
8. In more labor news, Deadline reports that reality TV megastar Bethenny Frankel is suggesting that reality performers go on strike in order to “win residuals for their work and to combat abuses in the workplace.” Frankel went on to list a number of abuses common in this area, ranging from “Deliberate attempts to manufacture mental instability,” to “Covering up acts of sexual violence.” For its part, SAG-AFTRA responded that they would like to “work together toward the protection of the reality performers, [end] the exploitative practices that have developed in this area and…engage in a new path to union coverage.”
9. AP reports that Mexico’s poverty rate fell from 50% to 43.5% between 2018 and 2022. The AP story notes that Mexican president AMLO, who took office in 2018, has “more than doubled the country’s minimum wage,” and “introduced supplementary pension payments for people over 65 and scholarship or apprenticeship programs for youths.” Yet the story also claims that “It was unclear what was behind the reduction in poverty.” Seems pretty abre y cierra to me.