Speaking of Godzilla, did y’all here that a rat was the cause of the latest power outage at Fukushima…I imagine a radioactive rat…big like Godzilla munching away at the electric cords.
The apparent carcass of the rodent was visible inside the switchboard unit in a photo released by Tepco
A rat may have caused this week’s power outage at Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, says the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).
The company suspects the rodent may have caused a short-circuit in a switchboard, triggering the power cut.
If I could, I would paint that little rodent like a rat lizard…and put some flames coming out of his mouth and lasers blasting from his eyes. Oh wait, that is a dead rat in that picture….oh well, then I guess if I was gifted in photoshop, I would make that little booger glow bright green.
This is an open thread…
I have so many links for you this morning, let us start with a look at class warfare…I am reminded of the quote wrongly attributed to Marie Antoinette…Let them eat cake. Hamilton Nolan from the Gawker has a point….check it out: It Would Be Great if Millionaires Would Not Lecture Us on ‘Living With Less’
There is something about achieving great financial success that seduces people into believing that they are life coaches. This problem seems particularly endemic to the tech millionaire set. You are not simply Some Fucking Guy Who Sold Your Internet Company For a Lot of Money; you are a lifestyle guru, with many important and penetrating insight about How to Live that must be shared with the common people.
We would humbly request that this stop.
Meet Graham Hill. Graham Hill became a multimillionaire at a very young age when he sold his internet company in 1998. Good for him. We would not be telling you about Graham Hill at all, except for the fact that he wrote a remarkable op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review yesterday in which he instructs you, the common man, on the virtues of “Living With Less.” He bases this prescription on the wisdom he has learned on his own personal journey, from millionaire with a big house and many material possessions to millionaire with a smaller house and fewer material possessions, but just as many liquid assets.
You can read Hill’s op/ed at that link, but I just want to post the last of this Gawker response, cause it is damn good.
A millionaire does not have the standing to tell regular people that money is overrated. Graham Hill moved into a smaller apartment and sold some of his stuff. But he sure as fuck didn’t empty his bank accounts. It’s easy not to have material things when you can just buy whatever you need, whenever you need it. ” My space is small. My life is big,” writes Hill. Of course it is! You can buy anything and go anywhere at any time, thanks to your vast wealth! The fact that a millionaire’s “life is big” offers little valuable wisdom to the common person. The presumptuousness is akin to a fat food critic walking out of a restaurant after a huge meal and telling a starving beggar on the curb, “Trust me—you don’t want to eat at this place.”
Money doesn’t matter at all, as long as you have too much of it.
Sure got that right, just like all these wealthy ass politicians that are dealing and scheming to do away with programs that are of no concern with them. (That also goes for the current president in the White House.) The White House Is for Sale Under Barack Obama, Too
On Wednesday night, at the swanky St. Regis Hotel three blocks north of the White House, President Barack Obama will schmooze with his biggest donors and most avid grassroots supporters at a “founder’s summit” for Organizing for Action, the controversial pro-Obama nonprofit group. OFA will use the email lists, social networks, and cutting-edge technologies honed during Obama’s reelection campaign to try to galvanize Americans in support of the president’s second-term agenda.
But watchdogs and reformers are up in arms after the New York Times revealed that supporters who raise or donate $500,000 or more will score invites to quarterly meetings with Obama and other exclusive perks unavailable to run-of-the-mill Obama supporters. “Access to the president should never be for sale,” said Common Cause president Bob Edgar.
Obama isn’t the first prez to do this, you can read more at the link, but it should not be surprising.
Oops, I got distracted, back to the issue of class. Well, I thought this was an interesting blog post over at Suburban Guerilla, written by OddManOut » Being white in Philly Mag
Chances are slim that Philadelphia Magazine‘s March cover piece, “Being White in Philly,” by Robert Huber, was meant as anything more than an exercise in cynicism. Huber had to know that his confused personal impressions regarding race relations didn’t add up to an actual story. And his editor surely saw that the piece was ill-conceived and unresolved, more likely to stir up resentment than encourage dialogue between black and white city residents.
Huber affected the “why can’t we all get along” tone of a white Rodney King, but with little bombs of condescension that could only have been meant to provoke:
But like many people, I yearn for much more: that I could feel the freedom to speak to my African-American neighbors about, say, not only my concerns for my son’s safety living around Temple, but how the inner city needs to get its act together.
Substituting “inner city” made Huber’s generalization seem even more insulting than it would have if he’d used “blacks.” His professed yearning to speak to his black neighbors reminds us that he didn’t quote, and perhaps didn’t even speak with, any black Philadelphians while doing his research (if you can call it that).
It seems the article was meant to piss off blacks while appealing to the magazine’s core demographic — reasonably well-off and well-educated whites who respond to ads for luxury cars and liposuction. Huber and Philly Mag were saying it’s OK for these whites to think of themselves as tolerant despite their fear and loathing of blacks; that it’s only natural to feel this way about people who, after all these years, still can’t get their act together.
Huber was writing more about class than race, but acknowledging this fact would have called attention to the superficiality of his analysis. He offered a brief history of white flight from Philly, but mentioned none of the underlying socioeconomic factors that have widened the gulf not only between whites and blacks but also between the well-off and poor of both races.
Hmmmm, I know Huber’s article is not the same as that op/ed from rich man Graham Hill, but it also seems to leave a bad aftertaste in the mouth. OddManOut continues:
There’s an even wider gulf between bad journalism and the truth. I was there, growing up in a Philly neighborhood that was transitioning from white to black in the 1960s-1970s, hanging out with other white kids who were engaged in an ongoing street war with black kids. The shootings and stabbings were manifestations of forces that all of us, black and white, couldn’t control or even understand.
These forces are still at work, and articles such as Huber’s do nothing to shed light on why they persist. But they do boost print sales and online traffic, and that’s the bottom line.
I guess this last sentence is in line with the Journalism post I wrote a few days ago. How the son of Fred Friendly stated, “making more money doing its worst…than it did doing its best.”
Alright, I am going to move on to the Vatican now. Here’s a few links on the Vatican’s selection of the new pope. According to Tommy Christopher over at Mediaite: MSNBC Contributor Compares The Vatican To The Soviet Union
But she meant it in the best way possible. On Tuesday morning, all three cable news networks devoted hours of airtime to complete coverage of Cardinals signing in for the latest conclave to elect a new pope, which made for television with all the electricity of a watch battery. On MSNBC, The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel broke up the monotony somewhat by telling fellow panelists that she was reminded of Soviet Russia, specifically “of the Communist Party. There is something about the need to have Kremlinology to understand who might be the next pope.”
Vanden Heuvel went on to explain that the next pope will need to be a reformer, along the lines of a Mikhail Gorbachev, to bring transparency to the Vatican. She also confessed to being a lapsed Catholic who agrees with E.J. Dionne that the next pope should be a nun…
Ditto on making the next pope a nun…but Tommy continues:
Although I only half-watched the coverage of what appeared to be the waiting room for the world’s slowest, yet busiest, doctor’s office, I am fairly confident that this was the most interesting thing said during the cumulative hours of cable news this morning. On CNN, without a trace of irony, they were talking about the betting line on who the next pope will be. On Fox News, Shep Smith was also talking about transparency, which is becoming one of the most overrated concepts in the media. It seems as though it’s more important to let people see the horrible things you’re doing than to do anything about it.
To be fair, I’m a much more lapsed Catholic than Katrina vanden Heuvel, so my level of investment in the new pope is lower than most, and while I begrudge no one their faith, the Vatican, as an institution, seems fatally flawed. Covering up and enabling child rape is something you shouldn’t even get one shot at, let alone several thousand. But even those who are considerably more forgiving than I am would be hard-pressed to find much of value in this saturation coverage of the papal conclave kickoff.
I agree with Christopher about the Vatican cover-ups, which goes without saying…but the Vatican is also filled with hypocrites. Check this out: As cardinals gather to elect Pope, Catholic officials break into a sweat over news that priests share €23m building with huge gay sauna
A day ahead of the papal conclave, faces at the scandal-struck Vatican were even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million (£21 million) share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.
The senior Vatican figure sweating the most due to the unlikely proximity of the gay Europa Multiclub is probably Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, who is due to participate in tomorrow’s election at the Sistine Chapel.
This 76-year-old “prince of the church” enjoys a 12-room apartment on the first-floor of the imposing palazzo, at 2 Via Carducci, just yards from the ground floor entrance to the steamy flesh pot. There are 18 other Vatican apartments in the block, many of which house priests.
The Holy See is still reeling from allegations that the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, had quit in reaction to the presence of a gay cabal in the curia.
And with disgraced Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien lending new weight to charges of hypocrisy against the Church’s stance on homosexuality, La Repubblica newspaper noted that the presence of “Italy’s best known gay sauna in the premises is an embarrassment”.
And if you really want to experience an early morning yuk factor, take a look at this link which features a real commercial for that gay sauna: Vatican Building Houses Gay Sauna
One more pope story, actually it is an interactive… from the Guardian: Choose your own pope – with our interactive Pontifficator
I’m going to go ahead and give you the rest of today’s news reads via a Link Dump:
This little nugget about the latest Bush candidate, from LG&M: The Little Brown One
Looks like there is some talk about men in a powerful positions who sexually assault women, via the Independent: Petronella, paedophilia, and the wrong lesson to draw from Olivier’s pass
Over at the Guardian, a story about the Generation self: what do young people really care about?
Salon discusses the paleo-diet: “Paleofantasy”: Stone Age delusions
Susie Madrak has this to say over at C&L… Sources: Koch Brothers May Buy The L.A. Times. Stay Tuned
And we will end with a little history: Aelfthryth, Queen of England
What are you all reading and blogging about today?
It is Sunday, November 13th, can you believe it? Well Italy is following in Greece’s footsteps…in that the Italian prime minister has resigned. Berlusconi Resigns After Italy’s Parliament Approves Austerity Measures – NYTimes.com
With his country swept up in Europe’s debt crisis and his once-mighty political capital spent, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned on Saturday, punctuating a tumultuous week and ending an era in Italian politics.
His exit, a sudden fall after months of political stalemate, paves the way for a new government of technocrats led by Mario Monti, a former member of the European Commission. Mr. Monti is likely to be installed early next week, following the apparent consent of key blocs of Mr. Berlusconi’s center-right coalition.
His resignation came just days after the fall of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou in Greece. Both men were swept away amid a larger crisis that has threatened the entire European Union, in which roiling financial markets have upended traditional democratic processes.
This weekend Japanese officials opened up the Fukushima Nuclear Plant to the International press…Devastation at Japan Site, Seen Up Close – NYTimes.com
Pool photo by David Guttenfelder
That is such a bold statement, and for me, it puts the situation at the Fukushima plant into perspective. It is obvious the clean-up outside the reactors is secondary.
In this next link, an important question is raised: Did Race Explain Penn State’s Blind Eye to Sex Scandal?
The Second Mile Foundation that served as a cover for the alleged rapes by its founder, the disgraced and accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky was not some fly-by-night, drive by, fast buck operation, but a well-established foundation that had been in business for more than three decades. Sandusky was with the Foundation from the start in 1977 until just last year. Even as the scandal unfolds, it is still in business. It has a big, impressive, full bodied website that boasts of its accomplishments, has three offices, and is actively soliciting donations. The reporters that have tried to get a comment from foundation officials have been summarily hung up on.
There will be more sordid facts and cases to emerge in the coming days and almost certainly more alleged victims will come forth and tell their stories. This poses the question that’s bantered about, agonized over, and reams of opinion written, and that’s why those who knew didn’t blow the whistle on and insure that the cuffs were slapped on the offenders years ago? The stock answer is that it was a case of fear, protectiveness, ego (Paterno’s), football deification and prestige, decades of institutional sports cronyism and the bushels of money that Penn State and other big time Division 1 schools haul in every year from their flagship football programs. This is all true.
But with the strong hints and now the public finger point by a parent of one of the victims that the victims were in her words ” Blacks about 10-12 and had a tall slim muscular build.” The Second Mile Foundation’s founder and accused Jerry Sandusky openly bragged that it was in the business of helping “underprivileged” youth, always the polite code word for poor, at risk, young blacks and Hispanics, it’s hardly a stretch to connect the dots to race.
Put bluntly, if Penn State officials kept their yaps shut for years in the face of open knowledge of and strong suspicions of the child rapes and the victims were young black males, than the last dot connected is the charge that black lives are routinely devalued when it comes to officials taking action to protect them. This charge has repeatedly been leveled in serial murders, inner city gang carnage, and against child service agencies that ignore or downplay repeated reports of abuse when the victims and the abused are black.
This part of the Sandusky case reminds me of a male teacher at my brother’s Special Ed School, LaVoy, in Tampa during the early 1990’s. The teacher was charged with rape and assault charges, just like Sandusky…He would bring his young black mentally retarded students home where he and his boyfriend, a teacher’s aid, would rape the kids…all under the pretext of helping these poor and disadvantage handicap young athletic black males.
Race can’t be separated from poverty or “underprivileged” in the parlance of Sandusky’s The Second Mile Foundation. A study in the March issue of the Journal Pediatrics, “Racial Bias in Child Protection? A Comparison of Competing Explanations Using National Data,” found that poverty was a huge determinant not only of levels of abuse. The study predictably found that a disproportionate number of the reported child abuse cases in 2009 which spanned the gamut from neglect to child rape were African-American children. The study directly linked the abuse to poverty. Parents and caregivers that are desperate to provide their children with a pathway out of harm’s way from any and every type of abuse that comes with poverty latch on to organizations that promise to provide resources, mentoring, nurturing, and a protective environment for at risk black children.
The Second Mile Foundation that so persuasively and passionately marketed itself under its accused founder Jerry Sandusky, and with the resources, clout and national name recognition of Penn State University’s premier football majordomo Joe Paterno to boot, as just such an organization would be hungrily grabbed at as the ticket out of the ghetto for the kids. Given the name and the prestige of those behind this Foundation, why would anyone in their wildest nightmares ever think or suspect that colossal evil lurked underneath the facade of its alleged unadulterated philanthropic and do good aims?
I think the last bit of this op/ed says a lot, as we wait and see what further accusations and victims come forward…
…the hard suspicions and hints that the target of the crimes were young black males may well be confirmed. If that’s the case, then the deep soul search that university and others everywhere that turn a blind eye to child abuse must undergo will be rudely forced to confront one more horrifying possibility. And that’s that race was one more reason for that blind eye.
In the incident at my brother’s school, there was also signs of a cover up, and the fellow teachers and school administrators backed up the teacher when he was charged with sexual assault. They blamed the students and their poor black mothers for making up stories after all the “good” the teacher did for his students. All of the victims grew up in the “projects” as they called it…in other words, government housing. The suggestion being these kids could not be trusted.
The similarities are disheartening, because yet again the same group of victims were targeted because of their “underprivileged” home situations. Young and black and exploitable…and more importantly, expendable in a worthless way. So sad to think it will happen again…and again, because it is obvious that children, especially black poor children are not worth the protection that is due to them.
On to another group of people not worthy of support or assistance. No money for mental health? 15 states with biggest cutbacks Pictures – CBS News
Click the link up top for a photo report about the 15 states with the biggest cutbacks for Mental Health. It is really just a bunch of stock photos with numbers and statistics for each state. The key however is to see just how much is being cut…the worst being South Carolina, which cut its mental health care budget by 39.3 percent.
Just a few more links for you…
Now I just KNOW this makes all you wimminz want to RUN, not walk to your closest OWS location! And by the way, if you get raped, you are NOT a victim any longer. You are a “survivor”. So just be glad you are still alive after that rape, mmmmkay?
Raping is just a trauma for a guy, girlz! Have a heart! Boyz will be boyz! We’ll handle it!
……and just remember, girlz, OWS is your friend. That must be why you are finally seeing a female of the species taking the bullhorn just for this very “special” occasion–giving you your instructions and then telling you that “You don’t have the need to know” pretty much anything else.
This next article is disturbing…gee, I seem to be full of depressing links today!
It’s no secret teenagers sometimes experiment with alcohol, even drugs, but new ways they’re finding to get drunk had jaws dropping in our newsroom.
“Quicker high, they think it’s going to last longer, it’s more intense,” said Dr. Dan Quan from Maricopa Medical Center.
“This is not isolated to any school, any city, any financial area,” Officer Chris Thomas, a school resource officer, said. “This is everywhere.”
When we heard how kids are getting drunk these days, we thought no way.
So we hit up the experts to find out if it’s an urban legend or if it’s legit.
“There’s been documented cases of people going to the hospital with alcohol poisoning just from utilizing it that way,” Thomas said.
“What we’re hearing about is teenagers utilizing tampons, soak them in vodka first before using them,” Thomas said.
“It gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream. There’s no barrier, there’s no stomach acid to prevent it,” Thomas said.
“I would expect it to absorb pretty quickly as well, because it’s a very vascular structure,” Quan told CBS 5.
“This is definitely not just girls,” Thomas said. “Guys will also use it and they’ll insert it into their rectums.”
And that’s not all.
“Using a beer bong rectally is the same concept as a vodka soaked tampon,” Thomas said.
Rather than the traditional beer bong you’d find at a college party, kids are sticking the tube elsewhere to get wasted.
They’re calling it “butt chugging.”
Wow, the times, they are a changing….I remember being a teenager and the hangouts you could go to get drunk. Vodka soaked tampons and butt chugging were not on the menu.
Bank of America not only forecloses on sheriff deputy widows with young children, they charge unemployed debit cards fees. Your Friendly Bank of America, Sticking It To The Unemployed With Usurious Debit Card Fees | Crooks and Liars
It’s never been more obvious that the unemployed have no one looking out for them. This is really a shocking story and if you still have a Bank of America account, this might finally motivate you to move your money:
CORDOVA, S.C.– Shawana Busby does not seem like the sort of customer who would be at the center of a major bank’s business plan. Out of work for much of the last three years, she depends upon a $264-a-week unemployment check from the state of South Carolina. But the state has contracted with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits, and Busby has frequently found herself incurring bank fees to get her money.
I really hate those Bank of America Bankster Basturds!
From the Minx’s Missing Link File: I got two for you today…check it out.
Nancy LeVine for The New York Times
Okapis are the only known relative of the giraffe, but with the silhouette of an antelope. They are notoriously skittish, so adept at avoiding other animals in the wild — including other okapis — that Western researchers didn’t even document their existence until 1901.
To breed such an antisocial animal in captivity requires a mix of patience, genetic know-how and romantic savoir-faire. Potential mates are slowly and strategically introduced over weeks, and newborn calves — which do not defecate for the first month of their lives to avoid detection in the wild — are left untouched by humans to preserve the fragile mother-child bond.
Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
So as M’bura, now a healthy 5-month-old, gallops around her shady habitat in the Bronx, zoo officials are taking a victory lap of their own.
Isn’t she cute?
And this other missing link for you…another strange looking animal: Spotted Horses in Cave Art Weren’t Just a Figment, DNA Shows – NYTimes.com
Thomas Hackmann A modern horse with leopard spots like those seen in France’s Pech-Merle cave. Comparing DNA from the present and the Stone Age convinced scientists that those spotted depictions were based on existing animals.
Today, the art at the Pech-Merle cave, and in hundreds of others across Europe, is a striking testimony to human creativity well before modern times.
Did the cavemen paint animals realistically…as they saw them, or did they embellish a bit?
Now, a group of researchers has used distinctly modern techniques to help decipher the mystery, at least in the case of Pech-Merle’s famous spotted horses. By comparing the DNA of modern horses and those that lived during the Stone Age, scientists have determined that these drawings are a realistic depiction of an animal that coexisted with the artists.
The research, published online on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, grew out of an effort to discern the coat colors of ancient horses to help figure out when the animals were domesticated, a pivotal moment in the development of human societies. In general, domesticated species exist in a far greater variety of colors than wild ones, so understanding color variation in fossil animals can help pinpoint the timing.
Now this is so cool…
Previous research on DNA from the bones and teeth of horses that lived 7,000 to 20,000 years ago showed that those animals were either black or bay (a brown coat with a black mane and tail). That work was published in the journal Science in 2009. Since then, geneticists have deciphered the underlying code for the spotted pattern, known as leopard, in modern horses. So the scientists went back to their samples, looking for the leopard sequence in horses that lived in Europe 11,000 to 15,000 years ago.
“There is a striking correspondence between the coat-color patterns of horses painted in Paleolithic caves of France with what geneticists found in the genotypes” — the specific genetic sequences — “of color genes,” said Hopi E. Hoekstra, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard who studies pigmentation. Dr. Hoekstra was not involved in the study but called it “very convincing.”
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: The Rockefeller Christmas Tree has taken up residence in New York City.
I always wondered how they got those big ass trees into that big ass tree stand…
Okay, on a personal note, I want to send out a Big Happy Birthday to my brother Denny, who turned 40 yesterday. So I’d like to share one of my favorite photos of Denny in the pool…
…this photo of Denny was taken when he was around 11 years old, all I can say is yup…he is my brother. Of course I am referring to the middle finger he is proudly giving me as I take the picture.
Well, that is my Sunday Reads…what are you reading about today!
Last night I saw one of the best movies ever made, Sunset Blvd…and I have to say, like Norma Desmond…I am mad about the boy. The “boy” being William Holden.
There was a song that was popular when I was in high school, I never liked it much but it was recorded live in Tom’s Diner…the same diner that was used for the street shots of Monk’s coffee shop on Seinfeld. This song’s lyrics mention the death of William Holden…
Up the paper
There’s a story
Of an actor
Who had died
While he was drinking
It was no one
I had heard of
Oh, you can be sure I knew who Suzanne Vega was talking about…Damn, he was one hell of a leading man!
Anyway, on with the news reads for this morning.
Lee is on his way up to Banjoland, but now the rain is falling in New Orleans.
This is one slow-moving storm…New Orleans feeling lucky, wary as storm nears land | Reuters
Southern Louisiana was coping fairly well with heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee on Saturday but New Orleans officials warned residents against rising winds and complacency amid the storm’s slow onslaught.
“This storm is moving painfully slow,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a briefing on Saturday afternoon. “Don’t go to sleep on this storm,” he added. “The message today is that we are not out of the woods.”
Hope all is well Dak!
I have some interesting links for you today, we will start over in Japan. Remember that Fukushima Nuclear Plant?
Twenty-five years after a reactor at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and melted down, its surroundings are well-explored territory, including the abandoned workers’ town of Pripyat, two kilometers (about a mile) from the plant. The guides who take visitors through the area know exactly where to go and, more important, what to avoid.
The people who fled Futaba, the town nearest to the Fukushima plant, need only look to Pripyat, some 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) away, for a hint of what it will probably turn into: a ghost town forever looking as though it expects its 7,000-plus people to return any minute.
In Futaba, unlike in Pripyat, you are in uncharted territory. There are no guides. The radioactive hot spots are uncharted, and behind every corner, danger may lurk that will not turn malignant for years, even decades. Radiation cannot be sensed like a hum or a smell. The sun shines and the wind blows, and only the beeping of your Geiger counter tells you something is wrong.
There are two images that I want to point out:
In this Thursday, April 21, 2011 photo, a dog walks across a street in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
In this Sunday, April 2, 2006 photo, a dog walks in the deserted town of Pripyat, Ukraine, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
Well, those pictures say a hell of a lot…and so does this one: Japan is open for business – The Washington Post
Yes, Japan is planting sunflowers to help remove the cesium. Sunflowers rise to battle Japan’s nuclear winter – Technology & science – Science – msnbc.com
About 80,000 people were forced to evacuate from a vast swath of land around the reactor as engineers battled radiation leaks, hydrogen explosions and overheating fuel rods. They have no idea when, if ever, they can return to homes that have been in their families for generations.
Worse still, radiation spread well outside the mandatory evacuation zone, nestling in “hot spots” and contaminating the ground in what remains a largely agricultural region.
Rice, still a significant staple, has not been planted in many areas. Others face stringent tests and potentially harmful shipping bans after radioactive caesium was found in rice straw.
Excessive radiation levels have also been found in beef, vegetables, milk, seafood and water. In hot spots more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the plant, the tea is radioactive.
In an effort to lift the spirits of area residents as well as lighten the impact of the radiation, Abe began growing and distributing sunflowers and other plants.
“We plant sunflowers, field mustard, amaranthus and cockscomb, which are all believed to absorb radiation,” said the monk. “So far we have grown at least 200,000 flowers (at this temple) and distributed many more seeds. At least 8 million sunflowers blooming in Fukushima originated from here.”
Sunflowers were also used to clean up contaminated soil near Chernobyl. Imagine, once the flowers grow they must be disposed of properly. Yes, the big yellow flowers are radioactive… atomic… a sea of golden toxic waste! Japanese Scientists Get Creative With Nuclear Contamination Clean-Up
The researchers believe growing sunflowers will remove the radioactive caesium in the ground. Radioactive caesium is similar to kalium, a commonly used fertilizer. If kalium is not present, sunflowers will absorb caesium instead.
Yamashita’s team plans to remove the harvested sunflowers through burning, so that the radioactive caesium could be dispersed in smoke instead of requiring storage.
Alternatively, the researchers are also considering using hyperthermophilic aerobic bacteria to decompose the plants. The decomposing process will reduce the sunflowers to about 1 percent of their previous volume, which will slash the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be disposed.
As for the radiation that is seaborne, and not in the soil…Modelling the dispersion of Fukushima-Daichii nuclear power plant release (H/T Susie Madrak)
Take a look at that link, there are moving computer images of the dispersion of the radioactive plume as it traveled the Pacific currents away from Japan.
So, lets move from toxic radioactive particles to toxic radioactive candidates…GOP candidates that is.
The Republican field is entering a pivotal stage in the nominating contest as candidates increasingly move beyond criticizing President Obama and start to run against one another.
The outcome of three debates in the next three weeks — starting Wednesday night, the first time Mr. Perry, Mr. Romney and Mrs. Bachmann will face one another — will influence fund-raising, shape strategy and set perceptions as the candidates hurtle toward the start of voting early next year.
In both parties, there is now a sense that the president’s political frailty, underscored by the report on Friday that showed zero net job creation in August and new projections that unemployment will remain elevated through Election Day next year, is even greater than it appeared at the start of the summer, injecting additional energy and urgency into the Republican primary race.
While many Democrats once hoped that perceived deficiencies among the Republican contenders could provide a lifeline to Mr. Obama, the prospect of losing the presidency is no longer summarily dismissed by his advisers.
In other words, they are going to “eat” their own kind in the next few weeks…should be some great fodder for the late night political comedians.
Early this week, this article was published on Colorlines. The Definitive Guide to Bigotry in the 2012 Republican Primaries (So Far) – COLORLINES
There is a reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital. Stretched out between the memories of two presidents, the water reminds us that politics are merely a reflection of American society, for better or worse. The best of our society was on display 48 years ago when hundreds of thousands of Americans stood in scenic unity along the reflecting pool in support of civil rights. Today, the 2012 presidential elections reflect a nation still plagued by bias and inequality. Troubled and ugly waters indeed.
The following is a guide to use when you consider casting a vote for one of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. You may be among the Americans who have lost faith in Obama or the Democratic Party and pondering a step to the right. Faulty as the Democrats may be, read this guide and remember that liberals still believe abolishing slavery was a good idea and that women should not be confined to the kitchen—which is not something you can say about all of the Republican contenders.
Check out this link, and read the entire article, because it breaks down the candidates and some of the questionable remarks that these 2012 GOP hopefuls have made. (Some will not come as a surprise to you, but Colorlines really does a great job of writing it down.)
From the bigoted remarks and beliefs to the religious fervor that most of the GOP 2012s are pimping left and right. This next article is from Time and discusses the Articles of Faith: What Journalists Should Be Asking Politicians About Religion | Swampland
A few weeks ago, I opened up my Twitter feed early in the morning and immediately wondered if I was being punk’d. Instead of the usual horse race speculation, my colleagues in the political press corps were discussing the writings of evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer and debating the definition of Dominionism. The same week, a conservative journalist had posed a question about submission theology in a GOP debate, and David Gregory had grilled Michele Bachmann about whether God would guide her decision-making if she became President.
The combination of religion and politics is a combustible one. And while I’m thrilled to see journalists taking on these topics, it seemed to me a few guidelines might be helpful in covering religion on the campaign trail:
Ask relevant questions.
It’s tempting to get into whether a Catholic candidate takes communion or if an evangelical politician actually thinks she speaks to God. But if a candidate brings up his faith on the campaign trail, there are two main questions journalists need to ask: 1) Would your religious beliefs have any bearing on the actions you would take in office? and 2) If so, how?
This is also a rather long article, and discusses the kinds of “faith” related questions the media needs to focus on. From policy to Jeremiah Wright…so please read the entire article if you can.
From the Minx Missing Link File: There was a plane crash this past week just off the coast in Chile…some of you may have missed this news. The plane crashed when extremely bad weather hit the area. Chile says no survivors from Pacific Ocean air crash | Reuters
“One arrives at the conclusion that the impact was so strong that it must have killed those aboard instantly,” Defense Minister Andres Allamand said.
The CASA 212 military plane tried twice to land on Friday before it went missing as heavy winds and sporadic rains hit the area.
Among the passengers were five TVN national television staff members, including well-known presenter Felipe Camiroaga, who were planning to film a report about reconstruction on the islands after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The islands were badly hit by the tsunami.
21 people were aboard that plane, all are presumed dead.
Friday there was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that hit in Argentina and a 6.8 earthquake the struck off the Fox Islands, in the Aleutian chain of islands in Alaska. Mother nature has been on the rampage lately.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: This is one cool looking Woolly Rhino, isn’t it? BBC News – ‘Oldest’ woolly rhino discovered
As a fiber nut, the first thing I thought about when I saw that picture was…ooo, I bet that spins up like yak or maybe Icelandic fleece, one of the primitive sheep whose fleece has a dual coat. One layer is guard hair, straight and more “hairy” like, it makes a very strong and stable yarn…great for use as warps in weaving and the lower woolly fleece, that is soft and wavy, with lots of loft and crimp, that makes a great flexible yarn because it has more “give” for knitting and use as weft in weaving.
A woolly rhino fossil dug up on the Tibetan Plateau is believed to be the oldest specimen of its kind yet found.
The creature lived some 3.6 million years ago – long before similar beasts roamed northern Asia and Europe in the ice ages that gripped those regions.
The discovery team says the existence of this ancient rhino supports the idea that the frosty Tibetan foothills of the Himalayas were the evolutionary cradle for these later animals.
The report appears in Science journal.
“It is the oldest specimen discovered so far,” said Xiaoming Wang from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, US.
“It is at least a million years older, or more, than any other woolly rhinos we have known.
“It’s quite well preserved – just a little crushed, so not quite in the original shape; but the complete skull and lower jaw are preserved,” he told BBC News.
Well, that is all for me this morning. Enjoy your first Sunday in September, and I will catch you all later in the comments.
According to Politico, Republicans are escalating their game of chicken with demands they want met before they agree to raise the debt limit.
One day after being named to a presidential task force to negotiate deficit reduction, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fired off a stark warning to Democrats that the GOP “will not grant their request for a debt limit increase” without major spending cuts or budget process reforms.
The Virginia Republican’s missive is a clear escalation in the long-running Washington spending war, with no less than the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance.
Wait a minute…Obama put ERIC CANTOR on a deficit task force??!! Okay, the joke’s over. This guy cannot legitimately run on a Democratic ticket in 2012.
Cantor says he’s ready to plunge the nation into default if the GOP’s demands are not met. People close to Cantor say that he hopes to make clear that small concessions from Democrats, including President Barack Obama, will not be enough to deliver the GOP on a debt increase….
Republicans are floating a wide range of major structural reforms that could be attached to the debt limit vote, including statutory spending caps, a balanced budget amendment and a two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases and debt limit increases.
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has finally admitted that nuclear fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 has melted. From reading the article, it isn’t exactly clear what has happened, but I still detect efforts to minimize the damage. There’s a little more detail in an article from the Irish Times:
The head of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Takashi Sawada, said yesterday that fuel rods in reactors 1 and 3 have melted and settled at the bottom of their containment vessels, confirming fears that the plant suffered a partial meltdown after last month’s huge earthquake and tsunami.
Engineers have been struggling since to bring four reactors under control by pouring water onto overheating nuclear fuel, and that water is highly contaminated as a result. Mr Sawada warned the condition of the plant could worsen if another strong quake knocks out power to its cooling systems.
“That would destabilise pressure and temperatures inside the reactors and the situation would become extremely unpredictable again,” he said.
The story also says that there was an aftershock yesterday centered around 25 miles from the plant.
All the news outlets are covering the BP oil gusher and the damage it has done to the Gulf, because yesterday was the anniversary of the explosion that killed 11 oil rig workers. Don’t worry, they’ll drop the subject like a hot potato in a couple of days. Here’s an article from the NYT.
Even in the worst days of the BP spill, coastal advocates were looking past the immediate emergency to what the president’s oil spill commission called “the central question from the recovery of the spill — can or should such a major pollution event steer political energy, human resources and funding into solutions for a continuing systemic tragedy?”
That tragedy is the ill and declining health of the Gulf of Mexico, including the enormous dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi and the alarmingly rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, roughly 2,000 square miles smaller than they were 80 years ago. Few here would take issue with the commission’s question, but the answer to it is far from resolved.
Eclipsed by the spill’s uncertain environmental impact is the other fallout: the vast sums in penalties and fines BP will have to pay to the federal government. In addition to criminal fines and restitution, BP is facing civil liabilities that fall roughly into two categories: Clean Water Act penalties and claims from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, whereby state and federal agencies tally the damage caused by the spill and put a price tag on it. This could add up to billions, perhaps tens of billions, of dollars.
Awwww, gee. Poor BP. It sounds like the writer feels sorry for them.
In Wisconsin, JoAnne Kloppenburg has asked for a recount in the race for the state supreme court.
JoAnne Kloppenburg arrived at the state Government Accountability Board’s office in Madison barely an hour before the 5 p.m. local time deadline by which she had to ask for a recount or concede defeat. According to the vote count finalized by the state last week, she trails Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast in the April 5 election.
“Today, my campaign is asking the Government Accountability Board to conduct a statewide recount,” Kloppenburg said at a news conference. The announcement was met with applause and cheers of “thank you.” She’s requesting the recount “in part to determine what the proper outcome of the election will be and to ensure that elections form this point forward will be fair.
“I do not make this decision lightly … I have weighed the options and I have considered the facts,” Kloppenburg, currently an assistant state attorney general, said. The tight margin — small enough to trigger a provision allowing the state to pay for the recount process — means that “the importance of every vote is magnified and doubts about every vote are magnified as well,” she said.
And in silly Republican news, eight Wisconsin doctorswho wrote excuses for protesting teachers are being investigated.
The state Department of Regulation and Licensing and the Medical Examining Board said Wednesday that they had opened investigations into eight individuals who allegedly wrote doctor excuse notes for protesters at the state Capitol during rallies in February.
Last month, the Department of Regulation and Licensing said it had identified 11 people who may have provided the medical excuses, and it asked them to submit information about their activities at the Capitol.
Three members of the Medical Examining Board reviewed the information and decided to open investigations on eight of the 11, according to a department news release.
The eight being investigated are all licensed physicians, department spokesman David Carlson said.
Are Wisconsin taxpayers going to have to pay for this silliness? How ridiculous.
As a Kindle owner, I’m excited about this news. Amazon’s Kindle Will Offer E-Books From Libraries
Bookworms who own Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Kindle electronic reader will finally be able to borrow digital books from public libraries….
The move is likely to have major repercussions for public libraries and the digital-reading market generally, since Amazon currently dominates the e-book industry and its actions in the space are closely watched. There are an estimated 7.5 million Kindles in the U.S., which gives Amazon a two-thirds share of the $1 billion digital-book market, said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.
Many major public libraries, including those in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, offer free digital-book lending. A physical trip to the library isn’t required. Instead, library-card holders can download books from library websites. Each library sets its own digital-book lending policy, but typical lending periods are 14 or 21 days.
Major League Baseball has seized the LA Dodgers and will now control day-to-day operations for the team. Owner Frank McCourt is having financial problems.
The move was prompted by a number of issues surrounding the Dodgers, including owner Frank McCourt’s recent receipt of $30-million personal loan to meet payroll and the parking-lot attack at Dodger Stadium on March 31 that left a San Francisco Giants fan in a coma, according to a league source.
“This has been like watching a soap opera unfold,” said Gary Toebben, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “We want a financially solvent Dodgers. We want a winning team.”
The league will now have approval rights over every significant expenditure by the team, including a trade or contract extension. This will likely put the franchise on the path to being sold.
The commissioner’s move adds to the turmoil surrounding a team already embroiled in divorce proceedings between McCourt and his wife, Jamie, who is seeking joint ownership.
McCourt tried to buy the Red Sox back when the the former owner died. Thank goodness he didn’t succeed in buying the team–they probably never would have beat the curse and won the World Series twice.
Some nutty right wing talk show host says the Bible forbids net neutrality.
The idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally is against the teachings of the Bible and America’s Founding Fathers, according to evangelical Christian minister and political activist David Barton.
During his radio show on Tuesday, he said that net neutrality violated the Biblical principle of free markets, a principle upheld by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
“That is part of the reason we have prosperity,” Barton said. “This is what the Pilgrims brought in, the Puritans brought in, this is free market mentality. Net neutrality sounds really good, but it is socialism on the Internet.”
“This is really, I’m going to use the word wicked stuff, and I don’t use that word very often, but this is wicked stuff,” he added.
Well that settles it then!
Monday was the 40th anniversary of Charles Manson’s conviction, so some media types decided to give him an opportunity to spout a bunch on nonsense. Manson’s new lawyer has asked the president to let the maniac out of prison, but Manson ruined his chances by giving his honest opinion of Obama.
Manson, 76, called Obama foolish in reference to Wall Street, saying he considered the president “a slave of Wall Street.”
“He doesn’t realize what they are doing. They are playing with him,” he said, according to the magazine.
Bla, bla, bla … so what else is new?
That’s about it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?
Via Raw Story, see what it’s really like inside Japan’s evacuation zone–empty streets, abandoned houses, ruined roads from the earthquake, packs of dogs and livestock roaming free–it’s like something out of a science fiction movie.
Japanese journalist Tetsuo Jimbo made a trip inside the restricted evacuation zone near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last week. At 17 km from the plant (about 2 minutes into the video), the Geiger counter alarms go off and remain on for the rest of the trip….
Jimbo terminates the mission at about 1.5 km from the nuclear plant, where radiation is thousands of times above normal.
Watch the video:
See dramatic photos at Buzzfeed
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?
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.