Background Briefing on Secretary of State Kerry’s Trip to Great Britain, Germany, and France

Segment from State Dept interview: “I’ll leave it to the Secretary to talk about his ideas on Syria and just simply say again, on all these burning and pressing issues, this one is at or very near the top of the list, and I’m sure he’ll discuss it with each of the leaders. And as you know, he also took the initiative to try to get together with a group of leaders, not just the Europeans but from the regions – from the region a little bit later on the trip. But I’ll leave it to him to talk about the approach that he wants to take on Syria. The Russia piece we’ve been focused on for some time, because we’ve been absolutely clear that there needs to be a political transition, and we felt that Russia could play a key role in convincing the regime and everyone that there needs to be that political transition. That’s what we met about, and a lot of you were there in Geneva last year. We’re following up on that, and I’m sure at the top of his agenda with Minister Lavrov we’ll be urging Russia to support what we all believe to be true, which is that we need to move on from the regime and have a political transition in Syria.

Can the Chicago River be saved? –

Excerpt from Salon on Chicago river: More than a century ago in this exact spot, human ingenuity shaped nature to its will, smashing through the earthen barrier that separated the Mississippi River drainage area from the vast freshwater reservoir of the Great Lakes, stitching together the commercial energies and distinct ecosystems of the North American continent. The consequences of that decision are still playing out today in a metropolis where more than seven million people draw their drinking water from Lake Michigan — and where those same people pump their sewage back into the river. Myriad threats, from water pollution to flooding and invasive species, have made the question of what to do about the Chicago River one of the most important questions facing the city. And simply by asking it, Chicagoans are acknowledging a basic existential struggle. That struggle is between two competing visions. One is remedial and pragmatic, the province of engineers and bureaucrats. In their eyes, the river can and should be cleaned up only to the point where it can operate as a safe, functional waterway that exists to meet the demands placed on it by commerce, flood control, and the dispersal of wastewater. In the alternate vision, however, the river meets all of these demands — and more. Its proponents seek nothing less than to turn the Chicago River into a civic treasure, its newly cleaned banks lined with parks and homes and restored ecosystems, its very presence a clear and shimmering symbol of a great city built on making, trading, connecting: a symbol of American history’s inexorable flow toward progress. And in the bargain, they seek to make the river a living — and flourishing — example of environmental innovation and ecological stewardship, one that generations of Chicagoans will cherish.

MV Lyubov Orlova reappears after adrift for 2 months

MV Lyubov Orlova reappears 1300 klm from Ireland after being adrift for 2 months. She had been docked on coast of Newfoundland for last couple of years amd recently bought by Neptune Enterprises for scrape. She disappeared in the North Atlantic while being towed.

She was built as Lyubovy Orlova is a 1976 Yugoslavia-built ice-strengthened Mariya Yermolova class cruise ship. Once known for Antarctic cruises, the ship made headlines after it was abandoned dockside in St. John’s, Newfoundland and then became a floating derelict in the North Atlantic Ocean in 2013.

Lyubov Orlova was named after the Russian film star Lyubov Orlova. The ship was built for the Far East Shipping Company based in the Soviet Union. She served as an expedition cruise ship, like her equally unlucky sister MV Clipper Adventurer. Her hull was built to withstand impacts with ice, and she often sailed in Antarctica and the Arctic.

Lyubov Orlova was refurbished in 1999, and chartered by Marine Expeditions for cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2000. She underwent extensive renovations in 2002 and was subsequently chartered by Quark Expeditions for the Antarctic and Cruise North Expeditions the Arctic.

Kyrgyzstan to return radioactive cars to Japan: Voice of Russia

Kyrgyzstan intends to return Japanese cars imported after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A statement by the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry says that some of the cars are emitting radiation exceeding permissible levels by several times despite being deactivated. About 50,000 used cars are imported into Kyrgyzstan annually, nearly a half of them from Japan. Voice of Russia, TASS

Kyrgyzstan to return radioactive cars to Japan: Voice of Russia

Kyrgyzstan intends to return Japanese cars imported after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A statement by the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry says that some of the cars are emitting radiation exceeding permissible levels by several times despite being deactivated. About 50,000 used cars are imported into Kyrgyzstan annually, nearly a half of them from Japan. Voice of Russia, TASS

US nuclear waste tanks leaking Nearly 200 ageing containers hold millions of litres of radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons. “There is no immediate or near-term health risk associated with these newly discovered leaks, which are more than five miles (8km) from the Columbia River,” Mr Inslee said in a statement. “But nonetheless this is disturbing news for all Washingtonians,” he added. Last week, a leak was reported in one of the storage tanks. Officials said it was leaking at a rate of up 300 gallons (1,136 litres) per year. They said that tests had not detected higher radiation levels near the tanks. Established as part of the Manhattan Project in 1943, Hanford was home to the world’s first full-scale plutonium production facility.

NEW ARTICLE BY Daniel P. Aldrich. “A Normal Accident or a Sea-Change? Nuclear Host Communities Respond to the 3/11 Disaster”

Abstract While 3/11 has altered energy policies around the world, insufficient attention has focused on reactions from local nuclear power plant host communities and their neighbors throughout Japan. Using site visits to such towns, interviews with relevant actors, and secondary and tertiary literature, this article investigates the community crisis management strategies of two types of cities, towns, and villages: those which have nuclear plants directly in their backyards and neighboring cities further away (within a 30 mile radius). Responses to the disaster have varied with distance to nuclear facilities but in a way contrary to the standard theories based on the concept of the ‘distance decay function’. Officials in communities directly proximal to nuclear power plants by and large remain supportive of Japan’s nuclear power program, while those in cities and towns at a distance (along with much of the general public) have displayed strong opposition to the pre 3/11 status quo. Using qualitative data, this article underscores how national energy and crisis response policies rest strongly on the political economy, experiences of, and decisions made at the subnational level.

Suggested Citation Daniel P. Aldrich. “A Normal Accident or a Sea-Change? Nuclear Host Communities Respond to the 3/11 Disaster” Japanese Journal of Political Science 14.2 (2013): 261-276.

NYT: Obama’s Keystone Pipeline Deci

The State Department appeared poised to approve the pipeline in 2011, but Mr. Obama delayed a decision based on concerns about its route through vulnerable grasslands in Nebraska. The pipeline company, TransCanada, submitted a revised route, and the governor of Nebraska approved the plan last month, sending the final decision to Washington. Lessening reliance on OPEC is a major consideration along with 75,000 jobs created. Relations with Canada and Conservative. PM Harper another important factor to weigh. Industry has contingency plans. Does the environment have other options?
Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., believes the press is doing a lousy job covering the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that Canadian officials are urging the Obama administration to approve.

“Twenty people protesting do get more attention in the media than the 65 percent of Americans that prefer to get their oil from Canada rather than Venezuela or the Middle East,” Doer said in an interview broadcast Sunday on Platts Energy Week TV.

Invasive species, septic leaching are top concerns

State of the Lake top concerns:  According to the article by Lynnette Hintze in the Daily Inter Lake – ‘Whitefish Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual “State of the Lake” program to look at areas of concern about the quality of Whitefish Lake. Mike Koopal, director of Whitefish Lake Institute, said, ‘The lake is clean and “very pristine,” but compared to its historical past, there’s evidence of some degradation.’ There are three confirmed areas of septic leachate contamination including City Beach Bay, Viking Creek and Lazy Bay area. Pharmaceuticals in the water are another emerging issue. Slimy muck is evident along the shoreline. Eurasian water milfoil is a problem in Beaver Lake. Divers pulled out weeds and installed barriers in Flathead County. Clean up of Whitefish River by removing contaminated soil from BNSF RAilway Company. BNSF contractors removed 450 cubic yards of petroleum contaminated sediment from Whitefish Lake from 1989 train derailment where diesel fuel spill into Mackinaw Bay. Questions from audience on how to prevent future derailments. A maximum of 45 trains can travel through Whitefish in a 24 hour period. Trains are often longer than 112 cars. There were 63,000 visitors to Whitefish Lake State Park last year.Economic impact of state parks in Montana is $289 million with $122 million impact here in Flathead Valley.

Restore our water levels!

According to the Sierra Club the message heard by commissioners at the summer 2012 International Joint Commission hearings on Great Lakes water levels was “Restore Our Water Levels.” For emphasis,Canadian Commissioner Lyall Knott said, “we hear you loud and clear – restore our water levels.” But the 1,200 attendees at the hearings do not like the recommendation of the IJC for them to ‘get use to lower water levels.’ The many stakeholders – land owners, fisheries, boaters, shippers, recreators, chambers of commerce, local services to name a few – are not satisfied with this answers. Stakeholders and local governments want viable options to address the issue of lower lake levels especially in Lake Huron-Michigan where the water levels are declining far more than the other lakes even if within historic ranges. This is alarming not only to the region but our national interests. Studies have been done ad nauseum on this issue. Dredging is an obvious solution but local funds are not sufficient to undertake this task. Shipping loads dwindle ton by ton as water levels decrease inch by inch and income dollar by dollar. Evaporation is the culprit. The graphs provided by the US Army Corps of engineers show the dramatic decreases and forecasts within the context of historic levels. See for yourself the power of climate and evaporation in the following picture of dry docks compliments of the Sierra Club of Canda.