Terrorist 'pre-crime' detector field tested in United States
Screening system aims to pinpoint passengers with malicious intentions
Planning a sojourn in the northeastern United States? You could soon be taking part in a novel security programme that can supposedly 'sense' whether you are planning to commit a crime.
Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programme designed to spot people who are intending to commit a terrorist act, has in the past few months completed its first round of field tests at an undisclosed location in the northeast, Nature has learned.
Like a lie detector, FAST measures a variety of physiological indicators, ranging from heart rate to the steadiness of a person's gaze, to judge a subject's state of mind. But there are major differences from the polygraph. FAST relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport, and it does not depend on active questioning of the subject.
The tactic has drawn comparisons with the science-fiction concept of 'pre-crime', popularized by the film Minority Report, in which security services can detect someone's intention to commit a crime. Unlike the system in the film, FAST does not rely on a trio of human mutants who can see the future. But the programme has attracted copious criticism from researchers who question the science behind it. more
Monday, May 30, 2011
But talking of dancing, and before moving on to Taking Liberties, this immediately below dropped into my inbox not many minutes ago.
This is America!Arrested For Dancing?
On May28, 2011 Television host Adam Kokesh and several other activists participating in a flash-mob were arrested at the publicly-funded Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Their crime? Silently dancing, in celebration of the first amendment's champion; a clear violation of their right to free-expression. ICH
Riding in on a wave of optimism and real belief in their mantra that things can only get better, the New Labour government proceeded to enact some of the most authoritarian legislation in recent history. With fast-paced satirical style, this Bafta-nominated film shows how, in just over a decade, some rights and freedoms that took centuries to build up have been rolled back or cut away through a personal journey into the decline of civil liberties.
The 82-year-old holocaust survivor Walter Wolfgang was lifted bodily from a debate at the Labour Party conference for, as Tony Benn points out, 'rightfully' saying that Jack Straw is talking 'nonsense' about Iraq. We see a man who tries to protest against the treatment of Mr Wolfgang also set upon by security, and learn that he was later handled roughly - and that poor old Wolfgang was next detained by the police under the 2000 Terrorism Act.
We meet Moulad Sihali, an Algerian refugee. He was cleared of all charges relating to a non-existent plot to manufacture the poison ricin, but has now been made a prisoner in his own home. He's been fitted with a tracking device, is only allowed outside at certain hours - and then only within a one mile radius of his house - and is forbidden to meet anyone who hasn't been vetted by the Home Office. The specific charge against him? There isn't one.
We hear how Maya Evans, a vegan chef, and her friend the writer Milan Rai were arrested under the Serious Organised Crime and Police act for reading out the names of people who have died in Iraq and occasionally ringing a (very quiet) Buddhist bell.
Occasionally the footage is very funny. Protestors are told that if they step off the grass verge they have been crowded onto they could be arrested for blocking a public highway. They are told this by a massed group of policemen who are actually blocking the road.
There are recordings of the police intimidating grandmothers; protestors being strong-armed; 80-year-olds being dragged along on their backsides by police; Tony Blair staring on silently (in contravention of international law against complicity with torturers) as George W. Bush praises the facilities at Guantanamo Bay.
The documentary even succeeds in arousing sympathy for a group of bankers - the Natwest Three. Thanks to a 2003 treaty they were extradited to the US - for a crime they allegedly committed in Britain but that British authorities declined to prosecute due to lack of evidence. In this case, the US authorities were allowed to take these men from their homes and support networks without presenting any new data to the British government. channel 4
But on a slightly more serious note, notice the reasons for building the basilica in the first place. Little wonder that anybody with two neurons bolted together dismisses the whole Catholic shooting match for what it is; dark age mumbo jumbo.
Pope ousts 'loose living' monks of Rome's Santa Croce monastery
Vatican acts after reports of monks staging concerts featuring a former lap dancer and running hotel service
It sounds like something out of Father Ted: a renowned monastery in Rome where monks staged concerts featuring a lap-dancer-turned-nun and opened a hotel with a 24-hour limousine service has been shut down by the pope.
As part of Benedict XVI's crackdown on "loose living" within the Catholic church, 20 or so Cistercian monks are now being evicted from the monastery at the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which hosts some of the church's holiest relics.
"An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk," said Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman. "The church remains open but the monks are awaiting transfer."
Reports saying the monks amassed large debts have also emerged, but Benedettini declined to give further details of the Vatican report, which was signed off in March.
The monks' days have been numbered since 2009, when the Vatican sacked their flamboyant abbot, Father Simone Fioraso, a former fashion designer who built up a cult following among Rome's fashionable aristocratic crowd as well as show business worshippers such as Madonna, who prayed at the church in 2008.
In 2009 Anna Nobili, a nightclub dancer who became a nun, was invited to perform her "holy dance" before an audience including archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican's cultural department. For her performance Nobili, who says she uses dance as a form of prayer, lies spread-eagled in front of the altar clutching a crucifix or twists and turns as in pole-dancing routines.
Dating back to the 4th century, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme was built to house relics brought back from the Holy Land by the mother of Emperor Constantine.
They include items described as nails and splinters from the cross, thorns from Jesus's crown, and a bone from the finger St Thomas pushed into the wounds of Christ.
The monks living there now had opened a shop selling organic produce from their kitchen garden, but this was shut down in 2009 amid accusations of their having secretly stocked the shelves from a neighbourhood grocery.
The Italian newspaper La Stampa said that VIP guests were also encouraged to stay at a hotel opened at the Santa Croce monastery which offered a 24-hour limousine airport service.
In 2008 Fioraso hosted a week-long, televised, reading of the bible with religious figures, politicians and celebrities reading tracts, starting with Pope Benedict himself. But a year later Fioraso was ousted, despite protests from parishioners who defended his "patience, dedication, sacrifice and passion".
The Vatican's removal of the monks to other monasteries, ending their 500-year presence at the basilica, follows Benedict's hard line with other wayward orders, including the Legionaries of Christ, run by the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, who fathered numerous children, was disciplined over sexual abuse allegations and was banished to a life of penitence.
The basilica was supported by the Friends of Santa Croce, a who's who of Roman society run by a Italian claiming descent from Charlemagne.
Italian press reports have speculated that the inspectors from the Vatican suspected homosexual relations between monks at the monastery. gruniad
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Out of the nearly five hundred short essays on offer, I have just read three of those, American History 101 and Wikileaks both being eminently readable, as I have no doubt are the vast majority of other articles that are on offer.
Fred Reed bio. and all Fred On Everything columns here.
''Patriotism'' is another one of my little pets, so much so it has its own tag here. I have employed this talking point previously, but it's always a good exercise for a first timer; Google image patriotism, and see what you get for a result.
Examining the Firmware of War
May 23, 2011
Patriotism is everywhere thought to be a virtue rather than a mental disorder. I don’t get it.
If I told the Rotarians or an American Legion hall that “John is a patriot,” all would approve greatly of John. If I told them that patriotism was nothing more than the loyalty to each other of dogs in a pack, they would lynch me. Patriotism, they believe, is a Good Thing.
Of course the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor were patriots, as were the German soldiers who murdered millions in the Second World War. The men who brought down the towers in New York were patriots, though of a religious sort. Do we admire their patriotism?
Of course not. When we say “John is a patriot,” we mean “John is a reliable member of our dog pack,” nothing more. The pack instinct seems more ancient, and certainly stronger, than morality or any form of human decency. Thus, once the pack—citizenry, I meant to say—have been properly roused to a pitch of patriotism, they will, under cover of the most diaphanous pretexts, rape Nanking, bomb Hiroshima, kill the Jews or, if they are Jews, Palestinians. We are animals of the pack. We don’t admire patriotism. We admire loyalty to ourselves.
The pack dominates humanity. Observe that the behavior of urban gangs—the Vice Lords, Mara Salvatrucha, Los Locos Intocables, Crips, Bloods—precisely mirrors that of more formally recognized gangs, which are called “countries.” Gangs, like countries, are intensely territorial with recognized borders fiercely defended. The soldiers of gangs, like those of countries, have uniforms, usually clothing of particular colors, and they “throw signs”—make the patterns of fingers indicating their gang—and wear their hats sideways in different directions to indicate to whom their patriotism is plighted. They have generals, councils of war, and ranks paralleling the colonels and majors of national packs. They fight each other endlessly, as do countries, for territory, for control of markets, or because someone insulted someone. It makes no sense—it would be more reasonable for example to divide the market for drugs instead of killing each other—but they do it because of the pack instinct.
Packery dominates society. Across the country high schools form basketball packs and do battle on the court, while cheerleaders jump and twirl, preferably in short skirts (here we have the other major instinct) to maintain patriotic fervor in the onlookers. Cities with NFL franchises hire bulky felons from around the country to bump forcefully into the parallel felons of other cities, arousing warlike sentiments among their respective fellow dogs.
Such is their footballian enthusiasm that they will sometimes burn their own cities in delight at victory or disturbance at loss. Without the pack instinct, football would hardly matter to them at all.
It’s everywhere. The Olympics, the World Cup, racial groups, political parties—Crips and Bloods, all.
Part of patriotism is nationalism, the political expression of having given up to the pack all independence of thought.
Patriotism is of course incompatible with morality. This is more explicit in the soldier, a patriot who agrees to kill anyone he is told to kill by the various alpha-dogs—President, Fuehrer, emperor, Duce, generals.
Is this not literally true? An adolescent enlists, never having heard of Ruritania, which is perhaps on the other side of the earth. A year later, having learned to manage the Gatlings on a helicopter gunship, he is told that Ruritania is A Grave Threat. Never having seen a Ruritanian, being unable to spell the place, not knowing where it is (you would be amazed how many veterans of Viet Nam do not know where it is) he is soon killing Ruritanians. He will shortly hate them intensely as vermin, scuttling cockroaches, rice-propelled paddy maggots, gooks, or sand niggers.
The military calls the pack instinct “unit cohesion,” and fosters it to the point that soldiers often have more loyalty to the military than to the national pack. Thus it is easy to get them to fire on their own citizens. It has not happened in the United States since perhaps Kent State, but in the past the soldiery were often used to kill striking workers. All you have to do is to get the troops to think of the murderees as another group.
If you talk to patriots, particularly to the military variety, they will usually be outraged at having their morality questioned. Here we encounter moral compartmentation, very much a characteristic of the pack. If you have several dogs, as we do, you will note that they are friendly and affectionate with the family and tussle playfully among themselves—but bark furiously at strangers and, unless they are very domesticated, will attack unknown dogs cooperatively and kill them.
Similarly the colonel next door will be honest, won’t kick your cat or steal your silverware. Sshould some natural disaster occur, work strenuously to save lives, at the risk of his own if need be. Yet he will consciencelessly cluster-bomb downtown Baghdad, and pride himself on having done so. A different pack, you see. It is all right to attack strange dogs.
The pack instinct, age old, limbic, atavistic, gonadal, precludes any sympathy for the suffereings of outsiders. If Dog pack A attacks intruding dog pack B to defend its territory, its members can’t afford to think, “Gosh, I’m really hurting this guy. Maybe I should stop.” You don’t defend territory by sharing it. Thus if you tell a patriot that his bombs are burning alive thousands of children, or that the embargo on Iraq killed half a million kids by dysentery because they couldn’t get chlorine to sterilize water, he won’t care. He can’t.
The same instinct governs thought about atrocities committed in wartime. In every war, every army (correctly) accuses the other side of committing atrocities. Atrocities are what armies do. Such is the elevating power of morality that soldiers feel constrained to lie about them. But patriots just don’t care. Psychologists speak of demonization and affecting numbing and such, but it’s really just that the tortured, raped, butchered and burned are members of the other pack.
I need a drink. On Patriotism
The world is burning in the fire of desire, in greed, arrogance and excessive ego.
Fukushima Nuclear Plant's Tsunami Plan, A Single Page
TOKYO — Japanese nuclear regulators trusted that the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex were safe from the worst waves an earthquake could muster based on a single-page memo from the plant operator nearly a decade ago.
In the Dec. 19, 2001, document – one double-sized page obtained by The Associated Press under Japan's public records law – Tokyo Electric Power Co. rules out the possibility of a tsunami large enough to knock the plant offline and gives scant details to justify this conclusion, which proved to be wildly optimistic.
Regulators at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, had asked plant operators for assessments of their earthquake and tsunami preparedness. They didn't mind the brevity of TEPCO's response, and apparently made no moves to verify its calculations or ask for supporting documents.
"This is all we saw," said Masaru Kobayashi, who now heads NISA's quake-safety section. "We did not look into the validity of the content."
The memo has Japanese text, boxes and numbers. It also has a tiny map of Japan indicating where historical earthquakes are believed to have struck. TEPCO considered five quakes, ranging from 8.0 to 8.6 magnitude, in northeastern Japan, and a 9.5 magnitude across the Pacific near Chile, as examples of possible tsunami-causing temblors.
In the next nine years, despite advances in earthquake and tsunami science, the document gathered dust and was never updated.
When TEPCO finally did revisit tsunami preparedness last year, it was the most cursory of checks. And the conclusion was the same: The facility would remain dry under every scenario the utility envisioned.
"There was an attitude of disrespecting nature," said Kobe University professor emeritus Katsuhiko Ishibashi, who has sat on government nuclear safety advisory panels.
The towering waves unleashed by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake on March 11 destroyed backup generators for several reactors' cooling systems, and nuclear fuel in three reactors melted in the worst such crisis since Chernobyl. Workers have yet to bring the plant under control more than two months later.
Ishibashi said the problem with the plant's tsunami preparedness didn't lie with the limitations of science back in 2001. The problem was that TEPCO and regulators didn't look at risk factors more carefully.
"It is critical to be prepared for what might happen even if the possibilities are small," he said.
NISA's request for tsunami risk assessments did not have the force of law and thus the operators' responses technically were voluntary, but in Japan's often-informal regulatory structure, regulators would expect such a request to be obeyed.
TEPCO's memo was titled "The Assessment of Effects Related to the Japan Society of Civil Engineers' 'Guidelines on Tsunami Assessment for Nuclear Power Plants' – Fukushima Dai-ichi and Daini Nuclear Power Plants."
The company said it used measures for expected earthquakes and other "parameters" to calculate that water would not surpass 5.7 meters (18.7 feet) at Fukushima Dai-ichi.
The waters set off by the March tsunami reached 14 meters (46 feet) above sea level, according to TEPCO.
One big reason for the underestimate: TEPCO's experts asserted that the biggest earthquake that the nearest fault could produce was 8.6 magnitude. At a 9.0 magnitude, the quake that struck was four times more powerful than that.
"The results of the study show the assessment for the maximum levels of tsunami at each site," says one line in the report's typically sparse, matter-of-fact language.
The document relied on guidelines for tsunami assessments written by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers. Those guidelines were not published until 2002, but were made available in advance to TEPCO.
In the nearly 10 years since the memo, advances in science have exposed the potential – and precedent – for huge tsunamis hitting Japan's northeast coast. Several studies showed that the Jogan tsunami of A.D. 869 went far inland in the area near Fukushima Dai-ichi. Other studies showed that the fault that erupted so violently was "stuck" and could produce the kind of truly massive quake it did.
Through the years, TEPCO never changed the maximum tsunami heights expected at Fukushima Dai-ichi, which was built in 1971.
"We assessed and confirmed the safety of the nuclear plants," TEPCO civil engineer Makoto Takao asserted as recently as a November seismic safety conference in Japan.
Kobayashi, of NISA, said his agency began getting serious about scrutinizing tsunami dangers only late last year, but that this process was still in its infancy when the March 11 disaster struck.
Ishibashi noted that coastal nuclear plants need to be prepared for major typhoons and other potential disasters, and backup generators at Fukushima Dai-ichi should have been elevated and protected, not stored in basements prone to flooding, as most of them were.
The generators were critical for maintaining cooling systems for reactor cores during the power outages that followed the quake. The flood that swept through the plant grounds destroyed the generators. The cores, reaching up to 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,600 degrees Fahrenheit) without power, melted, spewing radiation into the sea and air.
TEPCO spokesman Naoyuki Matsumoto defended the 2001 report as relying on what the company saw as the best data available, although he acknowledged that the size of March 11 tsunami had been "outside the imagination."
"We had done our utmost in designing the plant, using various historical data," he said.
The utility now plans to build additional tsunami guards in waters near Fukushima Dai-ichi by the end of June, but has not decided how high they should be, he said.
Outrage is growing among the media, politicians and residents forced to evacuate near the plant that regulators and TEPCO had not adequately assessed tsunami risks.
Some criticism has focused on how the civil engineers' committee that wrote the guidelines was dominated by people with strong ties to the nuclear power industry, or 22 of the 35 committee members.
In a statement this month, the Japan Society of Civil Engineers defended the guidelines as objective and scientific, relying on experts for unbiased knowledge.
Nobuo Shuto, chief architect of the guidelines and the dean of tsunami research in Japan, acknowledged he did not check how exactly TEPCO applied the guidelines to Fukushima Dai-ichi. But he stuck by his work.
"It's easy to complain that it was an underestimate," Shuto, honorary professor at Tohoku University, said in a March telephone interview from Miyagi Prefecture, a disaster-struck area. "The honest truth is: We just don't know." huffpo
Nonetheless children have been observed attending schools while bulldozers were removing the radioactive soil from their playgrounds outside. Amidst global protests, the Japanese government has weakened (increased) the limits of allowable radiation exposures to children.
As I say. it's far from negligent, it's criminal. What chance do they have, poor little buggers?
The dire situation in Japan is the fundamental reason I cannot find the heart to currently blog, through my assistant Teddy, about the Japanese whaling industry. While I still feel the same animosity towards whalers and dolphin hunters, and shark finners, I mustn't forget those bastards, going so far as to say, if every boat in all three fleets went down with all hands, it would be a case for celebration not sadness, I cannot direct my ire at a nation facing doomsday. And it is, make no mistake about that.
Is Fukushima Now Ten Chernobyls Into the Sea?
.......New readings show levels of radioisotopes found up to 30 kilometers offshore from the on-going crisis at Fukushima are ten times higher than those measured in the Baltic and Black Seas during Chernobyl.
"When it comes to the oceans, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceonographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, "the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl."
The news comes amidst a tsunami of devastating revelations about the Fukushima disaster and the crumbling future of atomic power, along with a critical Senate funding vote today:
Fukushima's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has confirmed that fuel at Unit One melted BEFORE the arrival of the March 11 tsunami.
This critical revelation confirms that the early stages of that melt-down were set in motion by the earthquake that sent tremors into Japan from a relatively far distance out to sea.
Virtually all of Japan's 55 reactors sit on or near earthquake faults. A 2007 earthquake forced seven reactors to shut at Kashiwazaki. Japan has ordered shut at least two more at Hamaoka because of their seismic vulnerability.
Numerous reactors in the United States sit on or near major earthquake faults. Two each at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, California, are within three miles of major fault lines. So is Indian Point, less than 40 miles from Manhattan. Millions of people live within 50 miles of both San Onofre and Indian Point.
On January 31, 1986, the Perry reactor, 35 miles east of Cleveland on Lake Erie, was damaged by an earthquake rated between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter Scale---orders of magnitude weaker than the one that struck Fukushima, and that could hit the sites in California, New York and elsewhere around the globe. much more
U.N. body to probe Fukushima radiation impact
May 23, 2011
A U.N. scientific body said on Monday it would study the radiation impact of Japan's nuclear disaster on people and the environment, but it did not expect to detect any major health effects.
The United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), which has published reports about the 1986 Chernobyl accident, said it would take at least two years to produce a full report on the issue.
"Everybody wants answers tomorrow or next week ... but this is not possible. We need time," UNSCEAR Chairman Wolfgang Weiss told a news conference, adding that preliminary findings were expected in May 2012.
"So far what we have seen in the population, what we have seen in children with thyroid screening, what we have seen in workers ... we wouldn't expect to see health effects," he said.
The U.N. committee groups scientists from 21 countries.
Weiss said experts would "provide scientific insight on the magnitude of the releases to atmosphere and to the ocean, and the range of radiation doses received by the public and workers."
Engineers are battling to plug radiation leaks and bring the plant northeast of Tokyo under control more than two months after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and deadly tsunami on March 11 that devastated a swathe of Japan's coastline.
After Chernobyl, where a reactor exploded and caught fire and radiation was sent billowing across Europe, several thousands of children developed thyroid cancer due to exposure.
Weiss said the number of people affected by the Fukushima disaster was much smaller than at Chernobyl. People living within a 20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant have been evacuated. Reuters
Thursday, May 26, 2011
On a slightly different note, and as a result of a bit philosophising, as one does now and then. I got to thinking what lies in store for our much abused little planet, and considering the two scenarios that I did, it don't look too good at all. Maintaining the status quo, polluting and destroying the worlds eco-systems at the rate we are doing, can only have one outcome, doomsday within the next few generations.
The second scenario involves a belief that the planet will see another great extinction, one that will do for us as a species, and given our track record, it's not a proposition that is entirely without merit. From the six minute mark, or transcript here, first and second paragraphs.
We have already shown ourselves as far from fit custodians of mother earth, think nuclear testing, Chernobyl and Fukushima here. (and others) Considering these accidents, thirty three in total, occurred while we were ''in charge,'' what then the legacy of the 442 nuclear power plants around the world when left untended in the event of our extinction or catastrophic de-population?
Given the half life of some of the radioactive isotopes involved are not just measured in the tens of thousands of years, but in millions, even billions of years, I guess you don't need me to paint the big picture.
Japanese nuclear company confirms meltdowns in three reactors
By Mike Head
25 May 2011
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted yesterday that there had been meltdowns of fuel rods inside three reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant soon after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the plant.
Earlier this month, TEPCO revealed a meltdown in the No. 1 reactor, while saying that the fuel rods had probably melted in reactors No. 2 and 3 as well. Yesterday, the company said a review of data since early May had confirmed that meltdowns had occurred in all three reactors, and within four days of the disaster.
TEPCO said a “major part” of the fuel rods in reactor No. 2 may have melted and fallen to the bottom of the reactor’s pressure vessel 101 hours after the earthquake and tsunami. A similar meltdown had happened within the first 60 hours at reactor No. 3. In both cases, the fuel was believed to be sitting at the bottom of pressure vessels, which are likely also to be damaged.
TEPCO emphasised that temperature levels in the reactors had cooled. Company spokesman Takeo Iwamoto said: “It is unlikely that the meltdowns could worsen the crisis because melted fuels are covered in water.” However, the state of the highly radioactive fuel is unknown and underscores the difficulties in bringing the nuclear emergency under control.
As the company continues to pour water into the reactors to cool the fuel, the damaged steel pressure vessels and their surrounding concrete containment vessels are believed to be leaking, causing the seepage of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water.
TEPCO also revealed that temporary containers holding radioactive water pumped from the reactors were almost full, raising concerns they could overflow. The company said water could fill the tanks within three days and a system to reprocess the water—now measuring more than 72,574 tonnes—for reuse in the reactors was not yet finished. TEPCO had initially said the storage area could last until mid-June.
In an interview with the London-based Financial Times, Prime Minister Naoto Kan expressed regret for what he called TEPCO’s underestimation of the extent of the fuel meltdown. Amid rising public distrust of the information provided by TEPCO and the government, there was immediate speculation in the media about the timing of the announcement.
An Asahi Shimbun editorial commented: “Few days pass without news that makes us wonder if the government is telling the truth about the disastrous nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake.” Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Tokyo’s Sophia University told Reuters that TEPCO’s delay in confirming the meltdowns suggested that the company had feared setting off a panic by disclosing the severity of the accident earlier. more- - -
Chernobyl and Fukushima
25 May 2011
by: Matthew Penney and Mark Selden, The Asia-Pacific Journal
On April 12, 2011 the Japanese government officially announced that the severity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster had reached level 7, the highest on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Before Fukushima, the only level 7 case was the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, whose 25th anniversary was marked on April 26. Two and a half months after the 3.11 catastrophe, the first to affect multiple reactors, TEPCO and the Japanese government continue to struggle to bring the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi under control. TEPCO estimates that the problems could be solved in six to nine months now appearing extraordinarily optimistic and plans have been announced to close nuclear power plants deemed of particularly high risk such as the Hamaoka facility.
Following the upgrade to level 7, Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office released a statement comparing Fukushima and Chernobyl. (Source)
The Japanese government argues that apart from children who contracted thyroid cancer from drinking contaminated milk, there have been no health effects among ordinary citizens as a result of Chernobyl radiation. Is this really the case? Given the Japanese government’s precautions against thyroid cancer in children, is there reason to believe that the Fukushima accident will take no lives except those exposed to the highest dangers in the plant clean-up?
On April 15, Kyodo, Japan’s major news service, ran an English language piece by Russian scientist Alexey V. Yablokov (source). Yablokov’s stern warnings about the threat of even low levels of radiation had been ignored by the major media but was reported in Japanese in the Nishi Nippon Shimbun.
The English only Kyodo piece, however, ties Yablokov’s extensive Chernobyl research with the unfolding Fukushima crisis. Under the headline “How to minimize consequences of the Fukushima catastrophe,” Yablokov observed that
The analysis of the health impact of radioactive land contamination by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, made by Professor Chris Busby (the European Committee of Radiation Risk) based on official Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology data, has shown that over the next 50 years it would be possible to have around 400,000 additional cancer patients within a 200-kilometer radius of the plant.
This number can be lower and can be even higher, depending on strategies to minimize the consequences. Underestimation is more dangerous for the people and for the country than overestimation......
......Yablokov is one of the primary architects of the 2006 Greenpeace report “The Chernobyl Catastrophe: Consequences on Human Health” and an extensive 2010 follow-up study Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment published by the New York Academy of Sciences, which makes the startling claim that 985,000 deaths can be attributed to the 1986 disaster.
This claim is startling because it differs so dramatically from a 600 page 2005 study by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the WHO, and the UN Development Programme, which claimed that fewer than 50 deaths can be attributed directly to Chernobyl and fewer than 4000 likely from Chernobyl-related cancers in the future. Indeed, the two works continue to frame much of the public controversy, with little progress toward resolution. Attempts to assess the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster remain the subject of fierce debate over widely different estimates in both the scientific and policy communities. In the months since the Fukushima disaster, scores of reports have uncritically passed on the results of the IAEA/WHO or the Yablokov study published by the New York Academy of Sciences without seriously engaging the conflicting conclusions or moving the debate forward. Here we present the major findings of major studies across the divide that may help to clarify the likely outcomes of the Fukushima disaster. more
Arnie Gundersen explains how containment vents were added to the GE Mark 1 BWR as a "band aid" 20 years after the plants built in order to prevent an explosion of the notoriously weak Mark 1 containment system. Obviously the containment vent band aid fix did not work since all three units have lost containment integrity and are leaking radioactivity. Gundersen also discusses seismic design flaws, inadequate evacuation planning, and the taxpayer supported nuclear industry liability fund.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Police State Supreme Court Ruling Further Erodes Fourth Amendment Privacy Rights
No film can truly reconstruct the horrors that occurred under Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Years of Terror, but we have testimonies from survivors, films and photographs that have furnished us with searing impressions that should have been a final warning to the world: a government that legalizes invasions, torture, murder and genocide ought never to rise again. The question of how easily a democracy can be transformed into a police state begins when a government abolishes individual rights without the people's knowledge or consent. It began when Stalin established a comprehensive spy network that turned every citizen into a suspect. Those actions taken together, spying and abolishing inalienable rights, are the foundation of a police state.
The New Yorker's investigative writer, Jane Mayer, described in her critically acclaimed article, The Secret Sharer, how the Obama administration is targeting ethical whistleblowers, in this case, Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, "who faces some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen" because he objected to NSA's domestic spying technology program that was designed to secretly monitor the American people through a wide variety of illegal wiretapping systems. The illegal wiretapping is bad enough, but to prosecute the whistleblowers for revealing the truth, for essentially doing the right ethical thing is draconian and shameful.
Paradoxically, the Feds spend billions of tax dollars to spy on ordinary citizens while oil and polluting industries are rarely inspected for securing safety operations. In 2008, BP Whistleblower, Kenneth Abbott, discovered that 90 percent of important operational documents were never received or approved for design operations. Such recklessness, he predicted, could have catastrophic results. He was right. Now the Gulf of Mexico is a toxic dead zone. (Black Tide, Antonia Juhasz, 217-18)
While Big Brother is watching every move we make and prosecuting ethical whistleblowers, the Supreme Court's recent 8-1 ruling officially hammered the final nail in our 4th Amendment rights that guaranteed our protection from an abusive and intrusive government. That "right to privacy" is a nuisance and burden to a government that has targeted its citizens as enemies of the state. So it comes as no surprise why Justice Ginsburg would boldly and heroically oppose a ruling that paves the way for a police state.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling gave police an easy way to ignore 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. She said the amendment's "core requirement" is that officers have probable cause and a search warrant before they break into a house.
"How 'secure' do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and ...forcibly enter?" Ginsburg asked. (L.A. Times 5-17-11)
I say "final nail" because the 4th Amendment was already barely alive after being severely hammered by the drug laws, the NSA's pervasive monitor-spying program and the Patriot Act; but it still guaranteed some measure of protection from an abusive police force that would not be allowed to bust down your doors at any given time without probable cause and a search warrant. To do so would constitute a clear violation of 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Consider for example the manner in which U.S. military soldiers secretly approach an Iraqi home in the middle of the night, and then BOOM! smash the door in, raid the house, and if anyone so much as squeals, he/she could end with a bullet to the head. The recent Supreme Court 8-1 ruling allows armed police to raid American citizens inside their homes as if Americans were in a war zone.
If, for example, the police decide to target you on a hunch or a whim without proof or evidence of any wrongdoing and they show up at your front door and hear muffled sounds within the premises of your home or the sound of a flushing toilet or shuffling up or down stairs, this ruling allows armed police to bust your door down and search and raid your house as if you were Osama Bin Laden, himself.
The ruling was based on a drug-related incident, which provided a convenient reason for shredding, once and for all, our 4th Amendment rights. The Supreme Court gave police the latitude to break into homes or apartments in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the evidence otherwise might be destroyed.
The ruling, in essence, is the government's declaration of war against its citizens. If the eight Supreme Court Justices were honestly concerned about reducing drug crimes, they'd consider the connection between our high unemployment and the escalation of criminal activity. You don't solve crimes by abolishing everyone's civil liberties; you provide jobs, and there could be plenty of jobs created if the government invested our tax dollars into rebuilding our eroding highways, hospitals, schools, sewers and bridges instead of spending our tax dollars on elaborate Stalinist spy technology, weapons, drug and oil wars, and allowing tax subsidies-exemptions for the billionaire polluting industrialists.
Justice Alito's comment is chilling: "When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen may do," Alito wrote. "A resident need not respond, he added. But the sounds of people moving and perhaps toilets being flushed could justify police entering without a warrant."
Or, what if the police lie, which is not uncommon, that they heard people trying to hide or destroy evidence?
Imagine if the police knock on your door when you're in the bathroom, they hear the toilet flush, and suddenly like a scene from Stalin's Terror Years, you're surrounded by heavily armed police dressed in black uniforms, black boots and helmets that look exactly like the S.S. minus the swastika. Whether you like or dislike Presidential candidate Ron Paul, he's right about one thing: It's time to legalize illegal drugs if this is what it's come to.
It's absolutely mind-boggling and shocking that eight Supreme Court Justices would allow armed police to break and enter into the privacy of American homes on the basis of such flimsy and whimsical grounds! They can bust your door down simply because they hear a toilet flushing!?
Understand that this ruling is not limited to a few bad apples-it applies to every citizen of the United States.
Is it not creepily Orwellian, for instance, to hear media commentators and politicians use the phrase "Take them out" so casually that assassinating humans, here or abroad, is perfectly acceptable, as if they were talking about flies or mosquitoes. Does that sound like a civil society to you? A nihilistic government that is controlled by the military and oil industries creates a bully society. We have a government (Executive, Judicial and Congressional) that would rather strip the American people of their fundamental rights in Stalinist fashion than provide jobs for 33 million unemployed citizens who are starving in this country. buzzflash
Monday, May 23, 2011
These comments are one of the reasons why I would never consider atheism: atheists are the nastiest, rudest, foulest, most arrogant, most violent people around. I'd die before joining with them. They're crude caricatures of the religious strawmen they despise- but with all the intolerance, and none of the morals or charity.
Well we all have a cross to bear, if you will pardon the pun. But being, the nastiest, rudest, foulest, most arrogant, most violent people around, pales into insignificance, in the cross bearing stakes that is, when it comes to the amount of shite one, as a blogger, has to wade through on a daily basis. A subject already covered once today.
This was to be a post Rapture round-up, but it's too easy isn't it, to sit here and take the piss out of the afflicted, there would be more sport shooting fish in a barrel. But I did come across this piece of drivel, or should that be fuckin' drivel, in the Telegraph no less? Well it would be wouldn't it?
A picture paints a thousand words rings the old adage, or words to that effect. But never a picture says more about a fellow than the banner that adorns the writer's blog. Nuff said? Well if not read his blurb, the subject of one of his books kind of sticks out, but nowhere near as sharply as the words: Like everyone of my generation, I’m a bit obsessed with Sarah Palin.
I’m a bit obsessed with Sarah Palin. I know someone else who falls into that category, but not quite in the same manner, it must be said. more? or John Cleese?
So what can we expect from this auspicious defender of the one true faith, the header should give you a fair indication, but no script would be complete, and the writer predictably doesn't disappoint, for he like all his ilk, falls back on the straw man to make his argument. Or should that be little old straw ladies?
A pathetic a piece of writing as ever I have had the misfortune to read.
The Rapture aside, America's evangelical Christians deserve a little respect
Last week I went to a small evangelical church in West Los Angeles to test the mood pre-Rapture. This particular congregation did not buy the prediction by Christian broadcaster Harold Camping that the End was now, but they shared his feeling that it must be soon. A lady sang an oddly upbeat song about “The Dark Times Due” and the preacher affirmed that God is on his way. “We must live our lives like every day might be our last,” he said. “We must be prepared to be judged, be prepared to give good account of ourselves.” Then he asked each and every one of us if we were ready to meet our maker. Many nodded and shouted yes. Some, like me, looked shamefully at their knees. “The only good thing you can say about Hell,” said the preacher, “is that at least you won’t want for company.”
The Rapture that never was has been treated by many secularists and liberals as a prime piece of proof that American evangelicals are nuts. To be sure, most commentators have stressed that dating the Armageddon is germane to only a handful of churches. But the entire evangelical movement is damned by association with Camping, for they share his faith that the world is on the path to destruction. Stephen Fry called them “imbeciles”. Others have said the same in a more roundabout way. Paul Brandeis on Huffington Post wrote, “people who put their trust in these movements have a sense of powerlessness, and they need to believe in a radical solution to their current situation … The followers of Camping and the May 21 movement are largely working-class people who feel that they have less and less of a voice or place in this world. Like buying a lottery ticket, they are placing bets on a instant transformation of their personal situation where the last will become first, and the rich will be sent away empty.” That’s a classic modernist formulation: that fundamentalist belief is an idiot’s way of understanding and expressing economic pain.
The Camping misfire, like the Westboro Baptist Church’s nonsense, distracts from the innumerable benefits that evangelical culture has brought to American life. America was forged by millenarianism. The Puritans were hardcore Calvinists who shaped American attitudes towards religious tolerance but who also believed that you could tell whether or not someone was going to Hell by the way they dressed. American attitudes towards social egality were likewise shaped by the 18th century’s Great Awakening, with its emphasis upon the potential for individual redemption and personal revelation. The eruption of End of the Worldism in the early 1800s provided much of the impetus for social reform and the anti-slavery movement.
It is true that some evangelical theologians focus upon the Armageddon to the neglect of immediate, material problems. But many more have preached that Jesus would prefer to return to a world that deserved him. America’s greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1753), kept notes on events that suggested the apocalypse was near – an earthquake, a fire, even the French introducing a new toll. It wasn’t an idle distraction from the practicalities of being a Christian, with its essential commandment to love others actively, but a way of reading signposts to a new order founded on that very principle. The threat of Armageddon is not, as the Guardian suggests, “the fundamentalist Christian equivalent of the last helicopter out of Saigon”. Rather it is a spur to action: a reminder that God is watching what you are doing and that He expects results.
Evangelism is complex and nuanced. There are charismatics and fundamentalists, liberals and conservatives, black and white and racially mixed congregations. Its variation accords well with the free-market ethos of America, where each church is part of a thriving marketplace of ideas. Evangelicalism cannot be summarised in one glib column, or damned by the actions of one misguided branch. And while the federal government continues to break down and capitalism only entrenches divides, evangelicalism is a motor of social change. To give one example, the church I went to runs an outreach program for prisoners. Sweet little old ladies give up their time to meet and pray with rapists and murders. The statistics seem to confirm that the best way to stop criminals from reoffending is to convert them to Christianity (or something similar). One evangelical program in Texas resulted in a drop in the rate of reoffending from 55 per cent to eight per cent. “The government ought to pay missionaries to go into prisons,” a congregant told me.
Across the United States, atheists are gathering at Rapture parties to celebrate another day of life on this corrupted Earth. Their joy as Camping’s error is plain mean. While they knock back cheap imported beer and make-out in hot-tubs, thousands of evangelicals will be providing care and love to prisoners, homeless people, drug addicts and the poor. It is a noble calling worthy of a little tolerance. Telegraph
Well, just a little piss take, you'll allow me the one?
Or let me rephrase that, I still think they're batshit crazy, but given the way America is headed on the domestic front, I don't think their fears are totally unwarranted.
Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason
Glenn Beck loves them. Tea Partiers court them. Congressmen listen to them. Meet the fast-growing "patriot" group that's recruiting soldiers to resist the Obama administration.
By Justine Sharrock
THE .50 CALIBER Bushmaster bolt action rifle is a serious weapon. The model that Pvt. 1st Class Lee Pray is saving up for has a 2,500-yard range and comes with a Mark IV scope and an easy-load magazine. When the 25-year-old drove me to a mall in Watertown, New York, near the Fort Drum Army base, he brought me to see it in its glass case—he visits it periodically, like a kid coveting something at the toy store. It'll take plenty of military paychecks to cover the $5,600 price tag, but he considers the Bushmaster essential in his preparations to take on the US government when it declares martial law.
His belief that that day is imminent has led Pray to a group called Oath Keepers, one of the fastest-growing "patriot" organizations on the right. Founded last April by Yale-educated lawyer and ex-Ron Paul aide Stewart Rhodes, the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan have all sung its praises, and in December, a grassroots summit it helped organize drew such prominent guests as representatives Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans.
There are scores of patriot groups, but what makes Oath Keepers unique is that its core membership consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. At regular ceremonies in every state, members reaffirm their official oaths of service, pledging to protect the Constitution—but then they go a step further, vowing to disobey "unconstitutional" orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government.Pray (who asked me to use his middle name rather than his first) and five fellow soldiers based at Fort Drum take this directive very seriously. In the belief that the government is already turning on its citizens, they are recruiting military buddies, stashing weapons, running drills, and outlining a plan of action. For years, they say, police and military have trained side by side in local anti-terrorism exercises around the nation. In September 2008, the Army began training the 3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team to provide humanitarian aid following a domestic disaster or terror attack—and to help with crowd control and civil unrest if need be. (The ACLU has expressed concern about this deployment.) And some of Pray's comrades were guinea pigs for military-grade sonic weapons, only to see them used by Pittsburgh police against protesters last fall.
Most of the men's gripes revolve around policies that began under President Bush but didn't scare them so much at the time. "Too many conservatives relied on Bush's character and didn't pay attention," founder Rhodes told me. "Only now, with Obama, do they worry and see what has been done. Maybe you said, I trusted Bush to only go after the terrorists.* But what do you think can happen down the road when they say, 'I think you are a threat to the nation?'"
In Pray's estimate, it might not be long (months, perhaps a year) before President Obama finds some pretext—a pandemic, a natural disaster, a terror attack—to impose martial law, ban interstate travel, and begin detaining citizens en masse. One of his fellow Oath Keepers, a former infantryman, advised me to prepare a "bug out" bag with 39 items including gas masks, ammo, and water purification tablets, so that I'd be ready to go "when the shit hits the fan."
When it does, Pray and his buddies plan to go AWOL and make their way to their "fortified bunker"—the home of one comrade's parents in rural Idaho—where they've stocked survival gear, generators, food, and weapons. If it becomes necessary, they say, they will turn those guns against their fellow soldiers.
PRAY AND I DRIVE through a bleak landscape of fallow winter fields and strip malls in his blue Dodge Stratus as Drowning Pool's "Bodies"—a heavy metal song once used to torment Abu Ghraib detainees—plays on the stereo. Clad in an oversize black hoodie that hides his military physique, Pray sports an Army-issue buzz cut and is seriously inked (skulls, smoke, an eagle). His father kicked him out of the house at age 14. Two years later, after working jobs from construction to plumbing—"If it's blue collar, I've done it"—he tried to enlist. It wasn't long after 9/11, and he was hell-bent on revenge. The Army turned him down. Blaming the "THOR" tattooed across his fist, Pray tried to burn it off. On September 11, 2006, he approached the Army again and was accepted.
Now Pray is both a Birther and a Truther. He believes he is following an illegitimate, foreign-born president in a war on terror launched by a government plot—9/11. He admires soldiers like Army reservist Major Stefan Frederick Cook, who volunteered for a deployment last May and then sued to avoid it—claiming that Obama is not a natural-born citizen and is thus unfit for command. Pray himself had been eager to go to Iraq when his own unit deployed last June, but he smashed both knees falling from a crane rig and the injuries kept him stateside. In September, he was demoted from specialist to private first class—he'd been written up for bullshit infractions, he claims, after seeking help for a drinking problem. His job on base involves operating and maintaining heavy machinery; the day before we met, he and his fellow "undeployables" had attached a snowplow to a Humvee, their biggest assignment in a while. He spends idle hours at the now-quiet base researching the New World Order and conspiracies about swine flu quarantine camps—and doing his best to "wake up" other soldiers.
Pray isn't sure how to do this and still cover his ass. He talks to me on the record and agrees to be photographed, even as he hints that the CIA may be listening in on his phone. Although I met him through contacts from the group's Facebook page, Pray, fearing retribution, keeps his Oath Keepers ties unofficial. (Rhodes encourages active-duty soldiers to remain anonymous, noting that a group with large numbers of anonymous members can instill in its adversaries the fear of the unknown—a "great force multiplier.") For a time, Pray insisted we communicate via Facebook (safer than regular email, he claims). Driving me from the mall back to my motel, he takes a new route. He says unmarked black cars sometimes trail him. It sounds paranoid. Then again, when you're an active-duty soldier contemplating treason, some level of paranoia is probably sensible.
The next afternoon we join Brandon, one of Pray's Army buddies, for steaks. Sitting in a pleather booth at Texas Roadhouse, the young men talk boastfully about their military capabilities and weapons caches. Role-playing the enemy in military exercises, Brandon says, has prepared him to evade and fight back against US troops. "I know their tactics," brags Pray. "I know how they do room sweeps, work their convoys—if we attack this vehicle, what the others will do."
A strapping Idahoan, Brandon (who doesn't want his full name used) enlisted as a teenager when he got his girlfriend pregnant and needed a stable job, stat. (She lost the baby and they split, but he's still glad he signed up.) Unlike his friend, he doesn't think the United Nations must be dismantled, although he does agree that it represents the New World Order, and he suspects that concentration camps are being readied in the off-limits section of Fort Drum. He sends 500 rounds of ammunition home to Idaho each month. more mother jones
But the words were Ron Paul's, only in a somewhat different context to the one I picked up on. 'Tis sad to say though, as much as America needs a guy like Ron Paul at the helm, he has about as much chance of being elected President as I have. America just isn't ready for you, I don't think it ever will be either, more's the pity.
Ron Paul to Obama: Stop Dictating to Israel
By Doug Wead
20 May 2011
In a statement released after the president's speech, Thursday, May 19, 2011, Congressman Ron Paul took Barack Obama to task. “Unlike this president, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs."
Ron Paul's statement, released immediately after the speech, reflected the congressman's long held views against American leaders meddling in the affairs of other countries. “Israel is our close friend," the statement reads, "While President Obama’s demand that Israel make hard concessions in her border conflicts may very well be in her long-term interest, only Israel can make that determination on her own, without pressure from the United States or coercion by the United Nations."
Paul argues that America must stop trying to rule the world and dictate policy to foreign capitals and bring its armies home from its endless wars. Warning that the country is facing annual deficits of $ 2 trillion the congressman's statement read in part, “Our military’s purpose is to defend our country, not to police the Middle East."
Ron Paul has been at the forefront of a growing movement of Americans who feel that our national interventionism has gone to extreme and is making us enemies all over the globe. In the 2008 presidential debates, while Mitt Romney and John McCain argued over how long American troops should stay in Iraq, Paul was alone in saying that they shouldn't have gone into the country in the first place.
It was a shocking statement at the time and both Romney and McCain smirked condescendingly, but today polls show two-thirds of the American people calling for a full withdrawal of American troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"When will our leaders finally do what’s right for America," Ron Paul's statement asks, "And rethink this irrational approach we’ve followed for far too long?"
Paul has been critical of American's foreign aid suggesting that it is conflicted and the money misused. He once described it as money taken from poor people in a rich country and given to rich people in poor countries. Paul has pointed out the absurdity of our policies. "We give $3 billion to Israel and $12 billion to her enemies."
Obama's stunning statement, siding with the Palestinian position, calling for Israel to return to its 1967 borders would mean among other things the loss of the Golan Heights and most of Jerusalem.
The statement comes only hours before his Friday meeting with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu. Many devout Christians and Jews saw the return of Jerusalem to Israel in 1967 as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. An NBC report from Cairo Thursday night showed little enthusiasm among Middle Easterners for President Obama's speech.
It remains to be seen how deep the anger will be in America. President Obama's decision may have come at a heavy political price at home with little gain in the Islamic world. Newsmax
Worrying gap between US military, civilians: Mullen
The US military's top officer warned Saturday about a worrisome disconnect between civilians and troops, saying soldiers are becoming isolated from the rest of American society.
Speaking to graduating cadets at the US military academy at West Point, Admiral Mike Mullen said that Americans appreciate the military but do not fully understand soldiers' lives or the sacrifices they have made in wartime.
"Our work is appreciated, of that I am certain. There isn't a town or a city I visit where people do not convey to me their great pride in what we do," Mullen said, according to a text of the speech.
"But I fear they do not know us. I fear they do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle," he said.
"This is important, because a people uninformed about what they are asking the military to endure is a people inevitably unable to fully grasp the scope of the responsibilities our Constitution levies upon them," he said.
With the all-volunteer military representing less than one percent of the population, Mullen said it was a comparatively "small force" that was not fully representative of the population and dwelled in a largely separate world.
"We are also fairly insular, speaking our own language of sorts, living within our own unique culture, isolating ourselves either out of fear or from perhaps even our own pride," Mullen said.
As a result, Americans could be "forgiven" for not "possessing an intimate knowledge of our needs or of our deeds," said Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
Even with the military preoccupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers had a duty to reach out to the rest of society, he told the cadets, who will enter the US Army as officers.
"We must help them understand -- our fellow citizens -- who so desperately want to help us."
Both Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have voiced concern about the all-volunteer force of more than 1.4 million growing alienated from the rest of society, with large numbers of recruits coming from more rural, conservative areas.
In his address, Mullen said that the cadets graduating from West Point would be expected to win wars not only on the battlefield but "at home," and encouraged them to communicate "often and much with the American people to the degree you can." yahoo
Further Tales From a Police State and The Big Fascist Picture Show
I have stopped watching videos of America's finest in action, A, because they make me extremely angry, and B, because of some of the cuntish comments made by the cunts of the law and order brigade. See, Further Fascist Fun in Florida, above.
This has been sat in the archives for three years. The girl's crime, if I remember correctly, was to be walking home, or was that, walking home whilst being black?
Further Fascist Fun In Florida
Isn't it amazing how the law and order brigade have a road to Damascus moment when they find themselves in the hands of "law and order."
There's nothing like a basin full of reality to sweep away the illusions is there. I love stories like this, it's better than.....
Sunday, May 22, 2011
That's assuming I still had any credibility left of course.
Overruled at the behest of a couple of chavs, this politicking, it's not all beer and skittles is it Therasa?
Cameron on the turn and doing the dirty
There are more and more examples of the Prime Minister hanging his senior colleagues out to dry
by Jon Craig
May 20th, 2011
What have Madeleine McCann and the military got in common? Oh, and universities, the National Health Service and forests?
Answer: They’re all issues on which David Cameron has hung a member of his Cabinet out to dry and overruled the policy of a major Government department.
“U-turn if you want to”, Margaret Thatcher famously declared at the 1981 Conservative Party conference. “The lady’s not for turning.”
Well, the current Prime Minister is. And, it seems, David Cameron doesn’t mind publicly humiliating a member of his Cabinet if he thinks he or she has got it wrong.
Theresa May, Liam Fox, David Willetts, Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove and Caroline Spelman – and a few more – have all been hung out to dry by the Prime Minister and their policy abruptly overturned, leaving these poor hapless secretaries of state to squirm in public, smile sheepishly and fall into line behind the latest prime ministerial whim or edict.
But who is the most hapless Cabinet minister of all? Why, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, of course.
“Doesn’t this mess on the NHS tell us all we need to know about this Prime Minister?” Ed Miliband taunted Cameron in one of the Leader of the Opposition’s better moments at Prime Minister’s Questions.
“He breaks his promises, he doesn’t think things through and then, when the going gets tough, he dumps on his minister.”
Well, the last observation was pretty spot-on. But back to PMQs. Ed hadn’t finished. “We have seen the Universities Minister being dumped on for the tuition fees policy”, the Labour leader went on. “We see the Schools Secretary being dumped on for his free schools policy and the poor Deputy Prime Minister, he just gets dumped on every day of the week.”
Ed was certainly right about Clegg, too. And within just a few hours of that taunt, there was further evidence. Shortly before PMQs, in a speech to mark the first anniversary of the coalition, the Deputy Prime Minister told supporters that the Liberal Democrats had curbed the Tories and were a restraining influence in the coalition.
“You will see a strong liberal identity in a strong coalition Government. You might even call it muscular liberalism”, he said, borrowing a phrase used by David Cameron in what appeared to be an attempt to mock the PM. Big mistake.
Later the same day – after telling MPs at PMQs “There’s only one party you can trust on the NHS and it’s the one that I lead” – the PM told Tory MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee: “We should not allow the Liberal Democrats to pose as a moderating influence. We are the party of the NHS. The pause in the reforms was my decision, not the Deputy Prime Minister’s.”
Ouch. There was more to come. Ed Miliband’s taunt at PMQs was followed by Cameron U-turns on the Madeleine McCann inquiry and a military covenant written into law.
The Labour leader was bang on about the NHS and Cameron’s treatment of the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. When Lansley was forced to announce the pause in the passage of the Government’s NHS legislation in a House of Commons statement, I have rarely seen a more dejected, humiliated or miserable Cabinet minister at the despatch box. How much longer can Lansley continue to suffer the humiliation before he decides he has had enough?
Two Cabinet colleagues, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are already being tipped by Tory MPs to replace Lansley. One conspiracy theory among Conservative MPs is that Hammond will move to Health and dump the NHS reforms in his first act and Lansley will move to Transport and dump the high-speed rail link in his first act.
Nonsense, a senior Cabinet minister insisted to me. The Prime Minister is the driving force behind the rail link, I was told. Really? In that case, the cynic in me predicts that Cameron will eventually dump the rail link and blame whoever is Transport Secretary at the time.
Tuition fees? David Willetts, the man MPs call “Two Brains” but who had clearly left both of them at home that day, suggested in a most cack-handed fashion that wealthy students could buy their way into top universities.
Dear, oh dear. Whatever happened to social mobility? “That is not going to happen, that’s not our policy”, said the Prime Minister with a steely glint in his eye that suggested he was furious with “No Brains”, sorry, “Two Brains”. “There is no question of people being able to buy their way into university.”
Later, in the Commons, Willetts, too, looked thoroughly miserable and humiliated, as he had to admit that he was wrong and the Prime Minister right.
And what of Michael Gove and free schools? Well, Cameron and Gove have been at odds over the role of religion in these so-called “free schools” – schools the Tories have proposed should be run by parents’ groups, charities and trusts, that is. Michael Gove said religious groups such as the Church of England, Roman Catholics or Muslims would not be able to run them. Oh yes they could, said David Cameron. Which brings us to the two most recent examples of Prime Ministerial hanging a minister out to dry.
Kate and Gerry McCann have been campaigning for years for a review of the bungled investigation into their daughter Madeleine’s disappearance in Portugal. It was a matter for the Portuguese authorities, the British Government insisted.
Yet within hours of a letter from Kate and Gerry to David Cameron published in The Sun, coinciding – it should be said – with publication of their book, they suddenly achieved a breakthrough.
On Sky News, the McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, revealed that Kate and Gerry had met the last three Home Secretaries, Theresa May, Alan Johnson and Jacqui Smith. The Times also reported that a detailed report recommending a full review of the Madeleine McCann case had been sitting on the Home Secretary’s desk for almost a year.
So was it dithering by Theresa May or political interference by the PM? Lord Harris of Haringey, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority and still a senior member, claimed Cameron was “driving a coach and horses” through police protocol.
Then came Cameron’s pledge to enshrine the military covenant into law, only days after Defence Secretary Liam Fox told Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News it would merely be “recognised” in law. The Ministry of Defence, it seems, was worried about a lot of expensive lawsuits being brought by members of the Armed Forces if the covenant was given the full weight of the law.
It’s claimed the military covenant was David Cameron’s ninth U-turn in as many months, following the NHS reforms, school sports, school milk, forestry sell-offs, rape anonymity, Bookstart, housing benefit cuts and immigration targets.
Maybe. Of those eight, the biggest public humiliation suffered by a Cabinet minister at the hands of the Prime Minister was Caroline Spelman’s grovelling apology to MPs after the forest sale fiasco. “I’m sorry, we got this one wrong”, she said.
We, Caroline? Her humiliation began earlier, however, at Prime Minister’s Questions when Ed Miliband asked Cameron whether he was happy about the forest sell-off policy.
“The short answer to that is no”, Cameron replied, in an answer that displayed both refreshing candour and brutal lack of respect for Caroline Spelman. This was probably the most savage of all Cameron’s public dumping on his Cabinet ministers.
I can, however, can think of even more occasions when the PM has undermined a senior colleague. Remember, for instance, last December when Number 10 “slapped down” Ken Clarke over new sentencing guidelines denounced as “soft” by Tory right-wingers?
I do. I was present when the “slapping down” was being administered by a member of the Downing Street inner circle.
But in all these examples, from Madeleine to the military, is David Cameron the hero or the villain for hanging Cabinet ministers out to dry and performing swift U-turns?
I’d say that in most cases the Prime Minister’s judgement has been right and he has rescued those hapless Secretaries of State from blundering ahead with some barmy policies.
Who can argue that the forest sell-off was a good idea? Or that allowing rich kids to get into university by the back door with the help of daddy’s cheque book was anything other than a crackpot idea?
On the military covenant, it’s hard to disagree with Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy, who says the Government has done the right thing, but for the wrong reasons, giving in to the Royal British Legion, MPs and the media.
I’m afraid I’m not convinced, however, about David Cameron’s intervention on Madeleine McCann.
Jon Craig is Sky News’ chief political correspondent. Tribune
h/t Joana Morais
Friday, May 20, 2011
Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn Trying to Torpedo the Dollar?
by Mike Whitney
May 19, 2011
IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The French believe it’s a Plot
by Roland Michel Tremblay
May 19, 2011
Regime Change at the IMF: The Frame-Up of Dominique Strauss-Kahn?
by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
May 19, 2011
Strauss-Kahn. "Presumption of Innocence". The Establishment Eliminates A Threat
by Paul Craig Roberts
May 20, 2011
The Strauss-Kahn Affair: Conspiring to Reshape the Global Financial Playing Field?
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
With Quest to Cool Fuel Rods Stumbling, US Sees "Weeks of Struggle"
18 May 2011
Tokyo - Amid widening alarm in the United States and elsewhere about Japan’s nuclear crisis, military fire trucks began spraying cooling water on spent fuel rods at the country’s stricken nuclear power station late Thursday after earlier efforts to cool the rods failed, Japanese officials said.
The United States’ top nuclear official followed up his bleak appraisal of the grave situation at the plant the day before with a caution that it would “take some time, possibly weeks,” to resolve.
The developments came as the authorities reached for ever more desperate and unconventional methods to cool damaged reactors, deploying helicopters and water cannons in a race to prevent perilous overheating in the spent rods of the No. 3 reactor.
Moments before the military trucks began spraying, police officers in water cannon trucks were forced back by high levels of radiation in the same area. The police had been trying to get within 50 yards of the reactor, one of six at the plant.
The five specially fitted military trucks sprayed water for about an hour, but the full impact of the tactic was not immediately clear.
The Japanese efforts focused on a different part of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 140 miles northeast of here, from the reactor — No. 4 — depicted in Washington on Wednesday as presenting a far bleaker threat than the Japanese government had offered.
The decision to focus on the No. 3 reactor appeared to suggest that Japanese officials believe it is a greater threat, since it is the only one at the site loaded with a mixed fuel known as mox, for mixed oxide, which includes reclaimed plutonium.
Western nuclear engineers have said that the release of mox into the atmosphere would produce a more dangerous radioactive plume than the dispersal of uranium fuel rods at the site. The Japanese authorities also expressed concern on Wednesday that the pressure in the No. 3 reactor had plunged and that either gauges were malfunctioning or a rupture had already occurred.
After the military’s effort to cool the spent fuel atop the reactor with fire trucks, Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said it was too early to assess the success of the attempt.
Mr. Nishiyama also said that radiation of about 250 millisievert an hour had been detected 100 feet above the plant. In the United States the limit for police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers engaged in life-saving activity as a once-in-a-lifetime exposure is equal to being exposed to 250 millisieverts for a full hour. The radiation figures provided by the Japanese Self-Defense Force may provide an indication of why a helicopter turned back on Wednesday from an attempt to dump cold water on a storage pool at the plant.
A White House statement late Wednesday said that President Obama had “briefed Prime Minister Kan on the additional support being provided by the U.S., including specialized military assets with expertise in nuclear response and consequence management.”
On Thursday a Pentagon spokesman, Col. David Lapan, said the military expertise made available to the Japanese included a nine-person assessment team that has or will shortly arrive there to work with the Japanese military and government.
The team members, Colonel Lapan said, will then recommend whether additional American military forces are needed to assist in the effort.
The American military is also gathering information on the damaged nuclear power plant. Officials said that a Global Hawk drone was flying missions over the reactor. In addition, U-2 spy planes were providing images to help the Japanese government map out its response to the quake and tsunami.
Earlier Thursday Japanese military forces tried to dump seawater from a helicopter on Reactor No. 3, making four passes and dropping a total of about 8,000 gallons as a plume of white smoke billowed. The Japanese government said that the reactor typically needs 50 tons of water, or about 12,000 gallons, a day to keep from overheating.
Video of the effort appeared to show most of the water missing the reactor and the Japanese military later said the measure had little effect on reducing the temperature in the pool where the spent rods are stored. A photograph from the air showed a light that seemed to suggest the presence of water in the pool, according to Tokyo Electric, but analysts said it was unclear what the image meant.
The military also announced that it had postponed plans to drop water on Reactor No. 4, which Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, on Wednesday pinpointed as a cause for serious alarm. On Thursday, at a White House briefing, he issued the warning that resolving the situation could “take time, possibly weeks,” according to Bloomberg. more