Japan’s Worrisome Future: Can it Reinvent Itself after These Calamities?

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I spoke with Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s GPS yesterday morning about various possible political and economic impacts of the earthquake, tsunami and worsening nuclear crisis in Japan.
Suffice it to say that the production quality of my video presence wasn’t awesome as I did this over Skype from my Doha Sheraton hotel room. Fareed was terrific about it though — and I think the exchange was good (though some have written to me saying this is the ‘wrong’ time to be discussing big picture economic and political consequences).
My section is about ten minutes and fifteen seconds into the show.
Related to this segment, I wrote a piece titled “Japan Can Fall Further or Remake Itself” for Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square blog.
You can read it here.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

73 comments on “Japan’s Worrisome Future: Can it Reinvent Itself after These Calamities?

  1. questions says:

    Back up nuke pump broken for 18 months — unnoticed! Diablo Canyon reactor.
    “For 18 months, operators at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo didn’t realize that a system to pump water into one of their reactors during an emergency wasn’t working. ”
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/17/BUA01IDTUO.DTL&tsp=1
    Inadvertent things will happen, and corruption will happen.
    There MUST be multiple and independent back up systems so that something like this doesn’t kill large numbers of people.
    There’s a report out about Exelon, too, from the Chi Trib:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0318-power-uprate-20110317,0,4088518.story
    One needs to consult with a nuclear engineer or power plant operator to evaluate this, but it seems that Exelon makes its money by squeezing more electricity out of plants. Some of this squeezing may be pretty dangerous, but I cannot evaluate the danger.
    Ask-a-nuke-sci next time you find a chance.

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    “UPDATE AS OF 11:20 A.M. EDT, FRIDAY, MARCH 18:
    Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are in stable condition, with workers continuing to provide seawater cooling into the reactors. Containment integrity is believed to be intact on reactors 1, 2 and 3, and containment building pressures are elevated but are within design limits.
    Site radiation doses have been decreasing since March 16. Radiation dose rates are fluctuating based on some of the relief operations, such as adding cooling water to the used fuel pools. Recent readings at the plant boundary are about 2 millirem per hour. Radiation dose rates at reactor 3 range between 2,500 and 5,000 millirem per hour.”
    http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    Some smaller updates on Japan.
    From Brave New Climate dot com
    “2. NHK news shows some footage of the fire trucks of the self defence forces and Tokyo fire department (including some borrowed trucks from the locally deployed US military), in the act of hosing down units 3 and 4 with the aim of raising the water levels in the open-topped spent fuel storage ponds (see here for more details)

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    Because of the implicit HINT from Steve regarding open threads, I’m limiting myself to this post today unless there’s something utterly incredible that pops up.
    And, indeed, I have other things I should be doing occasionally besides obsessing over the apocalypse.
    http://ansnuclearcafe.org/
    This site has links to all sorts of useful things. Yes, it’s ANS (American Nuclear Society), but it has links to all sorts of things. And, as with many such situations, the insiders are actually the ones who know what’s going on, and we have to do mental corrections for tone of optimism.
    ****
    Japanese and American officials differ on the level of panic. The temps in the #4 cooling ponds and the water levels seem to be a subject of debate.
    The helicopter water drops didn’t quite work. Water has a mind of its own in terms of its path downwards from a helicopter.
    The water cannon thing is or isn’t working. I haven’t found anything about the success. It’s a cool idea — and better than getting a bunch of kids with supersoakers to spray.
    The US wants a bigger range of evacuations based on US policy, while Japan is happier with a smaller evacuation based on Japan policy.
    Evacuation itself can cause death, as can panic. The public health view of the world should be kept in mind. One balances numbers harmed by doing and by not doing, rather than looking at any one life or death.
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/
    This is another news compilation site.
    I got these two from the MIT student blog that republished Oehmen’s letter, corrected Oehmen’s letter, and then distanced itself from Oehmen’s letter!
    ********
    And here’s the rant of the day, but I’m definitely limiting myself to one for the day, and I’m keeping it below the top thread so that those who can’t bear to see my rants don’t even have to…..
    Arne Duncan is a fool. He convened a world-wide education meet and greet. He was told point blank that the scores on the PISA tests for the US would go up when teaching was a culturally respected profession, when salaries went up enough to encourage able people to enter the profession, when work conditions helped retention.
    Duncan’s response, in HuffPo, is blind to everything that was said in the conference.
    Further, the stat that only 2% of our students are tops in math whereas 8% of Singaporeans (??Finns?) are tops in math misses out on all sorts of other issues — we allow our smart and not-so-smart kids a lot of freedom to do what they love. k-12 kids who are good at math have all sorts of choices from football to soccer to music to art to dance to tv watching to uploading their favorite music illegally to youtub or downloading their favorite music illegally from youtube. They can sleep, and eat, they can hang out, they can do all kinds of social things that have nothing to do with math.
    The social freedom is GOOD!!!!! We don’t want automatons who are doing calc in 3rd grade and having nervous breakdowns at age 18 (read John Stuart Mill’s bio!)
    But all that Duncan dude can think of is racing to the top — of what? Singaporean society? Should we be caning gum chewers?
    Further Duncan misses out on the effects of poverty and school funding, the stupidity of our testing system, and the general pathology of anti-intellectualism in American society.
    Finally, the one place there’s something valid in Duncanland, he’s still gonna fuck it up. K-8 teachers often aren’t very good at basic math. No, duh.
    So the thing to do to attract math-able, fraction/decimal/ratio/proportion/percent/negativenumbers/probability/algebra knowing K-8 teachers is to:
    Bust the fucking unions
    Lower the pay scale
    Increase the grading load and class size
    Get rid of school-based nutrition (like breakfast lunch and dinner)
    Hire idiot Harvard grads who are too young to manage a room full of hormonal 12 year olds and tearful 7 year olds (40 or 60 at a time)
    And test test test test test
    Because we know kids love taking tests!
    Gosh Mr. Duncan. You’re good!
    Thanks for being in the same room as some actual teachers.
    Next time, try listening to them instead of being locked in your own fucking frame, incapable of learning, being like a kid in school who knows the big test is coming and doesn’t give a damn. You’ll flunk. And the next generation of school children will pay the price for you fuck up. You’ll be paid well. You’ll one day write a book and become a high-paid consultant.
    It’ll all be externalized onto a new generation of kids.
    It’s the American way.
    Nukes, schools, it’s all the same when you get down to it.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I was just reading how this quake actually knocked earth off it’s axis by several inches..”
    Hmmmmmmm.
    Don’t worry about it, our TEPCO technicians, in close association with Rush Limbaugh and Senator Alexander, have considered that possibility, and have assured us that they can design a plant that will withstand such puny dynamics.

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    BTW, questions, heres the weird comment of the day….
    When I called Walgrens pharmacy in Tehachapi to see if they had any Potassium Iodide in stock, the pharmacist replied….
    “No, we won’t be getting any.”

    Reply

  7. questions says:

    Union of Concerned Scientists member Lyman testifies before the Senate — link below to his opening remarks.
    **********************
    The most important comment he made is:
    The earthquake did not cause the problem in Japan.
    The tsunami did not cause the problem in Japan.
    A STATION BLACKOUT caused the problem.
    **********************
    Complete loss of power on site and off site can happen in more than one way, people.
    I truly hope that members of both houses of Congress latch on to this remarkable point.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/safety/senate-briefing-on-japan-nuclear-crisis.html

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    Thanks for the potassium iodide info. My limited understanding is that many people are allergic to it, it can make people sick, you only need it if you ingest radioactive material, and it only helps for thyroid cancer by making sure your thyroid is happy on your iodide pills and it doesn’t take in the radioactive stuff you just ate. I don’t even know if breathing it in is an issue.
    You are right though that were there a problem, the run on supplies would be an issue. This kind of thing happens with flu vaccines and all sorts of other public health anxieties and video game consoles.
    When we depend on profit-seeking enterprises for our needs, and our needs don’t fill the coffers, well, the coffers win and we lose.
    ****
    And by the way, correction — see, I’m faster than the NYT and I call attention to it! I had some details about the FL recall election wrong. Apparently it’s a Republican who was recalled for insufficient TeaParty fealty. He did try for increased taxes and salary hikes, for his staff, too.
    I don’t know how awful he is compared to others, but the tax increase part is still there. And so is the billionaire funding.
    ****
    kos diary reports that the co-pilot of the Miracle on the Hudson plane pulled a few hundred thousand dollars out of various accounts in the Wisconsin bank that gave money to Walker!
    Michigan is having all sorts of anti-martial law protests!
    Kasich is disliked significantly in Ohio.
    No one wants Palin anymore.
    *********
    And a new word for our vocabulary — I have NEVER seen this one before:
    RECRITICALITY
    I do not know the status, but I suppose if it’s a real word, it’ll show up on HuffPo with a siren or two around it…..
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/16/956962/-TEPCO:-The-possibility-of-re-criticality-is-not-zero

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Thanks, Martin.
    The striking fact about all of this is that we risk so many lives by making decisions justified by conjecture, which inevitably offers best case scenarios favoring the corporations profiting by those decisions.
    In the case of San Onofre, how far a tidal wave travels inland is irrelevent, as San Onofre literally sits right on the beach.
    I just listened to some RW jackass, Chas McCay, (SP?) on a radio talk show claiming that “This deal in Japan is NOTHING”. That “no one has died, after all”. According to him, this whole deal is just left wing hype over nothing. Glenn Beck offers the same opinion. Limbaugh follows suit. Perhaps these epic assholes have finally offered a narrative that will finally underscore them as the blithering partisan jackasses they deserve to be exposed as.

    Reply

  10. MartinJB says:

    Regarding Tsunamis (from http://www.sanandreasfault.org/tsunamis.html – not definitive, but more informative than nothing):
    The SAF is unlikely to produce tsunamis. This is because it is mostly on land and because it is a transform fault, the motion between plates being largely horizontal. Tsunami’s are produced by vertical motions at an underwater fault and these are almost always associated with subduction zones. However, earthquakes in the Mendocino Fracture Zone and the Cascadia Subduction Zone have produced damaging tsunamis in California and Oregon.
    California is also vulnerable to tsunamis caused in the Pacific ocean. Many of the edges of the Pacific plate terminate in subduction zones. Alaska is a source of tsunamis, as are the west coast of Mexico, central and south America and Japan. In California, only a few low lying coastal regions are in danger from tsunamis. But of course, the larger the tsunami, the farther inland it will reach.

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If the San Andreas is a tsunami-inducing geologic fault, why didn’t it produce one before?”
    Quite quickly, its become obvious you’re only interested in masturbating yourself on this issue. Truth is, the San Andreas has not slipped to its full capabilities in recent memory, has it? So, is it your reasoning that we should consider a best case scenario when opining what may occur with a major seismic event on the San Andreas when discussing the sanity of placing nuclear reactors in an active seismic zone?
    Gee, uh, how has that optimistic kind of forecasting worked out for the Japanese?
    If you wanna stupidly roll the dice about you and your children’s welfare, thats your business. But don’t be so eager to play Russian Roulette with me and mine.
    Frankly and honestly, the ignorant horseshit I’m hearing, and reading, in regards to this issue, actually DOES make me fit my screen name perfectly.
    An example??? Try Senator Lamar Alexander’s bit of shameless whoring….
    “……the reactor safety systems so far appear to have done their job in withstanding the earthquake, tsunami, power loss, and explosions….”
    Now, that doesn’t piss you off that some DC slut like Alexander, who is supposed to be representing YOUR best interests, would say something so fuckin’ ignorant, just so he can prostitute himself to a special interest group? It is truly inexplicable to me that some whoring maggot like that can get one single vote, much less enough to ascend to any office of importance. Doesn’t say much for the intelligence of a huge segment of our society, does it?
    I suspect YOU might be willing to cast your vote for such an unmittigated ass. So, do me a favor, “Responder”, go play games with someone else. I won’t be communicating with you past this point.
    “questions”….
    Food for thought about the Potassium Iodide thing.
    First, it just seems prudent to have a jar or two of it in your household, particularly if you have children in the family, or even neighborhood children whose parents aren’t prone to “paying attention” to the world around them.
    But what really strikes me on this issue is that the stores and online sources have ran out of stock in such a short timeline. What if we DID have a catastrophic failure at a plant like San Onofre or Diablo, or one of the plants near our population centers on the East Coast? We are to rely on these assholes at FEMA to distribute it in an expeditious and competent manner, assuming they have stockpiled a sufficient amount to protect MILLIONS? Or hey, lets take the word of these fuckers in DC when they tell us we don’t need to be taking Potassium Iodide. Because, after all, they did such a great job being honest about Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, DU, and the air around the WTC post 9/11.
    If the stores are out of Potassium Iodide because a small segment of the population is concerned about what is occurring in Japan, how will the stocks be if we have an honest to goodness NEED here in the US, and people are clamoring for it out of neccesity? Do I REALLY wanna rely on these pieces of shit in Washington DC to decide if and when I can protect me and mine in a manner I decide is prudent and pressing???
    So, me? I’ve ordered three jars, of 120 tablets each. They’ll get put away, and with any luck, after I die someone will clean out my larder and wonder “WTF did he want these for?”. Or…..???
    Its also quite irritating seeing the ruminations of those such as Kucinich and others. All the sudden Kucinich wants liars, criminals, and cheats excluded from the process of permitting, building, building, and inspecting these plants? Uh, gee, it took a disaster to advance such a suggestion? Where the fuck was Kucinich when fresh permits were being proposed and issued, and this pathetic worm Obama was waxing eloquent about the need for more plants? What, we didn’t ALREADY KNOW that liars, criminals, and cheats were involved in the process of permitting, inspecting, and erecting these plants?????
    THE TRUTH, and the simple conclusion, driven by common sense, tells us that San Onofre and Diablo, (and others), SHOULD IMMEDIATELY BE TAKEN OFFLINE. Particularly considering the increasing seismic activity on the Ring Of Fire. Leaving these plants online SHOULD BE viewed as criminal malfeasance. But of course its not. It will only be seen as criminal malfeasance if a disaster occurs, and the responsible SLUTS, like this dung pile Senator Lamar Alexander, stand before us claiming “Gee, we had no idea…” while they point their slimey boney manicured digits at whatever minion they decide to scapegoat.

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    OOPS!
    And don’t stock up on potassium iodide on the recommendation of a surgeon general whose claim to fame is not radiation sickness…..
    She’s backing off it! There’s preparedness and there’s preparedness.
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/03/potassium-iodide-concerns-surgeon-general.html

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    This is good — the WaPo labels lobbyists as such, notes their position as a lobbying and moneyed interest.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nuclear-power-lobbyists-try-to-limit-damage–from-japan-crisis-on-capitol-hill/2011/03/15/ABOHcJf_story.html?hpid=z3
    Good for them!
    More open journalism about the sources of information our Congress uses. It’s not about money here, it’s about what you hear that you think you know.
    Very careful cost/benefit analyses need to be done for our nation’s energy supply. Every facet needs to be examined.
    Where is it reasonable to use what source, how much opportunity cost is there, and so on. The source of information on energy issues is a huge part of our national fuck up. Because it doesn’t get the benefit of straight talk, but is instead turned over to interested, or panicked, or ignorant people, we don’t really have a reasonable sense of what we should be doing.
    We go from ETHANOL is our savior (think Iowa, presidential primaries), to Drill Here, Drill Now (think Alaska, Texas, and the presidential campaign), to no wind turbines here (think Kennedy compound) to taking the solar panels off the White House (think Reagan). We give tax breaks for oversized vehicles. We build highways, not trains. We give land deals for low density housing, each unit of which must be heated and cooled (electricity or natural gas), and must be communted from or to (gasoline). And this is our national voice, our billionaire boys’ club voice, our sources of information.
    We don’t give enough voice to conservation (think plastic ware in the congressional dining halls), and the joyous Republican undoing of Pelosi’s attempts to be at least symbolically conservationist.
    So let’s start the conversation about how we get energy, and let’s keep the lobbyists out. We know a lot about the billionaire boys’ club at this point, and a lot about, say, Evan Bayh who’s gone and joined their cause.
    Label lobbyist sources as industry lobbyists! For that is what they are.
    And speak to Congress in a non-lobbyist fashion. The more that members hear from other parties, the better the decisions they come to will be, and the better our policy will be.

    Reply

  14. Responding to POA Responding to Responding says:

    If the San Andreas is a tsunami-inducing geologic fault, why
    didn’t it produce one before?
    Or, there’s a reason why ‘tsunami’ is a Japanese construction.
    Instead of “big effing wave, man, moving at 500 knots”.
    (I do think it’s a bit odd to put poorly-designed GE reactors on a
    fault line. Many things in California confuse me. Jeffrey Immelt
    confuses me. Jeffrey Immelt writing USA industrial policy: that’s
    positively confusing.)
    Like many things, it makes more sense to locate them in the
    upper midwest, where the ground is stable.
    Thanks for not swearing at me.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Not even the nuclear engineers on the outside are going to be able to determine what’s going on. It looks a whole lot like the hundreds of engineers on site, or just off site, don’t really know either”
    At Chernobyl, it was years before technicians could do close inspections near the failed reactor. This will be the same kind of thing. Perhaps remote cameras can help the responders assess the situation, but the immediate proximity of these reactors and pools will be a no man’s land for a number of years. A side effect of this unfortunate fact is that it allows plenty of room for the Nuclear Industry sluts to spin events in a manner that allows them to take the path of least accountability.

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    And a little more from the same WaPo piece:
    “Initially, government spokesman Yukio Edano said the steam coming from the unit 3 reactor building could mean that its containment vessel had ruptured in an earlier explosion

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    OMG another post to scroll through to post your own responding to! Whatever will we do!
    “The blazes triggered fears that spent uranium fuel sitting in a pool above the reactor was burning. Such a conflagration would generate intense concentrations of cesium-137 and other dangerous radioactive isotopes. But a spokesperson for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group, said Tokyo Electric Power Co. concluded that the first fire in unit 4 was not in the spent fuel pool,

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    Dear Responding,
    Thank you for your concern. I will see that Management receives the suggestion.
    Sincerely,
    Responding to Responding

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And BTW, having had just taken the thirty seconds that YOU could have taken to pull up a map of the San Andreas, (before you threw in your “two cents”), I was struck at the sheer magnitude of the San Andreas. I had forgot just how awesome a fault it truly is.
    http://geology.com/articles/images/san-andreas-fault-map.jpg
    Note that it actually cuts across the San Francisco Bay before it continues on it’s northward path along the Northern California coast.
    Perhaps you’d care to rethink your opinion that an event on the San Andreas could not produce a sizable tsunami.

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Posted by Responding to POA”
    Thats what you get for thinking. Look at a map. Its huge, and at one point comes quite close to the pacific shoeline. It is not at all unreasonable to assume that a Tsunami could accompany a major event on the San Andreas.
    And if you don’t care for my off topic forays, please, take it up with Steve, and if he agrees, then I’ll desist.
    But really, I can’t think of a more pressing or important issue of the day than a nuclear event that has the potential to affect ALL of us, no matter what side of the political, religious, or ethnic aisle we stand on.
    My, (and questions’), posts are all identified, and easily recognizable. How long does it take you to scroll through an entire thread? Four seconds???? Five???? Gosh, what an inconvenience it must be for you to decide which ones you want to read, and which ones you don’t.
    “Responding to questions”
    If “questions” should get his own blog because of his off topic posting, don’t you think it follows that you should get YOUR own blog so you can moderate it in the exact manner that you seem to think a blog should be moderated?
    Just askin’.

    Reply

  21. Responding to questions says:

    Shouldn’t you get your own blog?
    You post miles of stuff that other people write, often unrelated to
    the topic, and it takes forever to scroll through it to people with a
    personal comment or argument to make.

    Reply

  22. Responding to POA says:

    I think the San Andreas fault is in-shore, so when the next big one
    hits the Golden State, you can’t experience a tsunami. Just my two
    cents.
    I wish you would drop the profanity.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here are the only three questions that need to be asked when these so called “journalists” on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC are questioning DC sluts and or corporate johns…..
    1) Reporter…”Senator Slut, on what date will the next earthquake occur on the San Andreas Fault?”
    Senator Slut….”What a ridiculous question, I can’t answer that.”
    2) Reporter…”Ok, well, Senator Slut, when this earthquake occurs, what magnitude will it be, and will it be accompanied by a tsunami, and, if so, what will be the hieght of this tidal wave?”
    Senator Slut….”Again, you are being ridiculous, no one can answer questions like that.”
    3) Reporter…”Ok, Senator Slut. One last question; Who the hell do you so called “representatives” think you are that you can jeapordize the lives of millions, by having San Onofre and Diablo remain online, because you bloodsuckin’ sacks of shit want another ten grand to shove in your campaign war chests?”

    Reply

  24. questions says:

    This is the MIT site that reprinted the Oehmen piece — seemingly he was a little optimistic….
    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/15/unit-2-explosion-and-unit-4-spent-fuel-pool-fire/
    And there is now a disclaimer or two up, and his post has been edited for correction, and Brad DeLong feels bad for having been suckered into the optimism, and Oehmen is a risk analyst for entrepreneurial activity, but a risk analyst at any rate…..
    There are links on the right hand side to other blog posts on this site. Someone over at Grasping Reality with all the might of the universe (or whatever) notes that it’s a grad student site.

    Reply

  25. questions says:

    Another item….
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78568.html
    And the index listing of all the news stories on Kyodo:
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/japan_nuclear_crisis/

    Reply

  26. questions says:

    h/t nakedcapitalism:
    “A core group of 50 workers remain at the plant to manage the reactors, Tepco said. Those engineers were temporarily evacuated this morning when dangerous radiation levels were detected, but have now returned, Edano said. ”
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-15/japanese-nuclear-plant-radiation-recedes-as-engineers-restore-water-level.html
    date stamped”
    Mar 16, 2011 4:25 AM CT
    “The Self-Defense Forces will not conduct a planned operation Wednesday to drop water from helicopters on the troubled No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant because of the high radiation level around the plant, Defense Ministry officials said.
    The Ground Self-Defense Force helicopters were on standby to drop water on the reactor as it is feared the reactor may have released radioactive steam due to damage to its containment vessel.”
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78597.html

    Reply

  27. questions says:

    h/t Brad DeLong:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents
    Wiki at the moment of creation. They’re talking to each other (if you think I’m obsessive, try this one) and they challenge each other on sourcing and errors….
    (And I just saw something that said JST is 14 hours later than east coast time…. Sorry about that.)
    And here’s the regular wiki page updates:
    ” * 15 March: problems with the vents on Unit 2 apparently meant that pressure in its containment vessel had prevented adding water, to the extent that Unit 2 was in the most severe condition of the three reactors.[23] An explosion in the “pressure suppression room” caused some damage to Unit 2

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    News is all over the map and hard to figure. The evacuation of the plant workers may have been temporary, or there may have been more than one.
    There’s this:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/
    “This is an update of the situation as of 10 am JST Wednesday 16 March. (For background on events of 15 March and earlier, start with this post and its included links.) Note that this is a blog, not a news website, and thus the following analysis, like all others on BraveNewClimate, is a mixture of news and opinion

    Reply

  29. Cee says:

    Forget trying to buy iodine. SOLD OUT! Try natural kelp. Geesh.

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    Military helicopters are heading toward Fukushima to drop water
    over the reactors. A last desperate gesture?

    Reply

  31. rc says:

    This is going to hurt the Japanese economy. It seems the risk is not spread internationally. Most of the insurance underwriting has been done within the Japanese system itself. That zenophobia probably saved them some loot by various financial devices but now it’s payback time.

    Reply

  32. bks says:

    The 200,000 people evacuated from around the plant will probably not be able to return to their homes for years.
    –bks

    Reply

  33. P{issedOffAmerican says:

    Excellent no spin info….
    http://allthingsnuclear.org/tagged/Japan_nuclear?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=more&utm_campaign=sp-nuke-more-3%2F13%2F2011-pm
    Do all of you realize what a big deal this is? If not, wake up.

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, they just evacuated ALL the workers from the plant.
    Son of a bitch. This is HUGE.

    Reply

  35. Cee says:

    Dr. Calleja,
    I beg to differ with you on one point. Religious fanatics will not take over in Libya. They hate the colonel and he has crushed and jailed them in the past.

    Reply

  36. questions says:

    Wow, they are coming out of the woodwork now….
    “Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing — the Mark 1 — was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident. ”
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fukushima-mark-nuclear-reactor-design-caused-ge-scientist/story?id=13141287
    The interview flags the loss of coolant as a huge and well-known issue.
    Now, look, if you know this is a design flaw, and you build the fucker anyway, please make sure that there’s always coolant. But in so fucking many back up systems that you start to think you’re seriously OCD. Or fix the flaws at the design level in the first place.
    I predict more of these engineer types popping up as they see the absolute horror of what happened. The question is whether or not the billionaire (or millionaire) boys’ club will notice the humanity they’ve trampled on.
    Compare the design approval team and the money people to the people trying to get the reactor cores under control. Just think on that.
    h/t HuffPo, but I wish they’d lower the volume on their screaming headlines. The typeface is blinding to my ears and deafening to my eyes.

    Reply

  37. Dr. Etienne A. Calleja says:

    I apologise for posting this comment here, but I had no where else to write this. Apparently its all over in Libya, and a Ghaddafi victory is only moments away. The despot has won, aided by global dithering and thumb twiddling.
    Thousands of innocent Libyan people have been killed and brutally slaughtered, alas in vain, while the international community comfortably sat on its proverbial laurels, doing sweet funny adams except ply rhetoric on a dictator who has shown exactely what he makes of that sort of treatment.
    Indeed, we probably underestimated Col. Gheddafi. He probably already knew that this is what would happen, that Russia and China would veto any move by a mojority in the Security Council (now there’s a misnomer!) to legitimise any form of intervention in Libya. And we layed right into his hands. Whilst the idea of a no-fly zone was being mulled and tossed about, limiations and pre-requisites flagged by the community of nations to provide a legal basis for the enforcement of a NFZ, served instead as a springboard…to do nothing at all.
    It was pointless. Ghaddafi now has a tighter control on his country than ever before (his enemies have come out in the open and have been eliminated), neighbouring despots will now take a page out the lesson learnt in Libya (I can see Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak kicking themselves in the rear for not having held onto their seats and sending in their respective armies to crush their own revolts) and religious radicalism will gain a greater foothold than ever before across the entire N. African plain, as people disillusioned and abandoned by the more developed West, turn to their religion to find solace, cause and leadership.

    Reply

  38. questions says:

    We interrupt this program to bring breaking news– Arne Duncan and Bill Gates need a new line of work, probably involving mosquito nets:
    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/student-test-score-based-measures-of-teacher-effectiveness-won%E2%80%99t-improve-nj-schools/
    This wonderful blog hits a vast array of statistical problems with using test data of students to rate teachers in order to fire the bad and retain the good.
    If you have any concern about the future population of engineers, doctors, lawyers, bloggers, or dental hygienists, give it a read.
    Then let the admin know that they are really miles and miles and miles away from where they need to be on education policy.
    Politics matters, for sure, and re-election is everything. But if you’re king of a dead universe, you ain’t shit.
    Below is one point of many made:
    “If we rate the same teacher with the same students, but with two different tests in the same subject, we get very different results. Cal. Berkeley Economist Jesse Rothstein, re-evaluating the findings of the much touted Gates Foundation Measuring Effective Teaching (MET) study noted that more than 40% of teachers who placed in the bottom quarter on one test (state test) were in the top half when using the other test (alternative). That is, teacher ratings based on the state assessment were only slightly better than a coin toss for identifying which teachers did well using the alternative assessment.”
    ****
    Read that again, more than 40% at the bottom on one test were in the top on another.
    Who ya gonna fire?
    What test are you gonna pick?

    Reply

  39. questions says:

    Status updates from Kyodo News, note that there are 2 major plants, numbers 1 and 2. #1 has 6 reactors, #2 has 4 reactors. I have some vague sense that there is some confusion regarding the cold shut down status at Plant #2, as compared to the various levels of disaster at Plant #1, but who knows.
    “The following is the known status as of Tuesday evening of each of the six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the four reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant, both in Fukushima Prefecture, crippled by Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
    Fukushima No. 1
    — Reactor No. 1 – Cooling failure, partial melting of core, vapor vented, hydrogen explosion, seawater pumped in.
    — Reactor No. 2 – Cooling failure, seawater pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapor vented, damage to containment system, potential meltdown feared.
    — Reactor No. 3 – Cooling failure, partial melting of core feared, vapor vented, seawater pumped in, hydrogen explosion, high-level radiation measured nearby.
    — Reactor No. 4 – Under maintenance when quake struck, fire caused possibly by hydrogen explosion at pool holding spent fuel rods, pool water level feared receding.
    — Reactor No. 5 – Under maintenance when quake struck, temperature slightly rising at spent fuel pool.
    — Reactor No. 6 – Under maintenance when quake struck, temperature slightly rising at spent fuel pool.
    Fukushima No. 2
    — Reactor No. 1 – Cooling failure, then cold shutdown.
    — Reactor No. 2 – Cooling failure, then cold shutdown.
    — Reactor No. 3 – Cold shutdown.
    — Reactor No. 4 – Cooling failure, then cold shutdown.”
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78335.html

    Reply

  40. questions says:

    As Brad DeLong says WE NEED A BETTER PRESS CORPS.
    What we really need is a proactive press corps. Check this out, now that there’s been enough time since the beginning of the Fukushima mess:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16contain.html?hp
    I’ll paste in a few juicy sentences:
    “The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a Mark 1 nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment. ”
    …..
    “G.E. began making the Mark 1 boiling water reactors in the 1960s, marketing them as cheaper and easier to build

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  41. questions says:

    Here’s a place to start the audits, for an enterprising journalist who can fact check it all because who really knows…..
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/15/956586/-Whistleblower-Expose-of-GE-Inspection-CoverupRARE-EU-Authored-US-BWR-Damage-Report

    Reply

  42. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Germany shutting down seven nuclear reactors
    Published: 15 Mar 11 13:20 CET
    Updated: 15 Mar 11 16:57 CET
    Online: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20110315-33727.html
    Share29 Germany announced Tuesday it would temporary shut down the oldest seven of its 17 nuclear reactors pending a safety review in light of Japan’s atomic emergency.
    Neo-Nazi candidate probed for web bomb tips (15 Mar 11)
    BMW boosts sales outlook for 2011 (15 Mar 11)
    Lufthansa diverts Tokyo flights to Nagoya, Osaka (15 Mar 11)
    “We are launching a safety review of all nuclear reactors … with all reactors in operation since the end of 1980 set to be idled for the period of the (three-month) moratorium,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
    This covers seven nuclear reactors: Biblis A and B, Neckarwestheim, Brunsb

    Reply

  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It really is all about greed. Can you imagine being such a fuckin’ scumbag that you would risk the lives of millions just to make another dollar, as this despicable slut Alexander is so willing to do?
    Well, it happens all the time. Alexander is only as slimey as the maggots that pay him off…
    http://www.truth-out.org/tokyo-electric-build-us-nuclear-plants-the-no-bs-info-japans-disastrous-nuclear-operators68457
    Tokyo Electric to Build US Nuclear Plants: The No BS Info on Japan’s Disastrous Nuclear Operators
    By Greg Palast
    I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.
    I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.
    But what will Obama plead? The administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas – by TEPCO and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough. Here are the facts about TEPCO and the industry you haven’t heard on CNN:
    The failure of emergency systems at Japan’s nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.
    Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called “SQ” or “Seismic Qualification.” That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from al-Qaeda.
    The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from “failed” to “passed.”
    The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction, which will work with TEPCO to build the Texas plant. Lord help us.
    There’s more.
    Last night, I heard CNN reporters repeat the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors, implying that water unexpectedly got into the diesel generators that run the pumps.
    These safety backup systems are the “EDGs” in nuke-speak: Emergency Diesel Generators. That they didn’t work in an emergency is like a fire department telling us they couldn’t save a building because “it was on fire.”
    continues…..

    Reply

  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And here are the comments of a WHORE, a son of a bitch who would give his firstborn to anyone willing to contribute money to his campaign coffers. This is the kind of SCUM we have “representing” us in Washington DC.
    http://www.canadaviews.ca/2011/03/14/floor-remarks-of-senator-lamar-alexander-r-tenn-the-japanese-earthquake-and-nuclear-incidents/
    Not hard to figure out that this DC slut gets great gobs of money from the nuclear power industry, is it?
    “No one has ever died from a nuclear accident at any of our commercial or Navy reactors”
    Thats a fuckin’ lie. Have a look at the cancer stats around TMI.
    “The Tokyo Electric Power Company has told us that the highest level of radiation detected onsite to date is 155.7 millirem per hour, and that has since been reduced to 4.4 millirem per hour. But what does that mean in regard to human exposure risk? To help put that in perspective, here are a couple of facts. The average American receives about 300 millirem of radiation exposure each year from naturally occurring sources, such as the Sun, and another 300 millirem of radiation exposure from medical applications, such as CT scans and x rays”
    Do the math. Is this slut really so ignorant he doesn’t know what he just said, or does he just assume we won’t do the math?
    “In this age when instant communication can sometimes create misinformation and even panic, the Japanese leadership and nuclear scientists are working with organizations from around the world in responding to the danger and keeping the rest of the world informed”
    Yeah, TEPCO and the Japanes are being absolutely transparent, aren’t they? What planet does this slut Alexander live on?
    “……the reactor safety systems so far appear to have done their job in withstanding the earthquake, tsunami, power loss, and explosions….”
    That statement pretty much tells us all we need to know about this DC slut, doesn’t it?
    Smile folks, thats the caliber of people sucking corporate dick in Washington DC, supposedly on YOUR behalf. Do YOU feel “represented” yet?

    Reply

  45. questions says:

    Another site, with updates periodically:
    http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/
    And on the the #4 fire, there’s an update from this site:
    “At Unit 4 on March 14 at approximately 8:38 p.m. EDT, a fire was reported in the reactor building. It is believed to have been from a lube oil leak in a system that drives recirculation water pumps. Fire fighting efforts extinguished the fire. The roof of the reactor building was damaged.”
    ******
    There is such a morass of conflicting information. Brad DeLong is unhappy with himself for feeling insufficient paranoia, but there’s no evidence on either side yet — the paranoid or the perfectly content.
    We don’t know what the fuck is going on.
    Perhaps, given the lack of dials and controls and electricity, the presence of trauma and games of telephone, they also don’t know what the fuck is going on.
    It’s certainly ripe for a range of crazy theories on all sides.
    I would guess there will be an official report in a few years — in Japanese. Maybe I should pull out my “teach yourself books” — starting with ich, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, ku, ju.
    And I think I remember that rice field is ta or da. There’s kawa for river or mountain, can’t remember anymore……

    Reply

  46. questions says:

    This one gets updated regularly, is mellow for now, and more on the pro-nuke side….
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/15/fukushima-15-march-summary/
    There are a whole bunch of lefty enviro types who are pro-nuclear largely because fossil fuels are something of a problem too. A lot of people die from fossil fuels, and global climate change is kind of worse than a major nuke accidents, maybe. I’m not so good at this kind of cost/benefit analysis…..
    “In the last 48 hours, Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has carried out repairs to the emergency core coolant systems of units 1, 2 and 4 and one by one these have come back into action. Unit 1 announced cold shutdown at 1.24 am today and unit 2 followed at 3.52 am. Repairs at unit 4 are now complete and Tepco said that gradual temperature reduction started at 3.42pm. An evacuation zone extends to ten kilometres around the plant, but this is expected to be rescinded when all four units are verified as stable in cold shutdown conditions.”
    Cold shutdown is the goal. Working coolant systems are the means.
    This dates from 15 March, (the Ides and all), and things seem to change rapidly as something blows up, gets jammed, or releases more radiation.
    If we on this planet make it through this mess with relative speed at this point, we owe a world wide recognition to the plant workers who are risking it all to save us. I have no idea what one does for such a human being.
    Maybe a promise of honest audits of all nuclear plants, maybe an honest audit of the ravages of capitalism, maybe name a park for them, set up a holiday during which people go out and buy small electrics for their kitchens ON SALE. This latter one does seem to be what we do for people who go well beyond what the rest of us do in a day.
    From the same link, this is interesting:
    “The roof and part of the side walls of both buildings were severely damaged as a result. After the first hydrogen explosion there is no longer a roof on the building, so there is little chance of any large buildup of hydrogen or further explosions at these units. [In restrospect, the designers (40 years ago) perhaps should have more carefully considered the implications of the decision to vent the pressure suppression torus to the reactor building space]. Although hydrogen recombiners are a standard feature of that design, they unfortunately lost all AC power, and then the batteries were run down. Containment (the robust concrete shell and 18 inch thick steel reactor vessel within it), however, remained intact. This was verified by monitoring levels of radiation surrounding the units

    Reply

  47. questions says:

    AJ liveblog on Japan:
    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/live/asia/japan-crisis-live-blog
    And they actually recommend the, umm, Wiki page on it, so here’s that link, too
    “7:19pm
    Our nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri who has been a great on-set guest guiding us through the crisis says this web site is the best out there.
    It was apparently created on Saturday and is the go-to site for the scientific community tracking the nuclear story.”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents

    Reply

  48. questions says:

    One feel-good story for the day….
    “We have tried making the school day longer and blanketing students with standardized tests. But perhaps children don

    Reply

  49. questions says:

    Here’s some info about the spent fuel pools:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/world/asia/15fuel.html?hp
    Somehow, they are largely in the open, in deep pools, deeply covered with water that takes a fair amount of time to boil off, but there’s not real containment it would seem.
    The whole thing really seems to rest on a judgment that the worst does NOT happen instead of on a judgment that the worst DOES happen.
    I’m trying to get my head around this structure. I mean, I guess if you want to save money, or if you want to spin safety issues, you might take fewer precautions. After all, every dollar saved from not putting in further back up systems is another dollar of profit, and every non-existent safety feature is “proof” that nuclear power is safe. If it were dangerous, there’d be more back ups.
    But, honestly, this line of thinking doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    Why isn’t spent fuel contained, and why were the plants designed without adequate back ups to the back ups, and why was the license just renewed?
    I hope we’re not simply incapable of heeding this wake up call.
    But then, look how we’re handling the economic problems in the wake of the housing bubble.
    ****
    From the Monkey Cage on a tangential issue:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/03/authoritarian_personality_cult.html
    How do cults of personality work in authoritarian regimes? Why do people seem to believe in shit? How does signaling work?
    ****
    Why do we think we’re ready for stuff we’re not ready for? With Fukushima, the early word really was that things were manageable, that pumping water in would work, that it would just take a few days of cooling to ease the worst crisis. Eternal optimism and signaling games? And if we’re to audit all the dumb shit we do, perhaps we shouldn’t carry out the audit within an optimistic and signaling framework.

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    Union of Concerned Scientists is, well, concerned.
    http://allthingsnuclear.org/
    Factual, clear, concise, concerned.

    Reply

  51. questions says:

    In smaller news, there’s the dictatorial powers act in Michigan — seriously, the gov seems to be seizing power in a coup, and will be able to take over incorporated political entities (that’s like cities and towns), dump their elected officials and turn the reins of power over to a corporation or to cronies.
    And there’s KV Pharmeceuticals which is a wonderful demonstration of everything that is wrong with US-style capitalism. They were granted an orphan drug license (I’m pretty sure this was the law they used) for the rights to a drug that helps prevent preemie births. The drug is takes weekly for some 20 weeks. They jacked the price from some 15 bucks a dose to 1500 bucks a dose. And insurance and/or Medicaid and or low income women will foot the bill. OR those babies will be born extremely pre-term.
    Talk about rent-seeking behavior. It would be cheaper for us to pay them some kind of ransom money or protection money, and give away the fucking drug to the women who need it, instead of pretending that somehow this company is doing something for us.
    And, on no fly zones, there’s one in Japan at this point.
    Good lord, what a mess. The fire at #4 is out. Probably a spent fuel fire, but it’s unclear. Many evacuations, don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air, as the inimitable Tom Lehrer reminds us.
    I get the feeling that Murphy’s Law has an especial love of northern Japan right about now. Not a single thing went right, and the engineers who designed the plant assumed quite stupidly that SOMEthing would work in the event of an emergency.
    Thus far, there have been failures of electricity, back up generators, the back ups to the back ups, the back ups that were brought in, the ventilation system, particular vents, the movement of equipment, compatibility issues, and on and on and on.
    What’re the chances, one asks? Should we engineer for the worst of the worst and pay for it? Yup. And if it’s too expensive to pay for the worst of the worst in advance, we shouldn’t be doing it. It’s beyond cruel to have externalized the costs of saving money on back ups to the people of Japan who will live somewhat shorter lives now. And since they are going through a crisis with a lot less electricity, it’s not like the extra generating power from seismic nuke plants has been such a great thing.
    One of the best tests of the worth of an action is whether or not you might really want to hit rewind afterwards.
    I’m guessing that TEPCO might want a really large rewind button.
    But there isn’t one for Fukushima.
    On the other hand, the entire rest of the world has a chance to hit a gigantic engineering rewind button.
    Audit every fucking oversized and risky thing we’ve built and wonder, do we have back ups to the back ups to the back ups that don’t depend on other systems, that don’t depend on non-traumatized heroes, that don’t need electricity or water…..
    As I noted elsewhere, it’s time for a wiki-engineer site. Let’s give in to every worst case scenario and cost out some of this. Let’s look at what could go wrong and install some protection.
    The worst happens. The unimaginable is here. And I’m willing to bet there’s some Japanese engineer saying “FUCK, I wish we had just put the generators up high, or put in 3 more back ups, or not argued to continue the license of a 40 year old nuke plant.”

    Reply

  52. Cee says:

    They are evacuating the Japanese wokers as I type. So
    much for containing this. I suppose I should get my PK
    order in.

    Reply

  53. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If we could rely on the Japanese and American governments to inform us of any danger, we wouldn’t have to be so vigilant”
    “But given the American government’s cover up of the severity of the BP oil disaster, the health risk to New Yorkers after 9/11, and numerous other health issues, we will have to educate and empower ourselves”
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/03/are-we-in-danger-of-radioactivity-from.html
    Only an idiot would dispute that sound advice.
    What will truly be amazing in the not too distant future, will be watching these pieces of shit in DC, and their corporate masters, explaining to us why it makes perfect sense to keep San Onofre and Diablo fired up, and how there is nooooooo, repeat, nooooooooo, danger of it happening here.
    The nuclear industry’s future investment in the determination of who will have the richest campaign coffers just increased exponentially. What HASN’T increased is the transparency with which those funds will be declared. Huge amounts of money will be expended without disclosure.
    Thanks due to the scumbags in our highest court, who have the founding fathers rolling over in their graves.

    Reply

  54. Don Bacon says:

    Newsweek:
    The tsunami that struck Japan was the third in a series of events that now put California at risk. . . That leaves just one corner unaffected

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  55. Don Bacon says:

    news report, Feb 22, 2011
    The 1,080-megawatt San Onofre 3 near San Clemente, California, is operating at 95 percent of capacity, up from 19 percent on Feb. 18. San Onofre 2, another unit at the plant, is operating at full power. //(end)
    San Onofre is built to withstand a magnitude 7.0 earthquake according to Southern California Edison. I’ve spoken with a guy who worked on its construction. He said the engineering estimates used during construction were all SWAGs. (Sophisticated Wild-Assed Guesses)
    It was an 8.9 quake that hit Japan last week.
    The geological fault most likely to directly threaten San Onofre lies about 5 miles offshore. A 25-foot-high “tsunami wall” of reinforced concete was erected between the plant and the adjacent ocean. The tsunami that devastated Japan was 33 feet.
    Psst — I’ve got some Potassium Iodide, on discount. Get it before you’re hot. The construction guy told me five of his journeyman electrician friends (he was an apprentice and mot allowed to go) went under the plant to repair some electrical cables, took some heavy water in their faces and died from facial cancer a few years later.
    The price just went up.

    Reply

  56. PissedOffAmerican says:

    HEY!!!! Look over there, we gotta do a no-fly zone!!!
    Gee, honey, when did you start glowing in the dark????
    (Gee, I’ve got an idea, lets let these people fund political campaigns!)

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Who says that people aren’t paying attention? Suprised the shit outa me.”
    What WON’T suprise me is when we discover that our government’s preparedness does not match the people’s attentiveness.
    Had to take out Saddam’s WMDs, doncha know!!!

    Reply

  58. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh goodie.
    Gives new meaning to the phrase “watching the weather”, doesn’t it? Now, do we get to venture outside at the whim of the prevailing winds???
    Heres a mindblower. Here I am in Podunk, Central California, and the two pharmacies in town are already out of Potassium Iodide.
    Who says that people aren’t paying attention? Suprised the shit outa me.

    Reply

  59. Paul Norheim says:

    And now the fourth reactor is burning.

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  60. Paul Norheim says:

    Dramatic development in Japan:
    “TOKYO

    Reply

  61. non-hater says:

    “Japan is second only to Zimbabwe in the size of its national debt, owing today about two times its GDP for consumption beyond the government

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  62. Dan Kervick says:

    Two other takes on Japan similar to the ones offered by David Cay Johnson and Bill Mitchell. These two are by Marshall Auerbach and Mike Norman:
    http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/03/14/what-does-the-earthquake-mean-to-japans-fiscal-future-38551/#comment-12757
    http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2011/03/mainstream-economics-is-about-to-bury.html

    Reply

  63. questions says:

    By the way, a pair of bookends:
    “Kansas State Rep. Virgil Peck (R) suggested Monday that the best way to deal with the illegal immigration problem may be the same way the state might deal with the problem of “feral hogs” — by shooting them from a helicopter.”
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/kansas-goper-lets-shoot-illegal-immigrants-like-pigs.php?ref=fpb
    This and the NH gentleman. Kinder and gentler Republicanism indeed.
    Steve has a line in his Zakaria-hosted piece about some tendencies in Japan. Hmmm. Put this together with the NH comment and the people who want to change the Constitutional meaning of “citizenship” and I gotta say, the US is right up there with the politician who got in big trouble for that campaign donation in Japan.
    Read Steve’s piece. Think about the US, which isn’t even half as threatened as Japan is right about now.
    We’ll see if Japan turns inward, rightward, or leftward under stress. We’re seeing what Israel does, what the US does. Stress isn’t good for the spirit of generosity. And it is precisely this mechanism that makes me a Kantian. We don’t do good out of duty, we do it out of sensibility of some sort. Absent the sense, and we don’t do good any more.

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  64. questions says:

    The MIT engineer’s blog post I linked to yesterday on a different thread is now at NIT itself:
    http://mitnse.com/
    “This post originally appeared on Morgsatlarge. It has been migrated to this location which is hosted and maintained by the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Members of the NSE community have edited the original post and will be monitoring and posting comments, updates, and new information. Please visit to learn more.”
    Of course the cheerfulness of the other day seems more out of place today.
    But whodathunk that the engines they were using to pump water in would run out of fuel, that pressure would build up so much while vents were stuck closed that they couldn’t add more water, that the spent fuel containment pools could be problems, that more hydrogen gas blasts would cause more problems…..
    Yikes.

    Reply

  65. questions says:

    Early Tues. am in Japan, English language news, ungated for now for nuclear news:
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78001.html
    Also came across something that stock markets are again tumbling.

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  66. questions says:

    What more can be said:
    “”The current situation is so extraordinary, and it is very likely that crematoriums are running beyond capacity,” said Okuda. “This is an emergency measure. We want to help quake-hit people as much as we can.””
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/14/japan-earthquake-deaths_n_835651.html

    Reply

  67. questions says:

    I am honestly not capable of staying on topic for more than 1 or 2 posts…. There’s so much in the world that is interesting and worth reading.
    This one is a longish piece in today’s NYT about education and Detroit.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/education/14winerip.html?hpw
    Seems Detroit hired a 400,000 dollar a year EXPERT superintendent to cut costs and close schools and raise scores and BRING ON THE CHARTERS.
    Seems the charters didn’t help.
    BUT, there’s one school that’s doing pretty well, and they almost got closed down. Saved by the bell, or rather a nice piece in the newspaper, the school is still there. But it’s losing students because of the threat of closure.
    Who runs this amazing school of test-passing kids?
    ZOMG OMFG WTF
    Teachers run it.
    Good GAWD, you put teachers in charge of a school and maybe kids learn? You put a practical half millionaire in charge of a district and he fucks up and loses students and the state aid that comes with them? You put charters and capitalism all over the fucking place, and the system fails?
    Whoda thunk….
    Get Arne on the phone and let him know he’s an idiot! Billy Gates, too! Bloomberg, Christ(ie) and the rest. Wisconsin as a state, as well. Let ’em all know that teachers, ummm, TEACH!
    So, yeah, if there’s a person to be served, capitalism doesn’t necessarily do a good job. If there is a person to be served, someone with devotion, morality, humanity, Kantian reason, a strong sense of duty — that’s who you want serving.
    The rescue workers in Japan are not rescuing because they get paid — they are risking their lives because they feel a duty.
    The banksters at BoA who fucked us all over with this insurance scam being publicized by Anonymous — now THEY do it for the money.
    Rebuilding Japan will take some amount of feeling of duty to the nation, and if they are lucky, the banksters will be kept under control, the nepotism and corruption will be muted, all the things that can fuck up will simply not fuck up.
    And they will do a thorough audit of every damned nuclear facility and shut down any of the older models that have basement level back up generators and control panels. They will stop venting hydrogen the way these reactors do.
    IF we’re going to do nuclear or even keep on line the nukes we have, it’s time for an independent audit.
    Japan is going to be hurting for electricity for a long time, and production is going to take a hit over this shortage. A whole generation of people is going to grow up very differently because of this trauma.
    It might be a perfect time to inject some ethics, some independent non-profit-seeking thinking into the utility companies.
    ****
    And for good measure, TPM has a sweet piece up about a really nice old man who just resigned his state legislature seat because he made the thoughtful suggestion that all defective people (not, of course 91 year old codgers) should be sent to some American version of Siberia to freeze to death. Ain’t that sweet?!
    Friends don’t let friends vote Republican. EVER.
    Folks, you can’t make things like this up.
    *******
    GET ME FACT CHECK — I had the superintendent’s salary wrong — it’s 425,000 a year. Sorry to understate the amount by a janitor’s salary.

    Reply

  68. questions says:

    David Cay Johnston on rebuilding:
    http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=00498
    “Here are some questions to ask and some facts and basic economic concepts to help journalists get to real answers, not canned talking point responses:

    Reply

  69. Dan Kervick says:

    Here is a dissenting view, by Bill Mitchell, concerning the relevance of Japan’s debt load. He does not share Fareed Zakaria’s sense of gloom and doom.
    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=13807#comments

    Reply

  70. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Japan’s Worrisome Future: Can it Reinvent Itself after These Calamities?”
    Kinda depends on whether or not it is inhabitable in the next few hundred thousand half-lifes, doesn’t it, Steve?
    Maybe we should take this opportunity to “reinvent” OURSELVES, eh? Lets start by shuttin’ down San Onofre, Diablo, and ending our practice of accomodating every corporate monster that shoves his diseased and deadly crotch in our faces, eh?

    Reply

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