Critics Call for Public Health Response, Compensation, Radiation Truth Commission
An estimated 80,000 people who were born or lived in the United States in the past 50 years have contracted or will contract cancer because of fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, according to an analysis of government studies. Well over 15,000 of them are estimated to be fatal.
The government exploded 215 A- and H-bombs above ground between 1951 and 1963, half at the Nevada Test Site and the others in the Pacific Islands.
The study, prepared by the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), estimates some of the radiation doses and cancers that resulted from the open-air tests. It is the first study to find that heavy radiation doses contaminated the United States following nuclear explosions outside the country – Soviet tests in Kazakhstan, U.S. and British explosions in the Pacific.
“This report and other official data show that hot spots occurred thousands of miles away from the test sites,” said Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER). “Hot spots were found as far away as New York and Maine.” The Guardian’s Julian Borger explained that the tests sent plumes of debris into the atmosphere to be blown around the Earth and dumped highly radioactive isotopes in the form of rain.
The CDC investigation was mandated by Congress after a 1997 National Cancer Institute report that dealt only with the iodine-131 in the fallout. That study showed extensive exposures across the country (See Fall 1997 Pathfinder), and found that iodine-131 poisoning caused around 75,000 thyroid cancers, ten percent of which are estimated to have been fatal. It revealed that the bomb tests spread “more than 100 times” the radioactive iodine than the government acknowledged at the time of the tests.
“The 1997 report indicates that some farm children, those who drank goat’s milk in the 1950’s in high fallout areas, were as severely exposed as the worst exposed children after the 1986 Chernobyl [reactor] accident. Such exposure creates a high probability of a variety of illnesses,” said Dr. Makhijani. “Yet the government did nothing to inform the people in these affected areas.”
The CDC report examined 18 additional isotopes that were spewed by the bomb tests, including strontium-90 and cesium-137, which are dangerous for between 280 and 300 years. Moreover, cesium-137 makes up 40 percent of total fallout in a given test. Together, a test’s cesium, zirconium-95, carbon-14 and strontium-90 make up 76 percent of the total radioactive fallout from most tests.
James Glanz in the New York Times reported that these poisons can be carried thousands of miles, “potentially causing leukemia, breast cancer, liver cancer and other types of cancer.”
USA Today said the CDC report found that about 22,000 cancers, half of them fatal – from melanoma to breast cancer – were likely caused by external exposure to the fallout. Thousands of additional cancers were caused by internal exposure, including 550 fatal leukemias and 2,500 thyroid cancer deaths from inhalation or eating contaminated foods.
Those most seriously harmed will have been children and pregnant women. Reuters reported that, “No U.S. resident born after 1951 escaped exposure.” The Guardian says the same, adding, “all organs and tissues of the body have received some radiation exposure.”
The President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments found in 1995 that the government knew “the possibility of external beta burns is quite real,” and “that those injuries would cause a public uproar that would prevent them from using test sites in the U.S.” The Air Force recommended that the weapons test site be located on the East Coast, but the advice was rejected because of cost analysis.
“The message is we are all downwinders,” said Bob Schaeffer of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, who noted that the study was supposed to have been completed by July 2000.
Frustration over the long delay was aggravated by the fact that only an executive summary has been made public. Bill Burton, an aide to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), said that while the summary was dated August 2001, it was not received by Harkin until this February. Harkin complained that there should be “no more stalling” and urged release of the full study.
In the 1950’s – under threat of a lawsuit by Kodak – the government informed photographic film producers of expected fallout patterns so they could protect their film supply. But did nothing to inform milk producers so that they could protect a vital component of the food supply. (See Winter ’97/’98 Pathfinder.)
“It is late in the day,” said Lisa Ledwidge, a biologist working for IEER. “The government should not only urgently formulate a health and compensation response strategy with public involvement; it should implement it without any further delay.”
“Now is the time for people from nuclear weapons states to call for truth from their governments. Right here in Idaho we know the news is grim. There are hot spots all over the inter-mountain West,” said Margaret Macdonald Stewart, of the Snake River Alliance. “Now,” Steward said, “the job – the government’s job – is to take the news to small towns all over [the country] and help unsuspecting people whose health has been damaged by nuclear weapons.”
“The United States has a compensation program for Nevada Test Site neighbors who are geographical downwinders. But this is clearly not enough,” explained Ms. Ledwidge. “There are hot spots thousands of miles from tests sites and the new definition of ‘downwinder’ should include all of them.”
“The new fallout maps and radiation dose estimates show that nuclear weapons states not only harmed their own people but also people in other countries,” said Dr. Makhijani. “It is high time for the United Nations to create a Global Truth Commission that would examine, in detail comparable to the U.S government studies, the harm that has been inflicted upon the people of the world by nuclear weapons production and testing. Nuclear weapons states owe an honest accounting, treatment, and compensation to the victims of the nuclear age.”
The CDC/NCI progress report, a fact sheet, and official fallout maps are posted on the IEER web site: www.ieer.org . The report and maps are also scheduled to be posted at the Centers for Disease Control’s site: www.cdc.gov .
The Israeli army, security forces, settlers and politicians believe that the 11 March murders of the Fogel family in the Itamar settlement were done by Palestinians. Outside of Israel’s military courts, there is no evidential foundation for such a belief.
It is possible that there will never be evidence demonstrating who murdered the Fogel family; immediately upon learning of the murders, settlers and soldiers entered the home to check for terrorists. Only afterwards did officers from the police forensic science department enter the home to collect evidence from a now contaminated crime scene.
From the outset the working assumption of all Israeli authorities was that the murders were conducted by Palestinians; in the Israeli public arena, there exists no other possible scenario for murders in a settlement. Now, we just need to find the Palestinian on which it is possible to pin this case.
Israeli security forces and the settlers did not wait until the Palestinian or group of Palestinians was found on whom it is possible to pin the Fogel murders. The guilt is collective guilt and punishment is collective punishment: while settlers were conducting pogroms on the roads of the West Bank and in Palestinian villages, the Israeli military decided on its own pogrom in the village of Awarta, near the Itamar settlement.
According to three activists from the International Solidarity Movement who succeeded in entering Awarta before Israel’s Saturday imposition of a curfew on the village, Israeli soldiers are exhibiting violent behavior there.
Soldiers were seen conducting searches in which they entered homes more than once and gave the impression of random, confused actions. The three activists testified that they observed soldiers detaining and beating residents who left their homes and that during patrols through the village, soldiers shoot in the air and throw stun grenades in order to terrify the residents.
The international activists add that during some of the searches, the soldiers lost control and caused extensive damage. Amongst other things pictures were shattered, furniture upturned, electric cables cut and oil and mud were poured into water tanks on the roofs. The activists further noted that telephone cards and cash were confiscated from residents in one home.
Qais Awad, a member of the village’s legislative council, also reports acts of vandalism by Israeli soldiers in Awarta. Whilst searching the village’s municipal building, soldiers took some NIS 1,800 from an office drawer, together with an unknown amount from the municipality’s safe.
The wave of pogroms being committed by settlers, who enjoy complete immunity, is dubbed “price tag”. The settlers attack Palestinian cars on the roads, damage Palestinian property in villages and in case the Palestinians defend themselves, the army then intervenes and shoots tear gas and rubber coated bullets at them.
This occurred, for example, in the village of Beit Ommar, which was attacked by settlers from the Gush Etzion settlements of Bat Ain and Karmi Tsur.
Without a doubt Palestinians will be found and tried in an Israeli military court for the murders of the Fogel family. There is no need for the prosecution to present evidence which it doesn’t and couldn’t have in order to attain a conviction in this court.
The path to conviction will begin with collaborators, who will mention this or that person as the one who committed the murder. This and that person will be detained and interrogated in the General Security Services (GSS) interrogation facilities, where they will undergo physical and mental torture by GSS officers and even by collaborators in their cell. Sooner or later they will confess and go to military court, which will convict them solely on the basis of their confessions, with no need for the prosecution to present additional evidence. When attorneys of the accused will request clarifications concerning the physical evidence found at the murder scene, the manner in which the confessions were obtained and the way in which these Palestinians were implicated, the military prosecution will have one response: “the material is confidential for reasons of state security”. Finally the military court with its three judges will convict the suspects and send them to serve five consecutive life sentences.
It is possible that in light of the circumstances and the financial costs involved in conducting the trial, the security forces will prefer simply to eliminate the suspects. A band of soldiers will be sent to the field to execute them and if nothing goes wrong, the soldiers will receive commendations for avenging the murders of the Fogel family.
During the coming five years, involvement in the murders of the Fogel family will be attributed to every Palestinian “eliminated” by Israeli death squads.
In parallel, the official state of Israel and settlers are waving the murders of the Fogel family in order to launder illegal construction in the West Bank while the Israeli prime minister and government officials are using the murders to again situate Israel as the victim in the international arena.
At the opening of the Likud party meeting on Monday 14 March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu related how he demanded from the international community to condemn the killings and clarified that “from some of the countries came condemnation while others either didn’t condemn or their condemnations were cold, technical, even ‘balanced’.”
However, what is of the utmost importance in public relations is timing. As the Fogel family was murdered immediately after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which then began developing into a potential nuclear disaster, this ‘waving’ failed. The spokespersons of Israel found themselves preaching to the choir and making due with a sense of self-righteousness that knows no limits.
Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).
David Horowitz came to speak at BC to spread his hatred of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in general.
Reports say a court in Pakistan has freed a CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was charged with killing two Pakistani men in the eastern city of Lahore.
Davis has now left Lahore for the US with six other American officials on a special flight.
His release comes after he paid the blood money or compensation in line with Sharia law. Officials say family members of the slain men appeared in court and confirmed that they had pardoned Davis.
However, there are reports that they were pressured by police into signing the agreement, a Press TV correspondent says.
A lawyer representing the family of one of those killed says the “blood money” deal was made without his knowledge.
“I was not allowed to participate in the proceedings of the case… and could not see or approach my clients,” state-run BBC quoted Lawyer Asad Manzoor Butt as saying.
“I and my associate were kept under forced detention for four hours,” he said.
“If my clients have indeed signed a blood money deal, then this has been done behind my back and I don’t know anything about it.”
The court had indicted Davis on two counts of murder.
In January, Davis shot dead two Pakistani men. Davis claims it was an act of self-defense, but he has failed to convince the court.
Investigators charge that the killings were deliberate.
A third Pakistani was killed when a US diplomatic vehicle ran him over while rushing to Davis’ aid.
The case has soured relations between Islamabad and Washington since January.
The death of the three Pakistanis has intensified anti-US sentiments in Pakistan.
Since March 12, a potentially unprecedented catastrophe has been unfolding in Japan, despite official denials and corroborating media reports – managed, not real news. Believe none of them. Nonetheless, on March 15, Reuters suggested what’s ongoing, headlining: “Japan braces for potential radiation catastrophe,” saying:
“Japan faced potential catastrophe on Tuesday” after a fourth Fukushima reactor explosion, fire, and high-level radiation release, posing grave human health risks to an expanding area, including Toyko’s 20 million population 170 miles south.
France’s Nuclear Safety Authority rated the disaster a six on the international seven-point nuclear accident scale. Clearly, it’s the worst ever. Europe’s energy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger called it an “apocalypse,” telling the European Parliament that Toyko lost control of events.
Independent experts agree. It’s an unprecedented disaster spreading globally. All six Fukushima reactors are crippled, four of them spewing unknown amounts of radiation.
On March 15, city officials said levels were 20 times above normal, later stating they’d dropped, downplaying the risk. Government authorities also claimed Fukushima levels were falling. For residents throughout the country, believing them is hazardous to their health, given the gravity of the situation, likely deteriorating, not improving.
In Maebashi, 60 miles north of Tokyo and Chiba prefecture further south, Kyodo News reported radiation levels 10 times normal, perhaps downplaying much higher ones. Even Prime Minister Naoto Kan was alarmed, saying “(t)he possibility of further radioactive leakage is heightening,” meaning very likely it reached extremely hazardous levels. Earlier official reports downplayed the danger.
According to Hokkaido University Professor Koji Yamazaki, “Radioactive material will reach Tokyo but it is not harmful to human bodies because it will be dissipated by the time it gets” there.
False! Any amount of radiation is harmful. Moreover, it’s cumulative, causing cancer if one human gene is affected. Depending on the type and amount, it damages chromosomes and DNA. In her landmark book, “Nuclear Madness,” Helen Caldicott said:
“Lower doses of radiation can cause abnormalities of the immune system and can also cause leukemia five to ten years after exposure; (other) cancer(s), twelve to sixty years later; and genetic diseases and congenital anomalies in future generations.”
Moreover, “nuclear radiation is forever,” says Caldicott. It doesn’t dissipate or disappear. Downplaying its danger is hypocritical and outrageous. For a scientist like Yamazaki, it’s scandalous.
In 1953, Nobel laureate George Wald told students (including this writer) that “no amount of radiation is safe,” explaining that “Every dose is an overdose.”
Radiation is unforgiving. Exposure to elevated levels for short periods is harmful. If longer, cancer and other potentially fatal illnesses may develop. It’s why using nuclear reactors to generate power is irresponsible, in fact, crazy.
On March 15, New York Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi, David Sanger and Keith Bradsher headlined, “Fire and Damage at Japanese Plant Raise Risk of Nuclear Disaster,” saying:
Fukushima’s operator Toyko Electric Power (TEPCO), a notorious industry scofflaw, “expressed extreme concern that (they) were close to losing control over the fuel melting that has been ongoing in three (Daiichi) reactors….” After Unit 2 exploded, “pressure had dropped in the ‘suppression pool” – a section at the bottom of the reactor that converts steam to water and is part of the critical function of keeping the nuclear fuel protected.”
Afterward, radiation levels soared. According to Hiroaki Koide, senior reactor engineering specialist at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute:
“We are on the brink. We are now facing the worst-case scenario. We can assume that the containment vessel at Reactor No. 2 is already breached. If there is heavy melting inside the reactor, large amounts of radiation will most definitely be released.”
Moreover, a plant official said breaching would make it hard to impossible to maintain emergency seawater cooling for an extended period, and if workers are evacuated, “nuclear fuel in all three reactors (will likely) melt down,” causing “wholesale releases of radioactive material….”
Further, already over 200 magnitude five or greater aftershocks have occurred, and authorities warned of a 70% chance of a magnitude seven or greater one in days, perhaps making a bad situation much worse. In addition, chief cabinet secretary Yukido Edano said previous radioactivity levels were misreported in microsieverts instead of millisieverts – 1,000 times stronger. Earlier he said the situation isn’t similar to Chernobyl. In fact, potentially it’s far graver, unprecedented.
Nuclear experts also explained that even without a full meltdown (perhaps ongoing), today’s emergency will last a year or longer because of problems cooling the affected cores. As a result, long-term evacuations will be necessary. Already, nearly 500,000 people are affected, a total likely to grow, besides vast destruction, spreading contamination, growing threat to human health, and tens of thousands still missing, by now presumed dead, though not reported.
“Red Alert: Radiation Rising and Heading South in Japan”
On March 15, Stratfor Global Intelligence headlined that danger, saying:
After more explosions and risk of one or more full meltdowns (perhaps ongoing though unreported), “(t)he nuclear reactor situation in Japan had deteriorated significantly.” Even Japan’s Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor radiation level rose 163-fold in three hours. At No. 3, it was 400-fold.
Muted Japanese media report rising radiation levels south and southwest, already reaching Tokyo and numerous prefectures. “The government says radiation levels have reached levels hazardous to human health,” omitting that any level causes harm.
Reports “suggest a dramatic worsening as well as a wider spread than at any time since the emergency began.” All Japan and the Pacific rim are threatened. “The situation at the (affected) facility is uncertain, but clearly deteriorating.” How gravely, the fullness of time will determine.
A Final Comment
On March 12, nuclear expert Mark Grossman headlined, “Hydrogen, Zirconium, Flashbulbs – and Nuclear Craziness,” saying:
Coolant loss causes hydrogen gas eruptions “because of a highly volatile substance called zirconium,” chosen “in the 1940′s and 50′s” to build nuclear plants, “as the material (for) rods into which radioactive fuel would be loaded.”
Each plant has “30,000 to 40,000 rods – composed of twenty tones of zirconium.” It alone works well, allowing “neutrons from the fuel pellets in the rods to pass freely between the rods and thus a nuclear chain reaction to be sustained.”
But not without “a huge problem….” Zirconium “is highly volatile and when hot will explode spontaneously upon contact with air, water or steam.” With tons used in nuclear plants, in “a compound called ‘zircaloy,’ it “clads tens of thousands of fuel rods.”
Any interruption of coolant builds quickly. However, because of zirconium’s explosive power, the equivalent of nitroglycerine, it catches fire and explodes “at a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the 5,000 degree temperature of a meltdown.”
Before it happens, it can cause hydrogen explosions “by drawing oxygen from water and steam letting it off,” what happened at Fukushima. They, in turn, create more heat, “bringing the zirconium itself closer and closer to its explosive level,” what may, in fact, have happened, perhaps bad enough to cause a full meltdown.
Using tons of explosive material like zirconium is “absolutely crazy.” Doing it makes every nuclear plant a ticking time bomb, vulnerable to explode, spewing lethal poisons into the atmosphere.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
Tuesday, March 15. At 4:45 PM more grim news from Japan. Yet another fire breaks out at a Fukushima reactor. Searing flames shoot to the sky. Radiation levels are too high for workers to get close enough to put out the inferno. Even so, maybe, this fire will be doused. What’s next?
Coming hard on the heels of a monster earthquake and devastating tsunami, the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan is more than heart-breaking. The magnitude of the tragedy is truly unfathomable.
Who has not groaned seeing pictures of the tsunami-claimed bodies? Who has not wept seeing thousands and thousands of Japanese mourning the loss of family, loved ones and homes? Who does not wince at the desperate refugees without water or food packed into freezing shelters?
Now add to the untold miseries multiple reactor core meltdowns? And a fuel pool meltdown? Plus, a radioactive plume heading out over the Pacific to deposit its toxic load in the ocean and its rich fisheries? Not to mention the threat of the wind shifting and carrying the radioactivity towards Tokyo? Korea?
It is understandable for those of us watching from a distance to feel hopeless. What can I do? Who doesn’t want to turn off the TV, climb under the covers – and leave the unfolding disaster in the hands of the experts?
If there’s one lesson this catastrophe should convey: don’t leave it to the experts.
These experts got us here in the first place. One example: what the industry and most media commentators refer to as “spent fuel.”
“Spent” fuel? What’s that?
“Spent” is an industry-euphemism. It implies something harmless, wasted or used up. Quite the opposite.
Spent fuel is irradiated fuel: fuel that has been irradiated inside a nuclear reactor’s core. After removal from the reactor, this fuel is massively contaminated with radioactive elements and must be stored in giant pools.
On March 15 the New York Times said these fuel pools “could pose an even greater danger” than the reactors melting down.
An even greater danger? Isn’t a core meltdown as bad as it gets?
Alas, a fuel pool meltdown could be worse than a reactor core meltdown. Much worse. This is because fuel pools contain far more radioactivity than that which is inside a reactor core. Unfortunately, at Fukushima we may get both types of meltdowns.
Robert Alvarez, formerly of the US Department of Energy and now at the Institute of Policy Studies, provided insight into this potential nuclear Armageddon. In a recent blog Alvarez states the fuel in each of the pools at the Fukushima complex has 5 to 10 times the radioactivity of the fuel inside one reactor core. And much of this radioactive material is the highly toxic and long-lived radionuclide, cesium-137. See.)
Another problem: Unlike the reactor cores, which have a hefty, six-inch thick steel containment vessel, the fuel pools at Fukushima are in unhardened and therefore highly vulnerable concrete structures. The roof of one of these structures has been completely demolished in at least one of the stricken reactors, Unit 4.
Why is irradiated fuel sitting in pools? (They’re sort of like swimming pools, though considerably deeper. About 40 feet long, 40 feet wide and 45 feet deep.)
After removal from the reactor core, the irradiated fuel is fiendishly hot. The fuel is so hot it will cause the water it is immersed in to boil – if the water is not cooled. What if fuel pool’s cooling systems fail? Disaster. If the water is not cooled for a certain number of days or weeks, the water will boil off. Next, the fuel can catch fire, releasing its toxic load to the environment.
Given the repeated explosions at the Fukushima reactors and the latest fire at Unit 4, this count-down to an irradiated fuel pool meltdown appears to be underway.
Pools of water hanging up in the air? With no back-up water circulation, no back-up generators? Pools not in hardened or sealed containments? Pools stuffed to the gills with extraordinarily toxic materials that are now threatening the health and safety of thousands of already suffering Japanese citizens?
Citizens have, over the last 30 years, repeatedly challenged the safety of irradiated fuel pools and repeatedly the nuclear industry and its experts have said, no problem.
Yes, right now, we all need to do whatever we can to assist the Japanese people.
For the longer term, however, let’s remember the nuclear industry and its “experts” got us to this extremely dangerous moment. An informed, organized and determined citizenry is the only way to free us of our dependency upon this exceedingly dangerous and unforgiving energy source.
Mina Hamilton is a writer based in New York City. Formerly she was the Co-founder and Director of the Radioactive Waste Campaign. She frequently writes about nuclear issues.
How does a government lead its people to war? How does it communicate to its citizens — and to the wider world — the reasons and rationale for initiating military conflict? What rhetorical devices and techniques are employed? And how is a nation brought to support the profound decision to wage war against another nation? These are the questions that LEADING TO WAR seeks to explore.
This 72-minute film shows the evolution of the United States government’s case for military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime, leading to the Iraq War which began in 2003.
LEADING TO WAR is comprised entirely of archival news footage — without commentary, without voiceover — presented chronologically from President Bush’s State of the Union address in January, 2002 (the “axis of evil” speech), and continuing up to the announcement of formal U.S. military action in Iraq on March 19, 2003.
Covering these 14 months, the film presents selected interviews, speeches, and press conferences given by President Bush and his administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, as well as by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others.
This compressed, chronological view offers a unique opportunity to examine the media record from a historical perspective, allowing the material to speak for itself. Footage was licensed from major news sources, including ABC, AP, BBC, CNN, ITN, and NBC.
LEADING TO WAR is also intended as a historical record for future generations, who will not have had firsthand experience of the precise, incremental steps taken by the government in presenting its case for war.
It seems rather silly now, doesn’t it, all the US concern about terrorism?
The nuclear crisis in Japan, which continues to worsen, threatens to become a total multiple meltdown, combined with the perhaps even more disastrous explosion and fire in one or several spent fuel rod ponds. If any of these things happen, not to mention many of them, several hundred square miles of Japan would be rendered indefinitely uninhabitable, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. And it could be worse. If the winds are blowing south during such a disaster, all of Tokyo, which has a metropolitan population of over 30 million, could have to be evacuated.
A study by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in 1997, found that one spent fuel disaster could devastate almost 200 square miles of the US, and cause half a trillion dollars in damage!
And we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year chasing after a few thousand ragtag Taliban fighters and supposedly pursuing a few hundred Arab terrorists, most of whom are fighting back with their shoes and their underwear?
So where is the real risk to America’s security?
Well, for starters, we could consider the 23 nuclear plants currently operating in the US that were built by General Electric using the same basic flawed design as those that are blowing up in Fukushima, Japan right now. Those plants, which are located in my state of Pennsylvania, as well as everywhere from Alabama to Nebraska and Vermont, are as much as 40 years old. They are only still in operation today because the NRC is such an industry-captive regulator that it has granted them long license extensions running way past their sell-by date. It has even given many of them the okay to run at capacities exceeding 100% of design standards!
There are other plants, also creaky with age, such as the ones in San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, California, which were knowingly built within a few miles of major earthquake faults–faults which could produce earthquakes on a scale of the one that just hit Japan. Both those facilities were designed to allegedly be able to survive (when new) a 7.5 quake. That was an untestable assertion of faith, but in any case, with an 8, an 8.5 or a 9, all bets would be off.
San Onofre, by the way, is closer to Los Angeles than Fukushima is to Tokyo, so if there is a threat now that Tokyo might have to be evacuated, a similar blowup of the San Onofre nuke reactor would have the millions of people in Los Angeles evacuating their city–maybe back to Oklahoma where their forebears fled from the Dust Bowl (maybe we could call them LAkies, though hopefully they’d get a friendlier reception than L.A. gave to the okies of yore).
So much for America’s only remaining export: the film industry.
It would make far more sense for the US to forget about those alleged terrorists who are supposedly out to get us (and to stop mucking around in the Middle East countries and provoking all that anger!) and instead to spend some of that Pentagon and Homeland Security swill to shut down these old nuke plants, and even many newer ones that are built in vulnerable locations, so we don’t have to suffer a disaster of our own making like the people of Japan are facing today.
Don’t expect much from our two nuke-besotted political parties, though.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, a man of stunningly limited intellectual ability who gives the impression when he talks of having just sucked on a lemon, weighed in with a defense of current government plans to subsidize and build more nuclear power plants in the US, saying that “right after a major environmental catastrophe” would “not be a very good time to be making American domestic policy.”
President Obama, is also backing a so-called “nuclear renaissance” in the US. A senior White House source has reportedly said that the president remains in favor of nuclear power and that U.S. nuclear plants were made to survive strong storms and earthquakes. And on Tuesday, as Japan pulled workers out of the Fukushima plant, essentially giving up the fight to prevent disaster because of the level of radioactivity there, the president told local Pittsburgh TV station KDKA that he had been assured that US reactors were safe (sic), closely monitored (sic), and designed to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters (sic).
Of course, as Mother Jones magazine has noted, this same president, back in 2009, was touting the safety of Japanese nuclear plants as a model for the US. Back then, at a “town meeting” event, he said, “There’s no reason why, technologically, we can’t employ nuclear energy in a safe and effective way. Japan does it and France does it, and it doesn’t have greenhouse gas emissions, so it would be stupid for us not to do that in a much more effective way.”
Now, I admit it’s like shooting fish in a barrel to respond to these two shills for the nuclear industry, but what the hell, I’m going to fire anyhow.
Mr. McConnell, if now, when the folly of nuclear power is on full display in Japan, is not the time to discuss a plan to expand the use of nuclear power in the US, when exactly would be the right time?
And Mr. Obama, would you care to rephrase that 2009 line of yours in light of recent events? Perhaps it might be better to say, “Japan has shown what can happen with nuclear power when something goes wrong, so it would be stupid for us to continue to do here what they have done” and build nuclear plants all over the country on fault lines, near oceans and rivers, and near populations centers.
Watching all this go down is terribly frustrating. As my wife Joyce said yesterday morning, when we awoke to read of the looming threat of a full meltdown of perhaps as many as three or four reactors and the burning of one or more spent fuel piles in Japan, “We were right all along when we opposed nuclear power back in the 1970s.”
Yes we were. Shouldn’t all us anti-nukers now get some street cred, some media respect, and some respect from the political class for our prescience?
Nah. Don’t expect it. Money talks, and the nuclear establishment [and military industrial complex] has the power–even if it is blowing up on them.
NABLUS — A Palestinian man was injured on Tuesday in the flashpoint village of Awarta near Nablus after he was mauled by a dog let loose by Israeli police, sources told the Palestinian Information Center.
An elderly man was beaten by Israeli armed forces in the same town after refusing to comply with a recently enforced curfew.
The northern West Bank town of Awarta has been under fire since the killing of a family of Jewish settlers in nearby Itamar five days ago.
The Israeli Occupation Forces have partially withdrawn from some neighborhoods there by noon Tuesday, and have gathered at the village’s main entrances and closed off roads and key junctions with sand barriers. But it is still carrying out intense house-to-house searches with some houses having been searched three times so far. They turned back ambulances that arrived to transport kidney patients and elderly to the hospital.
There has also been a sharp food shortage because of the curfew.
Meanwhile, Jewish settlers have been throwing stones in the village amid threats and anti-Arab slogans as police stand and watch.
Bulldozers have entered the village and torn down the walls of one home there.
Sources said that the army has begun digging up vast areas of farmland in the northeastern part of the village paving the way for two new pre-fabricated homes, which are commonly used by settlers in outposts.
The curfew has caused Awarta’s schools to close, stopping studies for 1,642 students taught by 102 teachers. Their access to the school has been cut off. Other schools in Nablus province have been partially closed due to settler violence.
Saudi forces have stormed a Manama hospital where hundreds of people were receiving treatment for injuries suffered in clashes with government forces a day earlier.
Saudi troops forced their way into Salmaniya hospital on Wednesday and did not allow doctors, nurses and relatives of the victims either to leave or to enter the building.
The report comes as Bahraini police killed at least five protesters and wounded dozens more on Wednesday as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp in the capital’s Pearl Square.
The attack occurred two days after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar dispatched their armed forces to crisis-hit Bahrain to quash anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf state.
Foreign military intervention in Bahrain has concerned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has called for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.
The UN chief also urged Bahrain’s regional neighbors and the international community to support a dialogue process and an environment conducive for credible reform in Bahrain.
Bahraini opposition groups, including the main bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, denounced the move as an invasion of the kingdom.
The United States, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has declined to term the troops’ move into Bahrain as invasion. [...]
On Tuesday, six people died and more than 1,000 others were wounded in clashes between anti-regime protesters and Bahrain’s security forces.
Thousands of Bahraini anti-government protesters are still camping out in Manama’s Pearl Square, which has become the symbol of the popular drive for change.
Demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy in the Persian Gulf sheikdom and a say in the government are met.
A motion to boycott Israel was overwhelmingly passed at the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) General Meeting on Monday 14th March. In what was described as a ‘landslide’, the motion, ‘Boycott Israeli Goods in EUSA shops and supply chains’ received around 270 votes in favour, with only 20 students voting against.
Despite the meeting requiring over 300 students to attend for it to be quorate and for decisions taken to be binding, the huge level of student support for the motion means that EUSA will be under severe student pressure to adopt it as official policy.
Proposed by students from Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine, the motion noted that Israel is an apartheid state and resolved to affiliate EUSA to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to boycott Israeli goods in EUSA supply chains and shops, and to mandate the EUSA executive to lobby the University to do the same.
After the motion was discussed for around 15 minutes, it was put to a vote and the result was so comprehensive that no count was required. The passing of the motion led to rapturous applause in the George Square Lecture Theatre, where the General Meeting was held, and was by far the most welcomed result of the night.
Similar motions have been passed at SOAS, Manchester, and Sussex Universities in recent years. This latest result seems a clear indication that students in the UK are continuing to play a prominent role in the campaign for a just peace in Palestine.
The motion came in the wake of recent protests against Israeli officials speaking at the University. In February, student activists shut down a talk by Ishmael Khaldi, advisor to Israeli foreign minister Avidgor Lieberman, and, two weeks ago, over 100 students protested against the invitation of Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor to the University.
The proposer of the motion, second year Maths and Music student Daniel Beesley said “I am overwhelmed with the outcome of the General Meeting. It is great to see students of Edinburgh University once again standing up against injustice, just as they did during Apartheid South Africa. EUSA represents that views of students and we are sure they they will take on board what was clearly the opinion of the vast majority who attended the GM, and endorse the boycott.”
The motion’s seconder, Liam O’Hare, a student of International Relations, said: “Israel has occupied, ethnically cleansed and practised apartheid against the Palestinians for 63 years. The BDS movement seeks to force Israel to abide by international law and is gathering huge momentum year on year. I think the General Meeting proved that the student population at Edinburgh University do not want goods from an Apartheid state on campus and, despite the meeting narrowly not being quorate, I fully expect EUSA to act upon this motion.”