Friday, July 20, 2007

Oak Ridge: Tennessee Boom Town

Someone sent this pennant picture to me. I lived in Oak Ridge from 1946 until 1952. Oak Ridge was where much of the research for atomic weaponry was done. For many years it was a gated town. You had to have a pass to get through the gates. The "gates" are still there, sort of mini forts, useful perhaps for any future wars against "terrorists". The house where we lived was on Darwin Lane. Many of the roads both in Oak Ridge and Los Alamos were names after scientists.
There is a new boom coming to the town:
Giant game of musical chairs coming to Y-12
By FRANK MUNGER, May 21, 2007

The Y-12 National Security Complex is known for doing the difficult.The Oak Ridge plant specializes in building secondaries - high-precision assemblies that serve as the second stage of nuclear warheads. As the saying goes, Y-12 puts the "boom" in ka-boom. But in all its many years, dating back to the World War II Manhattan Project, the nuclear facility has never done anything quite like this. Y-12 is going to relocate about a third of its employees and their office belongings over a period of a few weeks.

It's being called the Mega Move. "We're treating this like a project," said Randy Spickard, assistant general manager at BWXT Y-12, the government's managing contractor. "We've had several project managers assigned to this."

In other words, Y-12 is giving the moving plan the same kind of attention it gives to building weapons, and that's serious stuff. About 1,100 people currently working in 50 buildings at the sprawling plant site will be moved to the new Jack Case Center, a U-shaped, 412,000-square-foot facility that will become Y-12's central office and administrative hub. Another 300 employees now occupying space in about 15 buildings will be consolidated at the New Hope Center, a $137,000-square-foot facility at Y-12's entrance on Scarboro Road. Construction of the new privately financed facilities is nearing completion, with just a few finishing touches left to accomplish. The moves will take place in phases, but most of the employees will be relocated over the span of four weekends, starting in mid-July. Employees will leave their old places on a Thursday (most Y-12ers are on four-day work weeks) and report to their new office digs on a Monday..........Green or brown for GNEP? There's plenty of controversy regarding the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, the Bush administration plan to expand the use of nuclear energy in the U.S. and abroad. That's true locally and nationally.

Some area folks are upset by the decision to propose a 500-acre site near Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a location for a nuclear processing operation for spent fuel. They argue that if a facility is built to handle highly radioactive spent fuel, it should be on a "brownfield" site already contaminated by Oak Ridge's Cold War nuclear operations - such as the former K-25 uranium-enrichment facility.

There have been suggestions that planners backed off K-25 because of pressure from folks over at the Rarity Ridge housing development west of K-25 on the other side of the Clinch River. Lawrence Young, president of the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee, said he wasn't pressured by Rarity Ridge. "If there was (pressure), it wasn't directed towards me," he said.

Young, however, acknowledged the community's presence was a factor in the decision-making. "That's a reality. There wasn't overt pressure, but we're reasonably smart," he said, noting that it wouldn't make sense to locate a nuclear facility close to a community with a future potential of 5,000 rooftops. Young also said he takes exception to the proposed GNEP site being called greenfield. Although it's not a contaminated property such as K-25, it has been used in the past, he said.

He said CROET and its contractor chose the site, in part, because the Department of Energy wanted participants in the preliminary program to study areas that are relatively unknown. Should the DOE be interested in K-25 as a GNEP-related plant site, there's already a lot of information available, he said. "That's also why we didn't consider the old Breeder site (acreage once targeted for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project in the early 1980s)," Young said.

Senior writer Frank Munger covers the Department of Energy and its
contractors. He may be reached at 865-342-6329.
In 1997 there was a note about the new proposed operations in Oak Ridge:
The Department of Energy (DOE) has signed a precedent-setting contract with private companies including BNFL, a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, that guarantees the company a profit on sales of radioactively contaminated metal to the marketplace. Under the contract, BNFL would take apart the uranium enrichment plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The metal from the decommmissioning would be sold on the open market.
As of the signing of the contract, title to the federally-owned radioactive metal waste from enrichment of uranium for nuclear reactors, was shifted to BNFL. Once stripped from the radioactive buildings, the metal will be transported to privately owned, state-licensed companies who will process and sell it on the open market. The scrap could be used for cars, I-beams of buildings, anything made with stainless steel. BNFL already has plans for a contract with a company (Ovonics) that makes nickel metal hydride batteries that could end up in items such as scooters, cars, computers and toys.
Now back to me:
Unlike the original Oak Ridge Facility, the new plants (New Hope Center and Jack Case Center) are private and as such do not come under federal guidelines, so there are questions about union represenation at the new facility. The opening ceremonies were conducted by clergy and administrators who all quoted scripture. When questioned about the religious nature of the opening events, officials said that since it was private they did not have to adhere to non-denominational requirements of federal facilities.
Is changing the name of Darwin Lane next? Although the buildings were "financed by private capital", of course the money (through "Defense" contracts) will ultimately come from guess where: the US taxpayers!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007


In 2005 I went to Osaka as part of a series of workshops at a media center called REMO-Record, Expression, Media Organization. Their mission is to : "provide activities that act as a conduit for the organic flow of research, experiment, development and practice by exploring and reviewing issues presented via media." Kazuya Sakurada is one of the most active members of Indymedia Japan and had invited myself and Tetsuo Kogawa to REMO. Tetsuo conducted a transmitter building workshop in which 13 transmitters were built. The workshop participants were an amazing mixture: a retired teacher, a poet, a homeless man, a childcare worker and several artists. As each transmitter was finished, workshop members walked around the loft-like space speaking, singing, laughing into mikes connected to their mini-transmitters. It was a glorious evocation of Brecht's dream of each person a tranmitter.
The center was in a failed mall called Festival Gate, located in the area of Osaka known for pachenko parlors, homeless campouts and drug exchange. Attempting to upgrade the district and overcome its seedy reputation, the city subsidized the building of a large mall, similar in colorful design and playfulness (a roller coaster ran through the center of it) to Horton Plaza in San Diego. When Festival Gate didn't attract enough tenants, the city turned many of the spaces over to arts organizations, hoping for "civic uplift" by the arts. So for a few years the arts did thrive there. REMO presented media workshops and performances. Nov Amenomori is one of the founding members of REMO, organizing Breaker Project [] in the streets, and Kanayo Ueda doing poetry readings at a cafe (Cocoroom) next door.
But the attempt at art gentrification couldn't really change the basic condition of the depressed neighborhood. The empty roller coaster roaring through the mostly empty space came to symbolize the lonely plight of the creative individuals who were trying to keep their cultural organizations alive.
This month REMO held their last event at Festival Gate. The Festival Gate will be torn down to make way for the city's next attempt at "urban renewal" in the area.

Remo's future plans include:
* 2 weeks public space media installation with an artist from Thailand from the end of September just infront of the Osaka Central Station
* 2 weeks indoor media art festival and/or media activism teach-in from the end of year to the first half of the next January in a white cube in a city central which is used for museum preparation.

There is still some negotiating with the city government for an alternate site.

Meanwhile the Japanese government is moving to control the internet. Under the guise of controlling "cybercrime" the authorities are attempting to put the Japanese internet on a "business" basis. Public comments are open until July 20.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


photos by Dave BrunerJoel Kovel read a poem by WB Yeats:
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds.
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Dave Channon's poem is on Youtube.The Eve Of Impeachment © Dave Channon 2007
George’s world, it is implodin’
Like MREs from Haliburton
You’re old enough to vote, but it’s verboten
You don’t believe in war, but that’s what they’re promotin’
The Potomac river’s brown from all the bullshit floatin’

But ya tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of impeachment.

Rummie is cryin’ “Waah, I want my Momma!”
Hillie’s wastin’ time racing black Obama.
The Supreme Court ruled and jacked up the election
With politics first… but justice second-
There’s Karl Rove and Jeffrey Gannon in Lincoln’s bedroom closet neckin’!

And ya tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of impeachment.

Cheney’s blood clots are coagulatin’
Chicken hawks are still escalatin’
Fox is in the hen house, there ain’t no regulatin’
And Nancy Pelosi won’t start investigatin’
And marches alone don’t stop the devastatin’
The evidence is just too damn incriminatin’
Bring the troops back home to our Americanation!

But ya tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of impeachment.

Gonzales is lyin’, so is Scooter Libby
They’re droppin like flies because of all their fibbies
Abramoff, Delay and Kenny Lay are frightened
Who is next in line to get an inditement?
Bush is readin’ “My Pet Goat” gonna miss all the excitement.
The poundin’ of the gavel, Republigoons are sweatin’
Armageddon sick and tired of all their Armageddon.

Yetcha… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of impeachment.
Mm, ya better believe
We’re on the eve of impeachment.Dove Cottage by Janine Pommy Vega
(for Margaret & Peter)

In 1800 the busy life
of the newborn middle class
with neighbors dying as they crossed
the mountains at night in winter
and the eldest daughter seeking out a cloak
from the next door neighbor, to search
for her parents, thrust at eleven
into the adult business
of survival

Amidst poets walking eight miles to see
if you had another stanza to that poem,
or he had an idea, or if she did
walking in company around the mere
on a cloudy dry day with the robin
singing extravagantly
the thrush with his head cocked
listening for nightcrawlers under the earth
in the quiet garden

pulls one out and slams it this way
and that against the ground, another tiny
murder in the bucolic life
When the child workers sleeping inside the cogs
of wheels in the machines were let go,
no longer needed, someone pointed to
the village across the estuary,
There, there’s your home, and as the tiny
band trooped out the tide rushed in

The middle class supported
not by a king but their own consequence
Wordsworth writing for his life
the populace eating oatmeal bread
and hasty pudding
the wide view over the lake lending itself
to contemplation, a consciousness
connected to particularities of nature

particular lemon thyme on the stone walls
lady’s smock and lady’s slipper
the blue-eyed jackdaw and black headed
oyster catcher, until somebody
points it out you may not see it
The sister and brother, Dorothy and
William, love companions
busy about survival in the wet cold weather
he focused on a thought in mid-air, she papering
the bedrooms to keep out the wind,

come at last to this:
a daffodil reflecting inner light,
the shout of laughter from a dusty couch
in a dark room, the singularity of spirit
reflecting a totality
reverberating like guitar strings
at the door

The becks and hows and fells and tarns
and crofts and meres of another time
leapfrog through literature
to the present, the ancient people
busy about survival with one syllable
place names, geographical landmarks
a history of galloping consciousness

wild things brought back to the garden
heckberry blossoms, buttercup and orchis
brassy rhododendron and azalea
taking root under the watchful
magpie, the finch and raven
the black lambs bleating at heaven’s gate
Derision of these people at one’s peril

who opened chinks in the wall
of the everyday,
who insisted on their visions
grew sick for the lack of them
persisted in them, eyes far-distanced and
heavy-lidded with laudanum, who pursued
the dandelion of common prayer.
Grasmere, Cumbria, England, May 2007.

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