Daily Archive: 09/03/2013

Sep 03 2013

Fukushima Disaster: Worse Than Reported

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is getting worse and everyday there seems to be another report that the public has been not told the full truth of its impact or what is actually being done to contain it.

Fukushima’s Radioactive Plume Could Reach U.S. Waters By 2014

by Jeremy Hsu, Huffington Post

A radioactive plume of water in the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, will likely reach U.S. coastal waters starting in 2014, according to a new study. The long journey of the radioactive particles could help researchers better understand how the ocean’s currents circulate around the world.

Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016. Luckily, two ocean currents off the eastern coast of Japan – the Kuroshio Current and the Kuroshio Extension – would have diluted the radioactive material so that its concentration fell well below the World Health Organization’s safety levels within four months of the Fukushima incident. But it could have been a different story if nuclear disaster struck on the other side of Japan.

Leaky Fukushima nuclear plant raises seafood poisoning concerns

by John Rch, NBC News

The 300 tons of radioactive water leaked to date from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is raising new concerns about the safety of seafood from the region, according to scientists.

Highly contaminated water from the newly reported leak is seeping into the ground, officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company told reporters Tuesday. They do not believe the water has reached the ocean, given the distance of the tank from the harbor. Still, it is likely only a matter of time before it does, said William Burnett, an oceanographer at Florida State University, who studies environmental radioactivity. [..]

The new tank rupture is the latest in a string of incidents to raise concerns about radioactive material from the damaged nuclear plant reaching the ocean. Earlier this month, a government official estimated that 330 tons of contaminated water was leaking into the ocean every day from the plant near the reactors (though not all of that water is as radioactive as the contents of the latest storage tank leak).

Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously thought

by Justin McCurry, The Guardian

Operator of Japanese nuclear power plant claims there has been no leak but has yet to discover cause of radiation spike

Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing fresh concern about the safety of the wrecked facility. [..]

Japan’s nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an “anomaly”, to level 3, a “serious incident”, on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases.

Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports that a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day.

Experts said those leaks, which are separate from the most recent incidents, may have started soon after the plant was struck by a powerful tsunami on 11 March 2011.

And in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment.

High radiation spreads at ruined Fukushima plant, Japan vows aid

by Sumio Ito and Mari Saito, The Sydney Morning Herald

High radiation levels are spreading at the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator said on Monday, and the Japanese government prepared to offer more funding and oversight to try to contain the crisis.

Japanese authorities were seeking to address criticism that Tokyo Electric Power Co has bungled the response to the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. [..]

Japan’s nuclear industry, which once provided a third of its energy, has ground nearly to a halt since the earthquake, causing reactor meltdowns. Restarting Japan’s idled reactors, and reducing its reliance on foreign energy supplies, is a central element of Abe’s economic growth plans.

Japanese officials also fear that international attention to the Fukushima crisis could threaten Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics, a decision set to be made by the International Olympic Committee on Saturday in Buenos Aires.

The Japanese government’s response to this disaster has been wholly inadequate, often refusing to accept help or advice and hiding the critical facts from the public. While the US and world governments are so concerned over the use of a chemical weapon in Syria, willing to ignite the region in a full blown war, this crisis which will have deep impact on the environment and a major source of the world’s food supply is virtually ignored.  

Sep 03 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Juan Cole: On Syria: The U.S. Is No Lone Ranger and Should Put That Six Shooter Away

The odd discourse in Washington around President Barack Obama’s determination to bomb Syria over the country’s use of chemical weapons assumes a moral superiority on the part of the United States and its allies on this issue that can only astonish anyone who knows the history. At the same time, the most propagandistic allegations are being made about Iran. The creation of a fetish around some sorts of weapons (i.e., chemical ones) takes the focus off others that are just as deadly to innocents. The U.S. has had a checkered history in the use of unconventional arms, and is still among the most dedicated to retaining the ability to make, stockpile and use weapons that indiscriminately kill innocent noncombatants.

Wadah Khanfar: Syrians want rid of President Assad, but without US bombs

There’s little trust in America’s motives, and an airstrike would not stop the brutal slaughter of civilians. Far better to help the rebels directly

The Arab world has longed to get rid of the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad for years. In their minds it represents absolute evil. Future generations will remember the savage massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime and the images of women and children who were slaughtered. But this strong desire to eradicate the regime will, for the most part, never be translated into support for American military intervention. That is because of misgivings and mistrust concerning US motives.

New York Times Editorial Board: Debating the Case for Force

President Obama made the right decision to seek Congressional authorization for his announced plan to order unilateral military strikes against Syria for using chemical weapons. There has to be a vigorous and honest public debate on the use of military force, which could have huge consequences even if it is limited in scope and duration. [..]

It is unfortunate that Mr. Obama, who has been thoughtful and cautious about putting America into the Syrian conflict, has created a political situation in which his credibility could be challenged. He did that by publicly declaring that the use of chemical weapons would cross a red line that would result in an American response. Regardless, he should have long ago put in place, with our allies and partners, a plan for international action – starting with tough sanctions – if Mr. Assad used chemical weapons. It is alarming that Mr. Obama did not.

Chris Hedges: The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA

An “anti-terrorism” provision permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely. If the Supreme Court refuses to take up an appeal that I and fellow plaintiffs are filing, our nation will become a militarized state where all dissent is stifled. [..]

The Supreme Court takes between 80 and 100 cases a year from about 8,000 requests. There is no guarantee our appeal will ever be heard. If we fail, if this law stands, if in the years ahead the military starts to randomly seize and disappear people, if dissidents and activists become subject to indefinite and secret detention in military gulags, we will at least be able to look back on this moment and know we fought back.

Dean Baker: Fed Taper Talk Bursts Bubble

The Fed may have accomplished a remarkable feat last month: a quick and relatively painless bursting of an incipient bubble in many local housing markets. The July data on new home purchases, which showed a sharp 13.4 percent drop from June, indicates that the rise in mortgage rates seriously altered the dynamics in the housing market.

The basic story is straightforward. The collapse of the bubble in 2007-2010 sent prices plummeting nearly everywhere. Not every market was over-valued to the same degree, but nearly every market was over-valued at the peak of the bubble in 2006. [..]

Fortunately, the Fed’s taper talk at the end of June appears to have taken the air out of this bubble before it had a chance to get out of hand. The fear of an early end of quantitative easing sent mortgage rates soaring to over 4.5 percent. This quickly led to anecdotal accounts of investors fleeing the market and houses beginning to sit for longer periods of time.

This is all for the good. Anyone who lived through the collapse of the housing bubble should not want to see another one develop. House sales and prices are back at trend levels.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Contemplating War

Once again our nation is contemplating an act of war, entering into one of the most solemn debates a society can have. It’s worth restating some fundamental principles as that debate begins, especially for those of us who support economic justice, progressive ideals, and the reinvigoration of American democracy.

The first principle is respect for the Constitution.

Whatever your opinions about the President’s national security policy, he unquestionably did the right thing this week when he affirmed Congress’ role in matters of war. That’s a clear break from the practices of the recent past, and he deserves praise for it. [..]

The eighth and final principle is respect for human life, now and in the future.

The debate we’re about to have will affect the lives of many people, and will determine whether fellow human beings live or die. It may shape the geopolitical conflicts of the future. What’s more, the way we choose to conduct that debate will help shape the kind of country we become. A decision this grave can’t be made in haste, or out of anger. It must be considered and discussed carefully and thoroughly.

There are moments in history when we’re called upon to act as if the future is watching us — because it is.

Sep 03 2013

Worse Than NSA: DEA Deal with AT&T

In the midst of the angst of the debate over Obama bombing Syria, a front page article in Monday’s New York Times has revealed a new surveillance scandal involving a little known deal between the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and AT&T called the Hemisphere Project. That deal gives the DEA access to 26 years of its phone records:

Unlike the controversial call record accesses obtained by the NSA, the data is stored by AT&T, not the government, but officials can access individual’s phone records within an hour of an administrative subpoena.

AT&T receives payment from the government in order to sit its employees alongside drug units to aid with access to the data.

The AT&T database includes every phone call which passes through the carrier’s infrastructure, not just those made by AT&T customers.

Details of the program – which was marked as law enforcement sensitive, but not classified – were released in a series of slides to an activist, Drew Hendricks, in response to freedom of information requests, and then passed to reporters at the New York Times.

Officials were instructed to take elaborate steps to ensure the secrecy of the Hemisphere program, a task described as a “formidable challenge” in the slide deck, which detailed the steps agencies had taken to “try and keep the program under the radar”.

The NYT‘s national security reporter, Scott Shane joined Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the Hemisphere Project and it’s impact.



The transcript for this segment was not available at this time.

Sep 03 2013

Slam Dunk

To some, US case for Syrian gas attack, strike has too many holes

By Hannah Allam and Mark Seibel, McClatchy

September 2, 2013

The Obama administration’s public case for attacking Syria is riddled with inconsistencies and hinges mainly on circumstantial evidence, undermining U.S. efforts this week to build support at home and abroad for a punitive strike against Bashar Assad’s regime.



The Obama administration dismissed the value of a U.N. inspection team’s work by saying that the investigators arrived too late for the findings to be credible and wouldn’t provide any information the United State didn’t already have.



Experts say the evidence deteriorates over time, but that it’s simply untrue that there wouldn’t be any value in an investigation five days after an alleged attack. As a New York Times report noted, two human rights groups dispatched a forensics team to northern Iraq in 1992 and found trace evidence of sarin as well as mustard gas – four years after a chemical attack.



Anthony Cordesman, a former senior defense official who’s now with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, took aim at the death toll discrepancies in an essay published Sunday.

He criticized Kerry as being “sandbagged into using an absurdly over-precise number” of 1,429, and noted that the number didn’t agree with either the British assessment of “at least 350 fatalities” or other Syrian opposition sources, namely the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has confirmed 502 dead, including about 100 children and “tens” of rebel fighters, and has demanded that Kerry provide the names of the victims included in the U.S. tally.

“President Obama was then forced to round off the number at ‘well over 1,000 people’ – creating a mix of contradictions over the most basic facts,” Cordesman wrote. He added that the blunder was reminiscent of “the mistakes the U.S. made in preparing Secretary (Colin) Powell’s speech to the U.N. on Iraq in 2003.”

An unclassified version of a French intelligence report on Syria that was released Monday hardly cleared things up; France confirmed only 281 fatalities, though it more broadly agreed with the United States that the regime had used chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack.

Another eyebrow-raising administration claim was that U.S. intelligence had “collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence” that showed the regime preparing for an attack three days before the event. The U.S. assessment says regime personnel were in an area known to be used to “mix chemical weapons, including sarin,” and that regime forces prepared for the Aug. 21 attack by putting on gas masks.

That claim raises two questions: Why didn’t the U.S. warn rebels about the impending attack and save hundreds of lives? And why did the administration keep mum about the suspicious activity when on at least one previous occasion U.S. officials have raised an international fuss when they observed similar actions?

On Dec. 3, 2012, after U.S. officials said they detected Syria mixing ingredients for chemical weapons, President Barack Obama repeated his warning to Assad that the use of such arms would be an unacceptable breach of the red line he’d imposed that summer. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chimed in, and the United Nations withdrew all nonessential staff from Syria.

Last month’s suspicious activity, however, wasn’t raised publicly until after the deadly attack. And Syrian opposition figures say the rebels weren’t warned in advance in order to protect civilians in the area.



Among chemical weapons experts and other analysts who’ve closely studied the Syrian battlefield, the main reservation about the U.S. claims is that there’s no understanding of the methodology behind the intelligence-gathering. They say that the evidence presented points to the use of some type of chemical agent, but say that there are still questions as to how the evidence was collected, the integrity of the chain of custody of such samples, and which laboratories were involved.

Eliot Higgins, a British chronicler of the Syrian civil war who writes the Brown Moses blog, a widely cited repository of information on the weapons observed on the Syrian battlefield, wrote a detailed post Monday listing photographs and videos that would seem to support U.S. claims that the Assad regime has possession of munitions that could be used to deliver chemical weapons. But he wouldn’t make the leap.

On the blog, Higgins asked: “How do we know these are chemical weapons? That’s the thing, we don’t. As I’ve said all along, these are munitions linked to alleged chemical attacks, not chemical munitions used in chemical attacks. It’s ultimately up to the U.N. to confirm if chemical weapons were used.”

Sep 03 2013

On This Day In History September 3

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

September 3 is the 246th day of the year (247th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 119 days remaining until the end of the year.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

On this day in 1783, the Treaty of Paris is signed ending the American Revolution

The treaty document was signed at the Hotel d’York – which is now 56 Rue Jacob – by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay (representing the United States) and David Hartley (a member of the British Parliament representing the British Monarch, King George III). Hartley was lodging at the hotel, which was therefore chosen in preference to the nearby British Embassy – 44 Rue Jacob – as “neutral” ground for the signing.

On September 3, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands. In the treaty with Spain, the colonies of East and West Florida were ceded to Spain (without any clearly defined northern boundary, resulting in disputed territory resolved with the Treaty of Madrid), as was the island of Minorca, while the Bahama Islands, Grenada and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain. The treaty with France was mostly about exchanges of captured territory (France’s only net gains were the island of Tobago, and Senegal in Africa), but also reinforced earlier treaties, guaranteeing fishing rights off Newfoundland. Dutch possessions in the East Indies, captured in 1781, were returned by Britain to the Netherlands in exchange for trading privileges in the Dutch East Indies.

The American Congress of the Confederation, which met temporarily in Annapolis, Maryland, ratified the treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784 (Ratification Day).[1] Copies were sent back to Europe for ratification by the other parties involved, the first reaching France in March. British ratification occurred on April 9, 1784, and the ratified versions were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784. It was not for some time, though, that the Americans in the countryside received the news due to the lack of communication.

Sep 03 2013

TDS/TCR (Root Vegetables and Hard Squash)

TDS TCR