Thursday, April 14, 2011

Japan’s Ticking Time Bomb and The Banana Republic Of The USA Is Sick!

Japan’s Ticking Time Bomb and The Banana Republic Of The USA Is Sick!
If you can read this post and close out without reaching the conclusion that this nation is both pathetic and sick; there is no hope!

Scientist Michio Kaku: When we hear "that things are stable, it’s only stable in the sense that you’re dangling from a cliff hanging by your fingernails."April 13, 2011

(Climate Change Affects Tectonic Plate Movement, Causing Earthquakes: Study)

AMY GOODMAN: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan tried Tuesday to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. His comments came after Japan raised the severity rating of its nuclear crisis to the highest possible level, heightening concerns about the magnitude of the disaster.
Speaking at a news conference to mark one month since the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeastern coast of the country, Japanese Prime Minister Kan said produce from the region around the Fukushima plant is safe to eat despite radiation leaks.
PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: [translated] From now on, people should not fall into an extreme self-restraint mood, and they should live life as normal. To consume products from the areas that have been affected is also a way in which to support the area. We should enjoy the use of such products and support the areas that have been affected. I ask you to do this.
AMY GOODMAN: A spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Agency said the latest food sample data indicates levels of contamination are below the limits set by domestic authorities. Denis Flory, IAEA spokesperson, also said yesterday Japan’s nuclear crisis was not comparable to Chernobyl.
DENIS FLORY: The mechanics of the accidents are totally different. One happened when a reactor was at power, and the reactor containment exploded. In Fukushima, the reactor was stopped, and the containment, even if it may be somehow leaking today—and we do not know—the containment is here. So this is a totally different accident.
AMY GOODMAN: Japanese officials said they raised the severity level to 7 because of the total release of radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, not because of a sudden deterioration in the situation. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster is the only other nuclear accident rated at the highest level, 7, on a scale developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency to assess nuclear accidents. But officials insist so far the power plant in Japan has released one-tenth as much radioactive material as Chernobyl.
To discuss the situation in Japan, as well as his latest book, we’re joined by Dr. Michio Kaku, a Japanese American physicist, a bestselling author, professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York and the City College of New York. His brand new book is Physics of the Future: How Science Will Change Daily Life by 2100.
Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to see you again.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Glad to be on the show, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about this raising of the category level to 7, on a par with Chernobyl.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, Tokyo Electric has been in denial, trying to downplay the full impact of this nuclear accident. However, there’s a formula, a mathematical formula, by which you can determine what level this accident is. This accident has already released something on the order of 50,000 trillion becquerels of radiation. You do the math. That puts it right smack in the middle of a level 7 nuclear accident. Still, less than Chernobyl. However, radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all. So, you’re looking at basically a ticking time bomb. It appears stable, but the slightest disturbance—a secondary earthquake, a pipe break, evacuation of the crew at Fukushima—could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about exactly—I mean, as a physicist, to explain to people—exactly what has taken place in Japan at these nuclear power plants.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Think of driving a car, and the car all of a sudden lunges out of control. You hit the brakes. The brakes don’t work. That’s because the earthquake wiped out the safety systems in the first minute of the earthquake and tsunami. Then your radiator starts to heat up and explodes. That’s the hydrogen gas explosion. And then, to make it worse, the gas tank is heating up, and all of a sudden your whole car is going to be in flames. That’s the full-scale meltdown.
So what do you do? You drive the car into a river. That’s what the utility did by putting seawater, seawater from the Pacific Ocean, in a desperate attempt to keep water on top of the core. But then, seawater has salt in it, and that gums up your radiator. And so, what do you do? You call out the local firemen. And so, now you have these Japanese samurai warriors. They know that this is potentially a suicide mission. They’re coming in with hose water—hose water—trying to keep water over the melted nuclear reactor cores. So that’s the situation now. So, when the utility says that things are stable, it’s only stable in the sense that you’re dangling from a cliff hanging by your fingernails. And as the time goes by, each fingernail starts to crack. That’s the situation now.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the food, the level of contamination of the food? They are increasingly banning food exports.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: The tragedy is, this accident has released enormous quantities of iodine, radioactive iodine-131, into the atmosphere, like what happened at Chernobyl, about 10 percent the level of Chernobyl. Iodine is water soluble. When it rains, it gets into the soil. Cows then eat the vegetation; create milk, and then it winds up in the milk. Farmers are now dumping milk right on their farms, because it’s too radioactive. Foods have to be impounded in the area.
And let’s be blunt about this: would you buy food that says "Made in Chernobyl"? And the Japanese people are also saying, "Should I buy food that says 'Made in Fukushima'?" We’re talking about the collapse of the local economy. Just because the government tries to lowball all the numbers, downplay the severity of the accident, and that’s making it much worse.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think has to be done now? I mean, one of the biggest problems is secrecy, both with the Tokyo Company that runs the plants and also the government, the constant downplaying from the beginning. And yet, there are so many people who have been evacuated, who are demanding compensation. There was just a major protest at TEPCO with the people in the area who have been evaluated—no jobs, no money—saying, "We demand compensation."
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, TEPCO is like the little Dutch boy. All of a sudden we have cracks in the dike. You put a finger here, you put a finger there. And all of a sudden, new leaks start to occur, and they’re overwhelmed.
I suggest that they be removed from leadership entirely and be put as consultants. An international team of top physicists and engineers should take over, with the authority to use the Japanese military. I think the Japanese military is the only organization capable of bringing this raging accident under control. And that’s what Gorbachev did in 1986. He saw this flaming nuclear power station in Chernobyl. He called out the Red Air Force. He called out helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and buried the Chernobyl reactor in 5,000 tons of cement, sand and boric acid. That’s, of course, a last ditch effort. But I think the Japanese military should be called out.
AMY GOODMAN: To do...?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Because of the fact that the radiation levels are so great, workers can only go in for perhaps 10 minutes, 15 minutes at a time, and they get their year’s dose of radiation. You’re there for one hour, and you have radiation sickness. You vomit. Your white corpuscle count goes down. Your hair falls out. You’re there for a day, and you get a lethal amount of radiation. At Chernobyl, there were 600,000 people mobilized, each one going in for just a few minutes, dumping sand, concrete, boric acid onto the reactor site. Each one got a medal. That’s what it took to bring one raging nuclear accident under control. And I think the utility here is simply outclassed and overwhelmed.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, these workers are in for much longer periods of time.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: That’s right. And we don’t even know how much radiation levels they’re getting, because many areas around the site have no monitors. So we don’t even know how much radiation many of these workers are getting. And that’s why I’m saying, if you have access to the military, you can have the option of sandbagging the reactor, encasing it in concrete, or at least have a reserve of troops that can go in for brief periods of times and bring this monster under control.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the evacuation zone? Is it big enough?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: It’s pathetic. The United States government has already stated 50 miles for evacuating U.S. personnel. The French government has stated that all French people should consider leaving the entire islands. And here we are with a government talking about six miles, 10 miles, 12 miles. And the people there are wondering, "What’s going on with the government? I mean, why aren’t they telling us the truth?" Radiation levels are now rising 25 miles from the site, far beyond the evacuation zone. And remember that we could see an increase in leukemia. We could see an increase in thyroid cancers. That’s the inevitable consequence of releasing enormous quantities of iodine into the environment.
AMY GOODMAN: What has to happen to the plant ultimately?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, in the best-case scenario—this is the scenario devised by the utility itself—they hope to bring it under control by the end of this year. By the end of this year, they hope to have the pumps working, and the reaction is finally stabilized by the end of this year.
AMY GOODMAN: Oddly, it’s sounding a little bit like BP when they were trying to plug up the hole.
AMY GOODMAN: "It will happen. It will happen."
DR. MICHIO KAKU: They’re literally making it up as they go along. We’re in totally uncharted territories. You get any nuclear engineering book, look at the last chapter, and this scenario is not contained in the last chapter of any nuclear engineering textbook on the planet earth. So they’re making it up as they go along. And we are the guinea pigs for this science experiment that’s taking place. Then it could take up to 10 years, up to 10 years to finally dismantle the reactor. The last stage is entombment. This is now the official recommendation of Toshiba, that they entomb the reactor over a period of many years, similar to what happened in Chernobyl.
AMY GOODMAN: Entomb it in...?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: In a gigantic slab of concrete. You’re going to have to drill underneath to make sure that the core does not melt right into the ground table. And you’re going to put 5,000 tons of concrete and sand on top of the flaming reactor.
AMY GOODMAN: Should people be concerned about any food that says "From Japan"?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Not from Japan. But remember, in the area, the sea, we’re talking about levels that are millions of times beyond legal levels found right there. However, as you start to get out further, radiation levels drop rather considerably.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to talk about policy in this country. I mean, we are now seeing happening in Japan this horrific event. Japan was the target of the dawn of the Nuclear Age, right?
AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki. Your own family mirrors the history of the Nuclear Age. Can you talk just briefly about that, before we talk about current U.S. policy?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Yeah, first of all, I have relatives in Tokyo, and they’re wondering about evacuation. In fact, some of my relatives have already evacuated from Tokyo. They have little children. And radiation has already appeared in the drinking water in Tokyo. And so, people are wondering, you know, especially for young children, for pregnant women, should they leave. People are voting with their feet now. A lot of people are voluntarily evacuating from Tokyo, because they simply don’t believe the statements of the utility, which have consistently low balled all the estimates of radiation damage.
AMY GOODMAN: And, though, in the past, in terms of your own family’s history, your parents, being interned in the Japanese American internment camps?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: That’s right. In California, my parents were interned in the relocation camps from 1942 to 1946, four years where they were put essentially behind barbed wire and machine guns, under the supervision of the United States military.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, you became a nuclear physicist, interestingly enough, and you worked with the people who made the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Yeah. In fact, my high school adviser was Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb. And he arranged for me to get a scholarship to Harvard, in fact, and that began my career as a nuclear scientist. And Edward Teller, of course, wanted me to work on the Star Wars program. He put a lot of pressure and said, "Look, we’ll give you fellowships, scholarships. Go to Los Alamos National Laboratory, Livermore National Laboratory. Design hydrogen bombs." But I said no. I said, "I cannot see my expertise being used to advance the cause of war."
AMY GOODMAN: And you’ve been very outspoken when it comes to nuclear power in the United States. This, of course, has raised major issues about nuclear power plants around the world, many countries saying they’re not moving forward. President Obama is taking the opposite position. He really is very much the nuclear renaissance man. He is talking about a nuclear renaissance and has not backed off, in fact reiterated, saying this will not stop us from building the first nuclear power plants in, what, decades.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, there’s something called a Faustian bargain. Faust was this mythical figure who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited power. Now, the Japanese government has thrown the dice with a Faustian bargain. Japan has very little fossil fuel reserves, no hydroelectric power to speak of, and so they went nuclear. However, in the United States, we’re now poised, at this key juncture in history, where the government has to decide whether to go to the next generation of reactors. These are the so-called gas-cooled pebble bed reactors, which are safer than the current design, but they still melt down. The proponents of this new renaissance say that you can go out to dinner and basically have a leisurely conversation even as your reactor melts down. But it still melts. That’s the bottom line.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what do you think should happen? Do you think nuclear power plants should be built in this country?
DR. MICHIO KAKU: I think there should be a national debate, a national debate about a potential moratorium. The American people have not been given the full truth, because, for example, right north of New York City, roughly 30 miles north of where we are right now, we have the Indian Point nuclear power plant, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has now admitted that of all the reactors prone to earthquakes, the one right next to New York City is number one on that list. And the government itself, back in 1980, estimated that property damage would be on the order of about $200 billion in case of an accident, in 1980 dollars, at the Indian Point nuclear power station.
AMY GOODMAN: No private corporation could even build a nuclear power plant: you have to have the taxpayers footing the bill.
DR. MICHIO KAKU: You have to have what is called the Price-Anderson Act, having the United States government guarantee the insurance. Nobody will guarantee—nobody will sell an insurance policy for a nuclear power plant, because who can afford a $200 billion accident? That’s why the United States government has underwritten the insurance for every nuclear power plant. So the Price-Anderson Act is an act of Congress that mandates the U.S. government, the taxpayers, will underwrite the insurance, because nuclear power stations are not insurable.
Over 250 of America's leading legal scholars have signed a letter protesting against the treatment of Manning READ MORE
Ed Pilkington / The Guardian

The anti-gay Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is going on the attack against "those who are distorting the truth about priestly sexual abuse."
The group bought an expensive full-page ad in The New York Times Monday that places the blames for the church's scandals on "homosexuality, not pedophilia."
And perhaps most shockingly, it also claimed that some children were active participants in the abuse.
"The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight -- they weren’t children and they weren’t raped," self-appointed Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote in the ad.

"We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape)," he added, referencing a 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which was funded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops….

Groups like "Life Always" don't care about black people -- certainly not about what happens to black babies after they are born. READ MORE By Elizabeth G. Hines / Black Voices 

Insane: Six-Year-Old Girl Gets Invasive Groping By TSA [With Video]

Though TSA has cooled its jets a bit when it comes to the naked-scanner, but it's still going buckwild when it comes to patdowns (read AlterNet's piece on traveler's worst TSA horror stories here). This weekend, a video hit the internet that shows a TSA agent giving a completely invasive patdown to a tiny 6-year-old girl, once again prompting the question: are these people going too far? The patdown is uncomfortable to watch, as the TSA agent seems to go above and beyond the basic frisking you'd expect anyone to deem appropriate for a small child. It's not like she looks like she's carting a knife in her boot, or anything. Here's the video, via Raw Replay:    Read more 

Since tomorrow is April 15th, it is a good time to look at the overall tax payments corporations have made. The change in corporate taxes - not merely rates, but what they actually paid - over the past half century is astounding. Corporate Taxes as a Percentage of Federal Revenue 1955: 27.3%, 2010: 8.9%. Corporate Taxes as a Percentage of GDP 1955: 4.3%, 2010: 1.3%. Individual Income/Payrolls as a Percentage of Federal Revenue 1955: 58.0%, 2010: 81.5%. Anyone who is serious about closing the US deficit should consi...

A new budget estimate released shows that the spending bill negotiated between Obama and Boehner would produce less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in promised savings by the end of this budget year. The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote would cut federal outlays from non-war accounts by just $352 million through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal incre...

Using internal documents, communications, and interviews, the Report attempts to provide the clearest picture yet of what took place inside the walls of some of the financial institutions and regulatory agencies that contributed to the crisis. The crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street. While this Report does n...

The percentage of Americans who have jobs has fallen to the lowest point in three decades and now hovers just under 50 percent of the total population, according to an analysis of labor data published by USA Today. The report showed that at 36.7 percent, Mississippi had the lowest percentage of population working. Employment rates were also low in California and Arizona, where just over 37 percent had jobs. Overall, 45.4 percent of Americans were working. View an interactive chart showing every individual state's to...

Despite that clarity and abundance of the evidence proving pervasive criminality on Wall Street, it's entirely unsurprising that there have been no real criminal prosecutions. The overarching "principle" of our justice system is that criminal prosecutions are only for ordinary rabble, not for those who are most politically and financially empowered. We have thus created precisely the two-tiered justice system against which the Founders most stridently warned and which contemporary legal scholars all agree is the hal...

US officials are investigating whether some of the world’s biggest banks worked together to understate their own borrowing costs before and during the financial crisis - affecting trillions of dollars in loans and derivatives. Law-enforcement officials have been investigating if banks effectively formed a global cartel and coordinated how to report borrowing costs between 2006 and 2008. Roughly $10 trillion in loans and $350 trillion in derivatives are tied to Libor, which affects costs of everything from corporate ...

Where in Obama’s speech was there any discussion of the Banks and the Wall Street financial houses that crashed the economy and are making record profits while we struggle over how to pay their debt? Where was there any mention of how we are going to stop, and reverse, the home foreclosures of millions of Americans by the very same banks and financial houses that raped our economy? Where was the discussion of ending the wars that he recognized as being unfunded, and bring home those troops, as well as the thousands ...

Analysts who reviewed complex mortgage bonds that ultimately collapsed and ruined the US housing market were threatened with firing if they lost lucrative business, prompting faulty ratings on trillions of dollars worth of junk mortgage bonds, a Senate report said. In collusion with Wall Street investment banks, the report concludes, the top two ratings agencies - Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's - effectively cashed in on the housing boom by ignoring mounting evidence of problems in the housing marke...

US Senate investigators probing the financial crisis will refer evidence about Wall Street institutions including Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to the justice department for possible criminal investigations. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on investigations, said a two-year probe found that banks mis-sold mortgage-backed securities and misled investors and lawmakers. “We will be referring this matter to the justice department and to the SEC,” he said. “Goldman clearly misled their clients and they ...

The Pakistani military is now insisting for the first time that Washington must observe strict limits on both the use of drone strikes and on the number of military and intelligence personnel and contractors in the country. They have backed up that demand with a suspension of joint intelligence operations with the United States – a program that had been strongly sought after by the Obama administration. The new Pakistani demands for restrictions on operations are being taken seriously by the United States, because i...

Representatives from the 77-member House Progressive Caucus gathered at the Capitol to roll out their plan to cut the deficit and put the budget back into balance. Their simple solution: pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, install a public option for health care, raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and voila, America is fixed. The caucus plan, known as The People's Budget, was explained in some detail by economist Jeffrey Sachs. "Until we start protesting with thousands of people backing up the Prog...

In its report, “The Artful Dodgers,” Public Campaign juxtaposes the limited tax liability of dozen major corporations with the companies’ campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, which amount to more than a billion dollars over the last decade. The amount of money that taxpayers are losing from the tax dodging by these major corporations is enormous. For example, if five of the nation’s biggest banks paid their taxes at the full rate, we could hire 264,000 teachers. Tags: ...

Democracy Now: The Japanese government is trying to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. "Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all," says Dr. Michio Kaku. "The slightest disturbance could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl." Dr. Michio Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York ...

Bank regulators plan to announce settlements later on Wednesday with the largest lenders over allegations of shoddy foreclosure practices, but the pacts will not include financial penalties. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Thrift Supervision have spent the past few days completing the settlements with some of the largest US banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and Citigroup. The pacts would resolve only part of a large probe involving a group of...

Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter. "Near-term circumstances generally have continued to deteriorate. Though not yet commonly recognized, there is both an intensifying double-dip recession and a rapidly escalating inflation problem. Until such time as financial-market expectations catch up with underlying reality, reporting generally will continue to show higher-than-expected infla...

At the end of 2006, the asset footings of the Big Six - JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Faro, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley - were $7.1 trillion. Saving the system through shotgun marriages in the interim, our financial overloads have permitted the group to grow its assets by 30% to $9.2 trillion. If you believe that these massive financial conglomerates are a clear and present danger to the American economy, you might opine that they are too big to exist. The unassailable truth here is that in 2006 

In the ever-so-smug company of the rich and powerful it is a given that there is never to be any expression of remorse or other acknowledgment of the pain they have inflicted on the lesser mortals they so cavalierly plunder. It’s convenient for them that the media and the politicians, which they happen to own, rarely connect the dots between the scams that made the rich so rich and the alarming rise in the federal debt that is crushing this nation. The result of this purchased public myopia is that we are left with ...

Obama is issuing new permits for deepwater wells in the Gulf. Congress has yet to act on any of the issues arising from the oil spill – from raising the liability on oil companies to environmental regulations, they even blocked a bill that would have given the 11 workers killed the right to sue for damages. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency said there was "no basis to conclude that the Gulf recovery will be complete by 2012", and warned that some of the consequences of the spill may not be known for decade...

News that former Aetna CEO Ronald A. Williams was compensated $72 million in 2010, including $14.3 million in stocks, wasn’t good news for Americans who had to forgo coverage because insurance is simply too expensive or the insured population dealing with ever-growing premiums. The details of Willliams’ compensation package are rather impressive. Williams received “$50.4 million in value realized through the exercise of options,” “$1.1 million in salary, $2.75 million in incentive pay, an additional $2.3 million in ...

Perhaps the most irritating facet of all of these transactions is the fact that hundreds of millions of Fed dollars were given out to hedge funds and other investors with addresses in the Cayman Islands. It's one thing for the federal government to look the other way when Wall Street hotshots evade US taxes by registering their investment companies in the Cayman Islands. But subsidizing tax evasion? Giving it a federal bailout? What the fuck? As America girds itself for another round of lunatic political infighting ...

The economic collapse of this nation started in the Reagan administration and continued through all those that followed in particular with the economic advisers: Greenspan, Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner.
Corporate greed is destroying this country. They have millions to support the lobbyists who support politicians and are totally against any regulations on the financial industry. It is time to impeach all Republican politicians for not doing their jobs and also some Democratic politicians. No politician should receive pay unless they stop the infighting in Washington that does nothing for the citizens.
See this film if you care about this country.

Media Chronically Wrong On Social Security And The Deficit

The national debate on the future of Social Security is surrounded by falsehoods and misconceptions regarding the program's finances and its relationship to the federal budget -- misconceptions that are repeatedly reinforced by major media outlets. In fact, as it's currently constructed, Social Security cannot add to the deficit in the long run, does not present a major threat to America's fiscal future, and is backed by some of the safest financial assets in the world.

No comments: