Sunday Reads: Did you ever see an elephant fly?

Morning everyone, my computer is in its final death throes.  It is amazing how much of our lives are on those things. I have some links for you, but since the computer is kaput, I am writing these reads earlier than I usually do. So you may have seen some of these already…I apologize for that. And since my computer has crashed, taking everything with it, I am using a different computer and on borrowed time…Therefore, I don’t have time to write as much as I would like.

In Japan, it seems there is another leak at Fukushima.  How this thing is going to end?  One thing is for certain,  it will not be for a long time.

Japan nuclear commission fails to send experts to Fukushima – The Mainichi Daily News

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has failed to send designated experts to Fukushima Prefecture to look into the crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant even though a national disaster-preparedness plan requires it to do so, many of the experts said Saturday.

A commission spokesperson said problems following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami such as blackouts had discouraged it from sending any experts to Fukushima Prefecture, but many of the specialists and government officials questioned the claim.


Wastewater level at Fukushima reactor rising

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the level of highly radioactive water in an underground tunnel for one of the reactors is rising.

Contaminated water in the plant’s facilities is hampering efforts to restore the reactor’s cooling systems. Leakages of contaminated water into the ocean and the ground are also raising concerns.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says as of 6 PM Friday, the level of contaminated water in the tunnel had risen 4.5 centimeters even after part of the water was moved to a condenser in a turbine building on Wednesday.

TEPCO says work earlier this month to fix the leakage of highly radioactive water into the ocean may have caused water from the reactor to accumulate in the tunnel.

TEPCO hopes to begin transferring highly radioactive water to a waste-processing facility by the end of next week so that work to fully restore the cooling systems can resume.

Highly radioactive water may also be leaking underground. TEPCO says it will monitor underground water 3 times a week, instead of only once a week.

A survey conducted by TEPCO on Wednesday showed radiation levels in underground water in storage facilities for the Number 1 and 2 reactors were up 38 times the levels observed a week earlier.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 23:54 +0900 (JST)


Radiactivity rises again in sea near No.2 reactor

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says levels of radioactive substances in seawater have risen again near the water intake of its No.2 reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO, says it detected 260 becquerels of iodine-131 per cubic centimeter in samples taken on Friday. That is 6,500 times the legal limit.

In the same area, levels of iodine-131 had been declining since April 2nd when 7.5 million times the limit was detected. On Thursday, the level was 1,100 times the safety limit.

TEPCO says the level of radioactive cesium-137 was also up in the same area. It detected 130 becquerels per cubic centimeter, 1,400 times the legal limit.
The firm says radioactive densities are leveling off or falling in most other areas.

TEPCO has installed underwater barriers and metal boards near the intake to prevent contaminated water from leaking into the sea.

The power company says the rise in the levels of radioactivity may have been caused by the installation work, but no new sources of leakage have been found.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 23:55 +0900 (JST)

Possible new leak at nuclear plant in Japan – MarketWatch

Radiation levels have spiked again in seawater near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan in an indication of possible new leaks at the complex, the government said Saturday, According to reports.


TEPCO to step up discharged water monitoring

The operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant says it will step up monitoring to assess the environmental impact of radioactive water discharged into the ocean from the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will measure radiation levels in seawater in 4 locations 3 kilometers off the coast, and 2 locations 8 kilometers off the coast.

This is in addition to the existing monitoring locations along the shore and 15 kilometers offshore.

The increased monitoring is in response to an instruction by the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The result of the investigation will be reported to the agency by May 2nd.

Here is some news from Bahrain and Gaza:

Bahrain ‘arrests rights lawyer and doctors’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Bahrain has detained a human rights lawyer and at least two doctors as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in the Gulf Arab kingdom, campaigners have said.

Security forces arrested lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer on Saturday, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and Wefaq, the biggest opposition party, said.

In Gaza this week:

Why Did Jihadists Kill My Friend? | Mother Jones

The jihadist militants in Gaza who kidnapped and murdered Italian journalist and human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni could not have killed a more steadfast champion of freedom and justice for Palestinians.

I met Vittorio, known to his friends as Vik, during my first week of freelance reporting in Gaza last year for publications including The Nation, GlobalPost, and Jerusalem Post Magazine. Vik graciously offered to show me around. The first time we met, he recounted the Israeli army assaults that he’d witnessed, and advised me on humanitarian stories that I might cover in Gaza. He brought along his laptop, and offered to let me use his pictures and videos. He took deep puffs from his pipe as he told me about the things he’d seen, including the time he saw a friend of his killed in an Israeli airstrike. I remember feeling awed by his determination to perservere despite his grief.

Candlelight vigil held for Italian activist – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian peace activist [Reuters]

Hundreds of mourners have rallied and many have held a candlelight vigil in the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave of Gaza for Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist who was killed on Friday.

And in the West Bank, which is run by Fatah, Hamas’s rival, around 100 people, most of them foreigners, marched on Saturday through Ramallah to a house of mourning in El Bireh, an AFP correspondent said.

Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, who was working with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was found dead by the security forces in a house in northern Gaza early on Friday.

He had been hanged, Hamas security officials said.

Hamas officials said two people had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping and said they were hunting further accomplices.

Ihab al-Ghussein, a Hamas spokesman, called it a “heinous crime which has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions”.

“The other members of the group will be hunted down,” he said.

There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian.

“I was about to cry when I heard the news. That man quit his family for us, for Gaza, and now Gazans killed him. That was so bad,” Abu Ahmed, a supermarket owner, said.

This week marked the anniversary of the BP spill. Warning the pictures are a bit alarming…I had posted in the comments sometime this week about the release of BP emails discussing ways to manipulate the scientist research. These articles touch on that as well.

BP anniversary: Toxicity, suffering and death – Features – Al Jazeera English

Medical and toxicology experts have told Al Jazeera that the oil spill has triggered environmental and human health disasters that will likely span decades [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]

April 20, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of BP’s catastrophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. On this day in 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing oil to gush from 5,000 feet below the surface into the ninth largest body of water on the planet.

At least 4.9 million barrels of BP’s oil would eventually be released into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was capped 87 days later.

It is, to date, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants to sink the oil, in an effort the oil giant claimed was aimed at keeping the oil from reaching shore.

Critics believe the chemical dispersants were used simply to hide the oil and minimise BP’s responsibility for environmental fines.

Earlier this month Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, gave its top executives bonuses for achieving what it described as the “best year in safety performance in our company’s history”. Transocean CEO Steve Newman’s bonus was $374,062.

BP has plans to restart deepwater drilling on 10 wells in the Gulf of Mexico this summer after being granted permission by US regulators.

Meanwhile, marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as “catastrophic,” and have told Al Jazeera that this is only the beginning of that what they expect to be an environmental and human health crisis that will likely span decades.

Guest Post: No, The Gulf Oil Spill Is NOT Old News « naked capitalism

While the Japanese nuclear crisis might upstage the Gulf crisis, it hasn’t gone away.

As the Wall Street Journal notes today:

Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency… compared the contamination of seawater by the Fukushima complex with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by BP PLC last year, and said, “The BP oil spill has caused far more serious impact on the environment than the Fukushima accident” ….

Gulf residents are still getting sick, the number of dolphins and whales killed by the spill appears to be many times higher than officials previously believed. Dead turtles are washing up in Mississippi. And see these photos from my favorite photographer, Julie Dermansky:

A few updates on Monsanto and Mortgage Fraud:

The United States of Monsanto | Emptywheel

WikiLeaks had revealed that our diplomats had proposed a “military-style trade war” to force Europeans to adopt Monsanto’s controversial products.

A Slap on the Wrist for Mortgage Fraud

On Wednesday, three federal regulators — the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — released an enforcement order against 14 of the nation’s largest banks and two third-party service providers for persistent irregularities and outright fraud in the way they process mortgages. These regulators are, respectively, the gang that missed the housing bubble, American International Group’s overseer (whose colossal lapses caused it to be disbanded in last year’s financial-regulatory law), and an entity most recently headed by a former bank lobbyist. The product of their deliberations, then, is no surprise: a toothless federal consent decree that essentially lets the offending banks off the hook and puts them in charge of their own prosecution.

Some updates on illegal actions of state governments and an interesting article about WWED….What Would Einstein Do?

Michigan’s Governor Exercises “Emergency Powers” to Break Union Contracts | Crooks and Liars

Benton, Michigan’s city government was shut down yesterday by the state Emergency Financial Manager. Elected officials in that city are now limited to calling a meeting, adjourning a meeting, and approving minutes of a meeting. Beyond that, they can do nothing.


This is a complete disenfranchisement of an entire community, an entire large city in my state. The voters are now denied the ability to be governed by the people they elected in a democratic election.

This is nothing short of an abridgment of democracy in raw form.

ThinkProgress » TN State Rep. Argues Einstein Would Teach Creationism

Armed with fantasy and lies, Tennessee legislators are attempting to dismantle science education in their state’s public schools. Last week, the Tennessee House voted by an overwhelming 70-23 margin in favor of a radical bill to teach the “controversy” about scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” During the debate on HB 368, introduced by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), anti-science conservative Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) argued that the “critical thinker” Albert Einstein would have wanted public schools to teach creationism alongside the science of biological evolution:

I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Einstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

All I can say to that Einstein link, is ugh….

Mink’s Missing Link File:   This next one is a whopper that I think you all would really find maddening. I expect the comments will be full of venom from this link from Historiann…be sure to click the link so that you can read the full story.

Seminal developments: entitled sexist a$holes divide surgeons’ group : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

This would actually be a pretty funny story for The Onion, if it weren’t in fact true (h/t to my horrified physician friend KV):

A Valentine’s Day editorial in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons has set off a firestorm of controversy that has divided the largest professional organization of surgeons in the country and raised questions about the current leadership and its attitudes toward women and gay and lesbian members.

The editorial, written by Dr. Lazar J. Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, extols the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women. It begins with a reference to the mating behaviors of fruit flies, then goes on to discuss studies on the menstrual cycles of heterosexual and lesbian women who live together. Citing the research of evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York, it describes how female college students who had been exposed to semen were less depressed than their peers who had not, concluding: “So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

The organization has more than 75,000 members (I am one). Roughly 10 percent are women. There are five women on the organization’s 22-member governing board; this month, they issued a letter requesting that Dr. Greenfield step down as president-elect. The entire board is set to vote on the issue on Sunday.

Seriously.  Re-read those paragraphs again.  Especially the part about how this was published in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons.And click on the link, too, to be informed by the headline “Sexism charges divide surgeons’ group.”  That’s right:  sexism charges are dividing the group, not the disgusting sexist behavior itself.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  Okay, no artsy fartsy link this week. Here is one to get you talking as well, I wonder…the President has a similar problem that this little girl did. Ears that stick out a bit more than “normal.”  I just think it is ironic that Obama pushed that anti-bully campaign, this little girl is a victim of bullying, and they both have protruding ears…

Bullying Pushes 7-year Old To Opt For Plastic Surgery On Her Ears

A 7-year old South Dakota girl, who has been a victim of bullying because her ears stick out, underwent an otoplasty – plastic surgery to reshape and pin back the outer ear. Samantha Roselle’s mother told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the surgical procedure was chosen as a preventative measure, to stop the bullying.

Cami Roselles, Samantha’s mom, said “Kids are mean. That’s just how they are.”

The operation, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, was successful, according to Dr. Steven Pearlman, the surgeon who performed the operation. He told ABC “Her ears look great!”

The link above has a medical description of the procedure. Here is the ABC link: Cosmetic Surgery to Stop School Bullying: Plastic Surgery for Children Increases 30 Percent in a Decade – ABC News

Samantha Shaw will soon be able to enjoy putting her hair up and wearing earrings, two things she never wanted to do a week ago.

Samantha just had otoplasty, commonly known as “pinning back” the ears. Before her surgery, her protruding ears made her the target of lots of hurtful questions by both children and adults.

Dr. Steven Pearlman, Samantha’s New York City-based plastic surgeon, said the two-and-a-half hour surgery went very well.

There are some residual black and blue marks near the incisions, but that’s to be expected, Pearlman said. For the next few months, Samantha will have to wear a headband to protect her ears.

“Her ears look great,” said Pearlman. “Throughout the checkup after surgery and when she got the bandages off, there wasn’t a peep or a tear out of her.”

Her mother, Cami Roselles, said it was a nerve-racking experience, since Samantha had never had surgery before. The anesthesia, she said, made her daughter sick.

But all that was forgotten as the bandages came off and Samantha got a glimpse of her new ears for the first time.

She was asked how they looked. “Good,” she said.

Samantha is just one of an increasing number of children having cosmetic surgery. That number, in fact, has gone up nearly 30 percent over the past decade, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

I don’t know how I feel about this…maybe you can help me work it out in the comments?

So what are you reading about today, share your links!