Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Blacked Out


Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 11:12pm

The disaster at Fukushima continues to grow and it will soon reach the realm of the unimaginable, but you won't hear about it from America's mainstream media outlets. What follows are quotes from the latest objective and up-to-date report - this time from Al Jazeera:

"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera."

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he [Gundersen] said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

"The problem is how to keep it cool," says Gundersen. "They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?"

Believe it or not, it just goes downhill from there:

"We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl," said Gundersen. "The data I'm seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean all this up."

It has become so bad that TEPCO and the Japanese Government seem to have realized that they just cannot even try to cover-up or hide the truth:

"Japan's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters finally admitted earlier this month that reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced full meltdowns.

TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record.

Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station - an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now likely uninhabitable."

But, it gets worse, much worse:

"In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant. The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster."

Don't you think that the American Media should report things like this? Don't you think the American Government should do something about things like this? Unfortunately, there is much more that American Media should report on and much more the Government should do something about:

"According to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel cores are continuing to release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium isotopes. These are referred to as "hot particles".

"We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters. Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well."

Why are hot particles are a problem:

"The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.

"These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant," he explained, "One cigarette doesn't get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can't measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit pretty heavy in April."

And now, the worst part - what Al Jazeera calls "a problem of infinite proportions":

"Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking radiation. "They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."

Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units. "Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've not figured out how to cool units three and four."

The "infinite" part of the problem:

"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."

Dr Sawada says that the creation of nuclear fission generates radioactive materials for which there is simply no knowledge informing us how to dispose of the radioactive waste safely.

"Until we know how to safely dispose of the radioactive materials generated by nuclear plants, we should postpone these activities so as not to cause further harm to future generations," he explained. "To do otherwise is simply an immoral act, and that is my belief, both as a scientist and as a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing."

Gundersen believes it will take experts at least ten years to design and implement the plan.

"So ten to 15 years from now maybe we can say the reactors have been dismantled, and in the meantime you wind up contaminating the water," Gundersen said. "We are already seeing Strontium [at] 250 times the allowable limits in the water table at Fukushima. Contaminated water tables are incredibly difficult to clean. So I think we will have a contaminated aquifer in the area of the Fukushima site for a long, long time to come."

The article did not report on the effects of the disaster on the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps they did not talk about the Pacific because there is not a lot of information available. Or, it could be because even Gundersen and the other experts cited by Al Jazeera could not bring themselves to think about it. How many hot particles can the Ocean absorb? How would they be distributed though out the Ocean? At what level do the hot particles begin to affect the already depleted populations of fish humans rely on for food? What level of hot particles will render the fish unfit for human consumption? Could the effects of Fukushima increase the number and severity of jelly-fish blooms (already a significant problem) and effectively eliminate the Ocean's other inhabitants? Gundersen said, "Contaminated water tables are incredibly difficult to clean." I wonder how difficult it is to decontaminate an ocean?

In case there is a "reasonable person" out there who will say, "Let's put things into their proper perspective. The numerous nuclear tests at Bikini did not have a significant effect on the Pacific." I would say that we have no way of knowing what effects the nuclear testing had on the Pacific because we knew next to nothing about the way it was before Bikini. Moreover, I don't think that the Bikini Atoll sets right beside the Pacific Gyre. Fukushima is practically on top of it.

What will it take before the people demand that they be told the unvarnished truth about what truly is the worst industrial disaster ever? What will it take for Americans to demand that their Government do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the disaster?

The Dictionary of the Spell-Checker did not have the words TEPCO or Fukushima in it - it won't be long before every dictionary of every word processing software will contain Fukushima and TEPCO. I don't believe that I am one who sees conspiracies to take over the world and enslave each one of us behind every corner. But, I do wonder why (given the importance of these two programs to their base), the G.O.P. is insisting on changing or eliminating Social Security and Medicare? Because their Lords & Masters believe that they can actually do it? Or, could the circus of idiocy be meant to ensure that absolutely no one thinks about Fukushima? I'm not sure, but the virtual news black-out on Fukushima and its consequences speaks volumes.

The Al Jazeera article may be found (for now) at:

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An Open Letter to the President

Open Letter to President Barack Obama from E.coli 0104:H4

by Ralph Nader

June 3, 2011

Dear President Obama:

My name is E.coli 0104:H4. I am being detained in a German Laboratory in Baveria, charged with being "a highly virulent strain of bacteria." Together with many others like me, the police have accused us of causing about 20 deaths and nearly five hundred cases of kidney failure--so far. Massive publicity and panic all around.

You can't see me, but your scientists can. They are examining me and I know my days are numbered. I hear them calling me a "biological terrorist," an unusual combination of two different E.coli bacteria cells. One even referred to me as a "conspiracy of mutants".

It is not my fault, I want you to know. I cannot help but harm innocent humans, and I am very sad about this. I want to redeem myself, so I am sending this life-saving message straight from my Petri dish to you.

This outbreak in Germany has been traced to food--location unknown. What is known to you is that invisible terrorism from bacterium and viruses take massively greater lives than the terrorism you are spending billions of dollars and armaments to stop in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Malaria, caused by infection with one of four species of Plasmodium, a parasite transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes destroys a million lives a year. Many of the victims are children and pregnant women. Mycobacterium tuberculosis takes nearly three million lives. The human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) causes over a million deaths. Many other microorganisms in the water, soil, air, and food are daily weapons of mass destruction. Very little in your defense budget goes for operational armed forces against this kind of violence. Your agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control, conduct some research but again nothing compared to the research for your missiles, drones, aircraft and satellites.

Your associates are obsessed with possible bacteriological warfare by your human enemies. Yet you are hardly doing anything on the ongoing silent violence of my indiscriminate brethren.

You and your predecessor George W. Bush made many speeches about fighting terrorism by humans. Have you made a major speech about us?

You speak regularly about crushing the resistance of your enemies. But you splash around so many antibiotics (obviously I don't like this word and consider it genocidal) in cows, bulls, chickens, pigs and fish that your species is creating massive antibiotic resistance, provoking our mutations, so that we can breed even stronger progeny. You are regarded as the smartest beings on Earth, yet you seem to have too many neurons backfiring.

In the past two days of detention, scientists have subjected me to "enhanced interrogation," as if I have any will to give up my secrets. It doesn't work. What they will find out will be from their insights about me under their microscopes. I am lethal, I guess, but I'm not very complicated.

The United States, together with other countries, needs more laboratories where scientists can detain samples of us and subject us to extraordinary rendition to infectious disease research centers. Many infectious disease scientists need to be trained, especially in the southern hemispheres to staff these labs

You are hung up on certain kinds of preventable violence without any risk/benefit analysis. This, you should agree, is utterly irrational. You should not care where the preventable violence comes from except to focus on its range of devastation and its susceptibility to prevention or cure!

Well, here they come to my Petri dish for some more waterboarding. One last item: You may wonder how tiny bacterial me, probably not even harboring a virus, can send you such a letter. My oozing sense is that I'm just a carrier, being used by oodles of scientists taking advantage of a high profile infectious outbreak in Europe to catch your attention.

Whatever the how does it really matter to the need to act Now?

E-cologically yours,

E.coli 0104:H4 (for the time being)

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

This letter immediately reminded me of the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln because of the importance of its contents, its simplicity, and clarity of thought. I do not understand why its message has not been mentioned by the mainstream media or why others have not thought of the defense of our Nation in terms of those things that represent a definite clear and present danger to everyone who lives in the United States - it is just a question of common sense.

Most of defense spending should be dedicated to defending Americans against what most threatens them: disease, our crumbling infrastructure, the contamination of our environment, and the destruction of our most important resources (fresh water, fertile soil, marine life, and the oceans themselves). Put into proper perspective, the threat of "global terrorism" is infinitely less than any one of these threats and weaknesses - as are the probabilities that we will be attacked by another nation. Moreover, addressing these threats and weaknesses represents the most significant opportunity we have for economic growth and increased prosperity for the people of the United States and for those of the entire world.

Unfortunately, as an old Spanish Proverb states, "Common sense is the least common of the senses." If we fail to pay attention to defending ourselves against the most common and frequent clear and present dangers to ourselves, they will destroy us. It is that simple. If our society succumbs to these dangers and weaknesses, it will be because we willingly and knowingly chose ignorance over common sense.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Truth about Torture and the Hunt for Bin Laden

This letter from Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First, published in the Organization's monthly "Rites Wire" of June 2011 is a trenchant, concise, and irrefutable analysis of the role of torture in the search for Bin Laden. (Surprisingly, it also demonstrates that not all of Senator McCain's principals have been compromised to gain points with tea baggers or the extreme right):

From the President and CEO

HRF's Elisa Massimino
Osama bin Laden

News of the Osama bin Laden operation wasn't even a day old when torture apologists began claiming vindication. To hear former vice president Dick Cheney and his allies tell it, without the CIA's water-boarding program, the United States would never have found bin Laden. Cheney and company want Americans to believe that torture makes us safe, and they don't seem to care about the dangers it poses—to our national security, our national character, and our men and women in uniform.

But their propaganda push has run into a few hurdles, otherwise known as facts. The truth is that torture hindered the hunt for bin Laden. It failed to get critical information, and two detainees lied under torture, setting back the investigation. In fact, just like the operation that led to Saddam Hussein, it was legal, humane interrogation that produced the key intelligence—not torture. This was no surprise to the many veteran interrogators who for years have argued that torture is inefficient and counterproductive.

Armed with these facts, opponents of torture are setting the record straight. After getting the inside story from CIA director Leon Panetta, Senator John McCain took to the Senate floor to reveal that the bin Laden operation had nothing to do with torture, and Americans shouldn't either. I went to the American Enterprise Institute to debate the issue with prominent torture supporters, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, on a panel moderated by John Yoo. Watch the debate here.

But the renewed debate has made clear that we can't sit back and let the torture apologists speak unopposed. We're doing everything we can to strengthen the consensus against torture. As the hunt for Bin Laden shows, torture isn't just wrong; it's also wrongheaded.


Elisa Massimino
President and CEO
Human Rights First

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