Saturday, March 19, 2011

Israeli Security Firm in Charge at Japanese Nuke Facilities Prior to Disaster

Ed note–to all those who scoffed at my questioning whether or not the present nuclear meltdown taking place at Japan’s nuke facility might have been part of an Israeli intel operation aimed at demonstrating the power of Israel’s stuxnet computer virus, Haaretz is now reporting that it was the Israeli security firm Magna that was providing security for the plant prior to the incident.


Israeli firm which secured Japan nuclear plant says workers there ‘putting their lives on the line’
Magna CEO says Japanese workers at nuclear plant ‘projecting business as usual’ but says it is ‘unclear if they are healthy due to the high level of radiation at the reactor, which is life-threatening.’

The CEO of the Israeli company that installed the security system at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant said Thursday that those workers who have elected to stay behind are “putting their lives on the line” to save Japan.

Magna BSP set up the security system about a year ago at the facility, which suffered extensive damage after the recent earthquake and tsunami, with particular concern over radiation leakage from the reactors at the site.

Fukushima damaged plant - AP - Mar. 15, 2011 The damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan, on Tuesday March 15, 2011.
Photo by: AP

The system includes cameras and a warning system, enabling the facility’s security staff to monitor anyone attempting to trespass onto the site or damage the perimeter fence. The security system was designed to guard the plant against any hostile elements seeking to seize radioactive material to use in a terrorist attack.

Among the 50 Japanese workers who have remained at Fukushima amid the unfolding crisis, in an effort to bring the facility under control, are two individuals who were in Israel about three weeks ago, where they underwent training to transfer the operation of the security system to the Japanese themselves.

“We still haven’t been able to make contact with them, either by phone or e-mail,” Magna CEO Haim Siboni said yesterday. “We know they’re alive, but it’s not clear if they are healthy due to the high level of radiation at the reactor, which is life-threatening.”

“The Japanese workers who have remained at the reactor are really putting their lives on the line, with the knowledge that they’re doing it to save all of Japan,” he added.

Although there is no access to the area, Siboni said the cameras from his company’s security system – which were installed high up – were probably not damaged and likely captured the post-earthquake explosions at the site, as well as the impact of the tsunami.

Magna BSP was established by Siboni about 10 years ago and is owned by several partners. Based in Dimona, the firm employs 15 people, a number which Siboni expects to expand dramatically in light of additional orders Magna has received from Japan and interest shown by the operators of nuclear reactors in other countries. Its operations in Japan are conducted through a Japanese government firm.

“We have an agreement in principle with the Japanese that we will provide protection for all of the country’s nuclear reactors,” Siboni said.

Magna had planned to send additional security equipment to Japan next week. The Japanese have not asked that the shipment be halted, Siboni said, adding: “They are projecting business as usual.”

And this from the Jerusalem Post–

Israeli firm’s cameras recording Japanese nuclear core

Wikipedia deletes cut away diagram of BWR Mark I

This deletion debate is now closed. Please do not make any edits to this archive.

[edit] File:BWR_Mark_I_Containment,_cutaway.jpg

related: Commons:Deletion requests/File:BWR Mark I Containment, diagram.png

delete Not government work, creation of private industry Theanphibian (talk) 19:29, 14 March 2011 (UTC) To add more detail, the page itself notes that report is from 2006 but the image is older. Uploader assumed that image was the work of Sandia National Lab because it was in a report from the Lab, but that is not the case, it was created before then, almost certainly by the vendor General Electric, as it is a stylized rendering of the containment. It would be nice to have a production of a national lab representing the containment, but this is not it. Theanphibian (talk) 19:32, 14 March 2011 (UTC) Also nominating File:BWR Mark I Containment, diagram.png. Theanphibian (talk) 19:45, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

You guessed right. shows the same image with General Electric watermark. --Hydrox (talk) 21:19, 14 March 2011 (UTC) links to [1], what appears to have a remake of the diagram. Is it safe to assume it is government-made? --Hydrox (talk) 21:24, 14 March 2011 (UTC) Not needed, copyright has expired, see below. --Hydrox (talk) 22:46, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
The copyright for this image has most likely expired. The first commercially-operated nuclear power reactor in the U.S. was the Dresden 1 reactor. Operating license was issued on 1 January, 1960, and the reactor was decommissioned in 1978. It was based on the Mark I design. So the picture above most likely predates 1964, and is thus in the public domain in the U.S., unless its copyright was renewed. --Hydrox (talk) 22:39, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately I have to conclude that this might after all be a copyvio. I didn't consider above that the same document contains diagrams of the Mark-II & Mark-III designs as well, and Mark-III didn't start operating until 1970s. Assuming these diagrams were drawn by the same person around the same time, they would have probably been published after 1963 and would be copyrighted to GE.
[2] has, in small letters, "GEZ-4396" written under the image. This is a General Electric publication reference code. [3] has a search engine for GE publications. But it does not find anything for this reference. If someone has access to GE publication archive index, he/she could verify with this reference # the exact date of publication.. --Hydrox (talk) 04:01, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
There is no acknowledgement of external copyright, or any thanks to GE, in the Sandia source doc (produced under contract to the NRC). Could this lend support to the notion it is copyright expired, so does not need acknowledgement by Sandia? Rwendland (talk) 23:08, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
That would be great if someone could provide the expired copyright rationale with the proper tags. I am personally not knowledgeable enough to do this, but hopefully we can attract the attention of a user with some better legal know-how. I would caution, however, that the fact that it's legal to use or could be defended doesn't make it in compliance with the Wikimedia Commons policy. It could be possible that it's likely PD but can't be assuredly proven, and then it'll be deleted anyway. Theanphibian (talk) 03:35, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Keep and change copyright tag. OK, here goes with the PD argument: US copyright law 1923-1977 is if the image as distributed was not tagged with a "(c) Whoever, Year" notice, then the image is Public Domain.[4] We strongly believe that General Electric created this image, and distributed it without copyright notice, during this period when the Mark I containment was being marketed and built. Page 3-16 of this US NRC document[5] appears to show the entire distributed image, merely tagged "General Electric ... GEZ-4396", indicating a full copyright notice was not used by General Electric. The fact that Sandia National Lab and US NRC reproduce this image without credit or acknowledgment to General Electric supports this argument that this image is without copyright (Public Domain). Rwendland (talk) 12:55, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
The thing is, the original publication GEZ-4396 was probably published with a copyright notice. If you look at the database of the GE publications, they are always published with a copyright notice, at least today. Not enough evidence to support assuming it was first published without copyright notice. --Hydrox (talk) 18:44, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm inclined to think it was published as a marketing poster without a legal copyright notice. That was common in the 1950s I believe, before colour TV and many magazines. I suspect it was reproduced in full in the NRC BWR training manual.Rwendland (talk) 16:41, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Please keep it for at least a month. This is timely information and the image is the most detailed and credible that I have seen. Give the copyright status the benefit of the doubt, please. 00:22, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

I second that motion, tho want to keep it for 6 months, it is the only decent model/diagram of a GE Mark 1 reactor, so in the news. No one else has info.—Preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) (UTC)

We recently had a user contribute a hand-drawn sketch, File:BWR Mark I Containment sketch.png. This should do. Theanphibian (talk) 03:35, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Consider keeping this illustration under a fair-use rationale. From what I know at this time, the illustration by the manufacturer of Fukushima reactor and sufficiently accurately depicts the Fukushima reactor structure. I would consider this illustration kind of "officially accurate" and can see no way how to find a replacement under a cc-license. In case of complex technical articles, accuracy of illustrations is desirable, even necessary, to provide appropriate explanation of the article's subject. Another aspect of "fair use" could be documentation of how these types of reactors were depicted (advertised?) in 1960s/70s. -- 08:30, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

I think it is interesting that someone decided this image should be tagged for removal now when we are all looking at the real thing on TV. The image should not be taken down for political reasons. It is particularly relevant that we should have access to an acurate diagram of this type of reactor now.Djapa84 (talk) 12:07, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Delete. This is Wikimedia Commons. Commons does not accept fair-use content. Also, as a free alternative exists, I see no case for fair-use in those individual Wikipedias that allow fair-use content either. --Hydrox (talk) 13:49, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Hydrox, I'm puzzled. Have you changed your mind that there is a good Public Domain argument for keeping, as you made above? Rwendland (talk) 14:52, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Please read my reasoning above. --Hydrox (talk) 18:44, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
There is no free alternative, since many details are shown only in this image, eg the spent fuel pool on the upper right below the crane. This is the pool (and its problematic position) which caused the fire in block 4. Keep --WolfgangRieger (talk) 17:08, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Keep -- 16:40, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Would a drawing (eg SVG) showing the same content solve any copyvio problem? --WolfgangRieger (talk) 17:10, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Keep The title page of the original report clearly indicates that this is a work for hire for the United States Government. It is therefore public domain. There is no copyright notice. Sandina uses copyright notices for things that are copyrighted (see their website, for example). --Selket (talk) 19:29, 15 March 2011 (UTC) Keep Is it really possible to enter such an unnecesary discussion. This ilustration is certainly more than public and more than "Govermental" enough, comming from this publication: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Job Code Y6757. Inge Holst Jacobsen. 15:07, 16 March 2011

Keep Either keep this drawing or substitute the extremely similar drawing that is hosted by the Nuclear REgulatory Commision on their BWR page. See page two of this PDF. Clearly this is the same drawing reproduced on a US government site in slightly less resolution. User: Sherifftruman

Delete Just because the NRC has violated the copyright for this image does NOT mean it falls into US Government public domain. 20:35, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Deleted: Clearly work of General Electric and most probably published orginally with a copyright note. (In addition: We can not keep it as fair use. But you can link in the articles to this PDF. ALE! ¿…? 08:01, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

The China Syndrome

Microsoft shuts down spam behemoth Rustock, reduces worldwide spam by 39%

Rustock botnet dismantled
Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, working with federal law enforcement agents, has brought down the world's largest spam network, Rustock.

Rustock, at its peak, was a botnet of around 2 million spam-sending zombies capable of sending out 30 billion spam email per day. Microsoft's wholesale slaughter of Rustock could reduce worldwide spam output by up to 39%.

Rustock was taken down, piece by piece, in a similar way to the Mega-D botnet. First the master controllers, the machines that send out commands to enslaved zombies, were identified. Microsoft quickly seized some of these machines located in the U.S. for further analysis, and worked with police in the Netherlands to disable some of the command structure outside of the U.S.

With the immediate threat disabled, Microsoft then worked with upstream providers to black hole the IP addresses of whoever was controlling the botnet. To prevent further master controllers popping up, Microsoft worked with Chinese CN-CERT to block registration of domains that could be used by new command and control servers.

Finally, Microsoft is now working with ISPs and CERTs around the world to help clean the Rustock malware from around 1 million infected machines. It's also worth noting that Microsoft didn't do this alone; specialists from Pfizer, FireEye (the company behind the Mega-D botnet takedown), and the University of Washington helped out.

Why Pfizer you ask? Because Rustock's spam is mostly of the pharmaceutical kind. The drugs advertised in such spam are rarely the real deal. They can contain the wrong active ingredients, or the wrong dosage. Not only did Rustock spam cut into Pfizer's profits, but it might have been killing people too.

If you want to prevent your own computers from becoming botnet zombies, make sure you install anti-malware software, such as Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware.

(Subbed) Nuclear Boy うんち・おならで例える原発解説

Breathless Fear Mongering Over Japan Continues

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff

a large enough crisis may shock otherwise reluctant policy makers into instituting productivity enhancing reforms.” Michael Bruno, Chief Economist World Bank

Yesterday it was reported that Graham Andrew, a senior official at the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced that though the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was bad, it had not gotten worse since the day before in spite of reports from various politicos in Japan’s neoliberalized government to the contrary. Well, that just won’t do for the crisis junkies as that they need to cultivate this situation as best they can for their pure profit motives. So, this morning we are facing a new report from yet another Japanese neoliberal yes man making even more disastrous claims. However, those claims don’t stand up to the light of day.

Here a few of this morning’s breathless headlines…

This is what Graham Andrew said late yesterday:

“The current situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains very serious … [but] there has been no significant worsening since yesterday,” Graham Andrew, IAEA

And this is what is being “reported” today with huge attention grabbing headlines shouting DANGER DANGER DANGER!:

“High levels of radiation have been found 18 miles from Japan’s quake-damaged nuclear power plant, the country’s science ministry said Friday.

Experts said exposure for just six hours would result in absorption of the maximum level considered safe for a year, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

The ministry said up to 0.17 millisieverts per hour have been detected 18 miles northwest of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, according to NHK.” MSNBC

Up To” .17 millisieverts per hour eh? For 6 hours? Really? Is that really the “maximum level considered safe for a year”? Let’s take a look at that…

A person’s radiation exposure due to all natural sources amounts on average to about 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year. A sievert (Sv) is a unit of effective dose of radiation. Depending on geographical location, this figure can vary by several hundred percent.

Since one sievert is a large quantity, radiation doses are typically expressed in millisievert (mSv) or microsievert (µSv), which is one-thousandth or one millionth of a sievert. For example, one chest X-ray will give about 0.2 mSv of radiation dose.” IAEA website

So a person’s normal radiation exposure per year is figured to be about 2.4 millisieverts per year according to the leading nuclear agency in the world, the IAEA. Now that is what people normally get, so unless EVERYONE DIES every year, it seems that 2.4 mSv are BELOW the “maximum level considered safe” for a year.

How does 2.4 mVs compare with the numbers from the report from MSNBC? Well let’s see…

They claim 6 hours at 0.17 mSv is equal to the maximum level a human can stand for a year. Do you start to see the problem with their math?

6 times 0.17 mSv = 1.02 mSv which is less than HALF of 2.4 mSv

Unless everyone on the planet dies every year, their numbers aren’t even close.

Also remember they also stated that the numbers were “up to” 0.17 mSv meaning that the reading was fluctuating and they did not take the average, they took the upper range so that they could make it seem worse than it was.

Also look at what they buried in the article after the big headline screaming about the growing danger of radiation…

“However, NHK reported that lower levels of radiation — 0.0183 to 0.0011 millisieverts per hour — were found at most observation points. These were higher than normal but posed no immediate threat to health.” MSNBC

At “most observation points” there is nothing to be alarmed about and according to these new observations, the radiation levels actually seem to be dropping just like the IAEA said the night before.

The question is “why?”

“In political discourse, the phrase “privatizing profits and socializing losses” refers to any instance of speculators benefitting (privately) from profits, but not taking losses, by pushing the losses onto society at large, particularly via the government.” Wikipedia

Why would certain individuals try to make the situation seem worse than it actually is? Especially when those individuals seem to be associated with the company that made the reactors in the first place.

MSNBC is still partially owned by General Electric (GE) and GE made the 6 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the heart of the current “crisis”. GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt also happens to be a well placed adviser to the Obama administration so it would seem at first glance to be counter productive for GE to be hyping the situation beyond what is actually happening.

But that is where you would be wrong.

GE has already sent engineers to Japan and are “helping” with the assessment of the problem. They are at ground Zero so to speak as the conflicting “facts” are coming out of Japan only to be countered by the experts at the IAEA.

“GE said it has tapped a network of more than 1,000 current and retired engineers. The company is working through its venture with Hitachi and has been directly advising the Japanese and U.S. governments, the paper said.

“The difficulty at this point is that a lot of the data coming in is conflicting at times,” James Klapproth, a chief engineer at GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc told the paper.” Reuters

Knowing that GE is there and helping produce the scary exaggerations about the situation at the plant, one has to wonder “why?’.

The answer is simple: in this rigged economy, we privatize the profits and socialize the losses.

Soon there will be a congressional committee which is tasked with “investigating” risks to our own nuclear facilities and then they will decide just how much U.S. tax-payer money they have to hand over to GE so they can “refurbish” their nuclear facilities to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen here in America. You can expect that to take place very soon. The number of course will be in the billions and it will be handed over in the end to GE who will do absolutely nothing with it except to offset their losses that they have already accrued due to this disaster.

That is why they have to make this a horrible threat to the American people and that is why they have to hype it as much as possible. To socialize their losses.

Almost $12bn (£7.4bn) has been wiped from the value of the company since Monday, and a retired nuclear engineer revealed how he and several colleagues resigned from GE in 1975 because of his safety concerns over the design of the Mark 1 containment unit used at the plant.” The Independent

GE is facing major losses already and they are sure to rise in the next few weeks UNLESS of course, they can get yet another huge cash infusion from the gullible tax-payers of America to retro-fit those Mark I reactors and stop storing all those spent fuel rods on top of the damn core. This we will have to pay for, as it will be sold to us, because the situation as is represents a dire national emergency to our national security.

In a real free market economy, GE would just be S.O.O.L. They would have to accept the fact that they aren’t going to post a profit this quarter and eat their losses. But this isn’t a free market economy, it’s a crony economy and the CEO of General Electric works as the leading economic adviser to the White House. They also just happen to own one of the largest “news” outlets in the country, so yes, they will hype this threat, make it threaten Americans, and then look to present congress with a plan to socialize their inevitable losses in such a way that they come out in the end in an even better circumstance than they were at the beginning. Contrite and hung-headed GE executives will be paraded in front of some congressional committee, they will hem and haw and in the end, they will walk out laughing after congressmen get to grandstand for their next campaign season and you will have to eat 12 billion in losses for GE and their stock holders.

They will turn a profit from this disaster by imposing the costs of this crisis on you the tax-payer, you mark my words. But first, in order to do that, they have to scare the shit out of you. They have to hype the looming “crisis” as the next biggest threat to you and your children after al Qaeda, Global Warming, and the H1N1 virus.

That’s “why?”

Xenon Xe 133 Gas Description

Xenon Xe 133 Gas is for diagnostic inhalation use only. It is supplied in vials containing either 370 or 740 megabecquerels (10 or 20 millicuries) of Xenon Xe 133 Gas in 2 milliliters of carrier xenon and atmospheric air.

Xenon Xe 133 Gas is chemically and physiologically similar to elemental xenon, a non-radioactive gas which is physiologically inert except for anesthetic properties at high doses.

Xenon Xe 133 is produced by fission of Uranium U 235. At the time of calibration, it contains no more than 0.3% Xenon Xe 133m, no more than 1.5% Xenon Xe 131m, no more than 0.06% Krypton Kr 85 and no more than 0.01% Iodine I 131, with no less than 99.9% total radioactivity as radioxenon. Table 1 shows the effect of time on radionuclidic composition.

Table 1. Radionuclidic Composition
Percent of Total Radioactivity
Days % Xe-133 % Xe-133m % Xe-131m % Kr-85 % I-131

*Calibration Date **Expiration Date

<0.6> <1.0> <0.03> <0.01>


Xenon Xe 133 decays by beta and gamma emissions with a physical half-life of 5.245 days.1 Photons that are useful for detection and imaging studies as well as the principal beta emission are listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Principal Radiation Emission Data
Radiation Mean % Per Disintegration Energy (keV)
K alpha x-rays
K beta x-rays
100.6 Avg.
30.8 Avg.
35.0 Avg.
Kocher, David C., "Radioactive Decay Data Tables," DOE/TIC-11026,138 (1981).

US Readies Team For Japan Emergency

(RTTNews) - A 450-member team of experts equipped to deal with a nuclear emergency has been mobilized by the U.S. military for possible deployment in Japan in the event of a full-blown nuclear disaster there, reports said on Thursday.

Admiral Robert Willard told reporters in Washington that he would oversee American military assistance to Japan which has been encountering a humanitarian and nuclear crisis brought on by last week's massive earthquake and the devastating tsunami it generated.

Willard said an advance team of radiological and consequence experts had already been sent to the affected region for taking stock of the situation. The Admiral added that there was close cooperation between the U.S. and Japanese forces in dealing with the post-tsunami crisis and this was attributed to time-tested ties between Washington and Tokyo.

Efforts are still on to stabilize the quake-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and reports say progress has been painfully slow. There is now a great urgency to restore power for restarting the pumps to spray cold water on the reactors.

On Friday, one minute's silence was observed throughout Japan at 2:46 local time, the exact hour at which the magnitude-9 quake and the resulting tsunami struck the country's northeast last Friday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference on Friday that steam was emitting from the plant after helicopters dumped tons of sea water over the affected reactors on Thursday.

Edano, however, denied reports about a spike in radiation to levels harmful to human health. But he admitted that a few higher readings had been recorded and added that a whole lot of attention had been devoted to reactor 3 and water was being continuously sprayed.

The top Japanese official rubbished reports that Tokyo had spurned American help for dealing with the crisis. "We have repeatedly asked for specific support, and indeed, they are responding to that," he said.

Some 6,405 people have officially been declared dead in the catastrophe, but it is feared that the actual number of casualties could be much higher.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback:

Japan has not blocked youtube come on people use your brains

Dwight D. Eisenhower comments on the cost of "defence" spending

Dwight D. Eisenhower comments on the cost of

China suspends nuclear building plans

File image of the Qinshan nuclear power plant in Haiyan
By Michael Bristow BBC News, Beijing

China has suspended approval for new nuclear power stations following the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

It will also carry out checks at existing reactors and those under construction.

China is currently building 27 new reactors - about 40% of the total number being built around the world.

The news comes as China grows increasingly worried about the nuclear accident in Japan.
'Top priority'

The decision to temporarily halt approval for nuclear plants came at a meeting of China's State Council, or Cabinet, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

"We will temporarily suspend approval for nuclear power projects, including those that have already begun preliminary work, before nuclear safety regulations are approved," read a statement from the State Council.

"Safety is our top priority in developing nuclear power plants."

It went on to say that China's medium and long-term nuclear plans would be "adjusted and improved".
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

If there is an accident it will be worse than in Japan because many of the new plants are near high-population areas so we need to be careful”

End Quote Yang Fuqiang Energy expert

China currently gets only about 2% of its electricity from nuclear power from 13 reactors, but it has launched an ambitious project to drastically increase those figures.

It is currently building more reactors than any other country in the world.

According to the World Nuclear Association, China wants to build a total of 110 nuclear reactors over the next few years.

This is part of a plan to develop other energy sources - such as wind and solar power - to reduce the country's dependence on coal, which currently supplies about three-quarters of its energy needs.

China also recently announced that it had developed its own technology to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, which could be used to run these new power plants.

Yang Fuqiang, an energy and climate change expert, said the government's latest move showed it was being responsible.

"There are many nuclear power stations under construction at the moment - that's risky. We have to go back and check each one," he said.

"If there is an accident it will be worse than in Japan because many of the new plants are near high-population areas so we need to be careful."

China's State Council has assured people that the country will not be affected by the radioactive leaks.

But shoppers have been buying up vast quantities of salt in many parts of the country, partly in the belief that it could protect them against radiation.

Potassium iodide, a salt, protects the thyroid gland against radioactive iodine.

Some people also seem to believe future supplies of salt could be contaminated by radiation leaking from the Daiichi nuclear plant, so they are buying up stocks now.

"We need to dispel rumours. Don't let Japan's nuclear crisis become China's salt crisis," said on online commentator.

Pharmacies are also reporting massive demand for medicine that protects against radiation.

read more:

Investment bankers salivate over North Africa

Investment banking is usually thought of as a field that values stability. Yet the greatest rewards are often attained through destabilization.

North African regimes and leaders have their obvious faults and flaws. Autocracies have an inherent weakness in their tendency to ossification. This basic reality is reflected not just in the obvious lack of democratic institutions, but also in the economic structures of the North African states. Regimes which have persisted for many decades tend to retain many of the economic characteristics of the era in which they were formed.

In the developing economies, during the decades prior to the neo-liberal reforms of the 1990′s, state owned industries were fostered in order to provide basic services such as telecommunications, transport and public utilities. Local manufacturing industries were protected from offshore competition as a means of furthering development goals and enhancing balance of trade accounts. These well established practices have come to be seen by today’s promoters of ‘free trade’ and privatization as an impediment to maximizing profits. Once established, these industries are in many cases difficult to dislodge.

Therefore, a clean break is required for restructuring primary domestic industries in order for international investors to reap a greater share of locally generated profits. This process is referred to as ‘creative destruction’. To facilitate the emplacement of the new order, the old order must first be swept aside. This requirement of upending the existing order explains why Western neoconservatives have been promoting the revolutionary uprisings in North Africa. Neoconservative think tanks and publications are closely associated with the banking interests. Evidence of their designs on North Africa is abundant.

A 2010 Bertelsmann evaluation titled Transformation Tunisia reported:

Tunisia’s decision makers have once again advanced transformation too sluggishly. Despite the formal abolition of trade barriers for industrial goods with the European Union as of 1 January 2008, in practice, Tunisia has seen too little progress in terms of trade liberalization [emphasis added].

[The] Tunisian banking sector and capital market are regularly cited as one major hindrance to the country’s economic modernization. Although they have been formally brought up to international standards, financial supervision and regulation remain subject to political influence. This is partly due to direct state control over financial flows and partly to the state’s direct involvement therein. Although it sold its stakes in two banks in 2002 and 2005, respectively, the state remains the controlling shareholder in at least four other banks because it controls 50% of their assets. Under these conditions, top-rank bank executives are de facto appointed by the president through a controlling body.

On January 7, 2011, Elliott Abrams wrote for the Council on Foreign Relations:

“Tunisia, whose literacy rate has long been the highest in Africa at nearly 80% and whose per capita GDP is about $8,000, should have the ability to sustain a democratic government—once the Ben Ali regime collapses [emphasis added].

“Tunisians are clearly sick of looking at all the giant photos and paintings of Ben Ali that appear on walls, posters, and billboards all over the country. [...]

“If Tunisia can move toward democracy, Algerians and Egyptians and even Libyans will wonder why they cannot. This kind of thing may catch on [emphasis added]. In fact, in Algeria it may already be catching on.” (Elliott Abrams: Is Tunisia Next?)

On February 13, the New York Times described Robert Kagan as “a Brookings Institution scholar who long before the revolution helped assemble a nonpartisan group of policy experts to press for democratic change in Egypt.” [emphasis added]

Maidhc Ó Cathail has noted that:

Arianna Huffington … was prescient in a December 13, 2010 op-ed in Lebanon’s Daily Star titled “Social media will help fuel change in the Middle East.”

And also that:

Robert Kagan, who co-founded the Project for a New American Century with William Kristol in 1997, was joined on that “nonpartisan group” by PNAC founding member Elliott Abrams and PNAC deputy director Ellen Bork. Bork is currently “democracy and human rights” director at PNAC’s successor, Foreign Policy Initiative, where Kagan and Kristol are directors. Not surprisingly, Kristol wrote in the Weekly Standard on January 29 that he was “in complete agreement” with his fellow PNACers’ Working Group on Egypt in its demands that the U.S. suspend aid to Mubarak. [...]

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Kagan looked positively sanguine about the prospects for a post-Mubarak Egypt. Like George Soros, he seems confident that Israel has “much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East.”

It should be recalled that many of these same individuals and institutions were principle actors in the promotion of the ‘color revolutions’ in many of the former Soviet Republics as well as in Iran’s failed ‘green revolution’ during the summer of 2010.

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi points out that the direction that events take is not being left to local forces:

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was interviewed by Rachel Maddow several weeks ago and revealed that Washington has already begun meddling. Albright denounced Egyptian ex-president Mubarak … and then confirmed that the National Endowment for Democracy was already hard at work in Egypt, even though Mubarak had not yet stepped down, building up infrastructure and supporting party development. Recall for a moment that Albright believes that a heavy fist is an essential part of diplomacy and that US interests always trump whatever suffering local people have to endure. [...]

Those who are aware of the insidious activities of the National Endowment for Democracy or NED, an ostensibly private foundation that spreads “democracy” and is largely funded by the government, will not be surprised to learn that it is already active in North Africa because it is almost everywhere. NED, which has a Democratic Party half in its National Democratic Institute, and a Republican Party half in its International Republican Institute, was the driving force behind the series of pastel revolutions that created turmoil in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism. Remember when the Russians and others complained about the activities of NGOs interfering in their politics? NED was what they were referring to.

Albright is in charge of the NED Dems while John McCain leads the NED GOP. [...]

Neoconservative Ken Timmerman has identified the core NED activity overseas as “training political workers in modern communications and organizational techniques,” surely a polite way to describe interfering directly in other countries’ politics.

On February 27, John McCain and Joe Lieberman visited Cairo. As reported by Politico:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who’s on a quick trip through the Middle East, said Sunday he found Cairo to be a “very exciting place.”

“We went to Tahrir Square today. Got a warm, enthusiastic welcome,” he said of his visit to Cairo with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Of course, to suggest that the uprisings have been orchestrated solely by these interests would ignore genuine grassroots concerns. Nothing here is meant to suggest that conditions for unrest were not present or that sacrifices for social change have not been made by the peoples of North Africa. This article is only meant to inform as to the activities of the interventionists. The real accomplishments of the uprisings may yet predominate.

Within a month after demanding cessation of military aid to Mubarak, the very same neocon cabal was demanding military intervention in the less pliable Libya. Jim Lobe reports for IPS:

In a distinct echo of the tactics they pursued to encourage U.S. intervention in the Balkans and Iraq, a familiar clutch of neo-conservatives appealed Friday for the United States and NATO to “immediately” prepare military action to help bring down the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and end the violence that is believed to have killed well over a thousand people in the past week.

The appeal, which came in the form of a letter signed by 40 policy analysts, including more than a dozen former senior officials who served under President George W. Bush, was organised and released by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a two-year-old neo-conservative group that is widely seen as the successor to the more-famous – or infamous – Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

Warning that Libya stood “on the threshold of a moral and humanitarian catastrophe”, the letter, which was addressed to President Barack Obama, called for specific immediate steps involving military action, in addition to the imposition of a number of diplomatic and economic sanctions to bring “an end to the murderous Libyan regime”.

In particular, it called for Washington to press NATO to “develop operational plans to urgently deploy warplanes to prevent the regime from using fighter jets and helicopter gunships against civilians and carry out other missions as required; (and) move naval assets into Libyan waters” to “aid evacuation efforts and prepare for possible contingencies;” as well as “(e)stablish the capability to disable Libyan naval vessels used to attack civilians.”

Among the letter’s signers were former Bush deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Bush’s top global democracy and Middle East adviser; Elliott Abrams; former Bush speechwriters Marc Thiessen and Peter Wehner; Vice President Dick Cheney’s former deputy national security adviser, John Hannah, as well as FPI’s four directors: Weekly Standard editor William Kristol; Brookings Institution fellow Robert Kagan; former Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor; and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman.

It was Kagan and Kristol who co-founded and directed PNAC in its heyday from 1997 to the end of Bush’s term in 2005.

The letter comes amid growing pressure on Obama, including from liberal hawks, to take stronger action against Gaddafi.

Two prominent senators whose foreign policy views often reflect neo-conservative thinking, Republican John McCain and Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman, called Friday in Tel Aviv for Washington to supply Libyan rebels with arms, among other steps, including establishing a no-fly zone over the country.

By March 6, Reuters was already reporting the hoped for results:

As entrenched monopolies and patronage give way in the Middle East and North Africa, governments in the region could open their markets further and divest some state assets.

Wealthy Gulf states such Kuwait and Qatar have little cause to sell, but post-revolutionary states such as Tunisia will likely lower protectionist barriers…

“… this crisis is going to reveal some opportunities as structures linked to old regimes will be unwound,” said Julian Mayo, investment director at Charlemagne Capital. [...]

“When you have an economy moving from socialist dictatorship to full-fledged free market, the spider in the web of that transformation will be the banks,” [emphasis added] said Bjorn Englund, who runs an investment fund focused on Iraq.


Japan weighs need to bury nuclear plant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese engineers conceded on Friday that burying a crippled nuclear plant in sand and concrete may be a last resort to prevent a catastrophic radiation release, the method used to seal huge leakages from Chernobyl in 1986.

But they still hoped to solve the crisis by fixing a power cable to two reactors by Saturday to restart water pumps needed to cool overheating nuclear fuel rods. Workers also sprayed water on the No.3 reactor, the most critical of the plant's six.

It was the first time the facility operator had acknowledged burying the sprawling complex was possible, a sign that piecemeal actions such as dumping water from military helicopters or scrambling to restart cooling pumps may not work.

"It is not impossible to encase the reactors in concrete. But our priority right now is to try and cool them down first," an official from the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, told a news conference.

As Japan entered its second week after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 10-meter (33-foot) tsunami flattened coastal cities and killed thousands of people, the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl looked far from over.

The nuclear disaster has triggered global alarm and reviews of safety at atomic power plants around the world.

"This is something that will take some time to work through, possibly weeks, as you eventually remove the majority of the heat from the reactors and then the spent-fuel pools," Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told a news conference at the White House.

Millions of people in Tokyo continued to work from home, some fearing a blast of radioactive material from the complex, 240 km (150 miles) to the north, although the International Atomic Energy Agency said radiation levels in the capital were not harmful.

That is little solace for about 300 nuclear plant workers toiling in the radioactive wreckage. They are wearing masks, goggles and protective suits whose seams are sealed off with duct tape to prevent radioactive particles from creeping in.

"My eyes well with tears at the thought of the work they are doing," Kazuya Aoki, a safety official at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told Reuters.

Even if engineers restore power at the plant, the pumps may be too damaged from the earthquake, tsunami or subsequent explosions to work. The first step is to restore electricity to pumps for reactors No. 1 and 2 by Saturday.

By Sunday, the government expects cooling pumps for badly damaged reactors No.3 and No.4 to have power, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, Japan's nuclear agency spokesman.

Asked about burying the reactors in sand and concrete, he said: "That solution is in the back of our minds, but we are focused on cooling the reactors down."

Some experts said dumping water from helicopters to try to cool spent-fuel pools would have little impact.

"One can put out forest fires like this -- by pouring water from far above," said Gennady Pshakin, a Russian nuclear expert. "It is not clear where this water is falling. There is no control."

Japan raised the incident level at the crippled plant to 5 on a scale called INES to rank nuclear accidents, up from 4 on a 1-7 scale.

That puts it on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979, although some experts say it is more serious. Chernobyl was a 7 on the INES scale.


The Group of Seven rich nations, stepping in together to calm global financial markets after a tumultuous week, agreed to join in rare concerted intervention to restrain a soaring yen.

The U.S. dollar surged more than two yen to 81.80 after the G7's pledge to intervene, leaving behind a record low of 76.25 hit on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei share index ended up 2.7 percent, recouping some of the week's stinging losses. It has lost 10.2 percent this week.

U.S. markets, which had tanked earlier in the week on the back of the crisis, rebounded on Thursday but investors were not convinced the advance would last.

The yen has seen steady buying since the earthquake, as Japanese and international investors closed long positions in higher-yielding, riskier assets such as the Australian dollar, funded by cheap borrowing in the Japanese currency.

Expectations that Japanese insurers and companies would repatriate billions of dollars in overseas funds to pay for a reconstruction bill that is expected to be much costlier than the one that followed the Kobe earthquake in 1995 also have helped boost the yen.


The plight of hundreds of thousands left homeless by the earthquake and tsunami worsened following a cold snap that brought heavy snow to worst-affected areas.

Supplies of water, heating oil and fuel are low at evacuation centers, where many survivors wait bundled in blankets. Many elderly lack proper medical supplies. Food is often rationed.

The government said on Friday it was considering moving some of the hundreds of thousands of evacuees to parts of the country unscathed by the devastation.

Nearly 320,000 households in the north were still without electricity in near-freezing weather as of Friday afternoon, Tohuku Electric Power Co said, and the government said at least 1.6 million households lacked running water.

The National Police Agency said on Friday it had confirmed 6,539 deaths from the quake and tsunami disaster, exceeding 6,434 who died after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. But 10,354 people are still missing.

The government has told everyone living within 20 km (12 miles) of the plant to evacuate, and advised people within 30 km (18 miles) to stay indoors.

The U.S. embassy in Tokyo has urged citizens living within 80 km (50 miles) of the Daiichi plant to evacuate or remain indoors "as a precaution", while Britain's foreign office urged citizens "to consider leaving the area". Other nations have urged nationals in Japan to leave the country or head south.

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg, Nathan Layne, Elaine Lies, Leika Kihara and Chris Gallagher; Writing by Jason Szep; Editing by Dean Yates and John Chalmers)

Mochila insert follows.

Japan weighs need to bury nuclear plant

Obama cancels public speech in Rio square: embassy

Brazilian army
© AFP Antonio Scorza

BRASILIA (AFP) - President Barack Obama has cancelled a public speech he was scheduled to deliver Sunday in a Rio square during his upcoming visit to Brazil, the US embassy in Brasilia said.

The speech in the historic plaza known as Cinelandia, in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, "is cancelled," an embassy spokeswoman told AFP.

Obama instead will deliver remarks at Rio's Municipal Theatre, the official said, without specifying whether it would be open to the public or exclusively for invited guests.

No explanation for the change of venue was given by the embassy. Brazilian authorities have laid out a heavy security presence for Obama's two-day visit to South America's largest nation, and police in Rio had closed numerous streets from midnight Thursday in preparation.

On Thursday, members of an advance US security team were seen inspecting the surroundings of Cinelandia, where anti-US banners could be seen hanging from a road-side fence.

Some social and union groups have declared Obama a "persona non grata" and called for a protest, accusing him of a "bellicose policy of occupation" in foreign countries, and of attacking people "in the name of the war on terror."

Due to depart for Brazil later Friday on the first leg of a Latin American tour, Obama is then scheduled to be in Chile on Sunday before a final stop in El Salvador.

The trip comes at a troubling time as a nuclear nightmare stalks Japan and Arab and Western nations consider military action against Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi, who is threatening to crush a rebel uprising.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

Michigan passes 'financial martial law' bill

Editor's Note: Finally, they're sending in the troops to arrest the banksters. Oh wait, the tyranny is actually directed at the little people and coordinated by the banksters. My bad!

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder/Wikimedia Commons
Jennifer Epstein

Michigan legislators have approved a bill authorizing state-appointed emergency financial managers to break union contracts that struggling cities and school districts have with their workers.

Following up on the state Senate’s passage of the bill last week, the House passed the bill 62-48 on Tuesday, sending the legislation to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for final approval. Snyder, who asked for the expanded powers for emergency financial managers, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Supporters say the bill gives the state a way to step into distressed municipalities and schools before they collapse. It also gives emergency financial managers broad authority to end employee union contracts, and to nullify elected boards and councils.

Read Full Article

Conservative Family Research Council Says Gay Marriage Is as Bad as the Earthquake/Tsunami:

Oh, how we members of the Super-Duper Prayer Team awaited our orders of praytardation on the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis/giant honey badger attacks. The Rude Pundit joined the Super-Duper Prayer Team of the nutzoid evangelical Family Research Council (motto: "If a woman wanted to abort a gay fetus, our heads would explode") under a nom de rude a few years ago, and, for his trouble, once a week he receives an email that tells him how he needs to kneel before the Lord and offer humble but enthusiastic praybagging for the ills what afflict this great nation o' ours. We're told our "Prayer Targets," the crosshairs of our prayplantation, and given the words and bible verses to support our inability to pray on our own. Surely, surely, the wreckage of lives and property in Japan would offer us a chance, a prayportunity, to show just how much a love loaf we can pinch out.

And then, like every Wednesday (except when we get it on Thursday), the missive arrived, and it started out enthusiastically enough: "Our hearts go out to the people of Japan in the aftermath of such incalculable devastation and untold suffering. I am sure you will join me in praying for rescue and relief efforts as well as for the efforts to share the Good News of Jesus Christ." Fuck, yeah, man. Time to break out the knee pads and...whoa, what was that at the end there? So, umm, we're supposed to take advantage of the aching Japanese people and convert them? That seems a bit...skeevy.

It continued, no, really, "The Lord Jesus used a tragedy and a disaster to point people to the need to cry out to God in repentance (Luke 13:1-5). Devastating earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear threats, massive hurricanes, revolutions, wars, terrorism, mass murders, uncontrollable borders, epidemic drugs, abortion, bankrupt nations, family breakdown, societal disorder, union mobs, abandonment of natural sexuality and the God-given institution of marriage: previous generations would have understood all of these to be signs, warnings and temporal judgments from Almighty God -- instructive not only to those immediately affected, but to all of us. Unless we repent, we will all likewise perish, just as Jesus proclaimed."

And then the email asked us to pray that people pay attention to some stupid fucking event or other for which the FRC is hoping to con money out of people. (By the way, check out the figure on the event's poster. That dude's yanking and sucking a big ol' dick.)

There you go. According to the FRC, gay marriage is the same threat as a tsunami, and if we don't repent, then the FRC's version of God, a pissy bastard jonesing for a fight, will judge the shit out of you. What an asshole. Fuck that God. This is the organized religion version of standing on a corner with a poorly-scrawled sign warning of the coming apocalypse. And it's just fucking weird, too, because there ain't jackshit Jesus ever said that would have anything to do with illegal immigrants ("uncontrollable borders"). And the Rude Pundit's pretty sure that the Bible has little to say about collective bargaining rights. Apparently, omens come cheap in these spiritually dessicated times.

You can bet that if you asked the survivors in Rikuzen-Takata if they would rather let lesbians marry or have their city be stomped into mud, they'd ask if they could be bridesmaids. And if you wouldn't, then you deserve a good smiting to teach you how to prioritize better.

U.S. nuclear officials suspect Japanese plant has a dire breach

U.S. government nuclear experts believe a spent fuel pool at Japan's crippled Fukushima reactor complex has a breach in the wall or floor, a situation that creates a major obstacle to refilling the pool with cooling water and keeping dangerous levels of radiation from escaping.

That assessment by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials is based on the sequence of events since the earthquake and information provided by key American contractors who were in the plant at the time, said government officials familiar with the evaluation. It was compelling evidence, they said, that the wall of the No. 4 reactor pool has a significant hole or crack.

Unlike the reactor itself, the spent fuel pool does not have its own containment vessel, and any radioactive particles and gases can more easily spew into the environment if the uranium fuel begins to burn. In addition, the pool, which contains 130 tons of uranium fuel, is housed in a building that Japanese authorities say appears to have been damaged by fire or explosions.

Photos: In Japan, life amid crisis

A breach in the pool would leave engineers with a problem that has no precedent or ready-made solution, said Edwin Lyman, a physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"My intuition is that this is a terrible situation and it is only going to get worse," he said. "There may not be any way to deal with it."

The struggle to cool down stricken nuclear reactors and spent fuel pools in northern Japan entered a second week Friday, with fluctuating radiation levels and blustery winds hampering efforts to douse the most damaged installations with water from military helicopters and firetrucks with high-powered hoses.

Military firetrucks repeated the spraying operations of the day before, but the Defense Ministry said the use of helicopters again Friday was unlikely. Workers also hoped to hook at least two of the reactors up to the electrical grid in the course of the day, which would aid in cooling efforts.

In a sign of the worsening crisis at the complex 150 miles north of Tokyo, Japan said Friday that it would accept American assistance in stemming the cascade of nuclear woes.

Yukiya Amano, head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Japan Friday with a monitoring team and called the situation at the Fukushima plant "grave and serious," Reuters reported.

With some devastated stretches of coastline still untouched by recovery teams, the official toll of dead and missing in last Friday's magnitude 9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami topped 15,000, as hundreds of thousands of stranded survivors coped with freezing temperatures and shortages of fuel, food and other basic necessities.

Post-quake deaths, particularly among the frail, ill and elderly, were on the rise in sometimes primitive shelters. As of early Friday, the official death toll stood at 5,692, according to the National Police Agency, and 9,522 were unaccounted for and feared dead.

Radioactive levels at the plant had fallen by midday Friday and were not at levels that would affect human health, Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. The army and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, were still trying to assess the success of the previous day's efforts, he said.

"Information from the front line is emerging in fragments," he said, adding that wind, rain, snow and topography were all factors.

The exodus of foreigners from Japan gathered momentum, with several governments advising their nationals to not only leave the quake zone but also depart from the capital or the country altogether. In Washington, the State Department reported the first evacuation flights of U.S. citizens, though the American advisory is narrower than that of other Western nations, including Britain and France.

As many Japanese sought refuge within their homeland, they put more distance between themselves and the nuclear complex, packing aboard trains headed south. The national fear is of a full-scale meltdown at the reactors in Fukushima prefecture, although prevailing winds would probably disperse much of a massive radiation release over the Pacific Ocean.

President Obama has assured Americans that the crisis did not pose a risk to U.S. territory.

The crisis was roiling financial markets worldwide. Of particular concern in Japan was the yen hitting record highs against the dollar as currency traders bet that Japanese companies and investors will sell foreign assets to pay for rebuilding.

Estimates of quake losses run to $200 billion, and a flow of money back into the country would boost demand for the yen, putting even more upward pressure on the currency, in turn making Japan's exports more expensive for foreign buyers.

In a highly unusual move, finance ministers of the world's wealthiest economies agreed to act together to stop the yen from rising, hoping to avert more damage to the Japanese economy.

The situation at the Fukushima reactors continued to be a major concern. Fuel rods at the core of at least three of the six reactors there are believed to have at least partially melted. Plant operators have had to vent radioactive gases, but no major release has been confirmed.

Japanese public statements, however, did not describe the No. 4 reactor as the most urgent task confronting emergency workers. "Cooling the No. 3 reactor is still our top priority," Edano said in a briefing on national television.

But outside nuclear experts say the spent fuel pool may be the most serious long-term problem.

Nuclear fuel in the No. 4 reactor was moved to the spent fuel pool in December 2010, while the unit was being serviced, and that fuel remains highly radioactive. When a fire or explosion — officials aren't sure which — left a hole in the secondary containment building this week, most experts concluded that the spent fuel pool had somehow lost water, exposing the fuel rods.

An exposed fuel rod can interact with air and steam, allowing the zirconium cladding to oxidize and produce highly flammable hydrogen gas.

It's not clear how the rods became exposed to air in the first place. Scientists say the cooling water may have sloshed out of the pool during the earthquake, boiled away because of built-up heat or leaked from a crack in the pool.

Nuclear plant experts interviewed by The Times on Thursday said it was unlikely that the quake could have caused a significant amount of water in the 45-foot-deep pool to slosh out and drain away, exposing the 15-foot rods. They also doubted that heat from the fuel rods could boil away that much water in just a few days, especially because steam was not seen coming from the reactor building.

Instead, U.S. officials believe that the pool's wall was cracked either by the intense shaking of the earthquake or by a large piece of equipment falling into it.

Employees of a consortium of General Electric and Hitachi were in the reactor building at the time of the quake, according to company and government sources. The GE employees have returned home, though some Hitachi employees are continuing to offer assistance to Tokyo Electric.

Nuclear experts say they can't be positive that a breach has occurred without looking at the pool, but the area around the pool is so radioactive that a close inspection still isn't possible.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, said this week that his agency believed the spent fuel pool was empty, triggering alarms and a rebuttal by Japanese authorities. His spokesman, Scott Burnell, said Jaczko's statements were "based on a variety of sources that represented the best available information."

Electricity supplies across much of Japan have become a worrying element of the multi-pronged crisis. A massive threatened blackout was averted Thursday, but rolling power cuts and voluntary conservation areas are still leaving a shortfall. In the quake zone, Japanese officials said tens of thousands were still without power in unseasonably cold weather. An additional 1.6 million households still do not have running water.

The shortage of gasoline has forced businesses far from the disaster zone to close down and has slowed deliveries of urgently needed humanitarian aid to earthquake and tsunami victims.

As snow fell over Sendai, one of the quake zone's largest cities, people under umbrellas waited in long lines that snaked around blocks to enter the few supermarkets that were open. Gas lines stretched more than a mile.

"This is the biggest disaster since World War II, and they are totally paralyzed," said Kit Miyamoto, a Japanese American structural engineer who was inspecting damage in tsunami-ravaged Kesennuma.

One shortage often spawned another; people staying in shelters could not get food because they could not drive around looking for it. People used up gas looking for gas.

"The refugees in the sports center are lacking food. If they had the gasoline, they could drive somewhere to get food, but they are stuck here," said Muneo Saijo, a shopkeeper who was helping evacuees in Kesennuma.

Even a week after the start of the crisis, many struggled to comprehend the level of privation in wealthy Japan.

"We're an affluent country," said Masahiko Nagaska, a 32-year-old Panasonic employee in Yamagata, in the heart of the earthquake zone. "But there's no food on the shelves."

Photos: In Japan, life amid crisis

Vartabedian reported from Los Angeles, Demick from Kesennuma and King from Tokyo. Special correspondent Kenji Hall in Tokyo and Times staff writers Mark Magnier in Takajo, Japan, Tom Petruno in Los Angeles and David Pierson in Beijing contributed to this report.

YouTube Has Been Restricted In Japan. A Last Message Sent Out From Man ...

US not prepared for 'mega-disaster': official

© AFP/File Mandel Ngan

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is not as prepared as it should be for a disaster on the scale of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, a former top emergency response official said Thursday.

"If you ask me if we as a nation are better prepared than we were 40 years ago, five years ago, the answer is yes.

"But if you ask me are we as prepared as we can or should be, the answer to that is, no, we're not," retired Department of Homeland Security inspector general Richard Skinner told a Senate hearing.

Lessons learned from disasters like Hurricane Andrew, which killed 26 people in 1992, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the September 11, 2001 attacks should have left the United States "much better prepared than we are today," said Skinner.

"The tragic events that are unfolding today in Japan are a stark reminder of how important catastrophic preparedness is. It can and will happen here -- it's just a matter of when," he told the hearing.

"Nevertheless, I remain concerned about FEMA's capability and resolve to sustain an effective catastrophic preparedness strategy and program," he said.

FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, came under fire for its ineffectual response to Hurricane Katrina, which claimed some 1,200 lives in the US Gulf states and caused an estimated $75 billion in damage.

The agency was revamped after Katrina, but Skinner, who authored a recent report on FEMA, said the agency was still mired in the same inefficiencies that were found by auditors 20 years ago, and was dragging its heels to implement changes.

Republican Senator Susan Collins said US Geological Survey data show there is a 94 percent probability of a powerful earthquake of magnitude seven or more hitting California in the next 30 years.

"It's also inevitable that there will be hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, and a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction in a large city would strain our capability," she said, questioning whether United States can "handle a mega-disaster."

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

Source: Minuscule Radioactive Fallout Reaches U.S.

VIENNA -- Radioactive fallout from Japan's crippled nuclear plant has reached Southern California but the first readings are far below levels that could pose a health hazard, a diplomat said Friday.

The diplomat, who has access to radiation tracking by the U.N.'s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, cited readings from a California-based measuring station of the group.

Initial readings are "about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening," the diplomat told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the CTBTO does not make its findings public.

The organization forecast earlier this week that some radioactivity would reach Southern California by Friday. A CTBTO graphic obtained Thursday by the AP showed a moving plume reaching the U.S. mainland after racing across the Pacific and swiping the Aleutian Islands.

The diplomat's comments backed up expectations by IAEA officials and independent experts that radiation levels -- which are relatively low outside of the immediate vicinity of the Japanese plant -- would dissipate so strongly by the time it reached the U.S. coastline that it would pose no health risk whatsoever to residents.

While set up to monitor atmospheric nuclear testing, the CTBTO's worldwide network of stations can detect earthquakes, tsunamis and fallout from nuclear accidents such as the disaster on Japan's northeastern coast that was set off by a massive earthquake and a devastating tsunami a week ago.

Since then, emergency crews have been trying to restore the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's cooling system and prevent overheated fuel rods from releasing massive doses of radioactivity.
Japanese officials on Friday reclassified the rating of the accident at the plant from Level 4 to Level 5 on a seven-level international scale, putting it on a par with the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The International Nuclear Event Scale defines a Level 4 incident as having local consequences and a Level 5 as having wider consequences.

Nuclear experts have been saying for days that Japan was underplaying the severity of the nuclear crisis.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Organization, left for Tokyo on Thursday to assess the situation. He plans to return on the weekend and to brief the IAEA's 35-nation board in an emergency session Monday.

In Geneva, the World Health Organization said Tokyo's radiation levels are increasing but are still not a health risk, and the group sees no reason to ban travel to Japan because of its nuclear crisis.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said Friday the organization "is not advising travel restrictions to Japan" outside the 18.6-mile exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.

Hartl said includes Tokyo where "radiation levels have increased very slightly, but are still well below the absolute levels of radiation where it would be considered a public health risk."
He also said "in general travelers returning from Japan do not represent a health hazard."

Primary Purpose of DHS Checkpoints Revealed

Roadblock Revelations

[Alternative Title: Quality of Border Patrol New Hires Reaches New Lows]

While traveling back from a remote worksite on the afternoon of Thursday January 20, 2011 along SR86 in Southern Arizona, I had an experience at the Homeland Security checkpoint located near mile marker 147 that pretty much summed up many of my encounters at this internal suspicionless checkpoint over the past few years.

As I was coming to a stop at the checkpoint, the resident K-9 handler recognized me and yelled out the following warning to his fellow agents:
"It's that guy, guys"
Having been duly warned, the Border Patrol agent who appeared to be in training at the primary stop location asked in response:
"What do we usually do? Just f_ck with him?"
Although I couldn't quite make out what was said, one of the other agents ran up to the back of my vehicle and told the agent at primary to essentially wave me through. The agent at primary turned his attention back to me and with a dismissive gesture stated:
"All right...get out! Go ahead!"
As I started pulling away from the checkpoint without saying a word, I heard a thump towards the rear of my vehicle. As I looked back to see what had happened, I saw the agent who had just dismissed me smiling at his fellow agents while pulling his hand away from the place he had just struck.

As I continued to pull away, it occurred to me that the reactions of the agent at primary were probably the most honest ones I had encountered during my compelled interactions at these checkpoints over the past three years. He most likely understood that given their abysmally low interdiction rate, the checkpoint wasn't really there to interdict illegal immigrants which is its only lawful function. And it wasn't really there to interdict illegal drugs or stop other criminal activity either (assuming it's all right to engage in illegal enforcement operations to stop non-government sanctioned illegal activity to begin with).

What the agent at primary understood and re-iterated for the world to hear was that the primary purpose of internal homeland security checkpoints is to f_ck with people to make them compliant to arbitrary interference in their daily lives.

Arbitrary interference in the form of arbitrary orders from government agents wearing shiny badges on their chests and sporting nifty compliance weapons on their hips or their shoulders. In other words, the primary purpose of internal homeland security checkpoints is to engage in general public obedience training much like pet owners will train their dogs.

With this understanding, it's easier to understand how agents like the one at primary in this video ever make it far enough in the Border Patrol hiring process to be standing in the middle of a public highway representing the best the Border Patrol has to offer to the people the agency claims to be serving. It also makes it easier to understand the quotes from a former Border Patrol agent appearing below:
"We have lowered our standards to an all-time low to fill positions."
"Think we won't hire you? Think again."
"We have recently hired known criminals, drug smugglers, gang bangers, people out of drug rehab, pizza delivery guys (from a national chain), people who write on a fifth-grade level, and, yes, even illegal aliens."
- (former) Border Patrol Agent Joseph Dessaro
When I first came across these quotes several years ago, I thought they were merely an exaggeration regarding Border Patrol hiring practices. Given that the quotes originated from a well-regarded Border Patrol agent who also served as the President of the San Diego Sector Local 1613 Border Patrol Union forced me to re-evaluate however.

When these quotes were initially made in 1998, they represented a time in which the Border Patrol had doubled in size from ~4,000 agents to ~8,000 in a four year period. Today, there are approximately 20,000 agents in the Border Patrol while the hiring practices condemned by Agent Dessaro more than a decade earlier are very much alive and well.

Agent Dessaro stayed in the service for several years after condemning evolving Border Patrol hiring practices. He finally resigned in disgust in 2005 however, two years after the Border Patrol was moved from legacy INS to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A quote from his resignation letter summed up his reasons well:
"On the Border Patrol; during my tenure with this agency, I watched the Border Patrol mature into something it should not be: one of the most inefficient and misleading agencies in the history of government. The merger into the Department of Homeland Security only exasperated previously existing problems under the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service. Subsequently, I believe this agency, as a government organization and employer, is beyond redemption"
- (former) Border Patrol Agent Joseph Dessaro
Quite a strong condemnation of the U.S. Border Patrol by Agent Dessaro. Unfortunately, given what we know about the agency years later, it would appear he was right on in his analysis.
The first comprehensive news articles I came across on the subject appeared in the Tucson Citizen in 2002. The three articles that initially caught my attention included the following:
Since 2002, things have only gotten worse as the agency continues to hire unqualified and unscrupulous individuals to fill open slots. The results have been disastrous with a constant flow of news articles highlighting Border Patrol agent malfeasance and report after report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's Office detailing ever-increasing corruption throughout DHS generally and within the Border Patrol specifically.

So what does all this have to do with the video appearing above? It provides background information needed to understand how it is that some random individual is in a position to (legally?) seize people inside the country absent suspicion under threat of lethal force along a public highway for the primary purpose of f_cking with them and messing with their private property. All with the full support of the Department of Homeland Security.

Welcome to Checkpoint USA.