Giant laser transmutes nuclear waste

A giant laser has cut the lifetime of a speck of radioactive waste from millions of years to just minutes. The feat raises hopes that a solution to nuclear power’s biggest drawback – its waste – might one day be possible.

Gosh if this could be implemented it go towards creating an infinite supply of energy. Why didnt this story get more coverage?

“It is not going to solve the waste problem completely, but it reduces toxicity by a factor of 100. That’s an attractive proposition,” says Ken Ledingham, at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, who led the British and German research team.

Maureen Dowd: The candidate blogs? It's all over the Internet

Maureen Dowd has something interesting things to say about blogging. Thanks to ‘Pett’? for pointing this out to me during the week too.

Even former candidates are weighing in. Gary Hart, who began his blog in March, doesn’t bother to read other digital diarists. “If you’re James Joyce,” he said slyly, “you don’t read other authors.”

I think political weblogs will become must reads for netizens and citizens alike.

Niagara Mohawk

Niagara Mohawk, a National Grid USA company, provides electric service to approximately 1.5 million customers and natural gas to approximately 540,000 customers in upstate New York. The company is based in Syracuse. Its parent company also has electricity distribution operations in New England. National Grid USA’s core business is the transmission and distribution of electricity. The company also has subsidiaries engaged in natural gas distribution; constructing and leasing of telecommunications infrastructure; and energy-related consulting. National Grid USA is a subsidiary of National Grid Transco, an international, U.K.-based energy delivery business with principal activities in the regulated electric and gas industries.

blanket immunity for US corporations in Iraq

Holy Crap, how did I miss this story. Thanks Horst. Read this carefully.

“According to the order, ‘any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void, with respect to the following:

(a) the Development Fund for Iraq and

(b) all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein, and proceeds, obligations or any financial instruments of any nature whatsoever arising from or related to the sale or marketing thereof, and interests therein, in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons.’

The order defines ‘persons’ to include corporations, and covers ‘any petroleum, petroleum products or natural gas originating in Iraq, including any Iraqi-origin oil inventories, wherever located.'”

“The Iraqi resolution halted the immunity to the point of sale. Once the oil is sold, the revenues are there for the development fund’s Coffers. Bush went further, he went through the whole lifetime of that oil, once the title passes hands, it’s still immune, as long as it’s handled by U.S. corporations. So once it’s on a tanker, once in the U.S. marketplace, once it’s at the gas pump, it’s still immune from any kind of accountability for anything that happens associated with the handling of that oil.”

The story appears to originate from an LA Times article by Lisa Girion. She notes:

An executive order signed by President Bush more than two months ago is raising concerns that U.S. oil companies may have been handed blanket immunity from lawsuits and criminal prosecution in connection with the sale of Iraqi oil.

The Bush administration said Wednesday that the immunity wouldn’t be nearly so broad.

But lawyers for various advocacy organizations said the two-page executive order seemed to completely shield oil companies from liability — even if it could be proved that they had committed human rights violations, bribed officials or caused great environmental damage in the course of their Iraqi-related business.

“As written, the executive order appears to cancel the rule of law for the oil industry or anyone else who gets possession or control of Iraqi oil or anything of value related to Iraqi oil,” said Tom Devine, legal director for the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that defends whistle-blowers.

Taylor Griffin, a Treasury Department spokesman, dismissed that interpretation, saying the president issued Executive Order 13303 to protect proceeds from the sale of Iraqi crude oil, which are supposed to go into a special fund that the United Nations set up in May to help rebuild the war-torn country.

“This does not protect the companies’ money,” Griffin said. “It protects the Iraqi people’s money.”

I just can’t believe that position.

US used napalm-like bombs

Very interesting story, and the quotes are quite….strange. [via Horst]

US forces used napalm-like MK-77 firebombs against Iraqi forces in their drive toward Baghdad last spring, a Pentagon official confirmed on Thursday, defending their use as legal and necessary.

US marine corps jets dropped the firebombs at least once in March to take out Iraqi positions at the town of Safwan just across the Kuwait border from the US-led invasion force, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is like this: you’ve got enemy that’s hard to get at. And it will save your own lives to use it, and there is no international contraventions against it,” the official said. “I don’t know that there is any humane way to kill your enemy.”

Marines used the napalm-like bombs on at least two other occasions during the drive to Baghdad – against Iraqis defending a bridge across the Saddam Canal and near a Tigris river bridge north of the town of Numaniyah in south central Iraq, the San Diego Tribune reported on Tuesday.

“We napalmed both those (bridge) approaches,” Colonel Randolph Alles, the commander of Marine Air Group 11, was quoted as telling the newspaper. “Unfortunately, there were people there because you could see them in the (cockpit) video.

“They were Iraqi soldiers there. It’s no great way to die,” he said.

The MK-77 are filled with a different mix of incendiary chemicals than napalm, but have the same terrifying effect, a penetrating fire that seeps into dug-in infantry positions.

“The generals love napalm,” Alles was quoted as saying. “It has a big psychological effect.”

The US military destroyed its stock of napalm bombs in 2001 because they were deemed an environmental hazard.

You have go to like that Colonel. “The Generals love napalm”.

BloggerCon

Deb is back and points to:

Dave Winer’s organizing BloggerCon 2003 at Harvard on October 4. I’d love to attend but the $500 is about ten times my conference budget these days. Should be fabulous, so I encourage fellow bloggers to show up in force.

Myself and Bernie discussed going, but I doubt I will be able to make it. Anybody want to donate some money towards the trip? LOL.