Via Truthout, Greg Palast informs us that TEPCO, the Japanese power company, has a long history of safety violations and coverups -- and they're coming to the Gulf of Mexico to build a nuclear power plant! Can this nightmare get any worse?
I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.
I don't know the law in Japan, so I can't tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.
But what will Obama plead? The administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas - by TEPCO and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn't suffered enough. Here are the facts about TEPCO and the industry you haven't heard on CNN:
The failure of emergency systems at Japan's nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.
Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called "SQ" or "Seismic Qualification." That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from al-Qaeda.
The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from "failed" to "passed."
The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction, which will work with TEPCO to build the Texas plant. Lord help us.
Last night, I heard CNN reporters repeat the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors, implying that water unexpectedly got into the diesel generators that run the pumps.
These safety backup systems are the "EDGs" in nuke-speak: Emergency Diesel Generators. That they didn't work in an emergency is like a fire department telling us they couldn't save a building because "it was on fire."
Sounds too much like anti-nuke propaganda? The Guardian doesn't have any reassuring news, either:
Nuclear experts have thrown doubt on the accuracy of official information issued about the Fukushima nuclear accident, saying that it followed a pattern of secrecy and cover-ups employed in other nuclear accidents. "It's impossible to get any radiation readings," said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer who has worked for the UK government and been commissioned to report on the accident for Greenpeace International.
"The actions of the Japanese government are completely contrary to their words. They have evacuated 180,000 people but say there is no radiation. They are certain to have readings but we are being told nothing." He said a radiation release was suspected "but at the moment it is impossible to know. It was the same at Chernobyl, where they said there was a bit of a problem and only later did the full extent emerge."
According to some reports, 17 helicopter crewmen helping in rescue efforts were contaminated with low-level radiation, but Japanese officials declined to comment.
The country's government has previously been accused of covering up nuclear accidents and hampering the development of alternative energy.
In a newly released diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, politician Taro Kono, a high-profile member of Japan's lower house, tells US diplomats that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ? the Japanese government department responsible for nuclear energy ? has been "covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry".
[...] "What we are seeing follows a clear pattern of secrecy and denial," said Paul Dorfman, co-secretary to the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters, a UK government advisory committee disbanded in 2004.
"The Japanese government has always tended to underplay accidents. At the moment the Japanese claims of safety are not to be believed by anyone. The health effects of what has happened so far are imponderable. The reality is we just do not know. There is profound uncertainty about the impact of the accident."
Mary Kay Culp
State Executive Director
Kansans for Life
Dear Mrs. Culp,
Given your endorsement of Kansas Rep. Virgil Peck, I was a little surprised when he proposed that Mexican job-seekers should be hunted down and shot "like feral hogs." It doesn't seem like a very well thought out plan from a pro-life perspective. I mean, what if one of these better-life-seekers is carrying a little anchor fetus, zygote, or blastocyst?
Perhaps you should get together with Rep. Peck and help him flesh out this idea a little more. You might suggest that he add a provision barring the shooting of not-men job-seekers until it's confirmed that they aren't pregnant.
That'd be a win-win for everybody. Rep. Peck and his constituents would still have an opportunity to exercise their Second Amendment right to summarily execute brown people, and those of us who care about life would be comforted by knowing that no fetuses, zygotes, or blastocysts were harmed in the harvest.
Heterosexually yours in a chaste, biblically appropriate, and life affirming kind of way,
Gen JC Christian, patriot
Japanese authorities now report that about 6:14 a.m. (Tokyo) Tuesday, March 15, there was an explosion at the Daiichi Unit 2 of the Fukushima Nuclear Station. This explosion was heard, not seen from the outside. The explosion reportedly did not blow off[...]
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Air Trump's tail number begins with the code for Bermuda registry (David Moir/Reuters)
Ben Smith notes a hilarious detail about Donald Trump's personal aircraft:
The tail number begins "VP-B," a code indicating Bermuda registration -- which may be useful for tax and regulatory purposes, but probably isn't a great vehicle for an American candidate.
Okay, Ben's probably right: this is yet another piece of evidence that Donald Trump is no more serious about running for President than Sarah Palin was about serving a full term as governor.
Still, to be fair and balanced about it, here's three possible reasons this could be great news for Donald Trump if he chooses to run:
1. The plane's Bermuda registration shows that Trump has personal experience using overseas tax shelters?experience that should help him connect with certain elements of the GOP's base.
2. It can provide a distraction from Ron Paul's FEC complaint about Trump's potentially improper usage of the plane to conduct campaign business.
3. Last, but certainly not least, it gives Donald Trump real-world foreign policy experience, something that virtually none of the GOP field can claim.Maybe Trump can use his plane's Bermuda registry as foreign policy experience (Tom Schmucker/Dreamstime.com)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Has the pro-middle class uprising gone viral in Wisconsin?
Well, let's take the example of Washburn - at the far-northern part of the Badger State Scott Walker is trying to sell off to the highest bidder, as he beats workers down to pre-Industrial Age wages.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that on Saturday night, Walker attended a fundraiser, but was met by perhaps as many as 5,000 protesters, which according to the Duluth News Tribune was "probably at least double the size of Washburn, which has a population of 2,271."
Washburn is in what is known as the North Country of Wisconsin. It's no Madison, and there are no big union towns around. The largest big city nearby is in another state, Duluth, Minnesota.
Protesters, were - as has been the case for days down in Madison - peaceful, energetic and humorous: "Signs included 'Gov. Walker, you probably can't remember me, but ... I can recall you' and 'At least my Grandma's Walker helps her.'"
As the News Tribune reported, one protester took a more expansive view of the challenge posed by the Walker government: "The thing that really got me here is the disparity of wealth that has grown way too out of hand," [Scott] Griffiths said. "This is not a Wisconsin thing. This is a global pandemic of wealth buying power."
If you look at Washburn on a Wisconsin map, you'll find it a rural area not too far from the land's end of the state to the north. If the protests are spreading to Washburn, the battle for economic justice appears to be going viral.
Walker may have been left choking on his walleye pike at the fundraiser as the advocates for livable wages shouted loudly enough to allegedly be heard inside the Republican fundraiser.
It appears that there may be no town that is going to give a pass to Walker's radical agenda.
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You?ve been hearing a lot from us about state politicians trying to destroy jobs, the middle-class way of life and collective bargaining rights as payback to the CEOs who funded their campaigns.
Have you seen what?s going on in Washington, D.C.?
The CEO-funded politicians in D.C. are attempting to ram through a slash-and-burn budget that would hurt working families nationwide?a budget that cuts health care and education for children, college aid for students, job safety for all of us and Social Security for our parents and grandparents.
This has gone too far already. Join us Tuesday at a rally to Defend the American Dream. Find a rally near you.
Activists like you will be joining rallies that start between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. local time Tuesday in hundreds of cities and towns across America.
The politicians pushing these scorched-earth cuts are lying to America. They?re not trying to reach a responsible federal budget. If that?s what they wanted, why are they the same people who demanded (and won) massive tax cuts for the richest people in the country?
Take a look at what Republicans in Congress want to do to all of us?and this is on top of the threats in so many states. Their outrageous budget proposal would:
Small government diehard Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has announced that he's going off the reservation and won't vote for the new continuing resolution (to keep the government running) endorsed by Speaker Boehner and the GOP leadership. This is not[...]
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Oh, for Christ’s sake.That’s when things got really bad and really crazy. Alone, distraught, and frightened, Taylor confided in the nurse treating her that she hadn’t always been sure she’d wanted this baby, now that she was[...]
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Beth Murphy’s warm and uplifting documentary Beyond Belief follows two women’s ability to transform the shattering events of 9/11 into a message of hope. Susan Retik and Patti Quigley, upper middle class, pregnant New England soccer moms lost[...]
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Larry Kudlow, the great business shill for CNBC, voiced an opinion that really is indicative of how conservatives think about the value of humans and corporations, and how they should be respectively treated.
In these tough economic times, isn?t it nice to know that calamitous natural disasters needn't have an adverse affect on your investment portfolio? After the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan failed to induce a market nosedive, CNBC?s Larry Kudlow expressed his relief in terms that seemed to appall even his fellow cheerleaders for capitalism: ?The human toll here,? he declared, ?looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.?
To Kudlow, nothing matters more than stock market prices. Many people attacked him for this callous view towards human life, but I was not surprised by his statement. I don't believe it was really a flub.
I've watched Kudlow for a long time and his love for free market capitalism far outweighs his love for the well being of the American worker and how they support their families. He later realized he sounded like a ghoul and went into damage-control mode.
I did not mean to say human toll in Japan less important than economic toll. Talking about markets. I flubbed the line. Sincere apology.
I have to say, however, that from what I'm seeing on the financial news, his first instinct was indicative of the reaction of most economic observers. But they are now issuing perfunctory disclaimers before they bemoan the loss of possible new nuclear plants etc.
I'm not saying that I wouldn't flub some statements if I had a day job on the air -- I probably would -- but watching TV Stock Market Barkers over the last six years I haven't seen much that would make me believe the intent of Kudlow's original statement isn't the way he really feels. And let's remember the great piece Jon Stewart did on the horrors of the CNBC team that got much of the business reporting dead wrong leading up to the financial collapse, led by Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer.
Santelli apparently cancelled on him at the behest of his bosses. You remember his Howard Beale rant?
Santelli: President Obama, are you listening?
Stewart: Yeah man, Wall Street is mad as hell! And they're not going to take it anymore. Unless by it, you mean two trillion dollars of their own bail out money. That they will take.
Now Mr. Santelli was invited to come on this show and accepted the invitation and then on Friday canceled, or I guess the phrase would be bailed out.