Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 344, Summer, 1994

Welcome to the Summer 1994 Fifth Estate. Our center eight pages feature the return of the once-a-decade Daily Barbarian, which last appeared as an FE supplement in 1984. Just wait until 2004! Also, this 40-page issue is the largest in our 28-year history.

We are late again with this edition. Our last was marked Fall/Winter 1993, Vol. 28, #3, and this is Summer 1994, Vol. 29, #1; no other issues appeared in between. Best way of keeping track of issues is by their whole numbers. This is issue #344; the previous, #343.

Anarchy and The Alternative Press Review, published in Columbia, Missouri, are similarly behind schedule, indicating an interesting, but distressing phenomenon.

Our paper, the above ones, and other anarchist zines and papers have enthusiastic readerships who would appreciate more frequent publication. However, almost all of the papers are shorthanded with staff members facing the obligations of daily life taking up too much of our time. It’s a dilemma that has all of us frustrated.

A hearty thanks to all who have contributed to this issue either with work and/ or donations. Special gratitude goes to the anonymous donor of a rather large gift we received recently. We intend to use it to purchase equipment which will make the FE self-sufficient in desktop publishing (which we now realize is what “dtp” stands for, if you remember a letter on the subject a few issues ago).

Dept. of Egregious Errors: We expect to have typos and other errors in the paper, since a small staff with a million tasks is unable to make the FE “letter perfect.” Still, a few in our last issue made us cringe.

(We always notice them as soon as we open the first copy we pick up when it comes from the printer.)

  • In our article on the Chattanooga anti-racist march [FE #343, Fall-Winter, 1993] we listed the year of Martin Luther King’s assassination as 1967; it was 1968.
  • Our article on McDonald’s attempt to silence its critics in Greenpeace (London) with a libel suit [FE #343, Fall-Winter, 1993], stated that the shitburger slinger’s international sales were 30 billion English pounds; fortunately the correct figure is 10% of that.
  • Our short on the Vatican’s cooperation with the destruction of Apache sacred land on Arizona’s Mt. Graham [FE #343, Fall-Winter, 1993] listed the scurrilous reigning pope as John Paul IV. Our adviser on christian matters, San Quinario, informs us the current one is fortunately only the II (and hopefully the last).
  • Finally, we misspelled graphic artist Patrick Dengate’s name on one of his lovely woodcuts. Sorry, Patrick. He is distributing a selection of his woodcuts of nature scenes on rag paper, and can be contacted at 436 Maplehurst, Ferndale MI 48220.

Killer Kops Dept.: To everyone’s surprise, Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn, the Detroit cops convicted of second degree murder in the beating death of Malice Green (See FE #343, Fall-Winter, 1993), have begun their long sentences in a federal prison designated for convicted police. It is an unusual situation when brutal and murderous cops serve any time whatsoever for the widespread pattern of police abuse.

An appeal was filed on their behalf in February, alleging their beating Green to death did not constitute second degree murder, plus prosecutorial misconduct. There is an active defense committee comprised of other police and bolstered by support from local right-wing talk show hosts. Their claim is that the officers were simply doing their duty (executing crack users) and should be found not guilty.

The tenor of the conversations on the talk shows is so racist and hysterical that one wonders if they won’t soon call for Malice Green to be prosecuted posthumously and the cops given medals of commendation.

Genius At Work, or I Don’t Want To Scare You, But They Mean To Kill Us All Dept.: Fermi II, Detroit Edison’s dangerous, accident-prone nuke plant in nearby Monroe has been closed since Dec. 25 when a blade from its 510-ton turbine system snapped off, broke four other blades and blew a hole in the housing, causing a flash fire, and subsequent flooding. Edison ignored repeated warnings of shaky turbine quality because of the huge expense of repairs or replacement.

The utility then proceeded to dump 1.5 million gallons of “slightly” radioactive water left over from the fire into ecologically sensitive Lake Erie over the protest of environmentalists and the public (see photo).

The facility is on the brink of having its switch turned off like its ill-fated predecessor, Fermi I. Edison officials told its stockholders at an April 25 meeting that the $3550 million price tag for repairs would be picked up by its insurance and Fermi would soon be producing electricity again. The company’s president, Anthony Earley, Jr., told worried stockholders, “Fermi must run well for Detroit Edison to be successful.” The nuke plant represents 11% of the utility’s generating capacity and an astounding 30% of its assets.

To add to Edison’s problems, inspectors found new cracks in the low-pressure steam turbine, meaning their insurance might not cover repair costs. This led Wall Street’s influential Kidder Peabody and Co. to lowered the utility’s rating, sending its stock price skidding.

Contrary to the public optimism of Edison officials, other observers see Fermi II repairs as necessitating installation of an expensive new turbine which would send re-start costs as high as 10 times the utility’s figure. If this is required, it would for all practical purposes scuttle Fermi’s operation.

Also, in an incident which could have come from a script of “The Simpsons,” a surprise visit in early April by Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors found a worker in charge of monitoring the filtration of the radioactive water to be discharged into the lake, asleep at his post.

The old saying, “Custer died for our sins,” is particularly relevant since Monroe is the birthplace of ol’ Gen. George. Maybe Fermi II will do similar service for nuclear power.

Fermi II sits next to the ominously silent, sealed and dangerously radioactive buildings of Fermi I which nearly escaped a melt-down in 1966. Local environmental groups pledge to keep demonstrating until Fermi closes, but what about Edison management which had to confront their stockholders with news of a reduced dividend?

Fermi III, perhaps?

For further information contact: Citizens Resisting At Fermi Two (CRAFT), PO BX 1069, Monroe MI 48161.

FE Second Final Warning to the Pope

Last issue we said Pope John Paul II’s Nov. 11 mishap ascending the stairs to his throne was karmic payback for the Vatican’s role in despoiling Apache sacred land on Arizona’s Mt. Graham (See FE #343, Fall-Winter 1993, “The Pope Trips Up”). However, his Lowliness did not heed our warning, and on April 29 broke his leg trying to climb out of his bath tub. John Paul, baby—this time we really mean it—get off Apache land!

One of the other institutions cooperating with the papacy on the University of Arizona telescope project, Michigan State University, has listened to the warnings and withdrawn its participation.