Friday, March 18, 2011

Wikileaks Not Half As Much As That Reactor

Update: Opinion-US reactors.
" Nuclear plants are incredibly complex technological devices for locating earthquake faults."........

There are robust souls who look on the bright side. Some of them are in the pay of the nuclear industry -- President Obama for example, who took plenty of money from the nuclear industry for his presidential campaign, and in his State of the Union address last January reaffirmed his commitment to "clean, safe" nuclear power, about as insane a statement as pledging commitment to a nice clean form of syphilis. more

Update: 2100 Friday With Photo's
The boss of the company behind the devastated Japanese nuclear reactor today broke down in tears - as his country finally acknowledged the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens The Wail

Update: Japan Raises Severity of Accident. You do surprise me, I guess it must have been, avoiding "unnecessary" fears, as quoted below. But wait a minute, avoiding "unnecessary" fears was before the accident, so what was it this time, avoiding reality?

And why am I getting the feeling Level 5 is going to be like a £4 gallon of petrol.

TOKYO -- 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. more huffpo

Japan syndrome shows why we need WikiLeaks

IN December 2008, an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency pointed to "a serious problem" with nuclear reactors in areas of Japan prone to earthquakes.

Recent earthquakes "have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants", he told a meeting of the Nuclear Safety and Security Group of the Group of Eight countries. Moreover, safety guides for seismic activity had been revised only three times in the past 35 years, he added.

The information was recorded in a US diplomatic cable and comes to us courtesy of WikiLeaks. So do other cables, including one two years ago in which American officials described Tomihiro Taniguchi, a senior IAEA nuclear safety official and former head of the Japanese agency responsible for nuclear plant security following earthquakes, as "a weak manager and advocate, particularly with respect to confronting Japan's own safety practices". A few months earlier, Japanese MP Taro Kono told US diplomats the government was covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry. The following year, the government reversed a court ruling that a nuclear plant in western Japan had to be closed because it could withstand an earthquake of only 6.5 magnitude.

Unfortunately, all this information, including the original cables, was released only this week, through The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers in Britain. If publicised earlier it might have increased public pressure on the Japanese government to do more to ensure the safety of reactors.

But without WikiLeaks most of it probably never would have seen the light of day. One of the justifications governments use for not releasing information is to avoid "unnecessary" fears.

The Japanese government did not completely ignore the IAEA concerns: it built an emergency response centre at the Fukushima plant. But it was designed to withstand a magnitude 7.0 quake, whereas last week's was 9.0.

The damaged third and fourth reactors of the Fukushima No1 power plant.

This week Julia Gillard said she had a lot of respect for whistleblowers. Deep Throat had done the right thing in leaking information about Watergate, she told the ABC1's Q&A program. So had those who had exposed information about the operations of the big tobacco companies.

"They've acted for a moral purpose," she said. "I respect that. At the centre of WikiLeaks, I don't see that moral purpose I can respect whistleblowing if your motivation is to right wrong." But Julian Assange's motivation was "sort of anarchic". Gillard's attitude is a rationalisation of her feeling that she has to side with the US on this issue. It is for the same reason that she earlier claimed Assange was acting illegally, though she has been unable to identify which law he has broken.

The Obama administration portrays Assange as a spy, if not terrorist, who is endangering national security. He is not: he heads an organisation that is the recipient of information, which invites leaks but says it does not actively solicit them. It releases documents through news organisations, which then apply normal journalistic procedures, including considering risks to national security or whether any lives could be put in danger.

Assange's motivation, as interpreted by Robert Manne writing in The Monthly and Inquirer, seems to be to break down authoritarian structures that are preventing the free flow of information. Whether or not that is anarchic, it sounds impossibly idealistic. The US is responding to the leak of cables by increasing the security of its internal communications rather than giving up the fight and opening its files.

In the absence of threats to national security -- and the US has yet to identify any -- many of the diplomatic cables released so far fall into the same category as Watergate, as well as the Pentagon papers, which exposed US lies about the Vietnam war.

Sometimes governments do not live up to the democratic ideal. If their leaders say one thing in public and another in private, then voters deserve to know.

One clear example of this is in a cable released by WikiLeaks canvassing US concerns that the Rudd government's 2009 defence white paper appears to rule out support for an American missile defence system because it would harm nuclear deterrence.

This, explained Defence Department deputy secretary Michael Pezzullo to the American embassy in Canberra, had been written to appeal to the anti-Star Wars attitude in Labor's Left, "but in reality will allow the GOA [government of Australia] to continue its missile defence research and development co-operation with the United States".

Rudd's attitude was very different from that of the Left, Pezzullo assured the Americans.

Sure enough, the Gillard government is continuing Australia's co-operation with development of a missile defence system, which it says publicly is a threat to global nuclear stability. That such a leak is acutely embarrassing to the government is obvious. More important is that Australians deserve to know the truth.

Talking about hypocrisy, we can only marvel at the extent to which Saudi Arabia has the US over a barrel. The Saudis supply not only oil but terrorists, including 15 of the 19 who hijacked the 9/11 planes. Instead of waging war against Saudi Arabia, the US sells it large amounts of defence equipment and keeps pleading with it to do more about terrorism.

In a cable sent to embassies in Riyadh and other capitals in the region in 2009, Hillary Clinton wrote that it had been "an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority".

Though there had been some important progress, "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide More needs to be done, since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Toiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack] and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan."

International relations can involve some least worst choices, particularly if you are a superpower. But it still comes as a surprise that the US can have so little regard for the wishes of even its most important allies. Russia insisted in negotiations over a new arms control treaty that it be given more information about Britain's Trident nuclear missiles. The US asked Britain to agree but it refused. The US gave the Russians the information anyway.

In other respects, the US sometimes behaves as though the Cold War never ended. The cables reveal the US spied on British Foreign Office ministers to collect gossip on their private lives and professional relationships. What are friends for if not to be able to compromise them?

US diplomats do not spend all their time reporting on momentous events. Two years ago, the US embassy in Tripoli passed on to Washington "a cautionary tale" about dealing with Libya.

Italy paid for a Libyan to join students from other countries in a training program in Rome on underwater explosives. After several days of classroom instruction, the instructor told the students to jump into the pool. When the Libyan did not comply, the instructor pushed him in. He "sank like a stone" and had to be pulled out of the pool and have water pumped out of his lungs.

Rather than the anticipated government employee, the non-swimming frogman was the cousin of an official "and had simply wanted a vacation in Rome". When the Italians raised the matter with Libya, they received "a formal written reply [averring] that it was the responsibility of the Italian government to ensure that candidates for its training programs were properly qualified and that the Italians should have taught him how to swim".

If they had, he might be mining a few rebel vessels right now. The Australian
H/T Anonymous

This is the clip from the huffpo link, will you listen to this bugger, cool and calm or what? I'd a been shitting bricks I don't mind telling you.

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