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Category Archives: fukushima

News round-up.

Here are some brief notes on a few news items of the past week or two, most of which were overlooked by the mainstream press.  I’ll really try to keep it all brief (though I am not very good at that and am more known for my enthusiastic verbosity), so if you are one of those people who is wrecking the attention span and memory functions of your brain by overusing “twitter” and such shit, you can skim quickly and not have to digest too much at a time.  I won’t use hashtags, though.  One has to draw the line somewhere.

As of November this year, 164 detainees remain at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp without charge or trial; many of them have been held for more than 11 years. Since 2010, 86 detainees have been approved for release by the Administration’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, yet only 2 have been transfered in the past year.

The U.S. will no longer report to the public any hunger strikes taking place among the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  Disclosure of hunger strikes at the prison are “not in the interest” of the military.  This would be called censoring the news were it to occur in the old USSR or modern North Korea.  Here, we don’t call it anything – we just do it.

MIAMI — The U.S. military will no longer disclose to the media and public whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike, a spokesman said Wednesday, eliminating what had long been an unofficial barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost in Cuba.

Hunger strikes have been employed by men held at Guantanamo since shortly after the prison opened in January 2002, and the United States has long disclosed how many are refusing to eat and whether they meet military guidelines to be force-fed.

Officials have determined that it is no longer in their interest to publicly disclose the information, said Navy Cmdr. John Filostrat, a spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

“JTF-Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public,” Filostrat said in an e-mail. “The release of this information serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops.” […]

Human rights groups, lawyers and the media had long used the number of hunger strikers as a measure of discontent at the prison. A mass protest over conditions this year peaked in July at 106 detainees.

The Miami Herald reported that as of Monday, when the statistics were apparently released for the last time, 15 men were on hunger strike, up from 11 in mid-November.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/guantanamo-detainees-hunger-strikes-will-no-longer-be-disclosed-by-us-military/2013/12/04/f6b1aa96-5d24-11e3-bc56-c6ca94801fac_story.html

The FDA issued rules pertaining to the removal of antibiotics from animal feed; the overuse of antibiotics in feed has increased drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases amongst both animals and humans in what is being called an epidemic by the medical community.  Naturally, being the present-day FDA, run by former Monsanto employees, the new rules are voluntary, non-binding, and allow a three-year timeframe for phasing out the the use of antibiotics on healthy animals.

In response to concerns about the rise in drug-resistant superbugs worldwide, US regulators Wednesday issued voluntary guidelines to help cut back on antibiotics routinely fed to farm animals.

The plan described by the Food and Drug Administration is not mandatory, and applies only to certain pharmaceuticals that are given to healthy livestock in a bid to grow bigger animals and boost food production. […]

The FDA guidelines set out a three-year timeframe for phasing out the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine for growth uses in farm animals. […]

The World Health Organization says inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in farm animals is one the factors underlying the spread of drug-resistant infections in people, including tuberculosis, malaria and gonorrhea. […]

Consumer advocates say 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are destined for use in livestock, so leaving the responsibility in the hands of business is a mistake.

Louise Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, described the FDA’s voluntary guidance as “an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success.”

This guidance “falls woefully short of what is needed to address a public health crisis,” she added in a statement.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said there are “several loopholes” in the FDA plan that could undermine its aim.

“Unfortunately it requires the drug companies who profit from sales of their drugs to initiate the process,” said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. […]

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/11/fda-issues-non-binding-rules-for-removing-antibiotics-from-farms/

We have killed 18 people via drone-bombing in Yemen in just the past week.  In one instance, there were 15 members of a wedding party murdered (what the hell else can you call it?) and a few days before that, three people traveling in a car were assassinated by a drone missile.

(Reuters) – Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said.

Five more people were injured, the officials said. […]

On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people travelling in a car in eastern Yemen.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/12/us-yemen-strike-idUSBRE9BB10O20131212?irpc=932

We adopted the Volker so-called “rule” this week.  However, like Elizabeth Warren’s 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act and John Delaney’s infrastructure bill (see my recent articles on these subjects), the Volker rule has been watered down enough to make it essentially meaningless.  The banks have until 2015 to comply with the “rules”.  The “rules” will be overseen and enforced by the regulatory agencies now peopled largely by former Goldman, Sachs employees.  That there is what we call reform in these United States.

The so-called “Volcker rule,” adopted Tuesday by the main US bank regulatory agencies, is being hailed by the Obama administration as a major reform that will rein in Wall Street speculation and hold bankers accountable. In fact, it is a toothless measure that will do nothing to stop the speculative and fraudulent activities that triggered the financial meltdown of 2008 and have continued unabated since then.

The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman and Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, is among the most contested parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul that was signed into law by President Obama in July of 2010. The rule ostensibly bars commercial banks, which benefit from federally guaranteed retail deposits and other government backstops, from speculating with bank funds, including customers’ deposits, on their own account—a practice known as proprietary trading. […]

The document approved Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), spanning 953 pages, nominally restricts proprietary trading. But it incorporates loopholes and exemptions that will enable the banks to continue to make risky bets on stocks, bonds and other securities for their own profit.

The rule delays the date for compliance by the banks to July 2015, three years after the date laid down in the Dodd-Frank law. This is designed to give the banks and their lawyers ample time to devise ways to evade the rule’s provisions and, if they so decide, mount lawsuits to block all or part of the measure. […]

The measure requires bank CEOs to affirm annually that they have established programs to ensure that their firms are complying with the rule’s provisions. However, in another concession to Wall Street, its does not require that the executives attest that their companies are actually in compliance with the rule. […]

The Wall Street Journal in an editorial Wednesday was more blunt. The newspaper wrote: “Rest assured banks will find loopholes. And rest assured some of the Volcker rule-writers will find private job opportunities to help with that loophole search once they decide to lay down the burdens of government service.” […]

As the Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday, “Consultants wasted no time in starting to work with their banking clients on how to put in place the new rules… Law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP last year hired Donald Lamson, who had been a banking regulator at the OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] to help focus on Volcker-rule matters… ‘We’re already getting inquiries from our clients,’ said Robert Cook, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, who until earlier this year was helping write the new financial rules as a lawyer at the SEC.”

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/13/volc-d13.html

The annual Mayors’ Report has been issued and it is not pretty – in fact, the statistics on poverty and homelessness in our cities are horrible.  This will not stop Congress from stripping federal aid from the poverty-stricken, the working poor, the jobless and the homeless as quickly as possible.  And until the majority of non-military Americans is completely decimated and living on the edges of starvation, I’m pretty sure most of the country has no problem with that – I cannot recall a period in my entire lifetime where so much of the population has had so much animosity and outright hatred toward the less fortunate.  The operative theory here is that giving money to the rich makes them work harder and entices them to “provide jobs”, while giving any amount of aid to the poor makes them stop working altogether.

And the military, via Pentagon funding, will continue to receive the bulk of federal funds so that we can continue in perpetuity the “war on terror”.  (Can I hear a “USA – fuck yeah!”?  I thought so.)

A new report on hunger and homelessness paints a devastating picture of the conditions facing millions of workers and poor people in America. The new US Conference of Mayors’ Task Force annual survey highlights the extent and causes of hunger and homelessness in 25 cities for the year between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013.

The report finds that 83 percent of the cities surveyed reported an increase in requests for emergency food assistance over the past year, and 52 percent saw an increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness. Despite this growing need, mayors in the surveyed cities expect assistance for the hungry and homeless to decrease in the coming year.

This social catastrophe is unfolding as the federal government prepares deeper cuts to the food stamp program, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and Congress allows federal extended jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed to expire after Christmas. […]

All but four of the surveyed cities reported a rise in emergency food assistance requests, and across all cities this need increased by an average of 7 percent. Among those seeking assistance, 58 percent were persons in families, 21 percent were elderly, and 9 percent were homeless. The working poor made up 43 percent of those requesting food assistance.  

The surveyed cities listed unemployment as the leading driver of hunger, followed by low wages, poverty and high housing costs. With unemployment insurance claims jumping to 368,000 in the week that ended December 7, from 300,000 the week before, and the Obama administration and Congress prepared to cut jobless benefits, the need for food assistance is certain to rise even further.

While cities reported a 7 percent average increase in the amount of food distributed during the past year, budgets for emergency food purchases increased by less than 1 percent. As a result, more than one-fifth of those needing emergency food assistance—21 percent—did not receive it. 

In all of the 25 cities surveyed, food pantries were forced to reduce the quantity of food people could receive at each visit, and emergency kitchens had to cut back on the amount of food offered per meal. In two-thirds of the cities, people were turned away due to a lack of resources. […] 

Based on a single-night count in 3,000 US cities and counties, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that more than 610,000 people were homeless across the US on any given night last year. Of these, 65 percent were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing, while 35 percent were living in unsheltered locations such as under bridges, in cars, or in abandoned buildings. Individuals comprise 64 percent of those experiencing homelessness, while families make up 36 percent.

The number of homeless families increased in 64 percent of the cities included in the mayors’ report. Sixty-eight percent of cities cited poverty as the main cause of homelessness among families, followed by lack of affordable housing (60 percent), unemployment (54 percent), eviction (32 percent), family disputes (28 percent), and domestic violence and low-paying jobs (12 percent each). […]

The surveyed cities were also asked to provide information on the characteristics of their adult homeless populations. The cities reported that, on average, 30 percent of homeless adults were severely mentally ill, 19 percent were employed, 17 percent were physically disabled, 16 percent were victims of domestic violence, 13 percent were veterans, and 3 percent were HIV Positive.

Seventeen of the 25 cities surveyed reported that emergency shelters had to turn away families with children experiencing homelessness because there were no beds available, while two-thirds of the cities were forced to turn away homeless unaccompanied individuals. The unmet need for emergency shelter ranged from 25 percent to 50 percent in eight cities. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/13/conf-d13.html

The savvy Obama administration has made its usual move of killing the hostages itself before Congress has a chance to.  Immediately after working out a (bogus) interim agreement with Iran, Obama expanded the list of Iranian people and companies included in current sanctions.

In what some charge is a bid to ‘stave off congressional action,’ White House expands list of Iran-linked people and companies subject to financial blockade.

Iranian officials on Friday slammed a U.S. expansion of a sanctions blacklist of companies and people claimed to be linked to Iran’s alleged nuclear program, with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi declaring it “against the spirit of the Geneva deal.”

“We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals,” Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, told the Iranian Fars news agency on Friday.

The late November interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations required Iran to freeze its nuclear program, despite no evidence of nuclear weapons development, in exchange for a slight—and critics charge grossly insufficient—easing of sanctions in a bid to buy time for more talks.

The deal unleashed a wave of hope in Iran that an easing of US-led sanctions would alleviate severe economic hardship and shortages of medical supplies and equipment that hit Iran’s poor and working classes the hardest.

Yet, immediately following the agreement, the U.S. vowed to escalate enforcement of the sanctions that remained, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are calling for more severe sanctions on Iran—a move that critics charge could jeopardize the deal and increase the risk of a regional war with dangerous and unknown consequences. The congressional move appears to be in step with vigorous efforts by both Israel and Saudi Arabia to prevent a deal with Iran.

Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, told Common Dreams that the U.S. expansion of the black list is likely a bid on the part of the Obama administration to “stave off congressional action.”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/12/13-3

The southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, which despite not yet being officially approved, is beginning to ship oil through.  One might wonder how that is possible, given that it does not have approval yet, but such wonderment is simply the vague musings of a baffled mind.  In this nation of laws, the management is free to overlook said laws.  That’s how it works now. Still confused?  You must hate democracy.

TransCanada has begun pumping oil into the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a company spokesman announced on Tuesday. However, it remains to be seen whether President Obama will actually approve the project.

The corporation began moving oil into the stretch of pipeline that runs from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast early on Saturday. […]

The completed section of the pipeline will soon be filled with three million gallons of oil, the company said. […]

http://rt.com/usa/oil-pumped-southern-keystone-pipeline-031/

On the tentative budget agreement: it’s atrocious and keeps in place most of the sequester (except for the Pentagon part, which gets a raise).  Not surprising, though.  Once those fuckers in Congress got their cuts to the poor and the public good via the sequester, you knew they wouldn’t open their tightly clenched fists.  Yet as George W. Bush once said, “It’s clearly a budget.  It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

US House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget that will leave in place over a trillion dollars in sequester spending cuts over 10 years, while slashing the retirement benefits of federal workers and military retirees and imposing regressive consumption taxes. 

The brutal character of the bipartisan agreement is underscored by the fact that it makes no provision for the extension of federal extended jobless benefits, threatening over a million unemployed people with the loss of their only cash income the week after Christmas. […]

By the White House’s own figures, failure to extend the unemployment benefits will end cash assistance for 1.3 million people immediately after the holidays and impact an additional 3.6 million people in the first half of 2014. […]

Obama added that “this agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as ‘the sequester’ that have harmed students, seniors, and middle class families.”

In fact, the proposed two-year budget restores only a small fraction of the more than $1 trillion in cuts scheduled over the next ten years, and the reduced level of cuts is more than offset by regressive consumption taxes in the form of “user fees,” increased pension costs for federal civilian workers, cuts in retirement benefits for military employees and further reductions in Medicare spending. 

Above all, the deal leaves intact the mechanism of automatic across-the-board cuts in domestic discretionary spending known as sequestration, which took effect last March and has already resulted in $85 billion in cuts, in part through unpaid furloughs affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers. […] 

Under the proposed budget agreed to on Tuesday, $63 billion in government spending is scheduled to be cut back in 2014 and 2015, or about one third of the total in sequester cuts slated for those years, will be restored. The biggest chunk of restored funds will go to the Pentagon. 

This modest rollback in sequester cuts will be more than offset by an additional $85 billion in deficit reduction over the next ten years. One of the largest cuts, amounting to $12 billion over a decade, will be to retirement benefits for federal civilian workers and military employees.

Beginning January 1st, new federal civilian employees will increase their contributions to their pensions by 1.3 percent, slashing spending by $6 billion. This will come on top of a three-year pay freeze for federal workers and the loss of as much as 15 percent of their income as a result of sequester-related unpaid furloughs.

Military retirees between the ages of 40 and 62 will see their cost-of-living adjustments slashed, adding another $6 billion in deficit reduction.

The budget proposal also adds another $22 billion to the existing sequester cuts by extending cuts to Medicare providers through 2022 and 2023.

The budget will raise $12.6 billion by increasing security fees for airline passengers and another $8 billion by charging higher fees for insuring private-sector pensions. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/11/budg-d11.html

 

Further reading:

EU announces token fines on banks caught rigging global rates.  “Token” is accurate, and it is stunning, to say the least, that these cartoonish fines (no criminal prosecutions for this group of economic hitmen) aren’t being broadcast with screaming headlines everywhere.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/07/libo-d07.html

 

An article at vice.com describes how many major liberal news outlets (Mother Jones, Democracy Now) exploits unpaid interns while railing on about how horrible economic inequality is. Here is one nice quote:

“Meanwhile, Democracy Now!, venerable progressive broadcast hosted by journalist Amy Goodman, requires interns at its new, LEED Platinum–certified office in Manhattan to work for free for two months, for a minimum of 20 hours a week, after which ‘a $15 expense allowance is provided on days you work five or more hours.’ ”

http://www.vice.com/read/the-exploited-laborers-of-the-liberal-media

 

Very good essay on the latest re: Fukushima:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/fukushima-radiation-hits-west-coast.html

 

On Obamacare (h/t Kitt):

http://jacobinmag.com/2013/12/socialism-converting-hysterical-misery-into-ordinary-unhappiness/

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Environmental news.

[..] 17 months before BP’s DeepwaterHorizon blew out and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig suffered an identical blow-out in the Caspian Sea.

Crucially, both the Gulf and Caspian Sea blow-outs had the same identical cause: the failure of the cement “plug”. […]

So, when its Caspian Sea rig blew out in 2008, rather than change its ways, BP simply covered it up. Our investigators discovered that the company hid the information from its own shareholders, from British regulators and from the US Securities Exchange Commission. The Vice-President of BP USA, David Rainey, withheld the information from the US Senate in a testimony he gave six months before the Gulf deaths. (Rainey was later charged with obstruction of justice on a spill-related matter.) […]

Only after I dove into deep water in Baku did I discover, trolling through the so-called “WikiLeaks” documents, secret State Department cables released by Manning. The information was stunning: the US State Department knew about the BP blow-out in the Caspian and joined in the cover-up. Apparently BP refused to tell its own partners, Chevron and Exxon, why the lucrative Caspian oil flow had stopped. Chevron bitched to the office of the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. […]

The US Ambassador in Baku got Chevron the answer: a blow-out of the nitrogen-laced cement cap on a giant Caspian Sea platform. The information was marked “SECRET”. Apparently loose lips about sinking ships would help neither Chevron nor the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, the beneficiary of millions of dollars in payments of oil company baksheesh.

So what about Bradley Manning? […]  Had Manning’s memos come out just a few months earlier, the truth about BP’s deadly drilling methods would have been revealed, and there’s little doubt BP would have had to change its ways. Those eleven men could well have been alive today. […]

http://www.gregpalast.com/bradley-manning-the-deepwater-horizon/#more-7998

 

While the US media tries to drive us to war with North Korea and Iran, they pass over news about the environment.  We sure have enough money to bomb and/or invade other countries and “secure” the Homeland.  Unfortunately, the Homeland is looking more like a wasteland every day, and we don’t have enough money to take care of that.  It’s a strange phenomenon, this dearth of environmental news, given that the environment is (literally) all around us and that too many disruptions and hazards will end up killing us humans.  We are not going to kill the earth, just certain life-forms that dwell on it.  We are one of those life-forms.  The earth makes no distinction and has no preferences for one species over another.  No, I am not going to go off on a rant about climate change.  That’s a futile exercise – people who don’t “believe” cannot be convinced.  The fact that the Pentagon believes – and likes the opportunities it presents – ought to be of some interest to deniers; those guys are some hard-nosed sumbitches with access to all the reports and science available.  We know next to nothing about the geoengineering going on all around us in attempts to alleviate climate change; but the military and some rich companies and individuals are messing around with far-fetched ideas all the time.  (A gratuitous “fuck Bill Gates” here.)  Unfortunately, these half-assed schemes are making things worse and the public has next to no input on the experiments.  The closest we come to hearing “discussions” is when some Congressional committee kicks around the idea of carbon credits, a plan that always ends up pretty much looking like the fossil fuel companies being able to pass some more costs onto customers, which is why the public always hates the idea.

Nah, I’m talking about pollution, toxins, the die-off of other species, all of which will affect homo sapiens negatively.  We think that we can evolve quickly (hey, look at how many varieties of i-shits we have!), but we cannot evolve fast enough to adapt to a world without fresh potable water.  Some of us will survive if we kill off all marine life, but not many of us.  Some of us can survive if the pollinators are allowed to continue dying off – we’ll eat foodstuffs that don’t need bees – but not many of us will continue living at that point.  We ignore the problems unless they are a local issue.  I guarantee you the people in Arkansas are aware of the details of the most recent oil spill, for example.

Congress does not care about any of this, at least not in the same way we, the fracked, do.  They care about what Monsanto and Exxon tell them to care about, which doesn’t happen to go beyond securing more profits for these corporations.  They’ve been bought off.

There are no real science committees in Congress.  They do not want to know facts about GMO food or allow any long-term tests on the effects genetic modification will have.  They want us to eat the shit and shut up so they can collect their payola.  They have convinced a large portion of the population that regulations of any sort are bad, even regulations that keep our food and water safe to ingest.  After Fukushima, Hillary Clinton assured the agricultural attache in Japan that the US would continue importing food from Japan without testing it for radiation and the US nuclear agency loosened regulations on nuclear power plants operating here.  The Macondo site continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico; after the BP explosion, Obama fast-tracked deepwater drilling permits.

At this point, I say that our rulers, i.e., Congress and the administration, should be tried for treason. They no longer serve the good of the American people. They have chosen, deliberately and with malice aforethought, to serve a different clientele, one which is bent on taking all the assets, land, and resources from the US public no matter the cost to that public.

I have collected a set of news items related to the environment.  Very few of them made national news by themselves, but the overall picture they present is grim.  Almost all of these are very recent – within the past month.  I have included a few older ones, as they show a progression from “then” to “now” or an earlier event may have resulted in what is happening now.  And I am aware that Fukushima is in Japan.  There is news about Fukushima included because that affects us here in the States whether or not we want to face it.

The United States on Monday criticized “unnecessary” European Union rules against genetically modified US crop imports as it prepares to enter free-trade talks with the EU.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/01/u-s-criticizes-unnecessary-eu-rules-on-genetically-modified-crops/

For the price of the Iraq War, the U.S. could have gotten halfway to a renewable power system.
http://grist.org/climate-energy/for-the-price-of-the-iraq-war-the-u-s-could-have-gotten-halfway-to-a-renewable-power-system/

“[…] Fifty-five percent of U.S. river and stream lengths were found to be in poor condition for aquatic life due to fertilizers and other runoff.  The EPA has found harmful levels of phosphorus and nitrogen as well as runoff from urban areas that have continued to degrade our 1.2 million miles of streams and rivers. […]”
http://jonathanturley.org/2013/03/27/report-fifty-five-percent-of-u-s-river-unfit-for-aquatic-life/#more-62243

US loosens safety rules at nuclear sites after Fukushima:
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43455859/ns/us_news-environment/#.UWQskldGQe0

Fukushima: “Yet another radioactive water leak has been detected at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials announced Tuesday, as the nuclear catastrophe continues to unfold more than two years after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the plant.
“The new leak marks the third of seven underground radioactive water pools that are leaking since Saturday, and follows two failures of the plant’s cooling system in a month.[…]”
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/09-5

Fukushima: underground storage tanks for wastewater built like waterlily ponds.
“[…] TEPCO is moving tons of highly radioactive water from the temporary tanks to two similar ones nearby to minimize the leak. They are among seven underground tanks of different sizes which employ the same design.
“TEPCO admitted Sunday it had dismissed earlier signs of water loss as within a margin of error and waited until a spike in radiation levels around the tanks was detected. Critics suspect cash-strapped TEPCO built poorly designed underground pits instead of safer and more manageable steel tanks to save money. TEPCO has also been criticized for delaying replacement of makeshift equipment, raising questions about whether the plant is really under control.
“The underground tanks, several times the size of an Olympic swimming pool and similar to an industrial waste dump, are dug directly into the ground and protected by double-layer polyethylene linings inside an outermost clay-based lining, with a felt padding between each layer. Officials suspect there were ruptures in the linings due to the weight of the water.[…]”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/accident-investigators-say-japan-nuclear-safety-plans-too-lax-for-crowded-quake-prone-nation/2013/04/08/3c2ae7ee-a04d-11e2-bd52-614156372695_story.html

And:  http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/is-fukushima-leaking-or-is-the-the-reactor-wholly-uncontained.html

From an Aug, 2011 article on Clinton’s secret pact with Japan:
http://www.examiner.com/article/radiating-americans-fukushima-rain-clinton-s-secret-food-pact

No-one knows what to do with nuclear waste.  Fukushima cooling water – highly contaminated – simply stored in more and more tanks with plans to eventually “clean” it and dump it back into the ocean:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/04/20134681324337410.html

Thyroid illnesses showing up in US after Fukushima:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/02-1

And:  http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/study-almost-one-third-of-babies-born-after-fukushima-in-alaska-california-hawaii-oregon-and-washington-have-thyroid-problems.html

One dead, three injured in Arkansas nuclear plant accident.
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/31/17540838-one-dead-three-injured-in-arkansas-nuclear-plant-accident#.UVwtFQjQY74.email

Hanford Nuclear Waste Site at Risk of Hydrogen Explosion, Report Warns.
Following report of leaks, nuclear safety board finds dangerous hydrogen build up in waste holding tanks:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/03-1

“[…] But there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.
Tonight’s guests have heard about residential drinking wells tainted by fracking fluids in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Colorado. They’ve read about lingering rashes, nosebleeds and respiratory trauma in oil-patch communities, which are mostly rural, undeveloped, and lacking in political influence and economic prospects. The trout nibblers in the winery sympathize with the suffering of those communities. But their main concern tonight is a more insidious matter: the potential for drilling and fracking operations to contaminate our food. The early evidence from heavily fracked regions, especially from ranchers, is not reassuring.  […]” – from Nov, 2012 article
http://www.thenation.com/print/article/171504/fracking-our-food-supply

Fracking and toxins in the aquifers as a result:
http://www.nationofchange.org/poisoning-well-how-feds-let-industry-pollute-nation-s-underground-water-supply-1355676143

” ‘There has always been a scientific link between fracking and earthquakes,’ U.S. Geological Survey spokesperson Clarice Ransom told AlterNet.” – http://www.alternet.org/water/153717

Natural gas (obtained through fracking) insiders admit there may not be all that much gas anyway – well productivity is vastly overestimated:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Yes, fracking causes earthquakes. (Duh.)
“[…] Researchers from Oklahoma and Columbia universities found that over time, depositing used-up drilling fluid into the ground may have snapped geological tension that had built up near rural Prague, Oklahoma, causing a 5.7 quake that destroyed 14 homes and injured two.
The authors also write that the number of large earthquakes in and around the center of the country has skyrocketed in recent years. […]”
http://www.businessinsider.com/fracking-wastewater-oklahoma-earthquake-2013-3

Natural gas extraction causing frequent quakes, property damage in northern Netherlands.
“Farmers living atop Europe’s largest gas field in the isolated northern Netherlands are angry at increasingly frequent earthquakes caused by extraction. Freezing winds and a glimmer of cold light pass through the three-foot by two-inch (one metre by five centimetre) crack in Martha and Jan Bos’s stable in Middelstum, a few miles (kilometres) from the Netherlands’ most northern.[…]”
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/31/natural-gas-extraction-causing-frequent-quakes-property-damage-in-northern-netherlands/

The Obama administration has broken the law, issuing oil leases across California without examining the risks of fracking. A federal judge ruled that the administration has “completely ignored” environmental concerns upon issuing the leases.:
http://rt.com/usa/fracking-judge-california-obama-583/

Judge in Wyoming says fracking chemicals must remain secret from the public.
http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2013/03/25/judge-sides-with-wyoming-in-fracking-chemical-suit

Arkansas oil spill: martial law, how is it that the public didn’t know the oil pipeline ran beneath their neighborhood (for God’s sake, 9/11?  Really?  That’s the excuse?).
http://www.alternet.org/14-things-you-need-know-about-horrifying-arkansas-oil-spill?paging=off

No-fly zone imposed over Arkansas spill (sound familiar?) and oil diverted to wetlands:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/07/activists-claim-arkansas-oil-spill-diverted-into-wetland/

Oil spill in Texas, third in a week:
http://rt.com/usa/shell-pipeline-oil-texas-409/

Minnesota Oil Spill: Canadian Train Derails, Spilling 30,000 Gallons Of Crude In U.S.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/minnesota-oil-spill_n_2967118.html

“Chevron’s third pipeline spill in Utah in as many years on March 25 released hundreds of barrels of oil, polluting a river and leading to the closure of a state park and the evacuation of campers. Dozens of cleanup workers are now mopping up the fuel along the north-eastern edge of the Great Salt Lake in an attempt to avert a wildlife disaster. […]”
http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/57174/Chevron-pipeline-oil-spill-is-third-major-leak-in-Utah-in-three-years.aspx?AreaID=2

Overfished and under-protected: Oceans on the brink of catastrophic collapse.
“The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing. […] At the same time fisheries and vital marine ecosystems like coral are being decimated, the oceans continue to provide vital services, absorbing up to one third of human carbon dioxide emissions while producing 50% of all the oxygen we breathe.
“But absorbing increasing quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) has come at a cost, increasing the acidity of the water. […] ‘I could sum it up as: we need to fish less and in less destructive measures, waste less, pollute less and protect more,’ says Roberts.
‘This change of course will see us rebuild the abundance, variety and vitality of life in the sea which will give the oceans the resilience they need to weather the difficult times ahead. Without such action, our future is bleak.’ ”
http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/22/world/oceans-overfishing-climate-change/index.html

The garbage patches in the oceans (there is more than one): “So on the way back to our home port in Long Beach, California, we decided to take a shortcut through the gyre, which few seafarers ever cross. Fishermen shun it because its waters lack the nutrients to support an abundant catch. Sailors dodge it because it lacks the wind to propel their sailboats.

“Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic.

“It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments. Months later, after I discussed what I had seen with the oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, perhaps the world’s leading expert on flotsam, he began referring to the area as the ‘eastern garbage patch.'”

Capt. Charles Moore, discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in an article for Natural History magazine in 1993.
http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/?ar_a=1

CBS Los Angeles: “Dead sea lions everywhere” — Rescuer: I’ve never seen anything like this… we never would have imagined the numbers — Expert: No oceanographic explanation for what we’re seeing.
http://enenews.com/cbs-los-angeles-dead-sea-lions-everywhere-rescuer-ive-never-anything-like-never-imagined-numbers-expert-oceanographic-explanation-video

This may have something to do with the above.  As the radiation-filled seaweed works its way up the food chain, larger animals die. From March 2012: Southern California had 2,500 Bq/kg of iodine-131 in seaweed — Over 500% higher than other tests in U.S., Canada
http://enenews.com/california-2500-bqkg-iodine-131-seaweed-500-higher-other-tests-canada

Dead dolphin spike in Louisiana, Mississippi — “We have been advised not to discuss our findings” — Mostly babies washing up…This is from March of this year.
http://enenews.com/tv-spike-in-dolphins-washing-up-in-gulf-of-mexico-mostly-dead-babies-we-have-been-advised-not-to-discuss-our-findings-video

“Manatees Dying in Droves on Both Coasts of Florida” — Deaths of pelicans, turtles, dolphins also increasing — “Scientists fear this is the beginning of a devastating ecosystem collapse.”  This is also from March of this year.
http://enenews.com/manatees-dying-record-numbers-florida-deaths-pelicans-turtles-dolphins-spiking-scientists-fear-beginning-devastating-ecosystem-collapse-videos

UPDATE, Thurs. 11 April

Lead in rice: “Commercially available rice imported into the U.S. contains levels of lead far higher than what’s considered safe, according to a study by the American Chemical Society and reported by Jason Palmer of the BBC. […] The U.S. imports 7 percent of its rice. The team sampled packages from Bhutan, Italy, China, Taiwan, India, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Thailand — accounting for 65 percent of U.S. imports — and calculated lead intake on the basis of daily consumption.
“Rice from China and Taiwan had the highest lead levels.[…]
“Rice products also contain ‘moderate to moderately high levels of arsenic’ (which is also highly toxic), according to a study by Consumer Reports. Palmer notes that Dr. Tongesayi has also worked on quantifying arsenic contamination, and plans on testing the prevalence of other heavy metals.[…]
http://www.businessinsider.com/lead-found-in-us-rice-2013-4

This comes on the heels of last fall’s report that rice grown in the US contains arsenic. The FDA said it would have a report out by Dec. ’12, but nothing has been released from them yet.  (Funny how the reports about lead in imported rice made the mainstream immediately, while the arsenic reports never made it much beyond Consumer Reports. Also note that the article – about lead – above does not mention that the arsenic is in US-grown rice.)  About the arsenic in rice:
http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/10/arsenic-in-us-grown-rice/

Bonus video.  Tina Turner sings “We Don’t Need Another Hero”  from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”.

Lyrics:

Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children, the last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome
Looking for something we can rely on
There’s got to be something better out there
Love and compassion, their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
All the children say, “We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome”

(Fan made music video to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and The Road Warrior movies. All images, video, and sound recordings belong to their respective artists Warner Bros and Music Entities.)

 

The government that sold itself out.

As you look at all the insane decisions coming from the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, various state legislatures, big businesses, and the banks, remember this: there is a plan.  It is not a very pleasant plan.  Some of the players are not even aware that they are playing a part designed for them; they simply find that they are profiting lately and are glad to continue running with the pack that made this happen for them.  The plan, in fact, it is a decidedly anti-democratic and authoritarian plan designed to repeal most human rights and return us to the pre-enlightenment days of brute savagery where only the fittest survive.  The fittest are equipped with modern weaponry, wealth, and power well beyond the idle imaginings of our ancestors.  The “fittest” have arranged things so that they cannot help but win; not by dint of higher intelligence – although they are cunning – and not because they will be found to be righteous and worthy of support – they are not interested in the well-being of their fellow humans in the slightest and this will eventually lead to discontent among the masses.  But they will win – because they have all the weapons, all the money, control the media, and utterly lack empathy or morals.  You cannot even imagine the sheer callousness of these people.  They are some new breed which would not merit the label “human” except that science has not yet recognized them as a distinct and separate species.  They are predators.  They want dominion of the globe.  They will kill you if you are not useful to the plan.  If you are deemed useful, you will serve the purpose of helping them take down the prey – your fellow human beings.

Congress plays a part in the plan; that of servers and busboys to the dinner table at which the Pentagon and oligarchs dine.  Any bill which does not directly benefit the Masters is presented simply for show or to while away some hours – light amusement with which Congress entertains itself and trots out to the public to prove they are “working for the people” while the heavy bills are being worked on behind the scenes.  The 2012 NDAA, allowing indefinite detention of any person American or foreign, serves the Masters.  As such, it sailed through the House and Senate, with all 100 Senators voting ‘aye’.

The latest iteration of the Intelligence Bill overwhelmingly passed the House and is now headed to the Senate.

Intelligence Authorization – Vote Passed (386-28, 17 Not Voting)

The House passed legislation to authorize funding for the 16 intelligence agencies last week. Although total funding levels are classified, the bill would fund agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency at a level above President Obama’s request of $71.8 billion, according to Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. and ranking member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. A handful of amendments were adopted during debate, including one offered by Michigan Democrat John Conyers, Jr. to require a report from the director of national intelligence on the consequences of a military strike against Iran. The Senate has not yet moved on its authorization bill, but action is expected at the committee level sometime this summer. -megavote summary

 

Does anyone find it strange that our Congress votes “yes” each year to a bill wherein the amount of taxpayer money relegated to certain departments and quasi-governmental agencies is classified even from Congress itself?  Or that we now have sixteen agencies designated to handle intelligence?  Or that the amount of money going to these agencies rises each year to where now Congress is willing to give the apparatus even more money than the president asked for?  Does anyone wonder about the intelligence level of a Congress which has to ask for a report on the consequences of a military strike against Iran?  (The answer, offered without benefit of a report, is: it would be stupid, pointless, illegal, and a bone-cracking disaster for the economy.)

Offered at the same time as the Intelligence Authorization bill, Congress spent untold hours crafting a bill which would make it a crime to abort a fetus based on its gender.  The fact that there are no known and provable instances in the US where women actually do this is irrelevant.

 

Sex-Selective Abortion Ban – Vote Failed (246-168, 17 Not Voting)

Occasioning considerably more controversy than the FDA bill, the House also considered legislation to criminalize the administering or facilitating of abortions based on the sex of the fetus. The practice, known as sex-selective abortion, has long been associated with countries such as China and India, where social and economic pressures can lead to families to abort females at much higher rates than males. Republicans contend that this practice has reached the United States; Democrats say there is insufficient evidence and that a blanket ban would be unenforceable in any case. Despite garnering majority support, the measure failed because it was considered under suspension of the rules.- megavote summary

Note that the majority of the House voted ‘yes’ on this bill, which nonetheless failed because of the arcane rules now in play in Congress.  This bill is one of those offered for the amusement of the strangest and most twisted amongst the members of Congress.  These sorts of laws are designed to take care of a nonexistent problem, much like the various bills suggesting the outlawing of sharia law, but the point of them is not to take care of an actual issue – the point is to wave a red flag around in front of the public and create out of thin air the panicked idea that we are in danger of being overrun by these foreign practices.  The simplistic thinking of the public usually goes something like this: if Congress is working on this issue, it must be an actual problem.  It is so easy to sway the public mind, thanks mostly to a media solely devoted to the spread of corporate and governmental propaganda, that Americans seem utterly incapable of recognizing the strangeness and illegality of this new world they inhabit.

Such nonsense is carried on at the state level, too.  The legislators in North Carolina are getting ready to vote on a bill which would prevent the state government from preparing for the predicted rise in the sea level and would furthermore strike any scientific opinion about it from public records.  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/05

We have reached the point in our social and political decline where we have accepted meekly, without debate and largely without protest, the following practices: the president can decide to kill any person, even Americans, any place in the world, at his whim.  Anyone, even Americans, may be arrested and incarcerated – forever – without charges or trial.  Obama, and Bush and Clinton before him, issued an executive order stating that he may take over all commerce, transportation and food production in the US whenever he deems it necessary.  The United States may drop bombs on anyone in any country it wants to without declaring a war or having been invaded or threatened first.  The president feels he may sign long-term treaties with other countries without going to Congress.  A large number of our members of Congress have sworn to hold the security and interest of a foreign nation – Israel – to be of paramount importance – equal to the allegiance they swear to the United States.  They are trying to codify this into law within the body of the 2013 NDAA currently being worked on in Congress.  National and state laws are written by industry lobbyists and the opinion of the public is completely irrelevant.  The internal “watchdog” agencies may, and do, collect as much data as they want from private citizens.  They are allowed to eavesdrop on, collect and save emails, phone calls, information about purchases made in person or over the internet.  We now need permits to assemble and protest, although the Bill of Rights guarantees our right to peaceably assemble to petition our government; the requirement to obtain a permit first or to be corralled into a ‘free-speech zone’ effectively dismantles this right.  The Supreme Court just ruled that anyone may be strip-searched as often as the police like no matter the nature of the offense cited.  Congress has decided that drones may be used in the US and that they may be outfitted with electronics to spy on us.  Police departments have announced their intentions to arm these drones with “non-lethal” weapons (although I would suggest that the term ‘non-lethal’ is a matter of debate – the cops want long-distance TASRs on the drones, as but one example, even though over 500 people have been killed by TASRs in the US since they began using the things).  The US and state governments legally hide the list of chemicals being used to extract oil and natural gas in fracking processes despite the fact that these chemicals are toxic and leech into the ground-water that people use for drinking.  In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the BP oil spill, the EPA was allowed to simply alter the acceptable limits of radiation and toxic chemicals deemed harmful to humans.  Anyone who tries to warn their fellow Americans about such dangers is put on a watch list; many such scientists and journalists, not to mention private citizens, have been harassed repeatedly and are subject to the seizure of their property when they attempt to travel.  The TSA  and DHS run the airports and bus terminals like prison guards looking for escapees.  In the so-called “war on terror”, we are all suspects.  Despite the fact that almost all of the “terrorist plots” have been proven to be actually FBI-instigated and abetted, we think there are terrorists all around us and encourage each other to rat out suspicious behaviours.  Everything is suspicious, everyone is suspect, and every mundane act of petty larceny or public nuisance is labeled terrorism.  (One ‘terrorist’ plot which was thwarted by the FBI a few years ago resulted in the arrest of a man who had planned to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch.  Obviously, such a ‘plan’ was ridiculous – you’d need a hundred years with no rain in order to dismantle the Brooklyn Bridge with one blowtorch.  Instead of reaching the reasonable conclusion that the poor fellow was mentally ill and deluded, the FBI declared him a ‘terrorist’ and bragged about taking care of the ‘threat’.)

Lest you think this is all overblown rhetoric, look at some details about the new world we accept as normal.

The NSA is building a massive computer storage facility in Utah where they store and interpret all the harvested emails and phone calls they have collected.


[…]Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”[…]

[…]there is no doubt that it [the NSA] has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created.

In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.[…]

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

 

Not to be outdone by its sister agency at the NSA, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has been forced to reveal to the public its training manual, which shows that it actively monitors social media and flags individuals for further ‘inspection’ based on certain key words used on twitter, facebook, in news articles or blogs.

 

The Department of Homeland Security has flagged hundreds of words as “suspect” – and while many make sense, like “Al Qaeda,” some are just plain odd. For example, the DHS may dig through your cyber life if you write something about snow. Or pork.

So, you’ve just come back from a beach holiday in Mexico and posted about it on your blog. Or maybe you’ve tweeted about skiing lessons? Updated your status, saying you’re stuck home with food poisoning?

All those things will tweak the DHS antennae, according to a manual published by the agency. The Analyst’s Desktop Binder, used by agency employees at their National Operations Center to identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities,” includes hundreds of words that set off Big Brother’s silent alarms.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organizations for comments that “reflect adversely” on the government.[…]

I’ve also wondered whether the monitoring is cumulative. Will one mention of an airplane be less worrying to the Department of Homeland Security than, say, 20 to 30 words from the no-no list? What if I’m writing the weather report? What if I blew a tire somewhere on an interstate and am sending a message for help? Both the words ‘help’ and ‘interstate’ are on the list. Does that mean I can expect men in black to come before the AAA?[…]

http://on.rt.com/yx2kvs
­

The Freedom of Information lawsuit that brought the training manual to light was filed by an organization called EPIC and you can read a summary of their lawsuit here:  http://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/  While the list of suspect words is peculiar (you can see the list by linking to the rt.com link in the above excerpted article), I am more appalled by the fact that our government now finds it acceptable to monitor everyone who writes or says anything that “reflects adversely” on itself or its agencies.  This is not the first step, but more like one of the mid-points, in creating a Stasi force, USA version.
[see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi ]

While we assume, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we still have first amendment rights, the Supreme Court just ruled that the right to free speech does not protect you from arrest in retaliation for availing yourself of that right; thus placing one more nail in the coffin of the first amendment.  I would point out that if you can be arrested in retaliation for using your free speech rights, you no longer have those rights.

 

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that two Secret Service agents are shielded from a lawsuit filed by a man they arrested after a confrontation with then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

The 8-0 decision comes in a case that began with the arrest of Steven Howards following a chance encounter with Cheney at a shopping center in Colorado in 2006. Howards claimed he was arrested because he expressed his anti-war views.

The agents and the Obama administration asked the court for broad protection against claims of retaliatory arrests. The justices did not grant that wish.

But Justice Clarence Thomas said in his opinion for the court that the agents could not be sued in this instance because of uncertainty about the state of the law concerning such arrests.

The decision reversed a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to allow Howards’ lawsuit to go forward.

Howards, of Golden, Colo., was detained by Cheney’s security detail after he told Cheney of his opposition to the war in Iraq. Howards also touched Cheney on the shoulder, then denied doing so under questioning. The appeals court said the inconsistency gave the agents reason to arrest Howards.

Even so, the appeals court said Howards could sue the agents for violating his rights.

The main legal issue in the case was whether agents, and other law enforcement officers, should be shielded from rights lawsuits when they have a good reason, or probable cause, to make an arrest. The high court, in Hartman v. Moore, had previously ruled out damages claims for retaliatory prosecutions when there was probable cause to bring criminal charges in the first place. Unlike the Denver court, some appeals courts already have extended that rule to retaliatory arrests.

But the justices did not resolve that conflict Monday. “To be sure, we do not suggest that Hartman’s rule in fact extends to arrests,” Thomas said.

Instead, Thomas said the divergent rulings themselves are evidence that the law in this area is not settled. As a result, the agents cannot be held responsible for violating Howards’ rights, even if the arrest had been made in retaliation for what he said.

David Lane, Howards’ attorney, criticized the justices for failing to settle the issue. “It’s shockingly unusual to see a case to carry absolutely not one shred of precedential value. This is that case. They broke absolutely no legal ground while managing to duck every significant issue in the case,” Lane said.

Sean Gallagher, the lawyer for agents Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr. and Dan Doyle, said it appears that officers might face liability only in the most egregious cases. “This ruling confirms that the federal courts will not subject law enforcement officials to personal liability except when it is absolutely clear that they have no basis to make the arrest,” Gallagher said.

Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the case.

The case is Reichle v. Howards, 10-262.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/04/high-court-protects-secret-service-agents/#ixzz1x6CQjtTP

The crackdown on dissidents and monitoring of all people in the US is quietly being carried out by the federal government and at the state level.  Texas plans to use RFID chips in one school district to monitor students’ movements, and will expand procedure to all other districts later:
http://rt.com/usa/news/texas-microchips-school-district-262/

The DHS wants the right to collect DNA and fingerprints from everyone, including children: http://rt.com/usa/news/dna-collection-kids-dhs-722/  They already take DNA samples from certain people, under the authority of the ICE program.  The Real ID program, part of a war-funding bill from ’05, is still on the books, although it is so onerous and expensive that many states have asked for waivers on certain portions of it, or have asked to implement it only one step at a time.  So many states have simply refused to go along with it, declaring it an unfunded mandate and an intrusion to privacy, that although the law is still technically active, implementation keeps getting delayed.  The Real ID Act is a national identification system; such a repugnant idea under Clinton that he shelved it.  Bush got it passed.  The campaigning Obama said he opposed it, the Obama now in office does not speak about it.  We have yet to see the damn thing overturned.  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2008/03/real-id/

The FBI distributes fliers to businesses with advice on how to spot a terrorist. This is part of the spy on your neighbor programs we are all encouraged to indulge in now.  In the flier handed out to internet cafes, for example, the FBI finds suspect such customer behaviours as “Are overly concerned about privacy, attempts to shield the screen from view of others” and “Always pay cash” – although most people hate someone reading over their shoulders and pay cash in a cafe.
http://publicintelligence.net/fbi-suspicious-activity-reporting-flyers/

While our politicians gradually encode into law all these blatantly unconstitutional and anti-democratic statutes and empower more and more agencies to spy on us or arrest us arbitrarily, they refuse to address the real issues of joblessness, hunger, the taking of our homes and the solidification of corporate rule over the country.  The US debt, driven by the squandering of our money on bank bailouts, tax breaks for the already wealthy, and illegal wars, is added to daily.  But the cost will come from the average person, as opposed to doing the most obvious and correct thing: just ending the obscene practices that created the debt in the first place.   The wealthy will have their taxes lowered year after year.  We will spend money on new weapons and continue to invade one country after another.  So many countries, so many foreign leaders to kill, so little time before the next election.  They do, however, plan to take away your social security and public education for your children.  There are no plans to do anything about jobs, except one: you will be able to serve in the military or as a Stasi agent informing on your neighbors.  I have posted the below before.  It is time to repost it:

 

“Crazy Horse – Back on the Warpath”, a speech by Bruce Gagnon.
Quotes from the article:

[…]A few years ago during the Bush administration I was watching one of my favorite TV programs, C-SPAN, and I saw a startling program.  They introduced the speaker at a military conference as Donald Rumsfeld’s strategy guy.  His name was Thomas Barnett, who at that time was an instructor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.  He wrote a book called the Pentagon’s New Map.  First, I want to say something about the audience.  It was a huge auditorium.  High-level military brass from all the services was present, and in the introduction they said high-level CIA people were there as well.  Barnett was there to lay out for the highest levels of the military the new Pentagon military strategy.

Barnett essentially said this: Because of corporate globalization of the world’s economy, every different country is going to have a different role in the future, a different job. We’re not going to make things in America anymore.  We’re not going to have jobs in America because it’s cheaper for the corporations to go overseas, maximize profits internationally, to build cars and clothes and shoes, refrigerators, computers, everything else. Our role under corporate globalization will be security export. 

Thus it’s no coincidence that today in America the number one industrial export product of our nation is weapons, and when weapons are your number one industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line?

Barnett went on to say that there would essentially be two military services in the future.  Because of space technology, the old distinction between Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, he said, is being rubbed out.   One he called “leviathan” whose job would be to go in, shock and awe, do a complete destruction of a particular country, and the other service will be “systems administration,” sys-ad he called it.  He said these troops would never come home.  After we’ve gone in with leviathan, completely destroyed a country, systems administration will go in and run the country.  Yes, they’ll set up a puppet government, of course, like Libya or in Afghanistan, but systems administration will run the country and will never come home.  In fact, just about two years ago I read that Lockheed Martin had gotten a huge contract from the Pentagon to begin training the new generation of systems administration warriors.

Barnett went on to say that young people in America, the angry, young men who are whiling away their time because they have no jobs would be perfect for leviathan because they’re angry, they’re connected to computer games, they’ll be good at doing things like flying drones and he basically described the militarization of our culture. […] This is your future in America, either flipping hamburgers or coming into the military.

The other thing that Barnett talked about which is very important is the Pentagon’s new map.  He said there is part of the world today that is not submitting to the authority of corporate globalization.  He called it the non-integrating gap, and he clearly identified it.  He named the Middle East, where, of course, we are in Iraq today with our permanent military bases and these people won’t be coming home.  Central Asia where we are today in Afghanistan, again, we’re not coming home from there.  Africa where he said we will be fighting 20 years from now for their oil, well even sooner than that as NATO, our lap dog, has invaded Libya that sits on the largest supply of oil on the African continent. Finally, Barnett said parts of Latin America are included in this non-integrating gap, places like Venezuela where Hugo Chavez is not playing ball with corporate globalization.  Barnett maintained our job in America, under security export, will be to go into the non-integrating gap, and secure it to the benefit of corporate globalization.  Barnett said America would not do international treaties anymore because they will just stand in our way. Barnett also told this big audience, “Adolph Hitler never had to ask permission to invade another country and neither will we.”  This arrogance is why we are having endless war today[….]

It’s a bad situation, coup d’etat, coup d’etat. […]

http://warisacrime.org/content/%E2%80%9Ccrazy-horse%E2%80%94back-warpath%E2%80%9D

 

We no longer resemble the country we founded.  The Declaration of Independence was issued because we felt that the then-government ruling over us, that of Great Britain, failed to address our needs.  We felt we were unfairly taxed and abused.  We had a list of legitimate grievances against the King and the bulk of the Declaration is a list of these wrongs.  We wanted a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”.   We decided to set up a system where the government served the people, not the other way around, and where everyone had the right to petition and be heard.  Today, the writing of this document or one like it is considered suspicious.  As it “reflects adversely” on the government or its agencies, anyone who wrote it or disseminated it would be flagged as a suspected terrorist.  Certain words and phrases in it are now considered subversive and will set off alarm bells in one of the numerous agencies set up to monitor us.  The Declaration of Independence follows.  Read it carefully and ponder on how well – or not – we have retained our original intentions for this country.  Think about the fact that this blog may be flagged because it reprints the “anti-government” words in the Declaration.  Look at the list of grievances and consider how many apply to today’s government in Washington.  Think about how few of your fellow modern Americans would value such a piece (would be able to even read it with any glimmer of understanding) and would be happy to see you thrown into jail for daring to write it.  Ask yourself, what are we going to do when they finally shut off the internet and silence all of us?  Ask yourself, what are we going to do about all this?  Now that we are all suspects, what are we going to do about it?

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. – The Declaration of Independence, 1776.

 

And for big oil, business is a-boomin’.

From Obama’s SOTU address Tuesday night:

“…Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources….”

Well, he sure wasn’t just whistling Dixie.  Today, we see that the Obama administration is going to sell off remaining oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico.  What could possibly go wrong?  The Macondo well site is still leaking oil in the Gulf.  No, they don’t show you the plumes of oil on the nightly news because they have a few buffoons running for President that they want you to look at instead.  Oil is still washing ashore along the Gulf coast.  But BP sponsored a new series of ads recently with very nice average-looking people saying things like, “We’d love for y’all to come on down to our Alabama/Louisiana/Mississippi/Florida coasts!  Our beaches are clean, the water sparkling, and we love our guests!  We are open for business.”  Only they pronounce it ‘Bama or Lewsanna or Miss Sippi or Florda for the sake of authenticity.  You are meant to mistake the ads for reality.  Not a particularly difficult con job, these days.

Many of the fisherman are still out of business, as quite a portion of them find that despite being allowed to return to their fishing areas, the catch is showing signs of toxic exposure: lesions, bloody gills and fin rot.  They chuck the fish back into the sea and come home empty-handed.  The catch that is brought in – well, what are they doing with that?  Last I heard, the plan was to sell it to prisons, public schools and military PX’s; sort of your three captive markets right there.  Dead silence about that lately.

Perhaps they have simply quit testing the fish for toxins and sell it to restaurants anyway.  It is how we do things these days.  After radioactivity levels climbed in the Pacific northwest after Fukushima, the EPA did three things: they raised the level of “acceptable” radiation, they took their readings off-line (once the public protested, they put the readings back on-line, but in charts so difficult to decipher that one could spend hours on their website and still have no idea of radiation levels in the area) and they quit testing altogether in some areas.  This is the sort of teen-age answer for everything we get now.  (Once, while driving a friend’s teen-age daughter somewhere, I heard a peculiar noise from the car’s engine.  “Hmmm,” I said aloud, worriedly, “I wonder what that is.”  She said, “Oh, I know how to fix that.”  “Really?” I asked in disbelief.  She shrugged, nodded, and reached over to turn the radio volume up so high that we could no longer hear the noise.  “And there ya go,” she said.)  The Republican plan to correct problems like oil spills and nuclear accidents is to abolish the EPA altogether.  And there ya go.

The oil company errors which led to the BP spill have not been adequately addressed; we see, however, that the Obama administration has pretty much the same teen-age fix that the Republicans do.  Without even knowing exactly what went wrong with the drilling site, or addressing cronyism in the regulatory agency involved (the Minerals Management Service), Obama fast-tracked new leases in the Gulf within months of the spill.  The warnings from independent scientists and geologists regarding possible cracks and seeps sustained in the Gulf sea floor by the sheer number of wells drilled have gone ignored.  Likewise, no-one has addressed the issue of potential and deadly methane seeps.  (It was a methane explosion which caused the drilling platform to explode in the first place.  Methane is extant in every oil reservoir.  Usually the oil and gas companies burn it off as it escapes.  There is probably methane being released along with the oil still bubbling up from the Macondo site, but it is not measured or monitored in any way.)

 

(CNN) — The federal government Thursday announced plans to sell off oil and gas leases on 38 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor in a new domestic energy push by the Obama administration.

The leases could yield as much as 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the Interior Department estimates. The scheduled sale in June will be the second since the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels of crude spewed into the Gulf…

The leases up for sale in June include the remaining, unclaimed areas off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, ranging from as close as three miles from the coast to up to 230 miles offshore. The minimum bid for deepwater leases will be $100 per acre, according to the Interior Department.

The agency is working on plans for a dozen more lease sales through 2017, which it estimates will open up three-quarters of the recoverable oil and gas below the outer Continental Shelf — reserves Obama pledged to open up in his Tuesday night speech.

Supporters say more energy exploration will bring more jobs for Americans still reeling from the steepest economic downturn in decades. But others remain wary of the risks illuminated when the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon blew up and sank in April 2010, killing 11 men aboard and uncorking an undersea gusher that took three months to cap.

“We’ve got oil continuing to wash up. We’ve got ongoing restoration needs down there that haven’t been addressed yet,” said Aaron Viles, a spokesman for the New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network.

Viles said that the depths at which drilling is planned are worrisome and that residents of coastal communities should have more input into the decisions.

The BP-owned well that blew up in 2010 was nearly a mile below the surface, at depths that made efforts to cap it extremely difficult. Future drillers have to have arrangements in place to deal with a deep-sea spill, but the new requirements may be a case of “fighting the last war,” Viles said.

“These are complicated systems. They’re going to fail in complicated ways,” Viles told CNN…

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/26/us/us-gulf-oil/index.html

From a 2008 Scientific American article:

  …In fact, oil companies have yet to take advantage of the nearly 86 billion barrels of offshore oil in areas already available for leasing and development. So why are they chomping at the drill bit to open up the moratorium waters and survey them anew?

Oil company stocks are valued in large part based on how much proved reserves they have,” says Robert Kaufman, an expert on world oil markets and director of Boston University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies. Translation: just having more promising leases in hand would be worth billions of dollars….

…Kaufman dismisses as “nonsense” any promises that offshore drilling could make the U.S. “oil independent.” Even if it could somehow insulate itself from the ups and downs of the global oil market, he notes, the U.S. would have to make a huge leap in domestic oil production to replace what it buys from overseas.

“At its peak in production, which occurred in 1970s, the U.S. produced about 10 million [barrels of oil] a day,” Kaufman says. “Now, after 30 years of fairly steady decline, we produce about five million barrels a day,” whereas we consume 20 million barrels daily. “Whoever talks about oil independence has to tell a story about how we close a 15-million-barrel gap.”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=can-offshore-drilling-make-us-independent&page=3

Ah, now we get to the bare essentials of the thing.  Oil company stocks go up when they have new leases in hand.  That is the bottom line.  That is the entire point in opening new leases.  It is just another way for oil companies, speculators, and hedge funds to make money on the market.  Hate to break it to you, but the DOW is not the economy.  (Looking at you, Timmeh.)  Speculation in the oil market, based on new leases and such, is what makes gas prices at the pump go up.  And here is a news flash – no-one really knows how much oil is any given reserve.  It’s all guesswork.  Furthermore, it takes at least 5 years to get from the point of leasing to the point of production.  And in case it escaped everyone’s notice (it has), no-one knows how to fix the cracks in the sea floor caused by events like the BP Macondo spill, nor does anyone know just how much tolerance the sea floor has for more drilling sites without splitting wide open.  Fracking causes earthquakes and deep-sea drilling causes….?  Turn up the volume there, will ya?

“So long, and thanks for all the fish,”  –  big oil companies to the world.

 

Fukushima updates.

A few bits of information on Fukushima and nuclear power collected from around and about on the web.

1)  This 2 1/2 minute video is disturbing, to say the least.  (Never mind that the fishermen in the video are mostly concerned with the possibility of losing their fishing income; that is the normal human reaction these days – what is my bottom line?)

It appears that the ocean is not simply diluting and dispersing the radioactivity as expected; it is collecting on the sea floor and gradually working its way up the food chain.  Tuna, fished in waters 900 km from the Japanese shoreline, are already showing traces of cesium.

http://fukushimaupdate.com/fukushima-guilty-of-worlds-worst-sea-contamination-video/

2)  From Washingtonsblog:

The radioactive half life of cesium 137 is usually 30 years. But scientists at the Savannah River National Laboratory say that the cesium at Chernobyl will persist in the environment between 5 and 10 times longer – between 180 and 320 years.

As Wired notes:  Cesium 137’s half-life — the time it takes for half of a given amount of material to decay — is 30 years. In addition to that, cesium-137’s total ecological half-life — the time for half the cesium to disappear from the local environment through processes such as migration, weathering, and removal by organisms is also typically 30 years or less, but the amount of cesium in soil near Chernobyl isn’t decreasing nearly that fast. And scientists don’t know why. It stands to reason that at some point the Ukrainian government would like to be able to use that land again, but the scientists have calculated that what they call cesium’s “ecological half-life” — the time for half the cesium to disappear from the local environment — is between 180 and 320 years. “Normally you’d say that every 30 years, it’s half as bad as it was. But it’s not,” said Tim Jannik, nuclear scientist at Savannah River National Laboratory and a collaborator on the work. “It’s going to be longer before they repopulate the area.”

The news may not bode well for Fukushima, although the reasons for the longevity of radioactive particles at Chernobyl is still a mystery. Of course, some radioactive elements emitted by nuclear accidents – such as plutonium – can cause harm for thousands of years.

As I noted in March:
Plutonium stays radioactive for a long time. Pu-238 has an 88-year half-life, Pu-239 has a 24,000-year half-life, and Pu-240 has a 6,500-year half life. Plutonium from Chernobyl has been discovered in Sweden and Poland. So plutonium might be heavier than other radioactive materials, but it is not so heavy that it can’t travel hundreds of miles in the right circumstances.

But cesium is much lighter, and can travel much further. And Chernobyl and Fukushima put out much higher quantities of cesium than plutonium (even with the explosions at Fukushima, which spewed plutonium over the surrounding area.)

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/08/radiation-will-pollute-the-area-around-chernobyl-for-5-to-10-times-longer-than-models-predicted-between-180-and-320-years.html

3) Rawstory, today:

Molten nuclear fuel at Japan’s Fukushima plant might have eaten two thirds of the way through a concrete containment base, its operator said, citing a new simulation of the extent of the March disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said their latest calculations showed the fuel inside the No. 1 reactor at the tsunami-hit plant could have melted entirely, dropping through its inner casing and eroding a concrete base. In the worst-case scenario, the molten fuel could have reached as far as 65 centimetres (2 feet) through the concrete, leaving it only 37  centimetres short of the outer steel casing, the report, released Wednesday, said. …
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/01/japan-nuclear-meltdown-maybe-worse-than-thought/

4) Interview with Fukushima architect, 17 Nov. (translated from original Japanese).

Architect of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 3, Uehara Haruo, the former president of Saga University had an interview on 11/17/2011.

In this interview, he admitted Tepco’s explanation does not make sense, and that the China syndrome is inevitable. He stated that considering 8 months have passed since 311 without any improvement, it is inevitable that melted fuel went out of the container vessel and sank underground, which is called China syndrome. He added, if fuel has reaches a underground water vein, it will cause contamination of underground water, soil contamination and sea contamination.

Moreover, if the underground water vein keeps being heated for long time, a massive hydrovolcanic explosion will be caused. He also warned radioactive debris is spreading in Pacific Ocean. Tons of the debris has reached the Marshall Islands as of 11/15/2011.

http://fukushima-diary.com/2011/11/architect-of-reactor-3-warns-massive-hydrovolcanic-explosion/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FukushimaDiary+%28Fukushima+Diary%29

5) 21 Oct.

…TEPCO intentionally dumped radioactive materials into the ocean, as they had no additional room for storage, the levels showed no signs of decreasing, and all desalination hopes were falling woefully short.  It would also be found that many leaks around, and inside of the reactors were also finding their way into the Pacific, but the public was told that there would not be any risk to them, or the living  creatures in the sea. After 7 months however, impact can be found all over the island nation, and spreading throughout the ocean, despite the expectations it would merely be diluted exponentially.

In September, scientists from the government’s Meteorological Research Institute and the Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry announced their findings at a meeting of the Geochemical Society of Japan, adding that some of the cesium will also flow into the Indian Ocean and, eventually, reach the Atlantic.
The researchers believed that the cesium had initially dispersed into the Pacific from the coast of Fukushima Prefecture but would be taken to the southwest by the prevailing currents at a depth of around 1,300 feet.
Researchers thought it would take years to reach the islands. But now, according to a University of Hawaii researchers, the debris will arrive sooner than expected…

http://fukushimaupdate.com/fukushima-towards-the-formation-of-a-radioactive-graveyard-in-the-pacific-ocean/

6) Of passing interest and mild irritation, David Axelrod used to work as a consultant to Exelon, a nuclear power company.

Since coming to office, Obama has spearheaded the nuclear industry’s revival in the U.S., championing it as a “safe, clean, and reliable” alternative to foreign oil. But as Normon Solomon pointed out, “There is no more techno-advanced country in the world than Japan. Nuclear power is not safe there, and it is not safe anywhere,” (Commondreams.org, 3/14/11).

The NY Times pointed out that, “most of the nuclear plants in the United States share some or all of the risk factors that played a role at Fukushima Daiichi: locations on tsunami-prone coastlines or near earthquake faults, aging plants and backup electrical systems that rely on diesel generators and batteries that could fail in extreme circumstances,” (3/14/11).

In February, Obama awarded $8.3 billion in federal loans to build the first new reactors in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island disaster more than thirty years ago. Obama claimed this was a necessary concession in order to ensure Republican backing of a new energy bill. However, Obama and a whole slew of Democrats have consistently supported nuclear power.

One of Obama’s largest campaign donors since 2003 has been the Exelon Corporation, a nuclear power company. Obama’s former chief of staff, David Axelrod, previously worked as a consultant for Exelon. As a state Senator in Illinois, Obama skillfully played both sides of the nuclear debate, but ultimately did the industry’s political dirty work after a leak at an Exelon plant was exposed, causing public outrage. Obama put forward a bill requiring leaks to be immediately reported, but then worked hand-in-hand with Exelon to strip the bill of any teeth, (NY Times, 2/3/08).

Nuclear power is not only dangerous. It is expensive, requiring massive taxpayer-funded loans because investors cannot make a profit otherwise. Obama’s loans came from a 2005 Bush administration bill that set aside more than $18 billion for nuclear construction. Furthermore, Obama has called for tripling that amount to more than $54 billion (NY Times, 2/16/11), and some Republicans are proposing to build as many as 200 new reactors in the coming years.

Rather than putting $54 billion toward nuclear power, this money should go toward a massive program to develop solar, wind, and tidal power, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. According to an article published in the magazine Scientific American, it is possible to completely transition the world’s energy supply to green sources by 2030, (10/26/09). The key thing standing in the way of this needed plan is our current system of capitalism, where the needs for profit of the few trump the broader needs of the people and the environment, and where corporate interests dominate the two-party system.

http://nuclear-news.net/2011/04/08/barack-obama-a-president-for-the-nuclear-industry/

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in environment, fukushima