Monday, July 30, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Gov't probe of Japan nuke crisis criticizes TEPCO
Updated: July 23, 2012 3:39 AM
TOKYO - (AP) -- Experts investigating Japan's nuclear disaster said Monday that the operator of the crippled plant continues to drag its feet in investigations and has tried to understate the true amount of damage at the complex.
The report, by a government-appointed panel, is the latest of several to fault Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government for doing too little to protect the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from the massive earthquake and tsunami that set off three meltdowns there in the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
The panel, of 10 independent experts in fields including radiation protection, medicine and law, also said the utility has yet to address problems within its own culture that contributed to its failings in the crisis -- including employees "not fully trained to think for themselves."
"We still don't perceive much enthusiasm in the accident investigation from" the company, the report said. "TEPCO must take our findings sincerely and resolve the problems to achieve a higher level of safety culture across the company."
The panel said TEPCO covered up unfavorable data in a computer analysis attempting to measure the extent of damage inside the reactors earlier this year. It said that in a hearing, TEPCO officials acknowledged the simulation was inadequate, but they have yet to make another attempt.
In interviews with panel members, employees of TEPCO's nuclear department demonstrated expertise in emergency equipment, but many failed to speak up when it was most needed during the crisis, the report said.
For instance, some employees were aware that water gauges attached to containment vessels were likely broken and their measurements unreliable. But none of them raised questions, and the company kept releasing what turned out to be wrong data for months. New gauges installed in one reactor show that there is hardly any water inside, suggesting that the two other two crippled reactors may have similar conditions.
The workers "were not fully trained to think for themselves, and lacked a flexible and proactive way of thinking needed in crisis management," the report said.
Monday's report, like others before it, said the operator and regulators failed to upgrade plant safety and meet international standards to minimize risks, including the possibility of severe damage from power outages.
The three reactors melted down after the March 11, 2011, tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling system. The nuclear disaster displaced tens of thousands of people and will take decades to clean up.
The 450-page report also says the government and its main nuclear regulator, the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency, promoted nuclear power as an entirely safe form of energy without being open about its inherent risks.
It said NISA, which was under the economic ministry, was a toothless entity that failed to live up to its expected role. The government is in the process of overhauling the agency to make it more independent and effective.
The report was handed over to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda after the panel members approved it in their final meeting Monday. He said he will use the findings and recommendations to help guide the revamped regulatory agency, which is to start up by September.
"We take it seriously," Noda said of the report.
The panel said the government and TEPCO failed to prevent the crisis not because such a large tsunami was unanticipated but because they were reluctant to invest time, effort and money in protecting against a natural disaster considered unlikely. TEPCO had even weighed in on a report about earthquake risk and asked the government to play down the likelihood of a tsunami in the region, the report said.
Those finding echo a Diet-sponsored investigation released earlier this month that said the disaster was a result of collusion between the government, regulators and the utility. That report said the accident was "man-made."
The latest report said poor crisis management prompted then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet to excessively intervene in plant operations, but that only added to the chaos.
The report criticized Kan's office for controlling information, delaying crucial announcements to the public and overly softening expressions about the severity of the accident, causing confusion, threats to health and public distrust in the government.
Political leaders were upset after a NISA official let it slip on March 12 that the reactors were possibly melting down, the report said. After that, all NISA announcements had to be run by the prime minister's office. NISA denied meltdowns for months afterwards.
The panel interviewed more than 770 people, including plant workers, government officials and evacuees, for a total of nearly 1,500 hours.
The report also didn't find any clear evidence that the initial impact of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake had caused major damage that would trigger radiation leaks from the reactors. That conclusion contradicts a parliament-appointed panel report, which one of the reactors that melted down had leaks that probably were caused by the earthquake.
Committee chairman Yotaro Hatamura said in a closing note that Japan "should take the accident as a reminder from nature that humans' way of thinking can be defective."
"We must never forget this disaster and continue to learn the lessons from it," he said.
By The Associated Press MARI YAMAGUCHI
Japan's trade minister claims he didn't deliberately mislead
At a parliamentary investigation on Sunday, Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, testified that he did not deliberately mislead the Japanese public about the true extent of last year's nuclear crisis at Fukushima. He says that in the immediate aftermath of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, the government did not have a complete understanding of how bad the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was. Edano has been seen as responsible for not disclosing the full details of the accident or complete health risk information.
Apologizing for the government's misjudgment, Edano stresses that there was no form of cover-up. At the time, he repeatedly used the phrases "no immediate risk" and "just to be safe," because that's what officials truly thought was the nature of the situation. It wasn't until sometime after the disaster that the government admitted that three of the Fukushima cores had melted down, resulting in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
A separate investigation filed a report in February, stating that central Japanese government had deliberately withheld information about the disaster from the public and the U.S. government, thus resulting in a growing distrust and putting a strain on the relationship with Japan's biggest ally. Edano acknowledged that the U.S. government was frustrated by the lack of accurate information from Japan, and had requested to put American nuclear experts in the prime minister's office. Edano refused, however, on the grounds that as a sovereign nation, Japan has the right to make decisions without foreign officials in its presence.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
HOW CAN WE BE SILENT ?
Navy to deafen 15,900 whales and dolphins and kill 1,800 more
By Lyndia Storey (Contact)
To be delivered to: U.S. Navy
According to U.S. Navy estimates, the use of high frequency underwater sound for testing in Hawaii, the California and Atlantic Coasts, and the Gulf of Mexico will deafen more than 15,900 whales and dolphins and kill 1,800 more over the next 5 years. Whales and dolphins depend on sound to navigate and live. Your signature and comment could stop this Naval program, potentially saving the lives of these ocean creatures.
The U.S. Navy has plans to employ sonar and explosives as part of its training program in the waters off Southern California and Hawaii—activities that will deafen, kill, or injure thousands of marine mammals.
In the five-year time period between 2014 and 2019, the Navy now expects 33 million incidents of harm to marine mammals, ranging from significant behavioral change to severe injury and death.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the training will result in temporary hearing loss for five million marine mammals that inhabit or migrate through the training area, which include endangered and depleted humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales, sperm whales, Hawaiian monk seals, southern sea otter, and many more.
In addition, more than 15,000 marine mammals will suffer permanent hearing loss, 9,000 will endure lung injuries, and more than 1,800 will die.
Previous estimates, covering the time period from 2009 to 2013, showed that the training regimen would injure or kill 100 marine mammals. But the Navy's latest environmental impact statement paints a different picture: In the five-year time period between 2014 and 2019, the Navy now expects 33 million incidents of harm to marine mammals, ranging from significant behavioral change to severe injury and death.
This is "unprecedented carnage," says Zak Smith, an attorney with the Marine Mammals Protection Project at the NRDC.
Mere behavioral change might not seem like much, but dolphins, whales, and porpoises use sound waves to communicate with each other, locate food sources, and orient themselves in marine environments.
These animals are highly sensitive to the frequencies and range of mid-frequency sonar, which has been tied to dramatic mass strandings in several countries (imagine whales throwing themselves on land in an attempt to escape the devastating high-pitched sound coming from navy ships).
If you want a sense of how brutal the sound can be, check out this video, recorded by the Center for Whale Research, which features actual Navy sonar. You can see orcas fleeing the sound, and staying above water as much as possible to avoid it.
"We have all this new science, all these increases in training, and now we have a snapshot of harm that will flow from these activities. What [the Navy] got back is a portrait of destruction. But it's business as usual. They are not asking how they can reduce these numbers," Smith said in an exclusive interview with TakePart.
What the Navy could do, Smith and others argue, is consider what is already known about the habits and patterns of the affected species, and plan accordingly.
"It's not as if these training exercises can't go forward somewhere; it's really about time and place. Scientists have a good sense of where whales are likely to be found at certain times per year," Steve Mashuda, an attorney with Earthjustice, said in a phone interview.
Conservationists have butted heads with the Navy before. A coalition of organizations and indigenous communities are suing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for failing to protect thousands of dolphins, whales, porpoises, seals, and sea lions from the Navy's other training grounds in the Pacific Northwest.
It was NMFS, the government agency that manages federal marine waters, that issued permits allowing the Navy to test and train in the Pacific Ocean. The coalition maintains that the agency did this without fully assessing the impacts to endangered species, which qualifies as an illegal authorization—a violation the Endangered Species Act that has left many species struggling.
Especially vulnerable, says Steve Mashuda, are the 87 resident killer whales that inhabit Puget Sound for half the year, spending the other half foraging along the Washington coast.
These killer whales are so vulnerable that killing or injuring one single reproductive-aged whale would put the entire population in danger of extinction.
Into this delicate natural world, the Navy blows its piercing whistle.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The 97-year-old has been residing in Budapest, where the government has been investigating the claims that he helped deport Jews to the concentration camps during World War II.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 12:33 AM
They committed acts of immense brutality and terror in their own countries. And then, seeking safe haven, they came to Canada. Not knowing their secret, we welcomed them with open arms. Decades later, shocking accusations would shatter the quiet obscurity in which they lived. CBC Archives examines Canada's limited success bringing war criminals to justice.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
The deaths of three horses at the Calgary Stampede, a 10-day event where people can go to pretend that we still live in the Wild West, has spurred outrage from animal advocates and calls to ban chuckwagon races for good.
The accident that lead to the deaths happened on Thursday during the GMC Rangeland Derby when the lead horse faltered on the backstretch of the race and collapsed, taking down the three other horses and the wagon with him and causing a collision with one of the outriders.
The lead horse died on the scene, two others had to be euthanized on the track due to their injuries and a fourth will need surgery. A necropsy on the lead horse revealed the cause of death was a ruptured aortic aneurysm near the kidney, according to a press release.
"This pre-existing condition is undetectable in animals and could have ruptured at any time of exercise," explains Dr. Evans. "The condition is a weakening in the wall of the aorta–the major vessel leading from the heart. This area of weakened wall can rupture and the horse then bleeds out internally. The rupture occurred in the abdomen, which explains the hind limb weakness noted in the horse prior to the collapse."
The incident has animal advocates understandably calling for a ban on chuckwagon races.
"It always shocks and infuriates me … you'd think after 100 years they'd come to realize they cannot prevent deaths," said Michael Alvarez-Toye of the Calgary Animal Rights Coalition.
He said the group is organizing a protest on Saturday "to mark the occasion of the Calgary Stampede's 100th Anniversary of cruel and callous acts perpetrated upon animals."
Sadly, this tragedy comes after weeks of announcements about improvements to safety that were made after six horses died in 2010. A total of 50 have died since 1986.
The Stampede began a Fitness to Compete program, which increased veterinary inspections before and after races, breaks between events and reduced the number of outriders for each wagon from four to two to make more room on the track, but it hasn't helped protect horses.
"Clearly, the Stampede's much publicized safety improvements have failed to make the race any safer," said Peter Fricker, a spokesman for the Vancouver Humane Society, which supports a ban. "Horses continue to die needlessly. This has to stop."
According to a statement, the Stampede will be using the results of the necropsy to make further improvements.
"Nowadays, in veterinary medicine there's very much a push on for evidence-based decision making," said Evans. "We want hard scientific data."
Maybe, nowadays, since horses keep having heart attacks, dropping dead and crashing into each other that could be all the evidence we need to stop scratching our heads and investigating this mind-boggling conundrum and just solve the problem by doing away with chuckwagon races instead.
Please sign and share the petition asking the Calgary Stampede to ban chuckwagon races.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/more-horses-die-at-calgary-stampede.html#ixzz20qnYNflz
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invoked the foreign hand that Indira Gandhi used to refer to explain the people's resistance to hazardous technologies like nuclear power and genetic engineering. His comments have been published in the journal Science.
The PM's comments are misplaced on a number of counts. First, if there is a foreign hand shaping India's policy, it is working through the PM. Manmohan Singh signed the US-India agriculture agreement with president Bush, which attempts to hand over India's seed supply to Monsanto, Grain trade to Grain giants like Cargill and Retail trade to giants like Walmart. He also signed the US-India nuclear deal handing over our energy sovereignty to global powers. The government nearly collapsed, and the vote in parliament went only through the 'cash-for-votes' scandal. The foreign hand of global corporations is grabbing India's food and energy sectors.
Secondly, by saying that Indian movements are not indigenous, the PM is insulting democracy of India, its people and is distorting facts. The people of Jaitapur fighting the Areva nuclear power plant are self organised and are fighting a French company. It is the government joining the foreign hand in land grab and imposing the nuclear plant that no one wants. The same is the case for Kudumkulam.
I started Navdanya 25 years ago to create an alternative to GMOs and patented seeds. When half a million farmers came out with us to say 'no to patents on seed,' they were speaking from India's soil. When we organised collectively to stop BT brinjal and the environment minister did his duty under the EPA act and announced a moratorium, the PM removed him from the ministry, showing that the foreign hand of Monsanto works through the PM.
The PM has invoked development challenges. One big development challenge we face is the agrarian crisis which has pushed 250,000 farmers' suicides linked to debt created by high cost non-renewable seed, unreliable seed like Monsanto's Bt Cotton. There is a foreign hand in India's farm suicides, and the PM has a responsibility to bring back seed sovereignty by supporting people's movements, not attacking them.
The second big development challenge is hunger and malnutrition. Every 4th Indian is hungry. Every second Indian child is wasted and stunted. And the junk food culture promoted by the foreign hand has made India the capital of diabetes. We have solutions for growing more and healthier food. The PM should be promoting indigenous solutions. But he wants to turn hunger into a market for giants like Sodexo by introducing cash vouchers for food, which is affecting the public distribution system. The proposals in the proposed Food Security Act are drafted by the foreign hand. It is people's movement which is defending India's seed sovereignty and food sovereignty.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Night Shift's Possible Link to Cancer
How disrupting the body's day-night cycle might be carcinogenic
Hormone levels follow regular, 24-hour day-night cycles called circadian rhythms. Staying awake and working at night under bright artificial lights disrupts that cycle and in women, releases extra estrogen from the ovaries, which may increase their risk for breast cancer. Night shift work might also affect other cancers in which hormones play a role, including prostate cancer, according to the journal article.
The genes that control how healthy cells divide and how DNA repairs itself of any breaks or damage are also circadian. Healthy cells turn into cancer cells when their DNA gets damaged and they start dividing uncontrollably, so people who work at night may be more vulnerable to any other carcinogens they encounter, according to the review. Right now, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies shift work as a Group 2A agent, which means it's "probably carcinogenic to humans," one step below the known carcinogens in Group 1.
The thirty-three scientists who wrote the new review were trying to pinpoint which 2A agents best deserve more study, so they selected their 20 carcinogens based on how widespread they are and how strong the scientific evidence is against them—both excellent criteria. I think there's another reason to put more research into shift work and some of the other possible cancer agents in the review. These are mostly agents that people encounter in the workplace, in jobs they often wouldn't choose if they didn't have to. I still remember my dad working night shifts at a printer factory when I was little, so he could take care of me during the day while my mom went to the local technical school to learn English. That was not long after my parents arrived in the U.S. from Vietnam; they couldn't afford daycare. Potential carcinogens like shift work are risks people take when times are tough—I'd like to see that risk fully studied.
BISHOP FREDERICK SHOO
LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: The greeting is especially rambunctious because we're traveling with the African version of Johnny Appleseed. Some call him the "Tree Bishop."
BISHOP FREDERICK SHOO: The parish pastor has given us a copy of the report…
SEVERSON: Of all the trees they have planted…
BISHOP SHOO: Yes, showing the total number which has been planted only by this parish is 46,083.
SEVERSON: His name is Frederick Shoo and he is the Assistant Bishop of the northern diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. He oversees 500,000 members and 164 parishes. The Bishop is on a crusade to plant trees to save the glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro.
BISHOP SHOO: At the beginning it was very difficult to be understood. I remember when I spoke even among some pastors, and they were saying, instead of preaching spiritual things, now he's talking about the environment. What does it mean? I mean, they thought I would have, maybe I was out of…maybe my senses.
SEVERSON: Today it's not a hard sell. Maybe Tanzanians haven't seen the NASA pictures showing the rapidly diminishing snows of Mount Kilimanjaro, but they know something's wrong. Moses Samizi is the district commissioner.
COMMISSIONER MOSES SAMIZI: Everyone knows how the condition of our region is changing, about the global warming. It is now too hot in our region. It wasn't like this before.
SEVERSON: Bishop Shoo says he began noticing the changes in the weather about 30 years ago.
BISHOP SHOO: It does not need a PhD to see that already people are experiencing the impact of global warming. A simple farmer in the village can tell that something is wrong with our climate.
SEVERSON: Trees are an important part of the ecosystem because they trap the moisture that helps create glaciers. Without the forest's humidity, the winds blow dry instead of adding moisture to the mountain's environment.
BISHOP SHOO: We used to have water full from one bank to another. Now you can see very little water remaining.
SEVERSON: In this land of wonders, of animals roaming un-caged, and ancient tribes, Africa's highest mountain is losing its legendary shining top.
In the last 100 years, 92 percent of the glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro have disappeared. Some estimates predict they will all be all gone by the year 2020. And without the ice and snow, the rivers that flow down the mountain that nourish millions of Tanzanians will simply dry up.
(To Bishop Shoo): If they don't have the water and you don't have the rain…
BISHOP SHOO: You're absolutely right. Then there is no life here. The people will have to move or they die.
SEVERSON: Many former local skeptics are now believers in Bishop Shoo and the church's mega tree garden with millions of saplings waiting to be planted.
(To Mary): So these are what kinds of trees? Orange? MARY: Orange…and avocado. Avocado trees. And what do we have over here? MARY: Mango. These are mango trees over here…
SEVERSON: They take trees very seriously here. There are plans for 152 more nurseries. Even the prison sends orange-clad inmates to load up on saplings. This is Bernadette Kinabo, the municipal director of the city of Moshe, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
BERNADETTE KINABO: We set the standards that every resident should grow 80 trees, and for this year we have 1,680,000 trees to be planted during this um, rainy season.
BISHOP SHOO: Today I am very, very happy, really.
SEVERSON: On this day, the Bishop has local officials and church leaders planting trees in a clearing near downtown Moshi.
BISHOP SHOO: Yes, I like this.
SEVERSON: They're doing this because they're convinced that they are the victims of global warming and that it is caused by man, here and around the world. Near Kilimanjaro it's man cutting trees, sometimes giant trees, for export, for housing, for charcoal and to make room to grow food.
COMMISSIONER MOSES SAMIZI: You'll find that people have really disturbed the environment. There is a lot of destruction.
SEVERSON: Pastor Ndosa preaches about global warming from the pulpit.
(To Pastor Ndosa): You think mankind has caused all these problems?
PASTOR NDOSA: Yes, it was created by human being.
SEVERSON: Who cut the trees down?
PASTOR NDOSA: We can't tell because people just encroach and cut them.
SEVERSON: That's why they're now planting trees in this old cemetery. He says no one would dare cut a tree in a holy place, and that God clearly values trees.
PASTOR NDOSA: He planted trees first before creating a human being. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
BISHOP SHOO: At the beginning of the bible, in the Book of Genesis, it is well stated that God created human being and other creatures but he gave the human being the greatest responsibility to take care of the creation. When we care for creation I would say then we care for life.
SEVERSON: At this parish, and in all those in the Bishop's diocese, youngsters are required to plant trees before they can be confirmed. Pastor Martha Dusiri says she preaches God's gospel and that includes caring for the environment.
MARTHA DUSIRI: And they liked it. That's why we have planted a lot of the trees, many of them. Even in their homes. God asked us to do that, yes.
SEVERSON: Some who come here wonder what all the fuss is about. They say, hey, there are trees everywhere and there are, but not nearly as many as before, and every year far more trees are being cleared and cut down than the millions that are now being planted.
BISHOP SHOO: Of course we cannot replace the amount of tree which has been cut in this short time but I think we must begin somewhere.
SEVERSON: This is a man who loves most all living things except critters who chew on trees.
BISHOP SHOO: What do they call it? Gopher. Yeah, they eat the roots. You can see. They destroy the plants like this one. It's been eaten by this. This is terrible. This is terrible.
SEVERSON: He is a man with a mission who is frustrated that the whole world isn't as concerned as he is.
BISHOP SHOO: If the snow on the top of Kilimanjaro goes away then it's going to be really big blow, not only to the people living around here, but also to the… to the humanity, I would say, because this is one of the world's wonders, I would call it. If there is no snow there, you can imagine what it will mean.
SEVERSON: We were staying in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro for 6 days and we never got to see it because of the constant cloud cover—clouds, but not a lot of rain.
This is a wedding ceremony for a prominent local couple. Aside from the pageantry, the horn blowers wearing wildebeest headdresses, this occasion is unique in one other way – the bride and groom agreed, at Bishop Shoo's insistence, that they plant a tree at the end of the ceremony.
For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I'm Lucky Severson in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Friday, July 13, 2012
At the Meet the Candidates assembly in NDG on October 7, 2008, Liberal Member of Parliament, Marlene Jennings, stated before all the candidates and the public -
"Mrs. Carter's Rights Were Violated Three Times".
The three violations.
1. In 1996, the Montreal Police refused to file a report of the initial robbery. They have continued to refuse to act ever since.
2. In 2007, immediately following the death of my mother, the same group of criminals obtained a court order accusing me of being insane and dangerous. I was released from hospital unconditionally as soon as the doctors found out what my accusers had done and why.
After my mother's death, we learned that -
3. In 2005, the same group who call themselves "Partners in Crime" created a will in my mother's name when she was 92 years old and handicapped physically and mentally. My mother had been kept in total isolation by these criminals for a decade - until her death.
I believe there can be only one logical explanation for why the Montreal Police refuse to act against the criminals in this case:
Wears a large cross,
Quotes the Bible,
Kills cats by throwing them against a wall,
Sets fires for pleasure, and
Dreams of killing her parents in their bed
MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA
"Mrs. Carter's rights were violated three times." -
Marlene Jennings, Member of Parliament, Canada