At the 1:00 p.m. afternoon presentation, there was no representative from Exelon.  One was present from Zion Solutions.  There were also two commissioners present from the city of Zion and severals others whose names I was unable to note.
 
I spoke directly to several of the NRC representatives present.  Upon informing each individual how insane it was to waste 2,200 MG’s of energy forever, the NRC representatives merely listened, never mentioning that perhaps my statement had a ring of truth to them.  

It has been observed that each part of the three legged stool — Exelon, NRC, and Zion Solutions — pretend as if they are ignorant of what the other two legs of the stool are doing.  NRC individuals assured me that it wasn’t the NRC decision to close Zion.  Exelon decided to close Zion; NRC only entered the picture to deal with safety issues.  This is true, but representatives from each leg of the stool are undoubtedly in contact with one another.  Mostly likely an Exelon representative did attend the 6:00 p.m. meeting.

Entertained by me was a disbelief in the stated reason for the closing of Zion by Exelon.  I then related how transparency was lacking and that Exelon refuses to release financial information because of competitive reasons.  In what amounted to boldness on my part, I informed NRC representatives how silly this sounded to a thinking person who uses logic to guide her thoughts.  Once again I was informed that it was Exelon who had made the decision back in 1998 and that, as a private company, Exelon could do as it wished.  

I then spoke about license extensions and about Zion being a relatively young plant with only 15 years of operation under its belt.  This question followed:  “If Exelon thought it feasible to construct the dual Zion Nuclear Plants, why after only 15 years was it decided that the plants were no longer needed.  After all ratepayers, like me, paid billions to construct The Zion Station and to establish the $1 billion decommissioning fund?”

Perhaps I was a bit too outspoken when I inquired of a NRC representative why the NRC didn’t press the Obama administration to invest in Nuclear Energy which gives the biggest bang for the buck and which is also green energy.  Related was the folly of wind and solar power and how Exelon was even investing in these inefficient forms of green energy.  I then went on to speak about the resurgence of nuclear power all over the world, but not here in the U.S.   

Discussed with another NRC representative was the idea that Zion could be reopened and licensed again if refurbished and brought up-to-date by one willing to purchase Zion from Zion Solutions. This remark did bring a somewhat positive response.  There was agreement under the condition that all safety measures would first have to be met.
  
For the most part, my discussion with NRC representatives solicited words such as, “It was nice taking with you.”   If was just as if I hadn’t spoken a word to any of them of my concerns about The Zion Plant and for this nation’s future energy needs.  My conclusion:  It isn’t that the NRC representatives didn’t understand, it’s that they didn’t wish to!  The NRC representatives all seemed to be programmed to think the same way so as to place the NRC in the best possible light. 

I did speak to the representative from Energy Solutions, Larry Booth.   I asked of Mr. Booth why the rush to get the decommissioning done?  Zion Solution has a time frame of 10 years for its decommissioning, while up to 50 years is allowed.  I also asked Booth the following question about the unrestricted use of the The Zion Plant property which only amounts to 250 acres.  “What is the restricted area now and what will be restricted in the future?”   Mr. Booth couldn’t supply me with answers, or maybe he didn’t wish to.  

I was able to address two question from the floor.  Besides me, there were only 9 or so individuals present at the 1:00 p.m. meeting other than those attending in an official capacity.   A dismal turnout indeed!  The same dismal turnout occurred at the second 6:00 p.m. meeting.
 

MY TWO QUESTIONS:

1,  “I am asking on behalf of ratepayers like me, since the stated mission of the NRC is based on safety and inspection services, what about the ratepayers?   Is it also the NRC’s job to look after the interests of ratepayers to make sure that the decommissioning is done at the lowest possible cost in order to protect the ratepayer’s interest in residual (if any) in the decommissioning fund, and, if not your job, whose job is it?”
 
Answer:  The only role NRC has is to make sure that funding is adequate and that the technical know-how is there to do the decommissioning.  I was assured that the technical review was done and that it was determined that enough money was available. NRC’s only role was its attention to safety.  Conclusion:  There is no “watch dog” group to observe that the decommissioning fund will be used wisely.   I was informed that should more money be needed, there is a letter of credit and also a 7-1/2 million cubic feet easement (right of easement) to fall back on.    

2.  “Regarding Zion Solutions, how much experience does it have in site decommissioning?  Wasn’t Zion Solutions formed just to handle The Zion Station project which is the largest site ever decommissioned in the U.S,?   Why didn’t Exelon do the decommissioning itself?  What’s the rush to get the decommissioning done?” 
 
Answers:  Informed that it is not uncommon for a company to go out and seek an expert in the field.   Explained how Zion Solutions was a subsidiary of Energy Solutions in Utah and that Energy Solutions had done decommissioning in Big Rock in Michigan, Humboldt Bay in CA, work in England and also on the East Coast.  Also that any suggestion that Zion Solutions doesn’t have the experience or expertize to do the decommissioning was wrong.
 
Over an hour was spent, after a late start, with a slide presentation which was duplicated in a distributed handout.   Explained throughout the slide presentation were the following reasons for the Zion public meetings by the NRC:  They were to show Who We Are & What We Do, What is NRC’s Role in Zion’s decommissioning, and What is NRC’s involvement in Zion’s Cleanup Project. 
 
The NRC representatives making the slide presentation didn’t stray far from the slide information projected on the screen and which all had in front on them in handout form.  It was a good slide presentation, if viewed without any curiosity, but I had too many questions roaming around inside my head to view it as any thing other than an attempt by NRC to pacify and ensure the public that all would be done in a safe manner. 

My conclusion is that the NRC is protecting Exelon and its CEO, John Rowe, whose corporation is closely tied with the Obama administration. 

In closing down The Zion Station, Exelon Corporation was able to keep the cost of electricity higher for consumers like me, given that Exelon could charge more for the power being produced by its other nuclear reactors in IL.  

Shame of Exelon and shame of the NRC for not stopping the scam that was propagated by Exelon by the closing of Zion, all for the sake of its greed! 

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Do not legalize medical marijuana During the lame-duck session of the 96th Illinois General Assembly, the plan to pass SB381 in the House to legalize medical marijuana went down in smoke. Our own State Rep. Karen May (D-58th) voted “yes” on the bill. Had SB381 passed the House (the Senate passed the measure in June of 2010), Illinois would have become the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana with the blessing of Governor Quinn.

Extremely worrisome is that SB381, sponsored by State Rep. Louis Lang, narrowly lost. Lang seems determined to introduce a similar bill legalizing medical marijuana in the current General Assembly. Even as support grows in the U.S. for the legalization of marijuana, European countries are re-thinking their liberal marijuana policies in the face of evidence that cannabis use has significant mental and physical consequences and leads to higher crime rate, increased social costs and degradation in the quality of life. What accounts for the ambivalence in this nation toward marijuana use when studies and research indicate that public opinion should be moving in the other direction? \

Might a lack of negative information about marijuana be linked to the failure by the public to understand what lurks beneath the surface? No longer can the public rely on the media to hear the truth about marijuana. The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, and the Lake County News-Sun all support the legalization of medicinal marijuana here in Illinois as advanced through their editorials.

While marijuana is likely to remain the preferred teen drug, legalization of marijuana would send a conflicting message to our youth and further undercut organizations like LEAD and CROYA in Lake Forest who are actively involved in counseling and warning students against drug use. A fallacious argument by some is that drug trafficking would stop if Illinois were to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. I don’t think so! Chicago would still remain the second only to Los Angles as a drug distribution center, not only for marijuana, but also for heroin and cocaine.

In addition to the supply of marijuana and other drugs smuggled into Illinois from Mexico, marijuana is being raised and cultivated right here in Illinois for harvest and illegal distribution. In July of 2007 fields of marijuana were discovered hidden deep within the Crabtree Nature Preserve near suburban Barrington. This find made national news as the largest marijuana field operation ever uncovered in the U.S. Over 38,000 marijuana plants were removed from 14 different fields within the nature preserve, with an estimated street value of $5 to $10 million.

Lake Forest High School and Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Middle School students are not immune when it comes to finding sources for obtaining marijuana for experimentation. There is an ample supply of marijuana available along the North Shore, and teens know how to find and obtain it. School districts and parents must deal on a daily basis with the consequences of marijuana, throughout Illinois and throughout this nation. For all practical purposes, “medical” marijuana is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Marijuana remains categorized as a Schedule I Substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act because it meets these three criteria: 1) No accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S. 2) A lack of accepted safety for patients under medical supervision, and 3) A high potential for abuse.

Do residents in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff really want to head down a slippery slope that pro-legalization supporters hope will end, not only with the legalization of marijuana, but with decriminalization of all drugs, a movement being supported and financed nationally by billionaire George Soros? Shouldn’t science, not popular vote, determine what medicine is?

Common sense would indicate that increasing the availability of marijuana will lead to more use and more dependency, which in turn affects all communities both monetarily and socially. Any Illinois law that would allow six marijuana plants per individuals to be grown for medical purposes would only increase teen availability, making marijuana easier to obtain by creating more venues to obtain the drug.

Let Representative Karen May hear from you. State Sen. Susan Garrett of Lake Forest should be applauded. She is on record as being against the legalization of medical marijuana. Tell Representative May to vote “no” when a bill to legalize marijuana is brought to the House floor in the 97th Illinois General Assembly, most likely sponsored once again by Representative Louis Lang of Skokie. Contact information for Karen May: (847) 782-0902 or email: Karen@repkarenmay.org

Planting a flame for freedom must be applauded, for this is what was witnessed in Egypt on Friday, February 11.  After eighteen days of round-the-clock protests in Egypt’s Tahria Square, the military removed from office 82-year-old dictator and president Hosni Mubarak after three decades of rule. 

The good news is that there were not millions of protesters renouncing the U.S. and Israel.  The protesters were largely a secular, youthful movement demanding economic and political freedom.  Never did they number more than 800,000 out of a population of eighty-two million.

But has much changed with the removal of President Hosni Mubarak by the military?  Despite media reports trumpeting the occasion as a triumph of political reform toward a free and democratic country, the only change is the departure of  Hosni Mubarak. 

The military is still in charge and runs the country; 40% of the Islamist population earns less than $2.00 a day and will continue to experience poverty and dissatisfaction; a political party system must be established; and presently the Muslim Brotherhood is the only well-organized and well-funded anti-Mubarak group positioned for a possible ultimate takeover.

Why should the Muslim Brotherhood be feared?  Much has been reported about the Muslim Brotherhood as the Middle East’s oldest and most influential Islamist movement.  It has also been falsely portrayed as Freedom Fighters. 

Outlawed in Egypt since 1954 when attempts were made to assassinate President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Muslim Brotherhood still has a large membership inside Egypt.  Tolerated by the Mubarak government as long as there was no violence, the Muslim Brotherhood’s long-stated goals have not changed, that of creating an Islamist state, implementing Sharia law, and the destruction of Israel.  Candidates are fielded as “independents” in elections.

A Pew poll survey conducted in Egypt among adults in December, 2010, paints a disturbing picture of how premature it might be for the media to expect that “democracy” will flower from the Cairo rioting.  Findings in the poll include:  85% of adults want a larger role for Islam in government; 84% support the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion; 82% support stoning for adulterers; 77% support whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 61% see no struggle between those who want to modernize their country and Islamic fundamentalists; and 54% support making gender segregation in the workplace the law in their country.

Perhaps most disturbing is that 82% of Egyptians dislike the U.S., which makes the $1.5 billion this nation gives yearly to Egypt in foreign aid an extremely poor investment.

Given the results of the several month old Pew survey, it is fair to ask whether Egypt is ready or will ever be ready to create a western-style democracy?  Do Egyptians really desire a western-style democracy?   Were protesters really yearning for modernity and triumph of human rights over martial law when the Pew poll indicates a preference for Islamic theocracy?  

Only one thing is for certain.  This nation’s relationship with Egypt under new leadership will change, and it might not be what those in Tahria Square hoped for or the U.S.


I was fortunate to be alerted to the Peonies For Diane Rath event by a Libertyville friend who received an e-mail blast from one of Diane Rath’s daughters, Annie Rath, about her mother’s Fine Art Show at the Lake Bluff Train Station Gallery on Saturday, January 29. Similar blast e-mails were also sent out by Artists on the Bluff and the Deerpath Art League.

Attend I did with my friend, and I was rewarded for having done so.  I must confess to having “egg on my face,” for despite being a resident of Lake Bluff since 1972, I was not aware that Diane Rath lived in my community!  What I saw was an outstanding display of Diane Rath’s oil paintings depicting still life, floral displays and landscapes, including many peony artworks which have become Ms. Rath’s signature.

While attending Peonies For Diane Rath I heard the tragic news of why the event was being held.  On January 1st Diane Rath received the shocking diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer.  Additional extensive hospital tests revealed that Diane’s cancer had spread to other organs. Despite the diagnosis, Diane and her family remain optimistic about her future.

It always helps to have friends, but especially in times of great emotional upheaval and stress.  Ms. Rath’s friends at Artists on the Bluff took up Diane’s cause and arranged Peonies for Diane as a benefit to raise money for her medical treatment.

And come people did to greet Diane, to wish her well, to view her outstanding collection of oil paintings, and to buy!  It is estimated that four hundred friends and art admirers kept the Lake Bluff Train Station waiting room crowded and filled with lively conversations throughout the three-and-one-half hour event.

In speaking with Catherine Liggett of Lake Forest, she informed me that, as an admirer of Diane Rath, she has a grouping of three of Diane’s floral painting in the foyer of her staircase.  Most likely Catherine Liggett has added another one by now.

Wine and appetizers added to the enjoyment of the evening.  Concluding the event was an always popular Silent Auction featuring five items for consideration.  Neil Estrick, of Neil Estrick Gallery in Grayslake, donated a porcelain pot with a lid; Don and Jill Leipprandt, also from Grayslake, donated an oak tray with birch inserts; and three of Diane Rath’s paintings — two small and one large — completed the five Silent Auction items up for bid.

It was the understanding that paintings not sold on January 29th would remain on exhibit (and sale) for several weeks.  In speaking with daughter Annie after the event, Annie informed me that all but four of the 40 to 45 paintings on display were sold, and that the unsold ones were taken back home.  According to Annie, “They all went so quickly.  I didn’t expect them to sell so quickly, and I’ve been to many art shows.”  The money from the event will help cover the costs of Diane’s medical bills.

As a fellow Lake Bluffer, I wish Diane well with her medical treatment.  I am sure there are hundreds of well-wishers just like me, for Diane Rath is a Mother, Teacher, Artist, Mentor and a Friend to many.  Diane is also acknowledged as one of today’s finest painters and visionary teachers.  She taught 10 years at both the American Academy of Art and the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago and is represented by four galleries.

Daughter Annie perhaps said it best in describing the sizable turnout for her mom:  “It reflects on the type of person my mom is that this many people came to show their support for her.”

Annie, 22, is pursing a Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Hospitality Administration at Boston University.  I regret that I didn’t meet Annie’s siblings who were also on hand to support their mom.  Lucy, 24, works for the Chicago White Sox, and Tyler, 26, is works at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

Check Diane Rath’s website at www.DianeRath.com to find paintings that are available for purchase.

Lucy Rath and Whitney Moran has set up the following website to keep her mom’s friends updated about her mom’s condition: www.PeoniesforDianeRath.com .

On the website it is also possible to contribute to Diane Rath, as she fights the battle to win over the cancer which has invaded her body.

 

Now that Judge Vincent ruled against President Obama’s health care law, will the Obama administration accept Judge Vincent’s ruling, a Reagan appointee, or will Obama’s Justice Department defy the Federal Court order as it did with a federal ruling to resume drilling in the Gulf?

After all, Democrats seem to have a fondness for Ronald Reagan.  President Obama even evoked Reagan’s name in his State of the Union address with his pitch to appeal to Independent voters and others.  Shouldn’t the Obama administration and Democrats, including IL Senator Dick Durbin, praise Judge Vincent as a Reagan appointment for his Reaganesque decision?

Instead, Democrats are attempting to smear Judge Vincent because he ruled against their pride and joy — Obamacare.  Judge Vincent even used Obama’s own words against him when the then-Illinois senator argued there were other ways to achieve reform short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.

Writing in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling on Monday, January 31st, Judge Vinson had this to say:  “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.”

 

‘Spice’ enters the drug scene

 

If you are unfamiliar with “Spice,” a synthetic marijuana, it is about time you are made aware of its dangers.  Spice use is most likely making inroads with students in your own school district, as it gains in popularity among teens.

 

Spice made its entry into the U.S. from Europe in 2008 when a public high school in the north shore suburbs of Chicago reported the first Illinois school drug overdose involving spice. The student related how he had purchased the drug over the Internet and had smoked it just before the start of the school day.

 

Spice is a mixture of herbs and spices that typically is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  Spice, also known as K2, mimics the effects of marijuana and can be purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and over the Internet as a chemically-laced incense product.

 

Most troubling is that hospital urine tests do not detect the use of the drug.  Fifteen states have already acted to control the chemicals used to make the synthetic marijuana.  Illinois is among them.  House Bill 4578, banning all synthetic cannabinoids, was signed into law on July 27, 2011 and became effective on January 1st of this year.

 

Teens are more venerable to the ill effects of synthetic marijuana, as the adolescent brain differs from that of an adult.  The pre-frontal cortex is the the last area of the brain to develop.  This is the part that modulates executive function.

 

Just as spice has been determined to be a dangerous drug by Illinois legislators, let your elected House member know that marijuana likewise should not be legalized for any purpose.  There is no doubt that Representative Louis Lang (D-16) will sponsor another bill in the House for medical marijuana when he feels enough votes are there to pass the bill.

 

Common sense would indicate that increasing the availability of marijuana will only lead to more use and more dependency and will, in turn, affect all communities both monetarily and socially — and most of all the lives of our children!

 

I will firmly tell my elected House member, Karen May (D-28), to vote “no.   May you likewise inform your elected Illinois representative.

 

From Jan. 23 to 29, School Choice advocates gathered all across this nation to shine a spotlight on effective education options for every child. Despite the importance of education in a competitive world, National School Choice week had all the oxygen sucked out of it with the media’s speculation about what Obama might say in his State of the Union address, the proposed “date night” seating arrangements, and the disqualification of Rahm Emanual from the mayoral ballot.

As reported on Jan. 25 in Education Week, and mentioned in Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25, only one in five high school seniors are performing at a level deemed “proficient” in science. The results come at a time where there is strong and growing concern also about the lackluster academic performance in math in comparison to other nations, including South Korea, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Tax payers, whether or not they have children enrolled in an public or private area school, want children to have positive and to-notch educational experiences. Yet many young people are arriving at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

Why is this so? High-stakes testing often replaces meaningful teaching and learning, resulting in pressure-cooker, high-stress and anxiety environments that can cause stress-related illnesses, depression, burnout, and experimentation with drugs.

Look at a positive happening in the upscale communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff – where test scores are way above average. Credit in one area goes to Betty Frank-Baily, the executive director of LEAD – or Linking Efforts Against Drugs – for contracting to bring the film “Race to Nowhere” to area residents for scheduled screenings. Dialogues have already opened up among teachers, parents and students.

“Race to Nowhere” is an independently produced and timely film. It cannot be seen in local movie theaters. Children in all school districts would benefit by bringing “Race to Nowhere” for viewing in their communities, as the film shines a light on the price young people pay when the educational process does not produce satisfactory student achievement

It is not the responsibility of government to educate our children, but should be – as “Race to Nowhere” suggests – the combined efforts of the schools, parents and the community.

Check out http://www.RaceToNowhere.com or call 925-310-4142 to arrange to bring “Race to Nowhere” to your hometown.

If you are unfamiliar with “Spice,” a synthetic marijuana, it is about time you are made aware of its dangers.  Spice use is most likely making inroads with students in your own school district, as it gains in popularity among teens.

Spice made its entry into the U.S. from Europe in 2008 when a public high school in the north shore suburbs of Chicago reported the first Illinois school drug overdose involving spice. The student related how he had purchased the drug over the Internet and had smoked it just before the start of the school day.

Spice is a mixture of herbs and spices that typically is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  Spice, also known as K2, mimics the effects of marijuana and can be purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and over the Internet as a chemically-laced incense product.

Most troubling is that hospital urine tests do not detect the use of the drug.  Fifteen states have already acted to control the chemicals used to make the synthetic marijuana.  Illinois is among them.  House Bill 4578, banning all synthetic cannabinoids, was signed into law on July 27, 2011 and became effective on January 1st of this year.

Teens are more venerable to the ill effects of synthetic marijuana, as the adolescent brain differs from that of an adult.  The pre-frontal cortex is the the last area of the brain to develop.  This is the part that modulates executive function.

Detrimental effects associated with the prolonged teen use of synthetic marijuana, as with marijuana, include lower test scores and educational attainment.  Also affected are concentration, short-term memory, and critical skills needed for learning and processing information.

It is not surprising that spice has become a problem in the military.  The Navy recently discharged 16 sailors assigned to the USS Bataan for using or dealing with spice.  Seven midshipmen were also expelled from the Naval Academy and five cadets from the Air Force Academy.  During the last four months 151 sailors have been accused of using or possessing spice.

If synthetic cannabinoids have been banned in Illinois, why is there a push to have Illinois become the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana?   SB381 failed narrowly in the Lame Duck Session of the House last December, having passed in the Senate earlier in 2010.

Just as spice has been determined to be a dangerous drug by Illinois legislators, let your elected House member know that marijuana likewise should not be legalized for any purpose.  There is no doubt that Representative Louis Lang (D-16) will sponsor another bill in the House for medical marijuana when he feels enough votes are there to pass the bill.

I will firmly tell my elected House member, Karen May (D-28), to vote “no.   May’s “yes” vote during the 2010 Lame Duck Session was unacceptable and lacked sound judgment.

A Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) report dated July, 2010 concludes that there are no sound scientific studies or animal or human data that supports the safety or efficacy of smoked marijuana for general medical use. The following national professional organization are of the same opinion:  The American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Cancer Society, the American glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the British Medical Association.

Shouldn’t science, not popular vote, determine what medicine Is?  Common sense would indicate that increasing the availability of marijuana will only lead to more use and more dependency and will, in turn, affect all communities both monetarily and socially — and most of all the lives of our children!

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