Thursday, March 31, 2011

Russia Shows Mercy to Its Bears

Russian brown enjoys a soak
The practice was not sport, and downright cruel. Hunting a dazed, sleeping bear, some with nursing cubs in the middle of winter by rousting it out of its den and shooting it. Russia has finally outlawed the barbaric practice by passing "The Rules of the Hunt" legislation. Many cubs were left to starve to death once their mother became an oligarch's trophy. In 2009 the International Fund for Animal Welfare gathered more than 400,000 signatures against the winter den hunt as an expression of the Russian people's desire to protect bears from man's cruelty. The new law significantly shortens the hunting season for bears and excludes the winter season when bear are hibernating in a semi-conscious state. It is also illegal now to hunt females with cubs under a year old and cubs less than a year old. Now its a question of enforcing the good intent.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chart of the Week: How Much is a Lethal Dose?

Update: TEPCo announced it will decommission the four damaged reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi, three weeks after the earthquake. Reactors 5 and 6, which were offline when the quake and tsunamis hit, shut down safely. Cooling pond temperatures elevated in those reactors, but now are within safe levels. Locals will be consulted about their fate according to the utility. In 2002 TEPCo was charged with falsifying plant safety records. Five executives, including the company president, were forced to resign. So sorry!  Radioactive iodine in the sea adjacent to the plant reached record levels.  The Japanese nuclear safety agency said the amounts were 3,355 times the legal limit.

The process of decommissioning and clean up will take 30 years and cost $12 billion. The single core meltdown at Three Mile Island cost an estimated $1.6 billion and took 15 years to clean up. The sarcophagus at Chernobyl to be in place by 2014 will cost $2.2 billion. Of course, the cost to build and commission the four Daiichi reactors is a complete loss. Too cheap to meter? US Person doesn't think so. Diablo Canyon, California nuclear power plant sits very near major faults. The plant's operating license is up for a twenty year renewal. Think about it.
credit: NY Times
{29.3.11}With a full body dose (as distinct from exposure) above 3 Sv, 50% of persons absorbing this much radiation are expected to die within 30 days. Chernobyl heros who died within the year of the April,1986 disaster received 4-16 Sv. Plutonium 238, 239, 240 isotopes have been found in the soil around Fukushima-Daiichi providing more evidence a core meltdown has occurred in which radioactivity is released beyond reactor containment. There is a growing sense of unease in Japan that the nuclear utility, TEPCo, is mishandling the disaster. Experts on the scene quoted by the Guardian UK say the utility has "lost the race" to save Unit 2. Based on data from the scene, the reactor has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel and onto the concrete and steel drywell (primary containment) beneath. As the lava of molten fuel and cladding escapes, it becomes increasing difficult to cool. If this development is confirmed, the Fukushima meltdown will be classed as one of the most destructive nuclear accidents in history.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pentagon Has Short String in Libya

Further:  The seesaw battle along Libya's northern coast road continues. Inexperienced rebels ran away when faced with renewed counterattacks by Qaddafi's professionals who appear to have adapted to air strikes. Loyalist forces consist mostly of two militias led by Qaddafi's sons numbering about 10,000 men drawn from the Warfalla, Margaha and Qaddafa tribes. Western experts number the active rebel forces at about 1,000. Anti-Qaddafi fighters have been pushed out of Raz Lanouf again, past the town of Brega. NATO air sorties continue; most of the 102 air strikes flown by US pilots within the last 24 hours. Western leaders are considering arming the rebels with more sophisticated weapons, but questions remain about their ability to use them effectively, and the scope of the UN mandate under which western intervention is supposedly operating*. Rebel leaders have repeatedly asked western contacts for heavy weapons. Col. Qaddafi still has hundreds of tanks, armored carriers, long-range artillery pieces and mobile missile launchers.

*Questions have also surfaced about who the rebels are.  There may be indications of links to Hezbollah and even Al Qaeda in Iraq.  Perhaps Qaddafi is not protesting too much, and Samantha Power should take a time out.

More: {29.3.11} US Person reports the operative fact concerning the Libyan "operation" regardless of what the Obamacon claims on TV in defense of another unauthorized war: France, a member of NATO and the closest US ally save the United Kingdom, imports about 15% of its crude oil supplies from Libya. That makes Libya France's second largest supplier after Russia. Libya is the third largest producer of crude oil in Africa behind Nigeria and Angola. If supplies of Libyan oil were cut off, the head of the French oil industry association said it would be "very, very worrying". Some oil companies have stopped production and others have brought staff home midst the escalating civil war between Qaddafi loyalists and rebels. France was understandably the first western nation to officially recognize the Benghazi uprising when the revolution took control of oil assets. Cynical geopolitics trumps stopping bloodshed once again or 'regime change' by another means.  More evidence that the intervention has taken on a momentum beyond the control of any elected US official is the statement by an American admiral that NATO troops may be required to occupy Libya as part of a "stabilization regime".  The President pledged unequivocally in his public address that no American troops will be used in Libya. Whether Obamacon honors that pledge remains to be seen.

NATO Harrier returns to USS Kearsage
Just three years ago French President Sarkozy hosted 'Mr. Africa' [photo]. He explained his hospitality saying, "He is the longest serving head of state in the region. And in the Arab world, that counts." So Qaddafi pitched his Bedouin tent in the gardens of the Elysee Palace during his six day visit. Sarkozy signed letters of intent to sell the dictator Mirage jet fighters and Airbuses worth €10 billion. Fortunately for French aviators, those fighters were never ordered. Qaddafi did order $300 million worth of French anti-tank missiles and radio systems. One goal of the NATO intervention is unambiguous if unspoken: secure the safety of the Libyan oil infrastructure because the civil war now looks as it may be protracted. Russia abstained from the UN Security Council vote authorizing military action to protect Libyan civilians from attack.  Russian diplomats have publicly said the NATO intervention has already gone beyond the UN mandate. Since this story's last post, rebels retook the oil terminal of Raz Lanouf and moved on Qaddafi's hometown and stronghold of Sirte behind NATO air to ground support. But the latest reports indicate rebels retreated in the face of rocket and tank barrages by Qaddafi forces near the hamlet of Bin Jawwad, sixty miles to the east of Sirte. Despite pounding Misrata, rebels still hold that surrounded western city. Qaddafi has characterized the UN authorized intervention as a "barbaric offensive" to turn Libya into "a new Afghanistan".

Update: {24.3.11}Mission creep, the deadly quicksand of foreign entanglements, has already begun in Libya. NATO air forces eliminated Qaddafi's air force as an effective fighting unit according to a British air marshal, and now they have turned their attention to ground attacks. Military commanders claim they are sticking to their essentially humanitarian UN mandate, but it is becoming increasingly clear as attacks escalate they are buying time for a weak and disorganized Libyan opposition. The expanding scope of US forces beyond aerial interdiction raises questions of who is in actual control of our participation, the President or the Pentagon? All too familiar phrases like "American prestige" and "American advisers" are being aired right now by retired generals labeled experts by the jingoist corporate media. The conflict in Libya has devolved into an internal civil war because the rebels were unable or unwilling to push into Tripoli to administer a coup de grace while fascist Qaddafi was still blaming Al Qaeda for the uprising. Any government emerging from the conflict must have the legitimacy of defeating the other side, otherwise the risk is the incremental establishment of yet another client state totally dependent on US military power and money. See Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. But perhaps that is the goal. The lack of legitimate US security interests in Libya alone causes US Person to question whether the disingenuous Obama, the peace prize winner, is harboring "regime change" in his heart. If the United States is to avoid a third war it cannot afford, Congress will have to act to limit US involvement in a foreign civil conflict with no large impacts on United States' security interests. War, not peace, is the Pentagon's profession. The crusade rolls on, and to Mr. Putin we say: "I feel you".

Rebel fighter improvises
{23.3.11}Rep. Dennis Kucinich thinks the President has committed an impeachable offense by enforcing the UN Security Council's unanimous resolution 1973 to protect Libyan civilians from Col. Qaddafi.  US Person respects Rep. Kucinich, but begs to differ with his attention grabbing headline.  Obama has the support of leaders of Congress for military action, and briefed them before US naval ships began their bombardment. But if the War Powers Resolution of 1973 is constitutionally valid--and that is an open question--Obama has sixty days or less if Congress so directs termination of hostilities by concurrent resolution to accomplish the mission of establishing the no-fly zone. Beyond that time limit he must seek a Congressional authorization of war or withdraw US forces. One may quibble with whether the Libyan operation qualifies as a "national emergency". Significantly §1547 of the Act specifically prohibits inferences of statutory authority to engage in hostilities from any treaty, unless there is specific implementing statutes allowing introduction of US forces. In this case a specific statute would have to allow the United States to enforce Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. But only Rep. Kucinich has publicly raised this question so far. Candidate Obama said in 2007, "The President does not have power under the Constitution to authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." How soon power corrupts. Perhaps this legality is one reason US military commanders want to hand-over no-fly operations quickly to our European and Arab allies. A hand-over makes logistical and fiscal sense as well. Each BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile cost $569,000 (FY99$).

Monday, March 28, 2011

America, the Ugly: Morlock Pleads Guilty

No moral compass
Is this the face of the 'Great Satan'? Like all evil it is banal.  What Morlock and his fellow soldiers did in Afghanistan is nothing but twisted perversion, the product of a death culture. The Army could not say anything about their soldiers' murder of unarmed civilians in the face of the Der Spiegel exposé[warning: photos are disturbingly explicit] except it is "repugnant to us as human beings". Corporal Jeremy Morlock escaped with his life after reaching a deal with military prosecutors to rat on his fellow uniformed assassins. Court martials of twelve others will begin soon. Morlock was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment, but can expect to be released after serving seven years or when he reaches his thirtieth birthday. Still a lot of life ahead for him, but not so for the victims he hunted down like animal trophies. The so-called "kill squad" waxed (his terminology) at random three Afghans for sport. It boggles the mind even more that Morlock grew up in Wasilla, Alaska and played hockey with Track Palin on a team managed by none other than the most famous ex-governor in the world, Sarah Palin. Morlock got into drugs in Afghanistan, prescription and not. He was concussed, suffered from personality disorder, and PTSD according to army doctors. But he was not removed from the battle. His unit, 5th Stryker Brigade was SNAFU, and Brigade commander Colonel Harry Tunnell was removed for presiding over a "dysfunction command structure". One brigade soldier attempted to report killing of civilians to higher authority at headquarters in Seattle without results. Morlock's mother, who spent $50,000 on his defense, says her son was following orders. They always say that, but this time it is believable.  Brigadier General Stephen Twitty wrote a 500 page report of the investigation concerning officer knowledge of drug use and plans to kill civilians in Khandahar at the request of 2nd Infantry Division commander, Curtis Scaparrotti.  The army has classified the report, giving it only to defense attorneys representing accused soldiers.  These war crimes make the torture of Abu Ghraib look like a frat party.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reactor Breach at Unit 3

Update:  Radiation levels continue to be extremely high at the doomed nuclear plant. It is now confirmed that workers at the site have been exposed to 2-6 Sv or 200-600 rems/hr. A report of 100rems/hr in Unit 2 was made by technicians but TEPCo later said the report was an error.  As previously reported, TEPCo has been understating the scope of the disaster at Fukushima. Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a nuclear engineer who helped design Unit 4, held a press conference with Citizens Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo on Saturday night. He said that based on his analysis of events, Unit 1 suffered a loss of coolant accident within hours of the earthquake.  Most probably a coolant pipe was ruptured by the magnitude 9 earthquake.  Loss of electrical power did not allow emergency cooling systems to prevent melting of the reactor core. Thus, TEPCo knew within hours of the earthquake that  a core meltdown of some magnitude was very likely.  TEPCo has repeatedly stated that it designed the plant to withstand a 100 year event.  However a "black swan" event similar to what happened on March 11th was already in the record books going back to the 9th Century AD.  Power to the cooling systems for all four damaged reactors has not yet been restored two weeks after the quake and attendant tsunamis, despite optimistic reports from the plant's owner.  Meanwhile levels of radiation continue to be emitted. The sea near the plant is becoming contaminated, and radiation from Fukushima has been detected as far away as the eastern coast of the United States.

Tsunamis approach plant March 11th
{25.3.11}TEPCo has finally admitted, two weeks after the enormous earthquake and tsunamis killed thousands in northeastern Japan, there is a reactor breach at Unit 3 of the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant. Unit 3 is the only reactor at the plant that uses MOX or mixed oxides, a blend of fissionable material that includes plutonium produced by reprocessing weapons grade plutonium, as fuel.  The delayed announcement is consistent with the restrictive flow of information coming from the disaster site. Based on the level of fallout so far, Greenpeace, the international environmental advocacy group, has rated the disaster a 7 on the scale of nuclear incidents wherein significant amounts of radioactivity are released into the atmosphere affecting populations in other countries. The 1986 Chernobyl meltdown of one reactor without a containment shield rained radiation over eastern and northern Europe, and is rated a 7 or the most severe incident. Japan's government, seeming to be in understandable denial at times, is rating Daiichi which is experiencing the melting of three reactors cores and overheating of spent fuel in a fourth, a 5 or comparable to The Three Mile Island partial meltdown in 1979. About half a single reactor core at Three Mile Island melted.  Of course Japan's population density is much higher than either Pennsylvania's or Ukraine's, so more people will be exposed.
TEPCo Unit 3, March 23rd

Unit 3 is said to be emitting 20rems/hr, about 10,000 times normal. However, three workers were treated for radiation burns Thursday after walking in contaminated water indicating radiation levels may be even higher. Isotopes not normally found in cooling water were detected (minor actinides such as yttrium91 and cesium136). Radioactivity has been found in 11 different vegetables and water. Twenty-three Japanese legislators have urged a wider evacuation zone. The radioactive plume from Daiichi has reached the west coast of the US where Californians are stocking up on iodine pills and kelp.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Syria Explodes in Revolt

AP: "Yes for Freedom, no to violence"
The "Jasmine Revolution" continues to roll across the Middle East like a human tsunami wave. Syria is the latest autocratic state to erupt into violent protest. Syria has been ruled under emergency powers for 50 years. Yesterday thousands marched in the streets of Deraa [video] and were fired upon by President Bashar al-Assad's men. Accurate casualty figures are unavailable but reporters on the scene estimate 61 people have died in the last week. The Ba'athist Party headquarters in Latakia was set on fire Friday. There may be a sectarian aspect to the revolt as the Assad clan belongs to the Alawite sect. Most Syrians are Sunni Muslim with a sizable minority of Christians. Assad has released about 200 political prisoners in response to the unrest. However, the government reaction is the most lethal since 1982 when more than 10,000 Syrians were killed in Hama.

Yemen has also experienced violent upheavals in the past weeks. At one point government snipers fired on protesters from the tops of buildings killing 52 people. President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has ruled for 32 years, has promised to step down early. The offer has not satisfied protesters who have vowed to continue their demonstrations. Many government officials have broken away from Saleh.  Saleh appears to be negotiating his exit from rule with government officials and tribal leaders.

Libyan rebels have retaken the strategic town of Adjabiya after ferocious NATO air to ground attacks targeted Qaddafi armor and troop concentrations. US Person says this is war, and it is unauthorized by Congress, again. The Untied States needs to regularize its participation in international military actions by passing legislation authorizing the President to commence hostilities as part of a UN sanctioned operation for a time certain before a formal declaration of war is required. LBJ was a cold war hawk, but even he fudged the Tonkin Gulf incident so he could receive congressional authorization to use American troops in Vietnam. The least the Obamacon can do is comply with the parameters of the War Powers Resolution.

اللههو على استعداد

Creature Feature: Rare Javan Rhinos on Video

Rare video footage shows two critically endangered Javan rhinos and their calves (Rhinoceros sondaicus) at home in the dense rainforest of Ujung Kulon National Park. The video evidence shows rhinos successfully breeding in the park, tremendously good news for conservationists because the rhino is on the edge of extinction. Only twelve births have been recorded in the past decade, and only estimated 40-60 still survive in the park.  Only eight are thought to survive in Vietnam.  Ujung Kulon, separated from inhabited areas by a volcano and isthmus, is a natural haven of remnant rainforest and has a carrying capacity of perhaps 80-100 rhinoceros.  The population was as low as 21-28 in 1967, but anti-poaching patrols allowed the rhino population to grow to 45-54.  The population has appeared to stabilize under continued human monitoring and protection.  Other species such as birds and fish benefit from the rhino protection.   There are no Javan rhinos in captivity.  Camera traps were installed by WWF Indonesia and the park authorities.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Man of the Forest Genome Deciphered

credit: Genome Institue
A Malay derivation for "man of the forest" is "orangutan".  Indeed, the name is accurately descriptive now that the orangutan's genome, or DNA code, has been mapped by science.  The project was conducted by an international team of scientists led by the Genome Institute at Washington University. Their results were published in the peer journal, Nature. There are only two species of orangutans remaining, one on Borneo and the other on Sumatra. The Sumatran species is critically endangered. Estimates are that only about 7500 survive in the wild. The genome map will help in breeding activities intended to preserve the species. Genome maps have been completed for humans, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys. Work continues on the genomes of gorillas and bonobos. Analysis of the orangutan genetic code reveals many unique features. Orangs may be the oldest specie of primates living today. During the past 15 million years of primate evolution, orangutan genes have been the most stable, with comparatively fewer large scale changes. Orangutans evolved slowly, grow slowly and reproduce slowly, giving birth not more than once every six to seven years, an interval considered the longest among mammals. Their slow approach to life contributes to their declining population in the wild as their forest homes are destroyed at a rapid rate. Comparisons of Sumatran and Bornean species shows they split apart genetically about 400,000 years ago. Even though there are fewer Sumatran orangs, they are more genetically diverse than their 50,000 Bornean relatives. Humans and orangutans share on a gross scale about 97% of their genetic codes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three States Sue NRC for Storage Decision

BWRs @ Indian Point, NY
One of the problems facing the American nuclear power industry is what to do with high-level nuclear waste now that the country does not have the Yucca Mountain site for disposal.  High level waste consists mostly of spent fuel assemblies.  The answer has been to dispose of the waste in situ sometimes above ground.  Prior to the change in NRC regulations, spent fuel could be stored for 30 years after closure of a plant.  The NRC changed the rule to allow 60 years of "temporary" storage as a response to the lack of a national depository. Yucca Mountain is opposed by environmentalists and Nevada officials at all levels of government. {"Yucca Mountain"}. The suit was brought last month by Vermont, Connecticut and New York, all states having aging nuclear facilities, and asks the federal government be ordered to conduct the legally required environmental impact studies.  Both Indian Point [photo] and Vermont Yankee have had leaks of radioactive material into groundwater.  Vermont Yankee is approaching capacity for its spent fuel pool.  Connecticut has 2 operating plants, Millstone 2 & 3 and two decommissioned plants, Connecticut Yankee and Millstone 1.  Overheating of spent fuel and associated radioactive fallout at the Fukusima-Daiichi plant has proved a difficult problem to cure once safety systems go down.

The utility company that owns the Diaiich plant, Tokyo Electric Power, said it was succeeding in the battle to bring the partially melted reactors under control.  Smoke billowed from Units 2 and 3, briefly halting recovery work on Monday.  The NRC said all reactor primary containments are in tact despite damage to the reactor cores.  Unit 2's cooling systems are no longer functional.  The  European Radiation Risk model predicts 120,000 cancer cases  worldwide from the Fukushima incident based on known radiation releases to date.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Edition: Japan's 'Big One' Claims Nuke

NYT: Daiichi shows 4 badly damaged reactors
Weekend Update: Reactors 3 and 4 continue to be the focus of concern at Fukushima-Daiichi. Cooling of Unit #3 has improved thanks to the selfless efforts of overexposed workers. Unit 3's holding pool has been refilled according to an industry newsletter. Work continues on an emergency power line, but the operating condition of reactor safety systems is unknown at this time. Unit #4 is posing a more difficult problem to cool since its holding pool may be leaking. Holes were cut into the reactor buildings (secondary containment) housing reactors 5 and 6 allowing a pressure release to prevent more explosions, but also certainly allowing further release of radiation to the atmosphere. Radiation has now been detected in spinach growing 60 miles away while traces of radioactive iodine within safety limits have been found in tap water from Tokyo and five other prefectures. More contamination of food in the area can be expected. The UK Telegraph reports that the owners of Daiichi conducted a geographic and sonic survey around the plant to assess the plant's resistance to earthquakes and tsunamis after a 6.6 quake caused a leak of radioactive water from another nuclear power station in July 2007. Despite the survey, safety engineers did not consider the vulnerability of diesel fuel tanks needed to run emergency generators that were sited on the ground next to the ocean. The tanks were one of the first structures to be destroyed when a 22 foot tsunami wave hit the plant after the 9.0 earthquake.

Today:{18.3.11}A diesel generator is running at the disaster site allowing authorities to run cooling systems for Units 5 and 6 where temperatures in the spent fuel pools are above normal. Both of these units were off line at the time of the earthquake for routine maintenance, and have not caused critical problems. The most severely damaged reactors, Units 1,2,3 and 4, are being cooled with water dumps from helicopters and high pressure water hoses from the ground. The media have referred to these heroic liquidators as "suicide squads" because they are working in extremely high levels of radiation emitted by the reactors. Unit 3 is a plutonium oxide fueled reactor (MOX) whose radioactive emissions are particularly dangerous. Inhaled radioactive plutonium lodges in the organs and bones where it continues to emit particles for a biological half life of 200 years. Plutonium has a metallic taste. Radiation levels dropped 20 points on Thursday and are still declining Friday. (3,600 µSv on Thursday or 4 times the safe exposure for a year). The immediate threat of multiple total meltdowns may have been averted, but it will be months before the reactors are stable enough to be approached for disposal and entombment operations. [video] Japan's government belatedly raised the nuclear incident level to 5 In the United States, New York Governor Cuomo has called for the shutdown of the Indian Point reactors, while Illinois Governor Quinn has ordered a safety review of the state's four GE Mark I reactors. GE shares have lost $12bn in value since Monday. Sorry, Mr. President, no nuclear reactor on Earth could withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a 30 foot tsunami wave without being damaged somehow.

Still more:{16.3.11}As often happens in disasters, authorities are in conflict over the exact conditions at the site. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman said in Washington the spent fuel rods in Unit #4 holding tank are uncovered. Both the NRC and the US Department of Energy have experts on the scene. US experts are recommending an expansion of the exclusion zone to fifty miles (80kms). Japanese utility officials deny the pool is empty of water and say "conditions are stable" at Unit #4. Workers are close to completing an emergency power line to the station which would allow constant pumping of water to cool the reactors on the verge of total meltdown. IAEA, the international body concerned with nuclear matters complains the information coming out of Japan is too slow and vague. Kyodo, the Japanese national news agency said 33% of Unit #2 and 70% of Unit #1 spent fuel rods are damaged and the cores of both reactors 1 and 2 partially melted. Radiation levels are now elevated across northern Japan.

Developments: TEPCo says workers have returned to the Daiichi site after a reduction in radiation levels. However, fears of large radiation releases are affecting the population which can recall previous fallout horrors in their history. The Emperor took the rare step of addressing the nation concerning his deep concern about the "unprecedented" disaster at the power station. The used fuel rod pool in Unit 4 [left of picture] atop the reactor constitutes the principle risk of direct fallout into the atmosphere. Unlike the active reactor core, the spent fuel assemblies are not shielded except for immersion in a tank of water to keep them cool. Previous ventings and explosions have released radioactive hydrogen gas and steam. Authorities are considering using a water canon to douse Unit 4 after "extremely strong" radiation prevented military helicopters approaching close from above with water to quench the reactor. Unit 2 primary containment (the concrete and steel structure surrounding the reactor vessel inside the reactor building sometimes referred to as secondary containment) is believed to be significantly breached according to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a nuclear activist website with sources in Japan. The catastrophe is certainly "un stress collective mondial".

Further: {15.3.11}A potential repeat of the Chernobyl meltdown looms ahead for Fukushima Prefecture, and the world braces for another release of radiation. A fire in the irradiated fuel pool at Unit 4 was reportedly extinguished, but a new fire has erupted Wednesday morning, local time. Radiation levels are too high to fight this fire says TEPCo. According to Le Monde, two eight meter wide breaches opened in the containment building of reactor unit #4. Tokyo Electric Power has evacuated all but 50 heroic "liquidators" from the stricken Daiichi nuclear power station. It is highly improbable that these few men can deal successfully with four overheating and melting reactors simultaneously. In an irony obscured by human tragedy, there is no power to run safety systems. TEPCo may be throwing up its hands after a week of refusing to face the grave reality of the nuclear crisis. Citizens living within 30kms of the plant have been ordered to stay indoors. Citizens within 20kms have been evacuated. NOAA computer projections indicate most of the radiation from the melting reactors will blow out over the Pacific. Residents of Tokyo metro are now experiencing low levels of radiation attributable to the nuclear disaster. The French nuclear safety authority is rating the Daiichi disaster a 6 on the scale of nuclear incidents. The USGS has upgraded the quake responsible for the devastation of northern Japan to on the magnitude scale making it the fourth largest earthquake in recorded history. Several US nuclear reactors are located near the ocean in seismic regions such as theDiablo Canyon and San Onofre facilities. Both facilities are in densely populated Southern California. Are you paying attention Mr. Obama?

Latest:{14.3.11}A third explosion has rocked the crippled Fukusima-Daiichi nuclear power plant early Tuesday morning, local time. Officials admitted there is a containment breach of reactor #2 and it is leaking radiation. Radiation monitors spiked to 8,217µSv/hr before the explosion[1]. A damaged valve prevented utility workers releasing pressure in Unit 2, a condition which also prevented water being pumped into the containment to cool the reactor. Fuel rods in the core were exposed to the air for many hours making it highly likely structural integrity of the fuel assembly has been lost. TEPCo officials are still discounting the possibility of a total meltdown while apologizing professedly for "inconvenience" in typical Japanese fashion[2]. There are now three reactors at Fukusima-Daiichi that are teetering on the edge of uncontrolled fission taking place. An American physicist told the New York Times, "It's way past Three Mile Island already". Seventeen US sailors on an aircraft carrier offshore were discovered contaminated with radiation. The US Navy is moving ships farther away from the Fukushima area.

[1] a microSievert is equivalent to 0.1 millirems. The allowable US dose from all nuclear sources is 100 millirems per year. So the recorded spike at Fukushima is equivalent to 822 millirems/hr or about eight times the yearly permissible dose each hour! A full body dose over 3 Sv will cause death in 50% of cases within 30 days. More than two dozen Chernobyl workers died of overexposure to radiation.  Some liquidators as they were called literally tied pieces of sheet lead to their bodies in a desperate effort to protect themselves.
[2] a Wikileaks cable shows that a young Diet member,Taro Kono, expressed concern to US embassy officials about Japan's nuclear energy industry. He said the bureaucracy and power companies were suppressing alternative energy development and withholding information from Diet members and the public. He questioned if there was any safe place to store nuclear waste in "the land of volcanoes".

More: {13.3.11}Reuters reports and Japanese officials confirm there has been a hydrogen gas explosion at Unit 3. The Monday morning blast was felt by AP reporters 30 miles away. It is not yet clear how much radioactivity has been released by the blast, but a wall of the reactor building collapsed and six people have been injured. Radioactive cesium and idodine has been detected outside the plant, an indicator of fuel rod melting. Seawater injection into Unit 3 probably caused the buildup of hydrogen gas resulting in the second explosion. Unit 3 containment was vented to the atmosphere on Sunday morning. Venting to relieve pressure is planned at another nearby nuclear plant, Fukushima Daini, where cooling also failed according to TEPCO in Units 1,2, and 3 [video] Nuclear power officials have been careful to understate the extent and effects of the unfolding nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture. TEPCO now admits that six to ten feet of Unit 3 reactor core was uncovered for a considerable period of time despite frantic efforts to pump seawater into the reactor. As previously reported below, TEPCO states in translation, "The fuel's integrity has been considerably compromised.  We are assessing a considerably serious situation."

Update: As casualty figures mount into the thousands, Japan's nuclear engineers are preparing for yet another disaster within a disaster: meltdowns at several reactors at once. According to western experts, [video] the fuel assembly at Unit 1 of the Fukushima Plant has lost its "geometry" and is now a molten mass of extremely radioactive uranium. Unit 3 core is also partly melted. The Chief Cabinet Secretary has warned another hydrogen explosion could take place at Unit 3. Pumping of sea water into Unit 2 is being readied according to a Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) spokesperson. The condition of reactors #4, 5, and 6[photo] has not been mentioned in reports. Tsunami waves overwhelmed back-up electric generators responsible for powering cooling pumps after the main generators stopped working. Engineers fitted mobile battery powered generators, but they were insufficiently powerful to properly cool the reactors. Reports are that fuel rods in Unit 1 were partially uncovered and at least three workers exposed to high levels of radiation got radiation sickness. An emergency was declared at nearby Onagawa Plant, but Japanese officials have told IAEA that its three reactor units are under control.

As a fuel assembly looses its geometry, or structure, it becomes more unstable because the fission reaction is unmediated. Flooding the reactor with sea water and boron will cool a critical core, but that action also presents its own problems as the chemistry involved becomes more complex and could even restart nuclear chain reactions. Radiological exposure of workers and civilians will become increasingly likely, as the crippled reactors are periodically vented of radioactive steam. Unit 3 runs on MOX or mixed oxides, unlike Unit 1, an older reactor that is fueled with enriched uranium. MOX when released to the atmosphere is more toxic because the fuel is plutonium based. 180,000 people living within 12 miles around the plant have been ordered to evacuate. On Sunday, radiological levels at the plant exceeded the permissible level of 500 µSv/hr. It appears that Japanese officials are preparing for the worse case scenario, a complete meltdown of two reactors. On the international scale of nuclear and radiological events, Japanese officials are currently rating the situation a "4" out of 7. Three Mile Island in 1979 is a 5 and Chernobyl in 1986 is rated a 7.

{12.3.11}Beyond the unfavorable cost issues associated with nuclear power is the ever present one of safety. There is the unsettled problem of how to permanently dispose of high level nuclear waste. But the devastation wrought on Japan brings the susceptibility of nuclear power facilities to natural disasters to the forefront. Chernobyl showed that containment of a nuclear furnace is paramount to its safe operation. Japan has fifty-four operating nuclear plants. Five nuclear reactors at two facilities in Japan have been damaged in the historic quake, the fifth largest in recorded times. Yesterday, the government announced that it would vent hydrogen gas from one reactor in order to relieve internal pressure, a sign complex cooling plumbing had failed. Today an explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant [video] destroyed a reactor building and proved engineers had failed to solve the pressure problem. Apparently the stainless steel reactor vessel is still intact, but there is no indication from officials of its state of integrity. The reactor is a General Electric Mark I design (BWR) that has been criticized for its "pressure suppression design" rather than a more robust design intended to withstand high pressures in an accident. Twenty-three US plants use a GE Mark I design.

Reality: 10m wave destroys 
Reportedly, engineers are "working furiously" to find another way to cool the core including injecting sea water. There are indications that some fuel melting has occurred. Failure to cool the reactor below 4000℉ will result in a nuclear fuel meltdown. If Japanese engineers flood the reactor to prevent criticality, the reactor will certainly be damaged beyond repair Unit 1 became operational in 1970. A partial meltdown also occurred at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island facility. Thankfully, its utility owners never attempted to restart the damaged reactor. Radiation has already escaped into the atmosphere as a result of the explosion and venting at Fukushima. An evacuation has been ordered within 12 miles of the plant, and iodine tablets are being distributed to prevent the absorption of radioactive iodine isotopes. Japan is the most prepared nation on Earth against earthquakes and tsunamis. But even the latest technology cannot protect man-made structures from the power of an 8.9 magnitude quake that rolls the Earth's crust as if it were water. US officials, in a country woefully unprepared for such an inevitability, should take more than notes, they should take action and strip the $38 billion in nuclear power loan guarantees from the budget. If Wall Street will not risk investing in nukes, why should we?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekend Edition: French War Planes Attack

Qaddafi is moving on Benghazi with an all out attack after the UN imposed a no-fly zone on the ruthless dictator of Libya. French aviators flying from Saint Dizier are the first on the scene. There will undoubtedly be more sorties by European and Arab air forces. The photo at left shows a jet shot down over Benghazi. [shoot down video]. Onlookers cheered as it plummeted to the ground erupting into a huge cloud of black smoke on impact. A closer photo than previously posted shows the rebel pilot ejected from what appears to be a Russian built aircraft. He did not survive. French President Sarkozy told British Prime Minister Cameron the French commitment to military action was total. Qaddafi warned western leaders in an open letter, "You will regret it if you dare intervene in our country." Air forces from Canada, Denmark and the US arrived at Italian airbases Saturday. Meanwhile, Qaddafi forces are shelling the city, his tanks are moving through the streets, and rebel casualties are mounting.

The Cable blog quoting Congressmen on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said the United States government wants to play a supporting role in the international effort to protect Libyan civilians. The Democratic congressman cautioned that while there is international consensus Col. Qaddafi must leave power, there is no consensus on how that might come about. The United Nations has made it clearer in its resolution establishing the no-fly zone that arming rebels is in line with "all means necessary" to enforce the Security Council's decision.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chart of the Week: Wagging the Dow

Who runs the world? Leaders of powerful nations; a cabal of multi-national corporate CEOs; military establishments? US Person says speculators run the world because all of the above react to the wiggly lines speculators make on the financial markets. Case in point:
Each one of the radiative warning signs marks an inflection point correlating with headlines from the Fukushima multiple meltdown. At 11am ET the head of the EU energy ministry ominously warns of a "possible catastrophe" within hours. He retracts his statement, but the market still goes down on news fuel rods are exposed.  At 2pm the US Energy Secretary says a partial meltdown has already occurred, and then the NRC chair says radiation levels are "extremely high". Markets rebound on news an emergency power line is close to being competed (as of Friday the 18th the line is still not working). At 3pm TEPCo says it cannot tell when the power line will be working, only that it will be as soon as possible. That news does not satisfy speculators because the market drops lower to a close.

A fundamental truth is that the worldwide financial crisis of 2007 was caused by speculation in mortgage derivatives, and it could happen again. Roughly $1.4 trillion worth of subprime loans were originated, but nearly $14 trillion worth of securitized products were created on top of those loans. This is why the government had to put up $17.5 trillion to prevent the Ponzi scheme from collapsing and taking the country's economy with it. The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill passed by the last Congress is hardly the end all to regulation. After three decades of dismantling the regulatory framework governing finance, one bill shot with exemptions and loopholes is hardly going to prevent speculation on Wall Street. As the New York Federal Reserve bank put it, "Regulatory arbitrage was the root motivation for many shadow banks to exist." Banks can still give mortgages to unqualified customers, and produce securitized debt instruments without retaining adequate reserves. Federal agencies still cannot force banks to increase their reserve capital. Moreover, Obamacon knows where his campaign finance is coming from--Wall Street bankers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good Design in a Small Package

credit: The Independent
Ever since US Person wrote a marketing plan for a long life light bulb at business school back in another century, he has been interested in quotidian means to save energy. The compact florescent bulb is a welcomed innovation, but it has its drawbacks and detractors. Incandescent bulbs are scheduled to be phased out by 2014 in favor of more efficient bulbs. Many people think the CF ugly, does not dim or turn on as well, and the color of light produced is not the familiar warm glow of an incandescent. The British are not renowned for electric technology--yes, they invented radar, but have you ever owned a British sports car with Lucas instrumentation? Introducing the Plumen 001 that won an international design prize against 90 entries. The Plumen light bulb uses 80% less energy, lasts eight times longer than an incandescent light bulb, and it looks smashing! The sleek, intertwined hoop design is miles better than the CF design which resembles the tail end of a piglet. Director of the British Design Museum declared the bulb both "beautiful and smart", and it "doesn't need a shade". Green Kudos to Samuel Wilkinson and design company Hulger.

US Pays Blood Money for Release of CIA Agent

Raymond Davis, a contract CIA agent, shot and killed two Pakistani men he said were trying to rob him. He was held by Pakistani authorities and faced almost certain execution until the United States agreed to pay the families of the two men compensation of $2.34million; not directly of course, because deniability must always be maintained when it comes to covert matters. The Pakistan government will make the payment, but the US will reimburse Pakistan at a latter date. Raymond Davis was released from prisonWednesday and Secretary Clinton was able to deny the United States paid 'blood money' or diyat in an NPR interview. The payment of diyat allows the heirs of the men to release Davis of any legal responsibility for the killings. Forty-seven witnesses came forward to state Davis did not shoot the two young men in self defense as he maintains. The two dead men were allegedly ISI or Pakistani intelligence agents. Interestingly, Madam Secretary Clinton recently said she has no interest in serving a second term in the Obama administration. Do tell!

Update: The UN Security Council today voted 10-0 to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The resolution also authorizes "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from harm. The tyrant Muammar Qaddafi is close to quashing the rebellion as his forces battle towards the rebel capital of Benghazi. Their siege of Ajdabiya, a city of 100,000 to the south of Benghazi, continues midst mounting civilian casualties. Rebels are still holding outin Ajdabiya and Misrata in the west against superior government firepower. شاء الله

On another diplomatic front, European leaders are befuddled by United States reluctance to push for a no-fly zone over Libya. Secretary Clinton met with G8 foreign ministers on Monday in Paris, but refused to push forward with a no-fly proposal in the face of German and Russian opposition. President Sarkozy, whose government has officially recognized the rebels as representatives of the Libyan people, asked Clinton for more US action. The Secretary of State only replied, "There are difficulties". Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, John Kerry, repeated his call for action at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said, "The Arab League's call for a U.N. no-fly zone over Libya is an unprecedented signal that the old rules of impunity for autocratic leaders no longer stands...The world needs to respond immediately to avert a humanitarian disaster." Nice try, Senator, but it might already be too late.
a Harrier launches from Kearsarge

Nevertheless, the UK and France appear ready to play an operational role in a UN sanctioned aviation embargo. One possible scenario would be the stationing of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaul, now in the northern Mediterranean, off Benghazi to fly air cover over the rebel held city, while British Harrier jets fly off of US amphibious attack ship, USS Kearsarge, patrolling just off the Libyan coast, to engage Qaddafi aircraft and other targets.  Kearsarge passed through the Suez canal accompanied by the USS Ponce this week,  steaming towards the North African coast.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Obama Stupid About Nuclear Power

Despite the undeniable susceptibility of nuclear power to catastrophic failure, Obamacon & Folks are still backing nuclear power as a major part of US clean energy policy. The fact that conservative corporatists also back nuclear power should be enough to convince any taxpayer the nuclear industry should not be subsidized with their dollars. The industry is spending big bucks lobbying to insure it continues to receive federal subsidies. If nuclear power is such a great idea, it should be able to make it on its own in the marketplace. The same old, untrue, tired refrain of "it can't happen here" is being repeated by industry apologists. But the truth is, it can happen here. The reactors melting down in Japan are the same criticized Mark 1 BWRs that operate at 23 facilities in the United States. Some of those are located near active fault zones. There is no magic that exempts the United States "under God" from the Earth's seismic activity, despite what Glenn Beck thinks. Congressional Democrats are correct to raise questions about relicensing aging nuclear plants with apparent design flaws. Obama said in a January speech the United States would be "stupid" not to follow Japan's example by relying on nuclear power. Germany has placed a three month moratorium on new nuclear power plants, and is closing seven aged plants instead of renewing their operating life for 12 years. Who is stupid now? {"Vermont Yankee"}

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Obama Forest Planning Rule Ditches Wildlife Rule

The Forest Service is engaged in a widespread public comment period on the new forest management rule. The agency plans to hold forums in various parts of the country to allow greater public participation and information. Already conservation groups are concerned that the extensive overhaul of regulations in place since 1982 protecting 193 million acres of public forest and grasslands eliminates an important protection for wildlife. The viability standard in §219.19 requires fish and wildlife habitat be managed to maintain viable populations of species in a planning area. A viable population is regarded under the regulations at least  the minimum number of reproductive individuals necessary and sufficient habitat to allow interaction.  Without an enforceable standard like the one eliminated, conservationists argue the regulations will not guarantee the survival of forests and the animals that need undisturbed land into the future. The plan does endorse the concept of landscape protection as opposed to planning within individual man-made districts, allowing for efficiencies of scale in the planning and addressing ecological realities. The public comment period ends May 16th.

In another national forest development, A federal district judge in Anchorage, AK reinstated the Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska*. During the Bush regime, the forest was "temporarily" exempted from the roadless rule which protects nearly 60 million acres of wilderness throughout the national forest system. The exemption was granted to facilitate access for logging operations and has been in effect for more than seven years. It was renewed by the Secretary of the Interior on May 28, 2010 for an additional year. The court specifically ruled there was no support for the claim that the Roadless Rule hurt Alaskan communities economically. The conservation groups responsible for bringing the 2009 suit include the NRDC.

*Organized Village of Kake, et al v. USDA, et al, 1:09-cv-00023 JWS.  The decision contains a brief summary of roadless rule litigation.

'Toontime' Obama Dithers; Qaddafi Rolls

[credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer]
Wackydoodle axes:  Has he check his shorts?
Update: Ajdabiyah has fallen, opening the way to Benghazi.  Qaddafi troops advanced behind a hail of rocket and artillery fire.  Tank columns fought into the city from two directions. Residents have fled towards Benghazi.  One rebel commander said, "The battle is lost. Qaddafi is throwing everything against us." Reprisals have begun. Western powers are divided on supporting the rebellion, so continuation of Qaddafi's brutal rule appears assured, but taking Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, will be difficult event for a madman.

The international community, is still paralyzed over the question of intervening in the Libyan revolution. The indecision is allowing Col. Qaddafi's professional army equipped with artillery, tanks, and aircraft to roll up poorly equipped and untrained rebels along the coast road.  His forces have retaken Ras Lanouf, Zawiya and now Brega. There are unconfirmed reports rebels are still fighting in Brega, and the government assault on Misrata in the west has apparently stalled.   The ineffectual and usually anti-interventionist Arab League has asked the United Nations Security Council to establish a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace to prevent the use of fighter aircraft.  The UK and France have pressed for an aviation embargo before the Council, but it is opposed by China, Russia, and Germany. It is now unclear whether this late in the counter-offensive a no-fly zone would be effective in stopping Qaddafi's advances. His forces are preparing for an offensive on the town of Ajdabiya, 100 miles south of the rebel center of Benghazi and the last town in rebel hands. Unlike the oil terminals retaken by the government, Ajdabiya is an historic town. Natives have vowed to resist the government assault. Rebel commanders say they have 100 operational tanks which have not yet been deployed in the struggle.  Obama has demanded Qaddafi leave power, but has done little to accomplish his departure.  He is apparently holding out for Arab and African nation participation in any intervention.  The US under Ronald Reagan unilaterally bombed Libya in 1986 in response to a terror attack against a Berlin nightclub in which Americans were killed. Since then, Qaddafi worked his way back into the good graces of the west thanks to the efforts of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. A UN arms embargo was lifted in 2003 as a result of the thaw in relations.

As the world watches, Libyans are fighting for their lives against a mad despot equipped with western weapons of war. The United States has been on the wrong side of Middle East politics for a long time, supporting authoritarian regimes in an effort to secure its oil supply. Changing horses will not happen overnight, as it is still sorely dependent on Arab oil.  Its closest ally in the Arab region, the Saudi Kingdom, has answered the call for troops from its neighboring monarchy in Bahrain. Bahrain has experienced a month of democratic protests. The worst clash between protesters and police there occurred on Sunday when democrats seized the financial center and blocked Manama's main highway. On Monday, 1,000 troops crossed the causeway from Saudi Arabia. Bahrain's crown prince warned his country's security "will never be negotiable". Translation: I am not Mubarak.
الله أكبر

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Tsunami filmed at Street Level

Amazing video of the power of a tsunami surge as it pushes car, trucks, boats and then entire buildings down a street transformed into raging torrent.
Video of Japan tsunami filmed at street level | Video 

Friday, March 11, 2011

'Toontime: Gold Standard

[credit: Daryl Cagle,]
Wackydoodle sez: Yur bonuses offend me!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fascist Wisconsin Governor Busts Unions

Using an underhanded parliamentary move the governor of Wisconsin stripped public unions of their collective bargaining rights by a majority vote in the state Senate despite a Democratic party boycott of the proceedings. He said the action was necessary to establish a "business climate" in the state. The legislation was part of a budget bill requiring a quorum which his party could not muster without the fourteen Democratic senators being present for a vote. Corporatists split off the union busting proposal and passed the provision separately. The lower house, dominated by corporatists, will approve the measure. The Democratic minority leader said, "Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten."

Crypto-fascist? They are not even bothering to hide it. In Michigan the Repugnant governor is seeking power to declare whole towns defunct if they are deemed to be in a state of "financial emergency". Who declares such an emergency: the governor, of course. The proposal would give an official that could be a company under one version, emergency powers to dismiss elected officials, take over a town's government, and modify or cancel all contracts including the hated collective bargaining agreements of unions. It is an attempt to create, under the guise of financial crisis, a corporatist monopoly state. In other words, Benito Mussolini's wet dream has come true. If the people of the upper Midwest want their republics back, they should support calls for a general strike.

Carte de Situation en Libye

Update: Revolutionaries lost control of Raz Lanouf under a heavy barrage of artillery, naval and rocket fire. Rebels are pleading for help from western powers, but so far none have intervened with military force. Zawiya, just outside Tripoli, has also fallen to Qaddafi forces after a two week struggle for control of the town. France is the first to formally recognize the rebel leadership based in Benghazi as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people, but on the ground Col. Qadaffi is making good on his promise to "fight to the last man" regardless of the cost in civilian lives. Apparently the United States is only interested in supporting fascist, oil rich dictatorships rather than actual democratic uprisings. الله أكبر
crédit: Le Monde
{10.03.11}The map shows the current situation in the Libyan uprising. Col. Qaddafi has had time to organize his hired foreign mercenaries and loyal military units. Qaddafi forces counterattacked the oil terminal of Raz Lanuf taken by rebels with armor and aircraft. Latest reports indicate rebels have retaken control of the fluid situation there. Government forces also pushed fiercely into Zawiyah using tanks and air support. The town had been held for two weeks by rebel forces, but the revolutionary fighters are surrounded by government troops and outgunned [Sky News video]. Women and children have been killed in the streets. Refugees fleeing the conflict are massing at Libya's borders in significant numbers. The UK and France are preparing a no-fly zone resolution for consideration by the United Nations Security Council. Arab nations have expressed qualified support for such a move in an attempt to protect Libyan citizens from the extreme horrors of modern aerial bombardment. Col. Qaddafi has around 300 older Soviet jet fighters, half of which are not operational. NATO has military assets patrolling the Libyan coast as part of an ongoing anti-terror operation.

The escalation of fighting is causing speculators to drive up oil prices as the disruption in flow of Libyan oil is within the top ten disruptions of the post-WWII era:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Eastern Cougar Declared Extinct

Not that fans of the Nittany Lions care, but their mascot animal, the Eastern Cougar, is officially declared extinct. The eastern subspecies has probably been extinct in reality since the 1930's. A formal review conducted by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, a required step before removing it from the endangered species list, determined the cougar no longer exists in its former eastern range.  Cougars seen in the wild in the east are cougars of other subspecies, often the South American or the western US subspecies. Settlers considered the painter a menace to livestock and a competitor for wild game.  Bounties were set by states and the beautiful predator was hunted, trapped, poisoned and harassed relentlessly into extinction. The last mountain lion on Nittany Mountain, probably died in the 1880's. Much of their habitat has disappeared, and despite the resurgence in populations of wild tail deer, their favorite prey animal, it is unlikely cougars will return to the remnant forests of the eastern United States. The only eastern catamount (felis concolor cougar) you will ever see are stuffed specimens like the one above [credit: USFW] Silly college persons in suits do not count.

Chart of the Week: Jobs, What Jobs?

Don't be fooled by rosy employment numbers the corporate media touts. This is still is a jobless recovery, and the worse one in recent US history as this chart attests:

Monday, March 07, 2011

Pele Speaks

Pele's flower: 'ohi'a lehua
US Person visited the Kilauea volcano [photo] while on the big island of Hawaii. A ranger at the Jagger Museum observation point said the volcano had been particularly active for the past week.  A visitor could easily hear the rumbling of molten lava about 270 feet below the rim of the caldera, and as the daylight faded the orange red glow of molten rock reflected off the low clouds and surrounding rock walls of Halema'uma'u. On Sunday, one day after his visit to the Hawaii goddess of volcanoes, a vent collapsed at the Pu'u O'o crater in the eastern rift zone, sending lava spouts up 65 feet.[Video]

uncovering the main dish
A luau guest told US Person that a visit to the USS Arizona shrine at Pearl Harbor was not the experience she thought it would be. Prepared for a solemn and awe inspiring visit to the grave of hundreds of US sailors and marines killed on board the battleship during the Japanese attack on Pearl, she instead found disrespectful tourists, and a pervasive, sickening smell of bunker oil. As the sunken warship deteriorates over the years, more and more oil from its fully loaded fuel bunkers are leaking into the harbor, fouling the water and the air. The shrine is becoming an environmental hazard. US Person fully realizes the memorial is sacred to many Americans, especially veterans of WWII, but there should be a way to mitigate the escape of more fuel oil from the bunkers into the water without unduly disturbing the remains entombed with the ship. Or is it somehow grotesquely appropriate that the men below rest in a pool of oil, the fuel that created the culture for which they gave their all?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Spring Break

US Person will be away for the remainder of the week.  Come back next week for more high impact blog at Persona Non Grata.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

BP Oil Still Killing

Update:The body count of newborn and still born bottle nose dolphins is now up to 36. Another 7 unconfirmed deaths were reported yesterday. The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport Mississippi is conducting necropsies to determine the cause of death. So far, tissue examinations have been inconclusive, but a mortality event of this magnitude, ten times the normal death rate, indicates something is terribly wrong in the Gulf. The only new event between last year's calving season and the current one is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that is 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill.By the end of 2010, 7,000 dead animals have been collected in the Gulf including 600 endangered sea turtles. Bottle nose dolphins are also a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  The 1972 Act provides for criminal penalties for the unlawful taking of marine mammals.

{21.2.11}The aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest in US history, continues to take a devastating toll on wildlife regardless of corporate and government lies that the spilled oil has largely dissipated. The latest casualty to be found by humans is perhaps the most tragic so far: the bodies of infant dolphins, some less than three feet long, are washing ashore in Alabama and Mississippi at ten times the normal rate of stillborn and infant deaths. The Biloxi, Mississippi Sun-Herald  reported that 17 young dolphins have been found dead so far. [photo]  The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies is performing necropsies on two infants. Almost certainly the calves died of the toxic effects of spilled crude oil and dispersant chemicals since this is the first calving season since the disaster. The average is one or two infant deaths per month. A researcher warned against jumping to conclusions, but she admitted, "this is more than just coincidence".