Wednesday Reads: Back in the saddle again…

f4b5c963d201a5f61710522d22df3735Good Morning!

Hey, it’s been nice to have a week off…I haven’t read much news items lately, in fact I don’t really have any idea what’s going on in the world outside of Banjoville. (Just this last weekend we had a murder, involving an 80-year-old former cop from Florida who killed his daughter, shot his great-grandson in the leg, and kept two county swat teams busy in a stand-off for three hours before they threw a flash bomb and finally got him in custody…you should see the list of weapons he had in his house.)

Other news from Banjoville (good news), my son played his first varsity football game and kicked five for five, scoring four extra points and one field goal in the season’s game opener.  My daughter also cheered in her first varsity game as well…it was quite a Friday Night!

Little Luther

Little Luther

This weekend I added a little furry bugger to the family too. He is a tiny little thing, at three months he weighs just over a pound.

So as you can see, it has been a busy week…but since I am clueless about the latest debates on Syria, in the dark on the fire in Yellowstone, unsure of new draconian laws against women’s rights that have passed in state houses over the past week…I will just stick with a few links that I have saved from some days back.

Here is one article that is recent however, Fukushima Disaster: Japan To Build Costly Subterranean Ice Wall To Stop Nuclear Reactor Leaks:

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that it will spend $470 million on a subterranean ice wall and other steps in a desperate bid to stop leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after repeated failures by the plant’s operator.

The decision is widely seen as an attempt to show that the nuclear accident won’t be a safety concern just days before the International Olympic Committee chooses among Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid as the host of the 2020 Olympics.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been leaking hundreds of tons of contaminated underground water into the sea since shortly after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the complex. Several leaks from tanks storing radioactive water in recent weeks have heightened the sense of crisis that the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., isn’t able to contain the problem.

“Instead of leaving this up to TEPCO, the government will step forward and take charge,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after adopting the outline. “The world is watching if we can properly handle the contaminated water but also the entire decommissioning of the plant.”

I don’t know how negative an impact the radioactive disaster will have on the IOC’s decision on Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics, I mean… look at the nuclear bomb getting ready to explode in Sochi. I get the feeling the IOC would prefer a radioactive leak of Godzilla proportions than to stand up and do what’s right in Sochi.

Down in Florida they are digging up some graves of a terrible past. Human remains believed uncovered in search at Florida boys school

The first of many to die at a Florida reform school infamous for inflicting beatings and abuse is identified in official records only as “Unknown colored boy.”

Researchers say he died in 1911. But his name, final resting place, and the reason for his early death remain a mystery.

He’s not alone.

The whereabouts of nearly two dozen others who died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys are also unknown, researchers said.

Those who once stayed at the reform school — and were subjected to regular lashings by school officials — say many more could be buried on the property of the now-shuttered state-run school, located in Marianna, a small town in Florida’s panhandle.

“I think there’s at least 100 more bodies,” Robert Straley, who was at the school for 10 months starting in 1963, said in a telephone interview.

“From 1900 to 1940 were the most brutal years in that place. Back then, a white boy’s life wasn’t worth much and a black boy’s life wasn’t worth anything.”

A clearer view of who died at the school, and why, may soon surface. On Saturday, a team of researchers began a year-long exhumation of burial sites on the school’s property.

But the abuse and suspicious deaths did not end in the 1960s,

Former residents at the school, including Straley, have led the push for setting the record straight about the school’s treatment of its young inmates, which came to light in a 2008 expose in the Miami Herald.

An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded in 2010 that, although it found dozens of graves, there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges related to allegations of physical and sexual abuse of boys at the school.

The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice closed the school in 2011 as the federal government was investigating allegations of maltreatment and abuse. The federal government ultimately faulted the state for poor oversight and violating the rights of the inmates.

Take a look at the link to that LA Times article to read more about the project being carried out by my alma mater, University of South Florida.

Now I will give you a few updates on some stories from earlier in the year.

Check it out…they are calling bullshit on the stories that there were bottles full of shit at the Texas Capitol during the Special Session back in July: Still No Evidence Abortion Rights Protesters Had Excrement In Texas Capitol Ahead Of Bill Debate

And in Utah, Welfare Drug Testing Catches Only 12 Users

From August 2012 through July 2013, the state prescreened 4,730 applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program with a written test. The state followed up with an actual drug test for the 466 of those whose written answers suggested a likelihood of drug use.

The 466 tests turned out 12 positive results, as the Associated Press first reported. The results were similar when Florida launched welfare drug testing in 2011 and just 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive. National surveys usually find that about 8 percent of respondents used drugs in the previous month.

Utah’s drug screening cost the state about $31,000. But state Rep. Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) told HuffPost he thinks the bill saved more than it cost. He said an additional 247 Utahns dropped out of the TANF application process after they were told to expect a drug test.

“We had 247 who once we told them, ‘our test shows that you are likely using controlled substances, we need you to take a drug test,’ they refused to move forward with the process,” said Wilson, who sponsored the new law. “The Department of Workforce Services here in Utah estimates the benefits of those folks would have received would have been approximately $369,000 of, basically, benefits we didn’t pay to people who were most likely using controlled substances. We spent $31,000 on this program over the last year but we think we’ve saved at least $370,000, if not more.”

[…]

Utah’s law differs from Florida’s in that it first subjects TANF applicants to a questionnaire and only tests those whose answers give the state a reasonable suspicion of drug use. The reasonable suspicion standard makes the law less vulnerable to a civil liberties lawsuit alleging the tests violate the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search. Florida’s law called for blanket testing and was halted by federal courts after only a few months.

The Florida law also denied benefits to anyone who failed a test. Utah’s law asks applicants to enroll in drug treatment. Wilson said the 12 people who tested positive for drugs are still receiving benefits.

The article states that the twelve are currently in treatment.

One last update, this one is something that hits home for me, y’all know that my brother Denny has Down Syndrome…so please read this one in full…and then, take some time to read the comments. Opinion: Justice for Down syndrome man who died in movie theater – CNN.com

Robert Ethan Saylor died on January 12 after three sheriff's deputies tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater.

Robert Ethan Saylor died on January 12 after three sheriff’s deputies tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater.

One day last January, Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, went to see the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” When it was over, Saylor briefly left the theater, then decided to return and see it again. The manager called security because Saylor didn’t pay, and three off-duty deputies, moonlighting at the mall, came in to confront him.

According to Frederick County, Maryland, police statements, he swore at them and refused to leave. The deputies tried to remove him, despite Saylor’s caretaker’s warnings and pleas for them to wait and let her take care of it. What happened next is a little unclear, but witnesses say the deputies put Saylor on the floor, held him down and handcuffed him. Saylor, called Ethan by his family, suffered a fracture in his throat cartilage. He died of asphyxiation.

The death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury failed to indict the deputies and they returned to work without charges.

My son has Down syndrome, so I have been following this case closely. But for months, it seemed as if only people in the disability community cared about it.

Petitions for independent investigations sputtered out with just a few hundred votes. Local reporting on the case never made a splash in national media. Meanwhile, the Frederick County sheriff investigated his men’s conduct, ruled they had followed procedure correctly, and tried to move on.

Police violence against people with disabilities is not uncommon, but the cases don’t seem to get a lot of publicity. Most people see the disabled as, at best, passive victims, objects to care for, perhaps to love, but not people with whom we automatically identify.

This is a mistake. We are all only temporarily able-bodied. Accidents, illness, and age wait for us all. What happened to Ethan Saylor could happen to you.

In July, his death began to get more attention. Heather Mizeur, a member of the Maryland House of Representatives and candidate for governor, seized on Saylor’s story and called for new training for law enforcement. Debra Alfarone, an investigative journalist in Washington, began to broadcast and write about the case. A petition asking Gov. Martin O’Malley to investigate went viral in mid-August, garnering 300,000 signatures in just a week. This petition fueled a renewed, suddenly national, media narrative. Ethan Saylor and #JusticeForEthan are now an official cause.

It is heartbreaking to know that the cops who killed Ethan are walking about…back at work, without being charged. Where is the outrage?  Perhaps Ethan should have worn a hoodie? Maybe this injustice would have gotten more attention.

It is sickening.

Like I said, read the whole piece, it moves on to focus on people with disabilities…and what rights they have…or in the case of Ethan, what rights he was denied that invariably caused his “homicide” and allowed the men who killed him to walk free.

Okay, one last nugget or link for you today. Over at TCM they are presenting a special series that will be on every Monday and Tuesday for the next 15 weeks! .: The Story of Film :.

TCM IS PROUD to present the U.S. television premiere of The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011), a 15-episode documentary directed and narrated by Mark Cousins, adapted from his 2004 book The Story of Film. Beginning in September and continuing through early December, one new episode, or “chapter,” will be introduced each Monday on TCM, with a lineup of related films. Tuesday evenings the thematic programming continues, and includes a re-airing of the previous night’s episode. By December, the entire festival will include 119 feature films and dozens of short subjects from 29 countries.

Cousins, a film critic from Northern Ireland, will appear as co-host with Robert Osborne in introducing the documentary, which uses film clips, interviews with filmmakers and location footage around the world to take viewers through filmmaking history from the late 19th century to today.

Here is the schedule in PDF format and you can find the Episode Guide is here.

The first episode was shown this week, and it was so damn interesting, be sure to catch the rest of the series if you can.

So…it is good to be back, guess I need to get caught up on current events. Seriously, I don’t know if I can do that just yet. Y’all have a good morning and I’ll see you around in the comments.

Advertisements

Japanese Officials Admit They Are Making No Progress

Chernobyl disaster: will it happen again?

The Guardian reports that radiation levels are rising in the ocean near the Fukushima nuclear plant, and Japanese officials admit they basically have no real solution for the apparent meltdown and/or meltdowns of the four damaged nuclear reactors.

The country’s nuclear and industrial safety agency, Nisa, said radioactive iodine-131 at 3,355 times the legal limit had been identified in the sea about 300 yards south of the plant, although officials have yet to determine how it got there.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Nisa spokesman, said fishing had stopped in the area, adding that the contamination posed no immediate threat to humans. “We will find out how it happened and do our utmost to prevent it from rising,” he said.

Good luck with that. The battle to control the reactors could go on for years.

The battle to control the slow-motion meldowns could take years, according to this Reuters article.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has conceded it faces a protracted and uncertain operation to contain overheating fuel rods and avert a meltdown.

“Regrettably, we don’t have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over),” TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.

Back to the Guardian piece:

Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, said recent higher readings of radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 should be of greater concern than reports earlier this week of tiny quantities of plutonium found in soil samples.

But he added: “It’s obviously alarming when you talk about radiation, but if you have radiation in non-gas form I would say dump it in the ocean.”

Wonderful. The Japanese eat a lot of fish, don’t they?

From ABC News

Radiation measured at a village 40 kilometres from the Fukushima nuclear plant now exceeds a criterion for evacuation, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

And a Japanese nuclear expert has warned crews may have to keep pouring cooling water onto the stricken reactors for years.

Years. That is what multiple sources are now saying. It could take years. So how does it end? We hope for new discoveries that will solve the problem, while the reactors continue to melt down and release radioactive elements into the groundwater and the ocean? Or there is a catastrophic explosion?

Yes, I know the “experts” say that won’t happen, but if workers are going to be struggling with these plants for years, there is inevitably going to be human error. Besides, the “experts” have tried to minimize the dangers all along. Only now is the real truth beginning to come out.

From the Union of Concerned Scientists All Things Nuclear blog:

Today the IAEA has finally confirmed what some analysts have suspected for days: that the concentration per area of long-lived cesium-137 (Cs-137) is extremely high as far as tens of kilometers from the release site at Fukushima Dai-Ichi, and in fact would trigger compulsory evacuation under IAEA guidelines.

The IAEA is reporting that measured soil concentrations of Cs-137 as far away as Iitate Village, 40 kilometers northwest of Fukushima-Dai-Ichi, correspond to deposition levels of up to 3.7 megabecquerels per square meter (MBq/sq. m). This is far higher than previous IAEA reports of values of Cs-137 deposition, and comparable to the total beta-gamma measurements reported previously by IAEA and mentioned on this blog.

This should be compared with the deposition level that triggered compulsory relocation in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident: the level set in 1990 by the Soviet Union was 1.48 MBq/sq. m.

Thus, it is now abundantly clear that Japanese authorities were negligent in restricting the emergency evacuation zone to only 20 kilometers from the release site.

This is bad, folks. Here is a summary of the health effects of cesium-137:

Like all radionuclides, exposure to radiation from cesium-137 results in increased risk of cancer.

Everyone is exposed to very small amounts of cesium-137 in soil and water as a result of atmospheric fallout. Exposure to waste materials, from contaminated sites, or from nuclear accidents can result in cancer risks much higher than typical environmental exposures.

If exposures are very high, serious burns, and even death, can result. Instances of such exposure are very rare. One example of a high-exposure situation would be the mishandling a strong industrial cesium-137 source. The magnitude of the health risk depends on exposure conditions. These include such factors as strength of the source, length of exposure, distance from the source, and whether there was shielding between you and the source (such as metal plating).

Please note that cesium-137, like plutonium doesn’t occur naturally in the environment. When officials and “experts” talk about “background” radiation, they are talking about elements that have been introduced through nuclear tests and nuclear reactor accidents and bi-products. This “background” radiation wasn’t around before the nuclear age, and I personally don’t believe that it has no effect on us.

From NPR: More radioactive material has been found in foods in Japan.

Yesterday, I asked in a comment what is being done with all the contaminated water that is being removed from the Fukushima reactors. Scarecrow addressed this question today at FDL.

They’ve got hundreds of tons of contaminated water preventing workers from getting close enough to pumps, valves, monitors needed to stabilize conditions. So they have to pump this water out and put it somewhere, but where? There are tanks at/near some units that can hold some of it, but not all, and external temporary storage may allow exposure to the atmosphere. Meanwhile, they must keep pumping more fresh water into the reactors and spent fuel storage pools, while more leaks out.

There are large pools of dangerously contaminated water in the turbine buildings adjacent to each reactor buidling, with more leaking in from somewhere, and few places to put it. Just outside the turbine buildings, there are long, deep trenches nearer the ocean and likely filled with water from the tsunami. But they’re now contaminated with radiation and water leaks from the turbine building.

Where can they put all this water? And given varying degrees of contamination, which water should they put where? For example, should they just pump out the least radioactive water in the trenches/pools and dump it in the ocean?

Believe it or not, some people are suggesting putting the water in large ships and letting them float around in the ocean. And what happens if there is a huge storm and the ships are damaged? Honestly, this gets scarier and scarier every day.

Even worse, today smoke was seen at another nuclear plant owned by Tepco!

The company said smoke was detected in the turbine building of reactor No. 1 at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant around 6 p.m. (5 a.m. ET).

Smoke could no longer be seen by around 7 p.m. (6 a.m. ET), a company spokesman told reporters.

The Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where workers have been scrambling to stave off a meltdown since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems there….

After the dual disasters, Japanese authorities also detected cooling-system problems at the Fukushima Daini plant, and those living within a 10-kilometer radius (6 miles) of Fukushima Daini were ordered to evacuate as a precaution.

What next? Something tells me whatever happens next won’t be good.