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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/13/2011 - 03/20/2011
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Not everything going on in Japan is as the media is reporting... < Duh >

from ode magazine...
Signs of hope in Sendai

Once again I want to write to you about what is happening here. The TV news is frightening beyond belief. In fact, this entire phenomenon seems totally surreal. Beyond the edges of one’s wildest imagination. But I continue picking through the rubble of this experience to find flickers of hope and powerful experiences of beauty.

Yes, the devastation continues, as do deep concerns over the nuclear fallout. But along side of the ongoing horrific news we have started hearing stories of a positive nature. They may be small and subtle, but they are emerging. A doctor, for example, who lost his home and clinic, went to live in an evacuee shelter. He immediately saw the tremendous medical needs there, so began treating patients to the best of his ability. A nurse came in by helicopter to offer her services. During her interview she said, “People must overcome this crisis. We cannot give up.”

Likewise a restaurant owner, who also lost his home, but not his business, opened up shop and offered hot bowls of noodle soup to evacuees for free. “We must help one another,” was his only comment.

Indeed, a friend in Tokyo wrote this to me in an e-mail. “I know that every Japanese people can exersize their best to help others in such serious circumstances and you can rely on their kindness. That is our culture. Of course, I am ready to support you anything you need, so please don’t hesitate, but let me know whatever I can support you.”

In evacuation centers there are puppet shows for children. “It’s to ease their minds,” my friend explained to me. “That is very important.” And for the Japanese one’s state of mind often carries more weight than facts. That is because we have some semblance of control over our mind, no matter what the outer circumstances may be.

In another shelter junior high school students got paper and paints and made a large bright, energetic sign that said, “To have life is profound joy.” It was hung high overhead so everyone could see it and be encouraged by the words.

On local TV stations time is allotted to read messages of people seeking family members. We comfort one another as best as we can. We still say, “Gambarimashou” (We must keep up our fighting spirit). We see shots on TV of family members reuniting, of long lines of people waiting to use free phone service to call home and friends. We see a lot of tears. But so much comfort, so much support.

The city’s basic infrastructure has collapsed, but people are working round the clock to get things back into some sort of normalcy. Water came first in big trucks. Then in some areas it was on after a day. Electricity is also slowly coming back on. Gas will not be available for another month or so because of excessive damage to the pipes. We are all dreaming of a bath, of just being able to wash a bit. But as one woman in a shelter said, “I was so cold at night, but everyone else was, too. So, that gives me courage.” In that context a bath seems so minor.

Buses have resumed on some routes. Some food shops are open for a few hours a day. I noticed a shop open with flowers for graves, for shrines and temples so that the souls of the long ago and recently deceased may have a touch of earthly beauty in heaven.

There is so much support and solidarity. I want to close with another e-mail from a friend who is a university teacher. It, too, is an excellent manifestation of the truly remarkable Japanese “kokoro” (heart and soul).

“I have been trying to find out the situations of some students and friends whom I lost contact with since the earthquake and tsunami attacked this area.

“There are still many students staying and living on campus. Some lost their houses and the others are not sure if their families are OK. When I met them, I just couldn't find right word to cheer them up.

“Today was supposed to be a graduation day which was postponed and might be canceled. When I saw the students at the campus housing this morning, they served me a special breakfast that the juniors cooked for the seniors to celebrate the day. The meal was cold, but really special. I won't forget the taste of it. I am convinced that my students will overcome this tragedy with the positive attitude. I intend to emulate them.”

With Love

that's one of the most enlightening and hopeful things i've read in many days...

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Oh, yay...! A new war...!

yes, gadhafi is a complete and total nutcase and, yes, killing his own people is a very bad thing, but WHAT THE FUCK does the united states think it's doing, getting involved in an air war in libya...? oh, wait... it's going to require defense contractors to bring out their order books to replenish the 110 tomahawk missiles we fired today, the 110 we will fire tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day...

war is a business and the business of the united states is arms and it's all powered by oil... power, money, global hegemony... never forget those simple facts for a single moment...

U.S. Missiles Strike Libyan Air Defense Targets

American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in the first round of the largest international military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon and NATO officials detailed a mission designed to impose a United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone and keep Mr. Qaddafi from using airpower against beleaguered rebel forces in the east. While the overall effort was portrayed as mostly being led by France and Britain, the Pentagon said that American forces dominated an effort to knock out Libya’s air-defense systems.

In a briefing Saturday afternoon, Vice Adm. William Gortney told reporters that about 110 Tomahawk missiles, fired from American warships and submarines and one British submarine struck 20 air-defense targets around Tripoli, the capital, and the western city of Misurata. He said the strikes were against longer-range air defense missiles as well as early warning radar sites and main command-and-control communication centers.

kee-fucking-rist...! here we go again...

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Level 5 headed to Level 7...? Hmmm... Let's bury the bastard...

another morning and more increasingly bad news from fukushima...
Japan's nuclear safety agency raised the severity rating of the country's nuclear crisis Friday from Level 4 to Level 5 on a seven-level international scale, putting it on par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Ryohei Shiomi, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency, said Friday that the agency raised the rating of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The scale defines a Level 4 incident as having local consequences and a Level 5 incident as having wider consequences.

The hallmarks of a Level 5 emergency are severe damage to a reactor core, release of large quantities of radiation with a high probability of "significant" public exposure or several deaths from radiation.

A partial meltdown at Three Mile Island also was ranked a Level 5. The Chernobyl accident of 1986, which killed at least 31 people with radiation sickness, raised long-term cancer rates, and spewed radiation for hundreds of miles (kilometers), was ranked a Level 7.

France's Nuclear Safety Authority has been saying since Tuesday that the crisis in northeastern Japan should be ranked Level 6 on the scale.

so, if it's only a level 5, why are they now considering the desperate, last-ditch strategy used for chernobyl...?
Japan weighs need to bury nuclear plant

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.

mmm-hmmmm... but, not to worry, everything's still "fine," dontcha know...
Radiation levels recorded in areas near the plant did not pose an immediate risk to human health, said Michael O'Leary, the World Health Organisation's representative in China.

"At this point, there is still no evidence that there's been significant radiation spread beyond the immediate zone of the reactors themselves," O'Leary told reporters in Beijing.

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

President Barack Obama, who stressed the United States did not expect harmful radiation to reach its shores, said he had ordered a comprehensive review of domestic nuclear plants and pledged Washington's support for Japan.

[all emphases added]

i don't know about you, but i feel SO much better now...!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan nuclear crisis worsens

every morning i get up and find the situation is getting worse...
The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave a far bleaker appraisal on Wednesday of the threat posed by Japan’s nuclear crisis than the Japanese government had offered. He said American officials believed that the damage to at least one crippled reactor was much more serious than Tokyo had acknowledged, and he advised Americans to stay much farther away from the plant than the perimeter established by Japanese authorities.

The announcement opened a new and ominous chapter in the five-day-long effort by Japanese engineers to bring the six side-by-side reactors under control after their cooling systems were knocked out by an earthquake and a tsunami last Friday.

there's a part of this situation as it's being treated by our super-rich, elite bought-and-paid-for media that's pure fear-mongering... i'm not buying into that part but what i am feeling most strongly is concern for the people affected, not only by the nuclear crisis but the tsunami and the earthquake, fercryinoutloud... my heart goes out...

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fake Democracy - Noam Chomsky, March 13

great stuff from professor chomsky - as always...

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They say "blood money" - I say "bullshit"

this is wrong on so many levels...
American Who Worked for C.I.A. Freed in Pakistan

American officials on Wednesday won the release of a C.I.A.
contractor under investigation for two counts of murder,
after spending more than six hours at the jail with the
families of the victims, the lawyer for the families told

The families accepted payment of blood money, the lawyer
said. He said he thought the C.I.A. contractor, Raymond
Davis, 36, had already left the jail.

The Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed on
television that the blood money payment has been paid and
that Mr. Davis has been handed over to the U.S. Consul

wrong, wrong, wrong... no accountability... no consequences... wrong, wrong, wrong...

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Fukushima team going back in

i'm sure the members of that team realize that they are probably sacrificing their lives in this effort...
Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool the overheating reactors. Hours later, officials said they were preparing to send the team back in.


[A]n official with Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, said the team had withdrawn about 500 yards (meters) from the complex, but were getting ready to go back in.


The workers at the forefront of the fight — a core team of about 180 — had been regularly rotated in and out of the danger zone to minimize their radiation exposure.

Meanwhile, officials in Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, said radiation levels were about 300 times normal levels by late morning. While those levels are unhealthy for prolonged periods, they are far from fatal.

oh... only THREE HUNDRED TIMES NORMAL... well, ok then...

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fukushima: there's nothing left to do but throw in the towel

this definitely wasn't the news i wanted to wake up to today...
Japan suspends work at stricken nuclear plant

Japan suspended operations to keep its stricken nuclear plant from melting down Wednesday after surging radiation made it too dangerous to stay.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers dousing the reactors in a frantic effort to cool them needed to withdraw.

"The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," Edano said. "Because of the radiation risk we are on standby."


"It's more of a surrender," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who now heads the nuclear safety program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group. "It's not like you wait 10 days and the radiation goes away. In that 10 days things are going to get worse."

"It's basically a sign that there's nothing left to do but throw in the towel," Lochbaum said.

now we wait to hear what the horrifying implications of this latest development will be...

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Obama's team seeks new ways to fire up his base - HAHAHAHAHAHA...!

i think a lot of us have some really good ideas for what those "ways" might look like... first of all, how about demonstrating you give a crap for the common good instead of the corporatocracy...? how about stopping the torture of bradley manning... gee... there's so much you COULD do if you really wanted to...
Barack Obama rode a wave of voter passion in 2008 fed largely by intense dislike of President George W. Bush and the Iraq war, plus excitement among young and minority voters at the notion of electing the nation's first black president.

Now, as Obama cranks up his re-election campaign, all those factors are absent.

The president has many tools, of course, for inspiring and exciting potential voters. But he faces a different landscape, one in which key supporters are disappointed by concessions he has made to Republicans, and discouraged by huge Democratic losses last fall.

Obama acknowledged the challenge last week in Boston. "Somebody asked me, how do we reinvigorate the population, the voter, after two very tough years?" he told Democratic donors. "How do we recapture that magic that got so many young people involved for the very first time in 2008?"

One answer, the president said, is to persuade hardcore liberals to swallow their anger over political compromises the administration reached with Republicans, even when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.

"swallow our anger"...? puh-l-e-e-e-eze... how friggin' condescending... bite me...

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Spent fuel storage pond on fire at Fukushima

words fail...
Japan has told the UN nuclear watchdog a spent fuel storage pond was on fire at an earthquake-stricken reactor and radioactivity was being released "directly" into the atmosphere, the Vienna-based agency said.


Closer to the Japan's capital, radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100 km (60 miles) north Tokyo, were up to 10 times normal on Tuesday, Kyodo news agency said, quoting the city government.

Japan's prime minister warned on Tuesday that radioactive levels had become high around an earthquake-stricken nuclear power plant after explosions at two reactors, adding that the risk of more radioactive leakage was rising.

we're witnessing a real global nightmare...

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Monday, March 14, 2011

A third blast and damage to the containment vessel

holy crap...!
Japan’s nuclear crisis verged toward catastrophe on Tuesday, after an explosion at one crippled reactor damaged its crucial steel containment structure and a fire at another reactor spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

After an emergency cabinet meeting, the Japanese government told people living within 30 kilometers, about 18 miles, of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to stay indoors, keep their windows closed and stop using air-conditioning.

Officials said emergency efforts to pump seawater into three stricken reactors at the plant were continuing, but that most of the 800 workers at the Daiichi facility had been told to leave to avoid exposure to unhealthy levels of radiation at the plant. They said 50 workers would remain at the plant to pump seawater into three reactors and fight the fire at the fourth reactor.

Japan’s nuclear safety watchdog later said that the fire at the No. 4 reactor had been extinguished, The Associated Press reported.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan briefly addressed the nation on television at 11 a.m., pleading for calm as engineers struggled to bring the damaged reactors under control.

Mr. Kan said that radiation had spread from the crippled reactors and there was “a very high risk” of further leakages.

i'm getting nervous about checking the news... every time i do, there's more truly awful news and not just about japan... libya, bahrain, afghanistan, wisconsin, michigan, bradley manning... there's no end to it...

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Partial melting of the fuel rods in all three Fukushima reactors

Japanese nuclear authorities said that there was a high possibility that nuclear fuel rods at a reactor at Tokyo Electric Power's Dai-ichi plant may be melting or have melted, Jiji news agency reported.

Experts have said that if the fuel rods have been damaged, it means that it could develop into a breach of the nuclear reactor vessel and the question then becomes one of how strong the containment structure around the vessel is and whether it has been undermined by the earthquake.

japan can't seem to catch a break...

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The Founding Fathers deeply feared popular democracy ... They rigged the system to favor the elite from the start

again, nothing we don't know but it never hurts to be reminded...

chris hedges...

The liberal class has busied itself with the toothless pursuits of inclusiveness, multiculturalism, identity politics and tolerance—a word Martin Luther King never used—and forgotten about justice. It naively sought to placate ideological and corporate forces bent on the destruction of the democratic state. The liberal class, like the misguided democrats in the former Yugoslavia or the hapless aristocrats in the Weimar Republic, invited the wolf into the henhouse. The liberal class forgot that, as Karl Popper wrote in “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”


American democracy arose because those consciously locked out of the system put their bodies on the line and demanded justice. The exclusion of the poor and the working class from the systems of power in this country was deliberate. The Founding Fathers deeply feared popular democracy. They rigged the system to favor the elite from the start, something that has been largely whitewashed in public schools and by a corporate media that has effectively substituted myth for history. Europe’s poor, fleeing to America from squalid slums and workhouses in the 17th and 18th centuries, were viewed by the privileged as commodities to exploit. Slaves, Native Americans, indentured servants, women, and men without property were not represented at the Constitutional Conventions. And American history, as Howard Zinn illustrated in “The People’s History of the United States,” is one long fight by the marginalized and disenfranchised for dignity and freedom. Those who fought understood the innate cruelty of capitalism.

in his article, hedges details the many instances in u.s. history where those who fought for workers' rights paid with their lives as their efforts were forcefully resisted by those serving the super-rich elites of the day... it's history worth reading - and remembering...

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Fuel rods fully exposed at Japan nuclear plant

the news coming out of japan is looking worse and worse...
Fuel rods are entirely exposed at Fukushima Daiichi No.2 reactor; cannot rule out fuel meltdown

whatever your belief system - love, light, higher power, or just the power of good intentions - send some love to japan... it's getting really creepy...

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Krugman - The rich are different from you and me: when they break the law, it’s the prosecutors who find themselves on trial

krugman's column in yesterday's nyt highlights, once again, the extreme lack of accountability our banksters have come to expect while fleecing us poor peasants out of every single dime...
The immediate flashpoint is a proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the mortgage servicing industry. That settlement is a “shakedown,” says Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. The money banks would be required to allot to mortgage modification would be “extorted,” declares The Wall Street Journal. And the bankers themselves warn that any action against them would place economic recovery at risk.

All of which goes to confirm that the rich are different from you and me: when they break the law, it’s the prosecutors who find themselves on trial.


In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement, asserting that it’s all about defending the rule of law. But what they’re actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.

and what little power the peasantry has left in the form of collective bargaining rights, the right to petition for redress, and even the ability to voice our concerns in peaceful assembly are being systematically stripped away...

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Second explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant; first announcement of injuries in first explosion

japanese authorities keep insisting that any radioactive release are "within legal limits"... i think they're whistling past the graveyard...
The second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked Japan's stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Monday, sending a massive column of smoke into the air and wounding six workers. It was not immediately clear how much — if any — radiation had been released.

The explosion at the plant's Unit 3, which authorities have been frantically trying to cool following a system failure in the wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami, triggered an order for hundreds of people to stay indoors, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

it took them almost two days to announce the injuries resulting from the first explosion but at least they're admitting up front to the injuries due to this one...
The blast follows a similar explosion Saturday that took place at the plant's Unit 1, which injured four workers and caused mass-evacuations.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said six workers were injured in Monday's explosion but it was not immediately clear how, or whether they were exposed to radiation. They were all conscious, said the agency's Ryohei Shomi.

there's no way this is going to end well...

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P.J. Crowley: tell the truth, get the ax

i saw the first announcement of this story just before hitting the sack last night and remembered what glenn had had to say about crowley's statement a few days ago when he first said it...

glenn on thursday

I don't recall an instance where one administration official so harshly and publicly criticized the conduct of the administration on such a high-profile matter. I can only speculate that this was not a planned statement but rather an unplanned outburst from Crowley at a small gathering, but the fact that he said it at all is really quite remarkable, commendable, and, I hope, ultimately helpful.

glenn on sunday...

On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denounced the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention as "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid," forcing President Obama to address those comments in a Press Conference and defend the treatment of Manning. Today, CNN reports, Crowley has "abruptly resigned" under "pressure from White House officials because of controversial comments he made last week about the Bradley Manning case." In other words, he was forced to "resign" -- i.e., fired.

So, in Barack Obama's administration, it's perfectly acceptable to abuse an American citizen in detention who has been convicted of nothing by consigning him to 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, barring him from exercising in his cell, punitively imposing "suicide watch" restrictions on him against the recommendations of brig psychiatrists, and subjecting him to prolonged, forced nudity designed to humiliate and degrade. But speaking out against that abuse is a firing offense. Good to know. As Matt Yglesias just put it: "Sad statement about America that P.J. Crowley is the one being forced to resign over Bradley Manning." And as David Frum added: "Crowley firing: one more demonstration of my rule: Republican pols fear their base, Dem pols despise it."

Of course, it's also the case in Barack Obama's world that those who instituted a worldwide torture and illegal eavesdropping regime are entitled to full-scale presidential immunity, while powerless individuals who blow the whistle on high-level wrongdoing and illegality are subjected to the most aggressive campaign of prosecution and persecution the country has ever seen. So protecting those who are abusing Manning, while firing Crowley for condemning the abuse, is perfectly consistent with the President's sense of justice.

how pathetic is this...?

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The Japanese disaster

i've been glued to the tv off and on since the news of japan broke here in south africa early friday morning... to say that it's the most indescribable event of my lifetime would be an understatement... watching the shock wave shoot up from the explosion at the fukushima nuclear plant made my skin crawl... watching the scenes of utter destruction from the tsunami, i might as well be looking at another hiroshima, and if the meltdown that seems to be in progress at the two reactors continues, that level of horror could be added to the ongoing nightmare...

if you haven't already, check out the scenes yourself via this link to the bbc...

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