Links 3/17/11

6 Ways You Can Help Animals In Need In Japan Huffington Post. The last one is to sponsor search and rescue dogs.

Bad Job May Be Worse for Mental Health Than No Job at All Business Week. Note this study was performed in Australia, which has better social safety nets than the US and where being unemployed carries less stigma than here.

US cyber war defences ‘very thin’, Pentagon warns BBC

How blogs have changed journalism Felix Salmon. Felix thinks “old school blogging…is clearly on the decline.”. Do you agree?

U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High,’ Sees Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsening New York Times

MOX fuel rods used in Japanese Nuclear Reactor present multiple dangers DC Bureau (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Wikileaks: Japan Was Warned About Fukushima Keith Olbermann

Nuclear Power’s Existence Dependent on Multiple Forms of Corporate Welfare Jon Walker, FireDogLake

BOJ Intervention In Currency Market Likely Ed Harrison

Guest Contribution: The Macroeconomic Aftermath of the Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan Econbrowser

A plan that will damage Europe Oliver Marc Hartwich, Business Spectator (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Bahrain clamps down on revolt Financial Times

Bahrain Hospital Still Under Siege, Journalists Kicked Out of Country Siun, FireDogLake

Arab Spring Uprisings Lose Momentum as ‘Status Quo’ Fights Back Bloomberg

The west will rue not helping Libya’s rebels

Brussels Eyes a Halt to SWIFT Data Agreement Der Spiegel

Caixin Online: China’s cities see slump in residential housing MarketWatch

Ron Paul’s Next Committee Hearing on Inflation and Commodity Prices is 100% Gold Bug Mike Konczal

Banks served Libor subpoenas Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-17 at 3.29.42 AM

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  1. fresno dan

    “Felix Salmon. Felix thinks “old school blogging…is clearly on the decline.”. Do you agree?”

    If defined as one blogger only posting on his/her own blog, that strikes me as correct. Interfluidity, Aleph, and Satyajit Das is offhand the only blogs I know with only the blogger posting. Some like Big Picture have primarily the blog owner, but have a few guest posters.

    But I don’t think that adding links to a blog is very important. The blogger’s voice, and choices the blogger makes with regard to links, is what draws people to a particular blogger.

    One final point – blogs have the indispensable good of immediate feedback. The respondents can be very lengthly, and provide many, many links to butress their cases. I have learned immeasurably from the comment debates at blogs. I even occasionally change my mind.

    1. Ina Deaver

      I know lots and lots of such blogs (Jesse’s is one. He occasionally posts links, but it is always Jesse’s voice). But there are tons of them in other fields. The most popular of these relate to women. They are a lot less commercial on one end, and very commercial (but constitute a full-time job for one person) on the other. They rely on the voice, aesthetic, and talents of one person only. Of course, they don’t post multiple times a day – they post a few times a week at best. One I know of that posts several times a day, however, is spectacularly well done by one woman with young twins. I’m really not sure how she does that.

      Blogging for higher volume has definitely changed some – but all levels of the ecosystem are alive and well if you look around for them.

    2. russell1200

      I agree with Ina.

      There are all sort of blog-subcultures out there. They often crosslink and list each other so it is easy to get into the community. It is very normal to have one that leads the pack, with a number follower-ons. The pack leader will often be the only one that does not list the smaller audience blog, and usually brings a pretty good cach flow to the blogger. Particularly so as the blog is often a partime affair.

  2. gordon

    The Business Week article on bad jobs sounds like old news. Sir M. Marmot has been researching this stuff for years:

    “Poor social and economic circumstances affect health throughout life. People further down the social ladder usually run at least twice the risk of serious illness and premature death as those near the top. Nor are the effects confined to the poor: the social gradient in health runs right across society, so that even among middle-class office workers, lower ranking staff suffer much more disease and earlier death than higher ranking staff (Fig. 1)”.

    From “Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts” WHO, 2003

    There is also his famous book based on the Whitehall Studies, The Status Syndrome (2004).

    Check out also the Wikipedia pages on Social Determinants of Health and on the PBS documentary “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?”

    Any other new discoveries out there? The Wheel, maybe?

    1. Graveltongue

      I think The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) is a piece of work needing greater attention. Although right wing think-tanks have had a crack at pulling the conclusion to shreds I think it stands up to neutral scrutiny.

  3. gordon

    I have no doubt that the “nobody could have predicted this” defense will be used by the nuclear industry in relation to the Fukushima disaster. So just to preempt it, here is a history of predictions of Japanese nuclear disasters courtesy of Julian Assange (yes, Wikileaks strikes again!):

    “An unnamed official from the International Atomic Energy Agency is quoted in a 2008 cable from the American embassy in Tokyo as saying that a strong earthquake would pose a “serious problem” for Japan’s nuclear power stations. The official added that the country’s nuclear safety guidelines were dangerously out of date, as they had only been “revised three times in the last 35 years.”

    “Another cable sent from Tokyo to Washington in October 2008 alleged that the government had hidden past nuclear accidents. In 2008, Taro Kono — a senior member of Japan’s lower house of parliament — told U.S. diplomats that the ministry of economy, trade and industry was “covering up nuclear accidents, and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry.”

    “The overall picture that emerges from the cables is of a government afraid of interfering with the powerful nuclear industry, which supplies about one-third of Japan’s electricity….”

    1. Mark P.

      “Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuels at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station – 16th Nov., 2010”

      I cannot vouch the veracity of the linked powerpoint/PDF. But it looks absolutely plausible.

      The water-drop from the helicopters is nothing but kabuki in the face of this. What are they thinking in Japan? This is insane. This is a society unable to break ranks and sleepwalking into catastrophe.

    2. DownSouth

      Cooper on Japanese govt’s double speak

      I like Anderson Cooper, but he seems to have fallen for the same kind of official one-upmanship that we see play out between the U.S. and Mexican governments so often.

      Both the Mexican and U.S. governments are unabashedly neoliberal. Both represent nobody but the international criminal corporate cartel. Both are outrageously dishonest with the people. Both are highly dysfunctional “democracies.” Both are corrupt police states. And yet anytime a government official on either side of the border gets the chance to point the finger at the other, he does. The intent is to deflect attention away from your own government by pointing out some other government that is even “worse.” Of course they’re not worse, they’re equally as bad.

      The level of Cooper’s delusion becomes evident when towards the end of his report he states: “If a press converence was given in the United States like it was given here, by the Japanese government officials, no one would stand for it.”

      And prey tell, Anderson, just what would they do about it? Bush decreed dissent illegal, and Obama codified it into law. Obama is waging a brutal war on whistle blowers. Obama has not restored habeus corupus. Obama claims the right to execute any American citizen, whether here or abroad, whom he deems as a “terrorist.”

      How can Cooper be blind to all this?

      1. DownSouth

        Here’s another video report from Anderson Cooper.

        Although Cooper’s assessment of how badly the Japanese government is lying to the Japanese people is without a doubt right on, his posturing that the U.S. government is somehow less perfidious is completely off base.

        That’s one of the things an expatriot learns. When it comes to criticizing the US government, Mexican government and media take the gloves off. It’s most unfortunate, however, that they fail to do the same when it comes to criticizing the Mexican government.

    3. Cynthia

      Now that corporate cronyism is the new norm in the global economy, one must wonder if downward pressure from stockholders to management fostered a culture of safety violations that flourished in favor of greater profits. What we need to learn from this disaster, and what Obama needs to be telling us, is that these volatile nuclear systems that can literally threaten the life and livelihood of countless people should be completely non-commercial with all profits reinvested back into making nuclear energy as safe as humanly possible.

      We need electricity, but we do not need anyone getting rich off of it.

      These systems need to be operated outside the reach of greed!

      Obama needs to stick that in his teleprompter, but nothing short of a visit from God will motivate him to do so.

  4. Diego Méndez

    I think the absolute focus should be on saving human lives, not animals in Japan. I think this should be pretty straightforwards for everyone.

    Sending vets to catastrophe areas in order to feed hungry dogs and collect them surely means straining very thin supply lines, hence creating a problem to those working for human lives.

    Everyone is free to spend money on whatever they want, but I cannot understand how you would give money for “pet” charity when resources are scarce and could be directed to save people instead.

    On the other hand, sponsoring search dogs seems very useful.

    1. Ina Deaver

      I have to agree completely. I wish there were a way I could help Japanese people more. In fact, I’m disturbed at the entire tone taken by the U.S. Government: this is a historic and important ally, and we need to be sending them anything they need and saying very supportive things.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One can debate about allocating limited resources to saving humans or animals.

      It’s tragic for those who have died, animals and humans, of whatever causes.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Old people who have pets live longer, This is pretty well documented.

      People in Katrina and other cases when warned to evacuate stayed to save their pets. If they have more confidence that animals would be rescued, they’d be more inclined to leave.

      This is not as either/or as you suggest. And I suspect place like Medicins Sans Frontiers are more personnel constrained than $ constrained. They are having trouble getting people into the worst hit areas.

      I’m not saying don’t give to people, that would be nuts, but what is wrong with giving to human and animal charities?

      1. Diego Méndez

        Dear Yves,

        the short answer: very thin supply lines cannot support an unlimited relief effort. Hence, humans should be the priority.

        Straining supply lines to save animals impacts negatively the relief efforts for people in need.

        You can’t have your cow and eat it, too.

  5. Richard Kline

    With regard to an Arab ‘Spring,’ the process we are watching is one that will take 2-4 years to firm up: we see the beginning, not the middle and end. Did anyone think seriously that we would have Democratic reform in Syria, Algeria, Arabia, and Morocco by June? A broader reading of events on the ground gives an entirely different picture. The coalition for change in Yemen grows firmer every week; Saleh will fall there, the question is when. Labor strikes and political horizons open rapidly in Oman, getting minor interest from major media, but more indicative truly of the tide. The fact that there were demonstrations _at all_ in Syria and Arabia over the last week is extremely significant. Politically, both societies have been freighted with fear and inertia. The ability to act at all precedes the ability to change, and that first and most critical threshold appears to have been crossed. The drama of some of these events is less important than their geographical and societal scope, which continues to expand.

    It is certain that there will be counter-revolution and repression in response. The stupidity of kings in the present repression in Bahrain was highly probable, if not there then in Arabia at least and some other places. One shouldn’t be shocked at it occurring: it was bound to be tried, as autocrats have nothing to offer, and only bullets and bribes to deploy, so they are sure to try both. But in Bahrain, now what? The economy there is a ruin. 75% of the population at a minimum will harden their resolve for change because a) their rulers have declared their true colors—absolute rule—and so b) the rest have no choice but to resist, and certainly aren’t going anywhere. The apartheid state of Bahrain will change, and the less violence used the faster it will change. What is important is to keep the lethal violence as low as possible, and all leverage to achieve that goal should be applied.

    Which is why intervention in Libya is so important. Make no mistake, the regime of the Gadafiyya family must be stopped and removed, immediately. This is the important moment, and I definitely support military intervention to destroy the military assets of that criminal regime. I thought about putting up a lengthy analysis on this over the weekend, but refrained. The plain fact is that there are only a few thousand fighters on the regime side, but they have weight because they possess most all of the heavy weapons in use, and have the ability to reinforce their fronts which the democrats do not. If a certain criminal like Gadafi if permitted to use massacre, death squad, and random murder to cling to power, it is a green light to other states to turn to the same tools. Algeria and Syria both have a history, and the princes of Saud certainly hanker for a swing of the same rope judging by their actions. The timid response to the murders of the Gadafiyya over the last month only heightens the probablity and scope of violence elsewhere, that is the paradox: the less force in response now, the more violence in result later. From the standpoint of human rights, it is imperative that those who would hold power by massacre be stopped immediately: the issue isn’t about who has the power, but who has the power to harm. But from the purely utilitarian standpoint of what is in the best interests of the American (or British, or Egyptian, or any other government) it would be far better for legitimately popular, democratic, and self-governed societies to organize themselves in the Near East. Every outcome from that is better not just for those who live there but for my own country and government too, and not just on moral grounds but from the standpoint of functional and just relations.

    I’m opposed to American boots on the ground, and any foreign occupation of Libya. A no-fly zone was always a cumbersome, even silly idea. But the regimes assets can be destroyed, such armor and air that they have, and their larger depots and airfields can be ruined. That is well withing the capabilities of even, say, Egypt, if the changing government there so chose. Nothing will make it plainer to the regime killing people in Libya that they will not be tolerated than to be on the receiving end of superior force. There are many negative reasons why others have tarried so long getting down to brass knuckles, but the crux of it is this: precedent. If the precedent is that those who open fire on their own people _will_ be removed, that changes relationships and the shape of policy for those in marginal situations and on the fence about such resort. The Libyan regime has none to truly come to their (undeserved) rescue, and cannot withstand any real bombardment, so this is the least expensive, and most effective place to make that point. Am I happy about calling for the US, with its terribly compromised recent history of intervention to act? I am not. But preserving the lives of the democrats in Libya and the importance of the precedence are more important than qualms of such kind. Act now, within the day, to remove the military assets of the Gadafiyya; it is necessary, and all the better outcomes are on the side of such action.

    1. Another Gordon


      When oil was deemed at stake in Iraq international laws were broken wholesale to justify intervention and the pig of a policy was dressed up with support-for-democracy lipstick.

      In Libya, where a genuine home-grown democracy is knocking on the door, international law is used as an excuse to do nothing except hold endless meetings in the usual well-fed watering holes and talk of sanctions.

      It just goes to show that the true motivation of our craven leaders is money and power. The people are useful only as window dressing if oil is not deemed to be at stake.

      But our leaders are not only craven, they are wrong about the oil. Sanctions? Against a major producer of light sweet crude on the edge of Europe in a world fast running out of oil? Pleeese! The Chinese or Indians or just about anyone for that matter will cheerfully buy it no questions asked. And if Britain or France or Germany want a few drops they will have to kow-tow at the court of Gaddafi and say what a wonderful, kind-hearted, misunderstood person he is, all to be solemnly repeated on the evening news back in home even as the bloody reprisals are in full swing.

      And our leaders are wrong about what it would take to depose him. As Richard says his forces are tiny. Many are African mercenaries from Chad and Niger who would desert him at the first sign of opposition more determined than a lightly armed citizenry. A few shoulder launched anti-tank weapons, a handful of anti-aricraft missiles (if necessary operated by special forces)would transform the conflict and it would be over within days.

      1. aet

        Let me get this straight: you argue that since “we” ignored international law when deciding to invade raq, “we” should ignore it again, now.

        Pick a side and then arm them?
        Do you think that will extend the conflict?

        Over in days, you say? You doubt that it will take months?

        Haven’t we heard this somewhere before?

        1. DownSouth


          Just what is it about the flagrant legal double standard that you don’t understand?

          When economic power desires to be left alone it uses the philosophy of laissez faire to discourage political restraint upon economic freedom. When it wants to make use of the police power of the state to subdue rebellions and discontent in the ranks of its helots, it justifies the use of political coercion and the resulting suppression of liberties by insisting that peace is more precious than freedom and that its only desire is social peace.
          –Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man & Immoral Society

        2. Another Gordon

          An interpretation of the law that ignores the majority will and any reasonable understanding of the public good but regards it only as a device to dignify the self-serving actions of an elite who maintain themselves in power by brute force is a very bad interpretation.

          And yes, a very modest intervention could see this over very quickly. This is not Iraq or Afghanistan but, as a reasonable approximation, a single road sandwiched between sea and desert making it very easy to cut off Gaddafi’s force. And Gaddaffi has remarkably little domestic support. Why else do you suppose he has to rely on imported mercenaries? Do you suppose they would fight doggedly against anything other than a lightly armed citizenry when their paymaster might not even be there to pay up? Do you suppose they would hang around to face an enraged populace once the tide turned?

          1. Paul Repstock

            You all remember anything about ‘Food for Oil’. lol

            As long as Gaddafi keeps oil flowing to Europe, he will get cash and weapons. Who cares if they cut off his international assets? He has probably written them off as already lost. The Gaddafi family is now fighting for their lives. The moment they don’t control the oil, the international community will forget them, and they might as well buy grave stones, no matter where they hide.

          2. aet

            it appears that some compromise has been reached, and some protection extended.

            Interesting times!

  6. wunsacon

    >> Felix thinks “old school blogging…is clearly on the decline.”. Do you agree?

    Sure. Anything Yves says with a few paragraphs can be said in 140 characters or less.


  7. Juneau

    Thank you for the links to donate to animal rescue. I had already given to the Red Cross but did not know the local organizations in Japan to help out with their pets which they love so-much appreciated.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How does one give evacuation notices to semi, tsuru, chidori, worms, tanuki, ants, tengu, kappa, saru – many are already dead from radiation exposure, I have to believe?

      I fear this is a huge DISASTER for all animals, including humans.

      What a disaster!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        By the way, I am not talking about human tribes here. I apologize for not making that clear.

        Saru – monkey

        semi – cricket

        tengu – legendary dog

        kappa – legendary river creature

        tanuki – mischievious legendary badger

        chidori – plover

        tsuru – crane

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Here is an interesting one – Akaname.

          According to Wiki, the akaname is a being that licks up the grime and dirt in untidy bathrooms with poisonous saliva.

          Maybe he is radiaion proof so that he can go into the power plant and lick up all the fuel rods, spent or otherwise.

  8. Jim the Skeptic

    If I were visiting from another planet I might assume that that there was absolute proof that the current Japanese problems with their nuclear power plants was caused by an earthquake or the resultant tidal wave.

    But living on the planet and watching the news I honestly can’t tell exactly what the source of the problem was.

    I am beginning to suspect that the real problems were caused by a lack of cooling after a power failure. (I assume the power failure was caused by the tidal wave which was caused by the earthquake.)

    But suppose terrorists had destroyed miles of power lines and/or a few substations. Would the result be any different?

    Now for the trick question. Would the plants have survived intact if the load was removed but they continued to generate enough electricity to power the plants themselves?

    1. DownSouth


      So there is “absolute proof” that “the current Japanese problems with their nuclear power plants was caused by an earthquake or the resultant tidal wave.”

      Or in other words, no manmade element entered into causing the problems.

      I think you need to do some serious soul searching. Just exactly who or what is it that is so sacrosanct that such lapses into unreality become justified?

    2. Cedric Regula

      I guess you missed the part about the diesel backup generators not working due to tsunami flooding, or perhaps lack of maintenance.

      When they want to do a controlled shutdown of a reactor, for maintenance or refueling, they push in the control rods and the output of this reactor immediately goes to zero and its steam turbine generator stops making power. There is still much heat in the reactor and some new residual heating going on that would drive the reactor core to meltdown temperature. For this reason water in this stream cycle loop must still be driven by pumps so that it is cooled by the external heat exchangers in the loop.

      In this case the earthquake-tsunami made an emergency shutdown of all reactors in the plant necessary and also took out the grid. So no external power is available. That case is what the diesel emergency generators are for. But they didn’t work either.

      As the reactors overheated they boil off steam which gets vented first to the containment area in order to keep the reactor vessels from exploding due to high pressure above design limits. The facility design does not seem to provide an effective way to replace water in the reactor steam loop lost by boiling off and venting steam.

      Fuel rods become exposed to air and the everything gets progressively worse.

      How worse? Personally, I think the human race is doomed, but not because of this incident of course. I think it’s because of the space aliens that long ago hid their spaceship behind the dark side of the moon and then evaded us undetected in small assault craft which appeared to be a meteor shower to the Renaissance Period humans of the day. They have since been running the world for some enigmatic purpose we will never understand.

      Our only chance is if the original race of space aliens return and defeat these neo space aliens, then provide us with leadership like they did for the Egyptian, Greek, Aztec and Inca Empires.

      For instance, all spaceships have an intergalactic plumber aboard. He/She/It fixes plumbing leaks, toilets, clogged drains, etc…. aboard the spaceship.

      Here on Earth, it is quite common that electric utilities will do relatively minor upgrade and system enhancement retrofit work on existing facilities. If the Original Ones would take back control of our Earth from the neo space aliens, I am quite certain they would loan us their plumber whom would devise a way to route some copper piping to the reactor vessel and storage pools and this piping would run outdoors somewhere to an emergency water tank and use one of those emergency diesel driven fire pumps that earth companies already sell to power plants, refineries , mine, and other dangerous places of work.

      Then recalling what the Original Ones did for Aztec Temple architecture, I think a ready solution exists to make diesel generators and water pumps tsunami proof. The Aztec temples look something like pyramids, except they have stepped sides which serve as stairs and a flat top that you can use for anything you want. The Aztecs used it for sacrifices, but we are talking power plant application here so that’s where we put all diesel driven equipment to keep it above tsunami flood level.

      So I can see a way that our existing power plant infrastructure could be upgraded to fix these little problem accidents that keep happening since Chernobyl and Three Mile.

      But the Original Ones need to return to this sector of space.

      If they do, next we could ask them what to do about the waste disposal issue.

      1. kevin de bruxelles

        Seriously though, it’s a damn power plant. Running out of electricity in a nuclear power plant is like not being able to get a pint of beer in a brewery. Once they knew they were off the grid and that the back-up generators were not working, why not just fire up one of the reactors to generate enough electrical power to keep the whole complex cool?

        1. Cedric Regula

          A reasonable question. Maybe it will be investigated post mortem. Without an operating manual to the plant, it would take too much guesswork for us to figure out. But maybe earthquake sensors shut the plant and all reactors down automatically(likely). The tsunami took out the local transformer station that connects the turbine generators to the external and internal electrical grid (they kick the voltage way, way up for distribution, but xformers are provided for internal 110V, 220V, 480V, 4000V, 6600V and 13.2 KV[these are US standard voltages, Japan is probably different] and even interplant electrical things don’t work (very probable). Not to mention short circuits will pop breakers to take the turbine generator off line.

          The turbine generator is very very large and runs at extremely high speed. It may need to coast down for a long time until it can be restarted.


          So really the best thing to do is be able to drive the pumps moving water thru the steam loop directly with a diesel emergency generator.

  9. DownSouth

    CNN’s reporter in Tokyo is reporting that the radiation level in the air is 20x higher than normal, and the reading on the radiation meter he is wearing that measures exposure has increased 4x over the last 36 hours.

    The modertor asks him: If the current release levels from the nuclear plants were to continue for another two or three months, would this pose a health risk?

    However, I think the question most people in Tokyo are probably asking themselves is what will happen if a true meltdown occurs and release levels go balistic.

    1. DownSouth

      And meanwhile, many foreigners who can get out of Tokyo are choosing to do so.

      Foreigners are lining up outside Tokyo’s Immigration Bureau “as far as the eye can see” in preparation to leave the country.

      Here’s the video that shows the pandemonium outside the bureau.

    2. Paul Repstock

      I really have to wonder how CNN suddenly became a credible news source and how Mr. Gupta became qualified to answer questions on how the effects of a 20 x increase over 4 hr could play out over a period of months. Ludicrous question eb=ven for CNN,. Also, 20 x increase while the city says the levels are normal?? Plus good old Anderson Cooper?/

      Yves; you didn’t even get close to answering, WHY?

      Not that I expect anyone outside of Washington and Wall St. to be able to answer; but I sure can speculate.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Why is there a concerted effort to undermine the credibility of a sovreign ally?
      -Surgeon General says buy iodine (panic ensues)
      -Mr. Jazco contradicts Jappanese assesment re water in containment.
      -Radiation monitors being set up on the West Coast (more panic)
      -US advises citizens to leave Japan…..


    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am talking about animals.

      I believe many small animals have died…little ones like crickets, spiders, squirrels etc.

      It’s my belief.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would certainly check the lions in Tokyo Zoo to see if they are losing their hair.

          1. Paul Repstock

            One more item for the list above??
            U.S. Ambassador John Roos said Wednesday that the U.S. was bringing in its own radiation-detection equipment only to add resources, not because of any deficiencies with Japan’s equipment.

            WHY WHY WHY?
            If a foregn country brought their on testing equipment to the US, the government would kick their sorry butts home!!

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I dedicate this not-so-good haiku to all human and animal victims

            When spring does arrive
            will there be cherry blossoms
            in Fukushima?

          3. Paul Repstock

            I have always respected your opinion and comentary mltpb. I’m just concerned about what they are hiding under this snowstorm.

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thank you, Paul. I can see your concerns. We should ask why, as you say.

            I’m making a slight different point here – that while resources should go to saving humans first, we should nevertheless be aware of the little animals.

          5. Yves Smith Post author


            1. Japan is a military protectorate of the US, so we think we have the right to be pushy

            2. The Japanese are bad at crisis management when events move beyond what they have planned for

            Having said that, I agree hectoring them in public is not helpful.

        1. Cedric Regula

          I’m still trying to figure out why is it that guy lions are the ones with big hair?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It coudl be confusing for us as we human males typically seek out big-haired humans for potential dates.

            My only suggestion for those interested in interspecies love, in particular, about dating lionesses is to be careful about this.

            I hope that helps, Cedric.

      2. Lidia

        Thanks, Mr./Ms. Beef,

        I have some bats living outside my window, and they definitely speak a complex language. I can hear much of what they are saying, so I can only imagine how much goes unheard by me.

  10. Anon

    It’s in the drinking water at Fukushima City, 60 miles from the plant:

    Also in Fukushima City, radioactive elements, including iodine, cesium-135 and cesium-137, were found in drinking water. The amounts of such elements were roughly one-quarter the levels that will make the water unfit to drink, Fukushima prefecture said.

    Note the weasel word, “including”.

    So what else is in there, Tepco, given that the Unit 3 spent fuel pool had plutonium in it?

    But the good people of Japan are only suffering from irrational “radiation phobia”, according to the nuclear industry shills.

    Bananas are dangerous, don’t you know?

    What’s the banana equivalent of this disaster so far?

      1. Cedric Regula

        hehe. Fortunately for us we have additional sources tried into our grapevine.

        From ZH

        Tokyo Passengers Set Off O’Hare Radiation Detectors

        “No seriously, it is all under control. And furthermore, the radiation detectors only go off on less than dangerous doses. And if that fails, GE can simply raise the sensitivity threshold on its scanners so no more vile, malicious false alarms such as this are set off in the future. “Mayor Richard Daley acknowledged today passengers on a flight from Tokyo had set off radiation detectors at O’Hare International Airport, but he offered no details and said federal officials will be handling the situation.”

        No news yet about how many bananas Chicago sets the detection equipment to.

      2. Paul Repstock

        Sorry aet, they don’t want to hear us. “One” airport scanner picks up radiation?? Valid or not?? Source?? Instrumentation??

        The Union of ‘Concerned’ Scientists has written off Japan and shifted focus to “terrorist” attacks on US facilities??

        Next thing we know, some will be calling for another nuclear strike on Japan to punish them and stop this radiation leak.

  11. MIchaelC

    Bottom line the catastrophe is the result of a bad design.

    If the design (reactor core + penthouse cooling pond) is safe given an uninterupted source of power to run the safety mechanisms, and the models used to design the contingency plans do anticipate all risks to the power source, then concentrating meltdown risks on site could be reasonable

    As long as the power source is predictable, adequately modelled and full contingency plans are activated to maintain the flow of power

    Which it’s not, and as we’re seeing in real time, never will be. As a result the meltdown concentration risks are mispriced and need to be reviewed for every one of these model plants. At a minimum, the plant would be significantly less of a risk if the meltdown risk was limited to the core.

    Closer to home, this is one of the anxieties NYers deal with at Indian Point, 30 miles N of NYC (in the heart of the densely populated northern suburbs of NYC). For years there have been problems with the cooling pond, yet the pond continues to fill w/spent fuel. Now that Cuomo’s been reminded that Indian Point sits on a fault line, and also has cooling pool risks, perhaps we’ll see a serious reassesment of the risks at the plant.

    1. Paul Repstock

      If: saftey standards are improved, contingency plans beefed up, and a better program for dealing with waste is implemented; then we could in the future thank the Earthquake for a just in time, “Wake up call”. I hope the modern, “Soundbite attention span” doesn’t cause it to be wasted.
      Contrary to how many here will view my postings, I’m not a Nuclear Appologist. But we are not going back to scratching dirt to grow our own food and eschew computers and electric heating. The following link is full of marketing hype but it describes the future fairly well.

      1. Anon

        “and a better program for dealing with waste is implemented”

        Ah, yes, the inimitable better plan for safe waste disposal that has not materialized since 1945. And never will.

        Don’t you realize this is only the beginning?

        Because the elephant is the room is Rokkasho.

        Rokkasho is built to withstand a 6.9 quake (seismologists until recently as 2004 taught that a 9.0 quake was impossible off Japan).

        Only Rokkasho – which makes the 600,000 spent fuel rods stored at Fukushima look like a few twigs in the forest –
        is built on a 62-mile long fault line

        The massive Rokkasho plant, which consists of a spent fuel reprocessing facility, a uranium-enrichment factory, a low-level radioactive waste disposal center and a high-level radioactive waste management facility, has come under international spotlight, as it is the first such commercial plant in a non-nuclear weapon state. Resource-poor Japan has decided to reprocess by extracting plutonium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons and uranium from spent nuclear fuel.

        According to Watanabe, who acknowledges the importance of nuclear power for reducing dependency on fossil fuels, the plant is built on an uplifted marine terrace on the northeast coast of the mainland, and the reverse fault may be connected to an undersea fault. In this case, the active fault could total around 62 miles, and could potentially trigger an 8-magnitude earthquake.

        It is a given rule in international communities that electric companies or governments geologize candidate sites carefully to avoid building nuclear facilities near active faults. Experts agree that active faults cause earthquakes sooner or later, and if a fault is found to be longer than 3 miles in length, the energy generated could be 6 times greater.

        The Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which runs the Rokkasho plant, denied Watanabe’s findings, stating, “We have confirmed that there is no active fault that needs to be taken into consideration for the earthquake-resistant design of the reprocessing plant, except the fault Watanabe mentioned, which is not situated directly under the site, but in the vicinity of the site.” In addition, the JNFL denied any link between the reverse fault and the undersea faults because the undersea faults running on the outer edge of the continental shelf are older than at least 700,000 to 800,000 years and the two faults were active during different epochs and lie in different directions.

        Got that? Rokkasho is only “in the vicinity”.

        And Tepco never lied about the fault line at Kashikawazaki either, did it?

  12. emca

    Another link to Japanese efforts to dowse rectors with water from via helicopter:

    Notice in the comment by the translator at the 1:22 mark of the second segment, “it is important the helicopters be hovering over their intended target to be effective”(paraphrase).

    Doesn’t look much hovering going on here. I would guess about 10% of the dropped water load on the fly-by dowse is even hitting the reactor, let alone the containment vessel(s).

    I would hope the Japan government would get an upper hand on the situation, but honestly, these efforts look like ineffectual desperation.

    Maybe the fire engines will work better?

  13. emca

    Time to go Green?

    “Analysis: Green buying binge after Japan crisis won’t last”

    “Japan’s race to avert a meltdown at a tsunami-wracked nuclear power plant was viewed as a rallying cry to some supporters of renewable energy, triggering a debate about whether the power source is a safe and viable form of emissions-free energy.

    That led to a surge in shares of alternative energy stocks, including some double-digit gains in solar companies that were lagging of late.”

    Alternate, without government subsidies, cannot said to be ‘viable’…neither is nuclear energy. Either requires at this point, intervention by a government, so the question remains as an investor (or just plain observer), what kind of political backlash do you think will occur or might occur because of Fukushima? (significantly, who’s responsible for full liability in event of failure, the taxpayer or profit takers?)

    Whatever happens at Japan’s reactor(s) one fallout (sic) is inevitable, the nuclear mode of future power generation will become more costly in monies and time before (and after) delivery.

    Security in this country carries a very high premium.

    1. Birch

      I try to imagine what solar power would look like today if all the money and effort expended on nucular power research had instead been spent on solar. Or what nucular would be like vice versa.

      The only risk-free nucular power is the sun, and it shines all the time with no effort on our part. Current photovoltaic panels run around 15% efficiency. Certainly we can do better somehow, no?

      Besides, we waste electricity so catastrophically that reducing consumption to a tenth wouldn’t hurt our ‘standard of living’ at all. Quite to the contrary if we were smart about it.

      1. Cedric Regula

        Thick film solar cells, which have had a lot of R&D the past 40 years for space sat apps were improved from 12% to 18%. First Solar has been working on cost reduced thin film furiously since the late 90s and reduced cell cost to 30% of thick film and claim to be at 12% efficiency soon. But then the cells have to be connected in a panel as usual ind installed as usual. Most supporters think PV solar will only be cost effective for rooftop apps in sunny locals. Then they need to “freeload” on a real grid for off peak power, or sell back excess peak power. Current cost is about 4X that of conventional power.

        Solar thermal, which uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight on a mini boiler and make steam to run a turbine or stirling engine, and then a generator, shows more promise for larger centralized plants. But it is still expensive and variable power.

        Wind is probably better than either kind of solar. But I have a hard time believing we drive the entire country with wind and also change over to electric cars, even with conservation…that other thing we never seem to do even tho everyone says it’s easy.

          1. Cedric Regula

            I already changed over to the new 20 watt bulbs. I’d like to avoid the rest of the transition….

        1. Birch

          Try living off grid for a little while. It’s amazing how little of what we take for granted is really useful – some things are, for sure, but most is obscene luxury.

          I think centralized large-scale power production is a flawed system in itself. Again, useful sometimes, but not to the extent we take it for granted. The massive grids we’ve built are a recipe for massive waste, as well as systemic failure. Electricity, like beer, should be produced and consumed locally wherever possible. It degrades according to how far it’s transported.

          Think about burning coal to create steam for electricity to power a base-board heater. Can it be more inefficient? Or using wind power to create electricity to power an air compressor for an air gun. Put your factory on a windy ridge and hook your wind turbines directly to big compressor tanks to run all your machinery. Attach a little inverter for lights and computers. Our thinking is so far removed from the practical that we’re doomed; so much limited by pre-conceived ideas that we can’t imagine the obvious.

          Our infrastructure is based on centralized large-scale production and long transportation lines. This has only been allowed by an age of plentiful stored solar energy (hydrocarbons). The rest of human history has involed local community production, with trade of special stuff as the exception, not the economic law. This is because this is what is effecient – it is what sustainability will allow. Is it worse than what we have? Hell no, it’s better because humanity is a community dependent species.

          You want a power generation system that will allow current automobile practices to continue unabated. This must be because you love traffic jams and suburbs. You believe this is the best way to design a city?

          Capitalist ‘efficiency’ refers to the ability to skim non-productive rentier profits, nothing to do with the ‘efficiency’ of supplying the needs of society or humanity. Very different meanings. If we could get back to the latter meaning, we would discover power production possibilities that will never be allowed by capitalist ‘efficiency’.

          Oh yeah, and when you factor ‘solar’ versus ‘conventional’ power costs, you must also factor in resorse depletion costs, environmental costs, and societal costs, otherwise the resulting figure is a lie.

          1. Paul Repstock

            Not many jurisdictions will allow you to burn coal for heat, and many ban even wood. All these “protective” laws have funneled us striaght down the slaughter chute.

            Do you have any idea what happens if you dam a creek to produce micro hydro? If not, try it some time. LOL

        2. Toby

          But I have a hard time believing we drive the entire country with wind and also change over to electric cars, even with conservation…that other thing we never seem to do even tho everyone says it’s easy.

          Easy or not, living from renewable energy is the obvious way to go. Burning stuff and coping with the waste somehow is a very stupid plan, long term. We should not be worrying about ensuring perpetual growth at all costs, nor about protecting our ‘way of life’ because we’ve ‘worked hard’ for it, or have a ‘right’ to it, we ought to be concerned with sustainability. Either we learn this or we don’t. If we don’t, we meet the end of our road, by definition, and real soon too the way things are going.

          Why insist on producing ever more energy? So we can have ever more humans burning ever more energy, reducing soil fertility, producing more waste, wasting more water? What’s the point of driving this insane system ever onwards? I cannot think of one reason to do so. We only carry on as before because pursuing genuine alternatives means an end to the current status quo.

          Birch is right. We need to divert as much of our ingenuity and resources as possible into renewable energies. Wind is very effective, with a few Danish studies showing an EROEI of 40 or so (oil is at around 10 and falling). Solar is useful too (more efficient than you suggest), as is geothermal (a 2005 MIT report said a $10bn investment would provide the world with enough energy for the next 2-4000 years). Cold fusion is doable it seems, and has the interesting waste product of copper (there was a demonstration by two Italian scientists this February).

          But the most essential part of this is energy efficiency. Ignoring it is suicidal. Houses can be built to produce more energy than they consume, in fact there are thousands already in Austria and Germany. The tech on this front is very impressive and should be implemented everywhere. That humanity is not doing so is yet another sign that money is more important than people and environment, i.e. yet another sign of our culture’s insanity.

          Transport must be revolutionized too. Maglev looks to be the way to go, and here at least China is investing heavily. A company called ET3 ( has very interesting ideas on this front. Obviously electric cars are essential, but maglev mass transit should be the focus. The efficiency gains are enormous, and their safeness is of course far above what can be achieved with cars and human drivers.

          Then there’s purposeful and intelligent city design. American cities (and elsewhere) are hopelessly inefficient. The energy that could be saved here is enormous, but again, the money problem prevents rational planning.

          You get the point. There is an enormous amount that can be done today, and would be done if we had a sensible and democratic money system. I can’t imagine that a majority of the planet’s people would not want to ensure a healthy future for ‘our children’s children’ by backing sensible development and a focus on true sustainability.

  14. kevinearick

    Love, Compromise, & Negotiation

    Loving another more than self and having that love returned in a feedback loop, as an example to children in a natural marriage, is the one and only path to economic profit. An empire redistributes the resulting wealth by establishing a self-reinforcing feedback loop between anxiety and addiction to temporary relief from anxiety, providing both demand (replacement of parental education) and supply (government), which fuels the nexus of corporate participants. At the peak consumption half-wave, nearly everyone is participating, locked into the gravity of, a collapsing empire.

    The fuel is exhausted and the empire hits the wall when investment in the economic profit function is entirely shorted to the ponzi credit system rewarding consumption with lucrative make-work jobs, by Family Law. Civil marriage is nothing more than an exchange of property with a thin coat of desire called love, which, at peak degradation, is a mere exchange of bodies, never in union, replicating a movie or tv show, as the future is cast away to meet immediate practicalities, which are outcomes from the same decision habit in the last round.

    There is much more to the story of Jesus than that agreed upon by a covenant of priests to form the Bible, which, like all religious texts, is an act of omission at best. That is why we have science attempt to prove that God does not exist, to identify the boundary of imperfect knowledge. God is unknowable; the closest thing to God on this earth is a natural marriage unfiltered by the false anxieties of empire economics.

    For the kids with practical skills in quantum physics as it applies to motor control, the nation/state borders are artifacts of a world that no longer exists, and the empire is accelerating time to collapse by squirming to prevent the outcome already assured, when impulses from measurable habits were replaced by immeasurable habits. Many, many tiny sub-fulcrums support the visible empire mega-fulcrum. Within these unseen sub-fulcrums are connector sub-fulcrums, which are free to migrate at will.

    The entitlement babies are free riders bred to seek out free, by a collapsing empire. Cops, firefighters, teachers, and doctors are all massive loss leaders under existing American enterprise system conditions, which is why the private middle class has disappeared and the economy is crashing. The new middle class will require many effective farmers, nurses, and electricians, to replace most of the existing.

    Personally, I have already given up 2 wives, 3 daughters, countless jobs, 75% of my income, and all of my identification papers to a government of free riders, demanding more and more of my wealth, and telling me that I must work stupider and stupider, for stupider and stupider government money, while the legacy families turned non-productive real estate into atm machines to the end of liquidating the middle agents after they liquidated me. The days of compromise and negotiation have concluded.

    Billions of people with no practical skills must be fed, clothed, and housed to prevent a collapse of biblical proportions. Good luck with that.
    Buckle up. Have a nice day.


  15. A. Comment

    Regarding the swift article… no surprise. The anecdotal tale to give the message, only scratches the surface of the abuses. I wouldn’t blame them one iota for wanting to drop it.

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