Links 4/15/11

Radioactive Human Embryos: Our Nuclear Legacy? TruthOut (hat tip reader May S)

How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation Guardian

Pacific salmon may be dying from leukemia-type virus McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Dinosaurs were active both day and night, study claims BBC (hat tip reader John M)

Japan’s Economy Takes a Hit The Diplomat

Allies to step up military pressure on Libya Aljazeera (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Anger begins to infect Europe’s prosperous core Financial Times

Spain backtracks on China investment claim Financial Times (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Suicide Rates Rise in U.S. as Economy Declines, CDC Study Finds Bloomberg. Department of “duh”. Notice the CDC hasn’t computed the 2009 suicide rate?

Then They Came for Dana Milbank Jonathan Schwartz

Obama Is Likely to Lose Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

Banks Near Deal With SEC Wall Street Journal. This article is strange. It mentions how the banks are keen to settle investigations. Yet the one specific one it mentions, of a JP Morgan CDO called Squared, was reported in Bloomberg as having the SEC targeting former senior employees, not the banks. One of these accounts on Squared is not right, and we’ll see soon enough who has the goods.

US investigates banks over credit crisis ‘cartel’ claim Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). It was always called the Libor “fixing”, perhaps more accurately than we all realized.

In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story, New York Times

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-04-15 at 4.02.37 AM

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    1. Anonymous Comment

      Irony Patrol:

      Here is Phil Gramm talking about how republican policies have a lighter touch on the economy.

      Puh-lease. this coming from the guy who made repealing glass-steagal his raison d’etre… standing in front of congress some dozen times to convince them what a great idea it would be to let financial innovation have it’s way with our country. Why not address the results of that bit of policy maneuvering, Mr. Gramm. Blech. He is no expert on the the effects of policy on finance. People like him are so insulting to sanity. No soup for you.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This is where I think the FDA can help.

        The next time they try another financial innovation on real human beings, they must conduct trials and get FDA approval.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Phil Gramm is as Orwellian as Alan Greenspan, also back on his deregulation soapbox despite loss of all credility and finding a ‘fundamental flaw’ in market self-regulation.

        Here’s McCain’s economic advisor, Gramm in July 2008:

        “You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession…We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet.”

        “We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline, despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy.”

        “Misery sells newspapers,” Mr. Gramm said. “Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day.”

        Gramm today:

        “The [Obama] administration…supported…the most dramatic expansion of the power of organized labor since the Great Depression; launched diatribes against wealth accumulation; undertook a massive expansion in the regulatory power of the federal government; and proposed the largest tax increases in American history … aimed almost exclusively at America’s entrepreneurs, risk takers and small businesses.”

        Obama has never done anything even remotely resembling Gramm’s brazen fabrication of reality. His “unprecedented policy changes” are in fact a verbatim rerun of Bush doctrine, and his “diatribes” are nothing but teleprompter lines that have Dimon or Blankfein laughing all the way to the discount window for free money.

        Obama is in fact the second coming of Gramm’s god Reagan, but he still props him up as a obvious straw man only to sustain the now utterly irrelevant left-right volley while he bangs his one-note deregulation drum. Obama kicked his base in the balls and delivered government to Wall Street on a silk pillow, but Phil Gramm continues to play hollow ideology theater. That an utterly discredited cretin dinosaur like Gramm gets any ink or air time is undeniable proof of media malpractice. The man is a living-dead gargoyle.

    1. PeterG

      ^ Seconded. Dr. Caldicott *appears* to have been grossly intellectually negligent, as concerns nuclear research.

    2. The Raconteur

      Monbiot is a professional nincompoop. The idea that he could discredit anyone except himself is absolutely hilarious.

  1. rjs

    Radioactive Human Embryos: Our Nuclear Legacy?

    something the article doesnt mention: it’s been shown with mice that most mutations are recessive, and dont show up in the general population until 4 to 10 generations later, so we’ve yet to realize the effects of widespread atmospheric testing in the 50s (except for the 45% increase in thyroid problems in my generation compared to those older)

    1. moo baracknaut

      recessive, and dont show up in the general population until 4 to 10 generations

      radiation, thalidomide type catastrophes, computer viruses, water pollution, air pollution, pollution from rap-music, pollution from banksters, pollution from tax code codifiers. We are now on a glide-path into the unknown wonders of extreme pain.

      Should we build dedicated prisons for innovators?

    2. charles 2

      As an illustration of what I said about the unavoidable ideological bias of mass media articles

      “But equating those very different types of radiation is like equating the damage of being hit with ping pong balls (photons) with being hit by bullets (beta particles).”

      All depends of the speed of the ping pong ball . The photons that are below the water ionization energy (microwave, infra red, visible light) are not ionizing radiation, everything above (UV, X-Rays, gamma) is ionizing. Some very fast “ping pong balls” can ionize many water molecules, but it happens along a relatively long path, which is why they can cross the body, and why X-rays are so useful for imaging.
      Actually, nobody competent equates very different types of radiation. There is a quality factor taking biological damages into accounts. This quality factor is included in Sievert measurements.

      “Your TV doesn’t shoot bullets at you.”

      CRT TV does, it emits a small amount of X-rays, generated by the impact of electrons (which are beta radiation BTW) on various elements like phosphorus.

      FIY, we have around 5,000 “bullets” emitted in our body by naturally occurring potassium-40 every second, .
      Potassium is present in every cell of our body (and in embryos) and the “bullets” it emits are pretty powerful (over 1 MeV). If we didn’t have repair mechanisms embedded in our organism, we would be doomed indeed ! These repair mechanisms can be overwhelmed by too much radiation, which is why, as with chemicals, the reasonable assumption is that the dose makes the poison. For more info,

      Finally, saying that bio-accumulation is ignored by the industry is a gross misrepresentation. The food chain is routinely tested for radioactivity in most developed countries (especially in Europe because of Chernobyl). The instruments are very sensitive : it is not because one can measure radioactivity that it is dangerous. Besides, accumulation factors are well-known for a large variety of foodstuffs. The remaining food restrictions in Europe outside of Ukraine and Belarus are for specific animals (especially game at the top of the food chain) who are regulars of the “antidote du jour”. If only the Japanese could stop eating whales and tuna because of Fukushima…

  2. Jani

    It is bizarre to “quote” to Caldicott as an expert on radiation safety.
    a) As far as I am aware, she has published no peer reviewed works in the field
    b) Almost without fail propagates claims that are inconsistent with what is known.
    As Monbiot demonstrated she is incapable to back up her claims with real references and sometimes when she tries those references actually carry an opposite message to the one she claimed. UNSCEAR is equivalent to IPCC and rather than to listen to Caldicott and her kind, one should read the reports by the real experts. Ignoring scientific consensus here is no better than ignoring it with respect to climate change. The fact that you so prominently display people who believe that conspiracy theories have infected to whole of scientific community, undermines your credibility in other matters as well. I know a lot about radiation safety, but not that much about ecomics. I have read this blog partly for that reason, but maybe I shouldn’t trust what you say about economics either…

    1. NeilK

      I 100% agree with Jani.

      Caldicott is a crank and if you click through the links to Monbiot’s responses you’ll find he completely demolishes her credibility.

      I’m truly impressed with this sites articles on economic matters. However, your science articles (nuclear, GMOs etc) have a definite bias towards “fear-based” rather than “data-driven” policies.

      1. scraping_by

        “I’m truly impressed with this sites articles on economic matters. However, your science articles (nuclear, GMOs etc) have a definite bias towards “fear-based” rather than “data-driven” policies.”

        This is an economic question. Or rather, it has many economic angles.

        One of the big ones, maybe the biggest, is the nuclear industry’s insistence that nuclear plants are economically sound. However, this incident makes obvious that they’re made economic only by externalizing true costs.

        I’ve heard no proposal to insure against the losses that are, apparently, statistically inevitable with this technology. While there’s a reserve for decomissioning plants (unless that falls through a loophole) there’s no requirement for comprehensive insurance or cash loss reserve. Given the scale of such disasters, the cost of the insurance would probably put the overhead past any reasonable price for consumers.

        An earlier version of the AP story about the mingy compensation TEPCO is trying to gather good press pointed out the plant did have insurance, but it had an Acts of God out. Not having to build for worse cases is cheaper, but the damage done is the same whether it’s operator error, design error, or any other cause.

        While it’s usually a slow, erosive process, externalizing costs on the public are costs in the economic sense of the word. Now that Japan’s making that externalization official, it’s obvious it’s easier to stop the cost before it gets dropped on the average citizen.

        And by the bye: the junior high fear of embarrassment is mostly what using “experts” as a club is all about. Simplify as much as necessary, but not more, and you’ll be surprised you’re smarter than you think.

    2. scraping_by

      I was unaware that peer-reviewed scientists were a special, unassailable breed and everyone else had to STFU. Restricting science or scientific knowledge to a handful of “experts” has more to do with job protection than intellectual rigor . A lot of it has to do with keeping the other kids out of their sandbox. The actual knowledge is available in books, films, blogs, magazines, and non-experts can, indeed, learn to read and understand it. Also, it doesn’t take a lot of training to ask some pretty common sense questions and make some pretty safe conclusions.

      For example, another post called the idea that no radiation was safe as a “canard”. First, this is poor language – a canard is an unfounded rumor or story, usually used as slander or libel. It is actually a scientific theory, in that it posits an observation about the sensate world that can be proven true or false with factual data. It’s a theory with backing facts. Among the positive support is the undoubted link between radiation and cancer. For the negative proof, I know of no one had ever shown living tissue that’s immune to damage by radiation. It’s often damage that’s subtle, slow to appear, and won’t show up during the time of the experiment, but assuming a safe threshhold where the damage goes to zero is a dishonest extension of a trend line.

      See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?

      The book Tuxedo Park by Jennet Conant traced the process by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in restricting science to professionals in the early part of the 20th Century. It’s pretty obvious it wasn’t an concern about the quality of the data or the rigor of the theories that motivated them. It was position enhancement through credential inflation. If it weren’t academic, it would have come under the anti-trust act.

      The crux of her article, that politics and economics play a role in public announcements on scientific questions, is so obvious that it’s almost trivial. Sinclair Lewis’s observation on knowledge and a paycheck is certainly as true among hard science PhDs as among cookware salesmen. Formalizing the arrangement at the UN level is an unsurprising revelation.

      Appealing to the experts might be good propaganda, but it’s propaganda and we’ve all cut through propaganda all our lives. Perhaps the great and powerful Oz has spoken, but we don’t have to tremble.

      1. charles 2

        “One of the big ones, maybe the biggest, is the nuclear industry’s insistence that nuclear plants are economically sound. However, this incident makes obvious that they’re made economic only by externalizing true costs.”

        Sorry, but it is not obvious at all, at least from a market standpoint. Considering where TEPCO CDS are trading, it is perfectly clear that the bonds nuclear power plants operators are at risk. Yet, EDF bond prices barely widened after Fukushima, and certainly not to the point that it makes nuclear uneconomical.
        The government of France (US) could issue a trillion euros(dollar) nuclear catastrophe cat bond and I am sure that all the PIMCOs and insurance companies of this world would gobble it for less that 100 bps extra spread per annum. I would certainly take some in my portfolio. That would cost 10 billion EUR per year, around 30% of EDF domestic revenues. Nothing earth shattering here.
        Actually, you could even go further and say that with all the nuclear power plants on its soil, France’s government bonds are already nuclear catastrophe cat bond. Did the spread to Germany jump just after Fukushima ? No.

        If you want to trust the market, the answer is clear : nuclear is safe. This being said, I do not trust the market for long term tail risk. In nuclear as in finance, robust structures and tough regulators are much better.

      2. charles 2

        ” The actual knowledge is available in books, films, blogs, magazines”
        Actually, no. Most of the available detailed and factual knowledge is hidden behind expensive scientific publication pay-walls. What you read in professional books is second-hand knowledge that may or may not be neutral. What you get in films, blogs and magazine is n-th hand knowledge that has been filtered at every level by ideological bias.

        Actually what I like on Yves’s blog in her coverage of the financial crisis is that she links to original documents to support her assertions. At the expense of some homework, it is actually feasible to convince oneself that she is right. What is possible in financial matters due to SEC disclosure regulations and copies of legal proceeding is much more difficult in health physics.

        Second, asserting “Among the positive support is the undoubted link between radiation and cancer.” is a red herring. Nobody disputes that. There is a complete consensus that doses above 100mSv have an impact on cancer rates. What is disputed is the existence of significant harm from low dose radiation, which represents 95% of the alleged harm that is caused to the public by nuclear accidents.

        So it is harder than you allege.

        1. skippy

          Risk especially financial is bracketed with in_a human life time_if not financial quarters. This is not a scientific metric with regards to the background…cough…time line of the cosmos.

          Skippy…one solar flare of sufficient strength and its game…only one. The entire reason to begin with was weapons not energy, the later was deemed a selling point to the population, near your backyard.

          1. charles 2

            The entire reason we began playing with explosive chemicals (in guns) was war. It lead to metallurgical developments essential for the emergence of the steam engine, and it doesn’t make the internal combustion engine less useful.

            Looking at the timeline of the cosmos ?

            I am more than happy to do that, and it is actually the main reason I am for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. I am with Sir Fred Hoyle, the astronomer, here :

            “It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing high intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only.”

            Earth has to be evacuated in a billion years time, maximum. To do so, humanity has to reach a technological level far higher than the one we have so far. An important consequence of Fred Hoyle’s observation is that we cannot afford to fall back to pre-industrial levels of production and technology along the way : we have a unique match of fossil resources at our disposal and, for better and for worse, we ignited it in the course of the 19th and 20th century. It is burning fast, therefore we make it now or we are trapped. No possibility for a pleasant interlude where we live frugal, happy and in harmony with nature like Tolkien’s hobbits. We can’t claim the innocence of ignorance any more, as we know now that our world is mortal and transient and we have to deal with it.

            Let me be clear, I don’t believe that ANY existing technology or group of technology, including nuclear is currently a solution to the resource depletion problem. But I think that it is crazy to jettison the technology that has the best potential in terms of available resource and physical effort for mass deployment.

            Scary, I recon, but it is the cards that our generation has been dealt with.

            This being said, I agree completely to making our electricity infrastructure EMP resistant whether from a man-made or nature made impulse. It is quite a cheap upgrade to transformers.

          2. skippy

            What is so complicated about understanding an ELE of our_own_making (50 odd years of operational usage, limited risk evaluation, on top of many unreported near misses) , when there are alternatives.

            So much verbosity that can be boiled down to lifestyle accoutrements before rational actions. In addition Insurance can not bring back the dead (all living things), it emboldens the already foolhardy.

            Skippy…the first two things to meet the chopping block whence profit decrees it, wages and maintenance. Explosives and locomotives don’t take out thousands of sq. miles for decades / centuries or rain down upon an entire planet due to the aforementioned points or acts of nature.

            PS. burning down the entire house seems to be a silly motivator, too me (a billion years…lol, some recon we have hundreds at our pace) . How far are we post industrial period[???], enormous lack of data on which to extrapolate such behavior…eh. Kinda like the derivative CDO /CDS shite, humanity’s future bet on like a drunken dare, value that goes *POOF*! was never value to begin with…sigh

  3. Mike M

    Obama is likely to lose, Peggy? Really? Hey, I’m no big fan of the comptroller in chief, but, the last I heard, Donald Trump is winning in polls for the Republican nomination. And, then, there’s that lovely Bachman woman telling everyone in Iowa how she loves them. No, Peggy, the Republicans are about to start a campaign s**tshow that will be vastly entertaining to most of us, especially the White House staff. Remember Paladino vs Cuomo? The golden boy didn’t even have to campaign.

    1. joe costello

      You should read the article, she says Obama will lose if the Republicans don’t self-destruct by putting up someone like Bachman or Trump. I’m no fan of Noonan, but this is a pretty good analysis of the political environment, except it leaves out one big factor, the real winner in 2012 could be indpendent(s), if there was the choice.

      1. Mike M

        “if the Republicans don’t self-destruct by putting up someone like Bachman or Trump”

        Of course they won’t. Uh, well, maybe. But, as I said, the media circus leading up to that point will disgust 80% of Americans, and, when they turn on the tube and hear the Great Orator do his thing, game over.

        Dream on with your independent. Nadar’s too old.

        1. joe costello

          Hah, such is the only “hope” for a second term, corrupt incompetence vs corrupt crazy — the great state of American politics.

  4. Sungam

    The problem with the nuclear debate at the moment is that on one side you have people wheeling out canards like: “no safe level of exposure to nuclear radiation.” Which is in a sense true but conceptually unhelpful since it conveys no sense of the scale of the risk.

    There are plenty of natural sources of radiation (Radon, the estimated second most prominent cause of lung cancer after smoking being one), how markedly do our past and future nuclear endeavours contribute above and beyond that background?

    On the other side you have people who go that all is fine and dandy. This is also in no ways helpful since the disaster will have an impact on the local environment at the very least. Things will have to be monitored etc but in their effort to counterbalance the hysteria they just seem to be whitwashing everything.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      It’s the same problem that seems to infect every debate: the false dichotomy problem. There is usually a middle ground between doing nothing and doing something stupid, but the ideologues like to cast the debate in such a way as their choice is fine and the only other choice is extreme. This is almost always not true.

      Of course, Voltaire said it best, “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.”

      1. Patricia

        On the other hand, saying that the truth always lies in the middle somewhere is as rigid as saying that it always lies at either extreme.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dinosaurs active day and night.

    A more rigorous study would probably discover that only the teenage, partying dinosaurs were active day and night.

  6. Sufferin' Succotash

    “Pick a little, talk a little,
    Pick a little, talk a little,
    Pick Pick Pick,
    Talk a lot, pick a little more!”

  7. A140603

    Late response to yesterday’s post: “…Goldman Sachs execs perjure themselves…..”

    Max Keiser: “If Goldman Sachs took Auschwitz public, they would sell shares to their friends and family and say this concentration camp is a great business.”

  8. kevinearick

    Credit & Magnetic Effect

    Credit from authority is welfare in return for conforming behavior, positive feedback, which sets up the black hole. All the people flipping and refinancing, getting money for no real work, naturally spoiled their children into a vegetative entertainment state, breeding them into empire zombies. Now that they are all addicted, the banks reverse the motor, and seize all the property, by lowering marginal income, inflating commodities, and depressing real estate. Inflation and deflation nets to 0.

    When they reverse the engine, all the incorporated communities importing food and energy at massively subsidized prices get hyperinflation whiplash. Not only is authority ignorant of where credit needs to go, but it also naturally penalizes those not participating in the zombie economy, increasing the size and speed of the black hole casino.

    Adjust accordingly. Just like you cannot find God through authority, you cannot allow authority to channel credit through your personal life … neither a creditor nor borrower be. When you have surplus, give it to those being denied credit, a little at a time at first, and see if it finds its way back to you.

    If you confine your “mistakes,” which become investments in intelligence, to your person, and otherwise help others, creating multiplier effects, you will naturally create an orbiting system around yourself. Most television evangelists, politicians, and CEOs do the opposite; they present themselves as personally virtuous and otherwise create large negative effects on others, who willingly walk into the ponzi casino, largely because they are specifically bred to seek something for nothing – the sinners going to church so they can re-energize to sin ever more the next week.

    It’s all in the programming, but your hardware ramping makes the fusion/fission reactor possible. I am not giving you the blueprint to work off because I want you to have an equity stake rather than a short-term gain in your new governance models, which requires the thinking this planet needs, and will be a portfolio of independently operating magnetic centers with orbiting cylinders of delay mechanisms with increasing dimensions.

    Like 3 phase electricity, authority reverses by running the economy on cylinders, like the motor in your car. A depression/crash occurs when you cause simultaneous reversal, by extending and contracting cylinder cycle times. The extent depends upon how long you lock it up.

    If you place a hundred skaters on a rink, they will soon begin skating in the same direction of their own volition, with a few exceptions, in each direction over time, depending upon individual magnetic effect. Design with troubleshooting in mind to create the largest possible middle class.

  9. Herman Sniffles

    I wonder if this is the final hurrah for the propaganda machine invented by Sigmund’s nephew that has driven Western culture since the Nazis. As the US population is bombarded with a BILLION dollars worth of propaganda (Obamaganda?) designed to sell abject failure as star-studded success, will the strange crystalline wall of deceit finally shatter? Will Americans finally IN THEIR GUTS realize that they have been deceived and lied to for the last 50 years? Probably not. But there’s just a chance…

  10. Hal H

    Everyone has a natural tendency to do maintenance on their worldview — seeking out opinion (disguised as objective at times) that reinforces what they believe. Gradually, most of us become censoring — we censor information and views.

    It’s part of the human tragedy.

  11. charles 2

    I completely agree, which is why I like to read blogs that do not cater to my opinion, for they are more likely to present challenging facts. I return the favor by trying to contribute additional facts to the discussion. That I disagree or not with the author is irrelevant, opinions are the result of many facts put together and can’t move easily.

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