Leveson: Jeremy Hunt Round-up

I don't know which is the more pathetic, the general state of British politics, or Jeremy Hunt's performance before the Leveson inquiry.

And Hunt's "It was all Adam Smith's fault" was totally beneath contempt. Not to mention incredible.

All in all, Hunt convinced no-one, unless of course your name is Cameron, whose reaction to all this, is about as convincing as was Hunt himself.

Is Jeremy Hunt a scoundrel or a fool? He has been driven to absurdity

The culture secretary's defence is straight out of Lewis Carroll. David Cameron will soon have to explain why he appointed him
Brian Cathcart
31 May 2012

There is an old joke about a gamekeeper confronting a poacher who is heading home at dawn with a deer over his shoulder. "Aha!" exclaims the gamekeeper. "Caught you redhanded!" The poacher, all innocent surprise, replies: "What do you mean?" "I mean that, on your shoulder," says the gamekeeper, pointing. The poacher swivels his eyes towards his own shoulder, affects to see the dead animal for the very first time and, with an expression of horror, thrusts it away crying: "Yeugh! How did that get there?"

Jeremy Hunt's performance at the Leveson inquiry called that story to mind. You had to wonder what the judge made of it all, since down the years in the criminal courts he has no doubt seen his share of poacher types offering improbable defences.

Here was a secretary of state, no less, telling the inquiry that he did not know in 2010 what the term "quasi-judicial" meant, and asserting that when he was given responsibility for News Corporation's BSkyB bid he did not realise that meetings should be minuted by officials.

Here was a witness who professed not to see that his own "broad sympathy" with News Corp might, as a matter of probity, disqualify him from responsibility for the bid in just the way that Vince Cable's "acute bias" had done – even when he was reminded that his "sympathy" extended to reckless behind-the-scenes lobbying of the prime minister.

He also had no idea, he insisted, that phone hacking was "a volcano that was about to erupt", yet if he had read the 2010 report on hacking by his parliamentary colleagues on the Commons media select committee he would have found more than enough evidence of a corporate cover-up to worry a scrupulous minister.

The inquiry also heard that Hunt's special adviser, Adam Smith, was so perfect, conscientious and in tune with the minister's thinking that he might have qualified as his second brain, yet Hunt was unaware of the intensive, indiscreet two-way traffic of information between Smith and News Corp.

Remember, the inquiry has already had to swallow the assertion that a welter of emails from News Corp's PR man Fred Michel referring to his frequent, close contacts with "Jeremy", "Jeremy Hunt" and "JH" did not in fact relate to the man we know as Jeremy Hunt. More

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Murdoch's men on the inside

As Jeremy Hunt is rocked by new revelations at Leveson Inquiry, George Osborne is sucked into row over BSkyB deal
01 June 2012

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has become the latest minister to be dragged into the BSkyB takeover scandal as evidence emerged suggesting that he played a behind-the-scenes role in the Government's handling of the £8bn bid.

Records retrieved from the phone of the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, show him and Mr Osborne exchanging text messages in the hours after anti-Murdoch remarks by Vince Cable were made public. Mr Hunt texted the Chancellor asking to talk about the takeover, saying he was "seriously worried we are going to screw this up". Mr Osborne texted back: "Hope you like the solution" – and then Mr Hunt was handed responsibility for deciding on the bid.

The revelation makes it more likely that Mr Osborne will be made to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and have to reveal the contents of his own texts and emails exchanged with the Murdoch empire. Other emails released yesterday show the depth of concern both in Downing Street and in Mr Hunt's own department about whether the Culture Secretary's previous noisy support for the Murdochs was clear evidence of bias and must rule him out of handling the deal. Mr Hunt can be seen emailing the Prime Minister's chief of staff in the hours after the row broke out.

Yesterday, David Cameron made clear he was staking his reputation on Mr Hunt being cleared by the Leveson Inquiry after the Culture Secretary gave more than five hours of evidence explaining his handling of the bid. Downing Street said the Prime Minister had no intention of calling an inquiry into whether Mr Hunt had broken the Ministerial Code and dismissed Labour claims that the Culture Secretary had misled Parliament.

But the position relies on Lord Justice Leveson agreeing that Jeremy Hunt was not aware of the extent and nature of the contact between his special adviser Adam Smith and the News Corp lobbyist Fréd Michel when he produces his final report.

Mr Cameron will also come under pressure from Labour who last night said it was deplorable that Mr Hunt would not face a government investigation under the code. More

~ ~ ~

Hunt defied advice on BSkyB bid

Jeremy Hunt defied government legal advice by communicating privately with James Murdoch about the BSkyB takeover bid, the Leveson Inquiry heard.
By Robert Winnett and Rowena Mason
31 May 2012

Documents before the inquiry showed that the Culture Secretary sent a series of text messages to the News Corp executive indicating his apparent support for the takeover; at one point congratulating him after the bid was approved by the EU.

He admitted that he continued to communicate privately with Mr Murdoch despite recommendations from his department’s lawyers on at least two occasions that he should not express opinions on the controversial £8 billion bid.

Despite the admissions, Downing Street yesterday cleared Mr Hunt of any wrongdoing within minutes of the evidence session finishing.

The Prime Minister expressed his confidence in the Secretary of State, who will not be referred to an independent adviser over claims he broke the ministerial code of conduct.

Labour said that the Culture Secretary had “lied” to Parliament and reiterated calls for his resignation. More and short video.

Security Video Saves NY Homeowner From Wrongful Arrest


Officer Charged With Lying About Man’s Arrest
By Andy Newman
May 31, 2012

The homeowner was accused of trying to run over a police officer in the driveway outside his house. He was charged with felony reckless endangerment and spent three nights in jail.

The homeowner said that the police officer made the whole thing up and that he had video to prove it.

On Thursday, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office announced that a grand jury had sided with the homeowner, indicting the police officer, Diego A. Palacios, on five kinds of illegal lying, one of them a felony.

The case goes back to February, when the homeowner, John Hockenjos, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority engineer who lives in Sheepshead Bay, had an interaction with Officer Palacios and another officer in the driveway, which has been the subject of a bitter property feud between Mr. Hockenjos and a neighbor.

According to a criminal complaint sworn by Officer Palacios, Mr. Hockenjos drove his sedan “at high rate of speed” toward the officer, creating a “grave risk of death” and causing the officer “to jump out of the way to avoid being hit by defendant’s vehicle.”

But Mr. Hockenjos proffered a security video that showed something altogether different: Mr. Hockenjos pulling slowly into the driveway, where the officers and his neighbor are standing, and stopping. Neither officers nor neighbor budge. The video also shows Mr. Hockenjos being led off in handcuffs several minutes later.

“I’ve never seen this crystal-clear example of a false arrest,” Mr. Hockenjos’s lawyer, Craig Newman, told reporters at the time.

On Thursday, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said Officer Palacios, 30, an eight-year veteran of the force, had been indicted May 15 on charges of offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records, making an apparently sworn false statement, perjury and making a punishable false written statement. He also was charged with official misconduct. He has been suspended.

The false business record offense, of which Officer Palacios is charged with two counts, is a felony.

All charges against Mr. Hockenjos have been dropped, prosecutors said. NYT

Get ready for hurricane season: It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week!

For people living on the Atlantic side of the U.S., hurricane season starts this Friday, June 1. To help prepare, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have teamed up to bring you National Hurricane Preparedness Week, which runs May 27-June 2.

Each day of National Hurricane Preparedness Week has its own theme, including hurricane basics, dangers like winds and flooding, storm preparation and after-storm cleanup. Check out the poster below for the schedule, and click through for more information.

Poster for National Hurricane Preparedness Week listing the dates & themes for the week of observation.

NOAA has predicted that we may see one to three major hurricanes this season. Already this month, two tropical storms — Alberto and Beryl  — have popped up, causing high winds, rains and power outages. That’s why it’s important to prepare now.

Are you ready for a hurricane? Check our fact sheets in English and Spanish (PDFs).

Immunization Program Regional Trainings

Registration is now open for the Maine Immunization Program’s regional trainings, which will occur in July and August.

The trainings are open to all health professionals responsible for managing and supporting childhood vaccine programs including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and practice managers. Note: These trainings are not intended for pharmaceutical company representatives.

Space is limited. All cancellations must be received one week prior to the event. There will be a $25 fee for people who register for the training but fail to cancel and/or do not attend. Special accommodation requests must be received a week prior to the event.

For more information and to register: http://adcarecdc.neias.org/regionaltrainings/

Maine CDC WIC Nutrition Program Recognized

The Maine CDC WIC Nutrition Program was recognized on May 30 by USDA Food and Nutrition Services for its work to implement the new WIC data system called SPIRIT. The system will allow more effective services to the people of Maine, will provide better data regarding program use and benefits, and is ready for the implementation of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). The first pilot and rollout of the system was at HealthReach Network, a program of Maine General Health. USDA Food and Nutrition Services also recognized HealthReach staff for their hard work on this project. A statewide rollout is in progress with all clinics to be online by September 30.

No Sign of Robin Hood Only the Sheriffs of Tennessee

I don't think this needs an introduction, although I do say a few words below regarding an earlier post on Highway robbery in Tennessee.

Man Loses $22,000 In New 'Policing For Profit' Case

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter
May 22, 2012

MONTEREY, Tenn. -- "If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America."

That was the reaction of a New Jersey man who found out just how risky it can be to carry cash through Tennessee.

For more than a year, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has been shining a light on a practice that some call "policing for profit."

In this latest case, a Monterey police officer took $22,000 off the driver -- even though he had committed no crime.

"You live in the United States, you think you have rights -- and apparently you don't," said George Reby.

As a professional insurance adjuster, Reby spends a lot of time traveling from state to state. But it was on a trip to a conference in Nashville last January that he got a real education in Tennessee justice.

"I never had any clue that they thought they could take my money legally," Reby added. "I didn't do anything wrong."

Reby was driving down Interstate 40, heading west through Putnam County, when he was stopped for speeding.

A Monterey police officer wanted to know if he was carrying any large amounts of cash.

"I said, 'Around $20,000,'" he recalled. "Then, at the point, he said, 'Do you mind if I search your vehicle?' I said, 'No, I don't mind.' I certainly didn't feel I was doing anything wrong. It was my money."

That's when Officer Larry Bates confiscated the cash based on his suspicion that it was drug money.

"Why didn't you arrest him?" we asked Bates.

"Because he hadn't committed a criminal law," the officer answered.

Bates said the amount of money and the way it was packed gave him reason to be suspicious.

"The safest place to put your money if it's legitimate is in a bank account," he explained. "He stated he had two. I would put it in a bank account. It draws interest and it's safer."

"But it's not illegal to carry cash," we noted.

"No, it's not illegal to carry cash," Bates said. "Again, it's what the cash is being used for to facilitate or what it is being utilized for."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, "But you had no proof that money was being used for drug trafficking, correct? No proof?"

"And he couldn't prove it was legitimate," Bates insisted.

Bates is part of a system that, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has discovered, gives Tennessee police agencies the incentive to take cash off of out-of-state drivers. If they don't come back to fight for their money, the agency gets to keep it all.

"This is a taking without due process," said Union City attorney John Miles.

A former Texas prosecutor and chairman of the Obion County Tea Party, Miles has seen similar cases in his area.

He said that, while police are required to get a judge to sign off on a seizure within five days, state law says that hearing "shall be ex parte" -- meaning only the officer's side can be heard.

That's why George Reby was never told that there was a hearing on his case.

"It wouldn't have mattered because the judge would have said, 'This says it shall be ex parte. Sit down and shut up. I'm not to hear from you -- by statute," Miles added.

George Reby said that he told Monterey officers that "I had active bids on EBay, that I was trying to buy a vehicle. They just didn't want to hear it."

In fact, Reby had proof on his computer.

But the Monterey officer drew up a damning affidavit, citing his own training that "common people do not carry this much U.S. currency."

Read Officer Bates' affidavit

"On the street, a thousand-dollar bundle could approximately buy two ounces of cocaine," Bates told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"Or the money could have been used to buy a car," we observed.

"It's possible," he admitted.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Bates if Reby had told him that he was trying to buy a car?

"He did," the officer acknowledged.

"But you did not include that in your report," we noted.

"If it's not in there, I didn't put it in there."

So why did he leave that out?

"I don't know," the officer said.

Bates also told the judge the money was hidden inside "a tool bag underneath trash to [deter] law enforcement from locating it."

"That's inaccurate," Reby said. "I pulled out the bag and gave it to him."

And even though there was no proof that Reby was involved in anything illegal, Bates' affidavit portrays him as a man with a criminal history that included an arrest for possession of cocaine.

That was 20-some years ago," the New Jersey man insisted.

"Were you convicted?" we wanted to know.

"No, I wasn't convicted," he answered.

But Officer Bates says that arrest -- which he acknowledged was old -- was still part of the calculation to take Reby's money.

"Am I going to use it? Yes, I'm going to use it because he's been charged with it in the past -- regardless of whether it's 10 or 15 years ago," he said.

Attorney John Miles said he's frustrated with attitudes toward Tennessee's civil forfeiture laws, which make such practices legal.

"We are entitled not to be deprived of our property without due process of law, both under the Tennessee Constitution and the federal Constitution -- and nobody cares," Miles said.

"Nobody cares."

This year, state lawmakers debated a bill to create a special committee to investigate these "policing for profit" issues. That bill died in the last days of the legislative session.

After Reby filed an appeal, and after NewsChannel 5 began investigating, the state agreed to return his money -- if he'd sign a statement waiving his constitutional rights and promising not to sue.

They also made him come all the way from New Jersey, back to Monterey to pick up a check.

He got the check, but no apology.

"If they lied about everything in the report, why would they apologize?" Reby said.

And, with that, he was ready to put Tennessee in his rearview mirror.

"I really don't want to come back here," he said.

As for the appeals process, Reby was able to provide us and the state with letters from his employers, showing that he had a legitimate source of income.

It took him four months to get his money back, but it usually takes a lot longer for most people.

And that, Miles said, works to the benefit of the police.

He had two clients where police agreed to drop the cases in exchange for a cut of the money -- $1,000 in one case, $2,000 in another. In both cases, that was less than what they might have paid in attorney fees.

Miles called that "extortion." ICH

See previous stories: - "NC5 Investigates: Policing For Profit"
There is a whole bunch of stuff in a similar vein at the link above, but here is one I reported on earlier. Part of a larger post

Alan Wheatley, the original Sheriff of Nottingham in the ever so naff British television series, The Adventures of Robin Hood.

May 19, 2011

This one really has to be seen to be believed. There are parts of this clip that are reminiscent of watching a wildlife program ,where the vultures (uniforms) are squabbling among themselves over who gets first bite of the carcass.

Come back Dick Turpin, all is forgiven. At least he that the decency to wear a mask.

Highway Shakedowns
Tennessee Law Enforcement Stealing Money from Motorists
By Phil Williams
May 18, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. A major News Channel 5 investigation has uncovered serious questions about Tennessee's war on drugs. Among the questions: are some police agencies more concerned about making money off the drugs, than stopping them?

At the center of this months-long investigation are laws that let officers pull driver over looking for cash. Those officers do not even have to file criminal charges against a person to take his/her money.

It turns out, those kind of stops are now happening almost every day in Middle Tennessee.

Case in point: a 2009 stop where a tractor trailer was stopped for a traffic violation, leading to a search and the discovery of large blocks containing almost $200,000 cash -- cash that officers keep on the suspicion that it's drug money. more transcript

Oh Ye of Too Much Faith

And too little brains.

“I didn’t want to be weak in my faith and disappoint God.”

Jury gives mother prison time in death
By Bill Braun
May 27 2012

A Tulsa County jury imposed a 2½-year prison sentence Friday night after convicting a woman of second-degree manslaughter in the diabetes-related death of her ailing son, whose treatment she believed relied upon spiritual means.

Prosecutors alleged that Susan Grady acted with “culpable negligence” toward 9-year-old Aaron Grady between June 2 and June 5, 2009, by not seeking medical treatment for him.

Aaron died June 5, 2009, at his family’s Broken Arrow apartment from complications of diabetes mellitus.

District Judge William Kellough set formal sentencing for June 8.

Grady, 43, who has been free on bond, was jailed after the verdict was delivered.

Defense attorney Rob Nigh, who expressed disappointment with the outcome, said he will seek an appeal bond, which would allow Grady to stay out of custody during an appeal. That matter could be taken up at the formal sentencing.

Grady did not testify.

In relying on prayer to heal her son, Grady, a member of the Church of the Firstborn, told police in 2009, “I didn’t want to be weak in my faith and disappoint God.”

Nigh has maintained that Grady’s conduct was not unreasonable, based upon the teachings of her church.

Assistant District Attorney Ben Fu told jurors in a closing argument that the prosecution “did not put the Church of the Firstborn on trial this week.”

“This case is about Aaron Grady,” Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said. Go to page two.

Update: A more comprehensive report here.

They take their cattle to the vet but won’t take their children to the doctor

How Bad is Fructose? David Despain Interviews Dr. John Sievenpiper

In my article "Is Sugar Fattening?", I discussed a recent review paper on fructose, by Dr. John Sievenpiper and colleagues (1).  It was the most recent of several review papers to conclude that fructose is probably not inherently fattening in humans, but that it can be fattening if it's consumed to excess, due to the added calories.  Dr. Sievenpiper and colleagues have also written other papers addressing the metabolic effects of fructose, which appear to be fairly minor unless it's consumed to excess (2, 3, 4, 5).  The senior author on these studies is Dr. David Jenkins at McMaster University.  David Despain, a science and health writer who publishes a nice blog called Evolving Health, recently interviewed Dr. Sievenpiper about his work.

It's an interesting interview and very timely, due to the recent attention paid to fructose in the popular media. This has mostly been driven by a couple of high-profile individuals-- an issue they discuss in the interview.  The interview, recent papers, and sessions at scientific conferences are part of an effort by researchers to push back against some of the less well founded claims that have received widespread attention lately.

Read more »

How America's Death Penalty Murders Innocents

The US judicial system has a thousand faults and is rotten to the core. One of the first things that needs outlawing is the use of testimony from jailhouse snitches.

Do check out the exonerationregistry.org link, it's scary I tell you. The figures are astonishing.

How America's Death Penalty Murders Innocents

The evidence is in: the US criminal justice system produces wrongful convictions on an industrial scale – with fatal results
David A Love
21 May 2012

The US criminal justice system is a broken machine that wrongfully convicts innocent people, sentencing thousands of people to prison or to death for the crimes of others, as a new study reveals. The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a new National Registry of Exonerations – a database of over 2,000 prisoners exonerated between 1989 and the present day, when DNA evidence has been widely used to clear the names of innocent people convicted of rape and murder. Of these, 885 have profiles developed for the registry's website, exonerationregistry.org.

The details are shocking. Death row inmates were exonerated nine times more frequently than others convicted of murder. One-fourth of those exonerated of murder had received a death sentence, while half of those who had been wrongfully convicted of rape or murder faced death or a life behind bars. Ten of the inmates went to their grave before their names were cleared.

The leading causes of wrongful convictions include perjury, flawed eyewitness identification and prosecutorial misconduct. For those who have placed unequivocal faith in the US criminal justice system and believe that all condemned prisoners are guilty of the crime of which they were convicted, the data must make for a rude awakening.

"The most important thing we know about false convictions is that they happen and on a regular basis … Most false convictions never see the light of the day," said University of Michigan law professors Samuel Gross and Michael Shaffer, who wrote the study.

"Nobody had an inkling of the serious problem of false confessions until we had this data," said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

The unveiling of the exoneration registry comes days after a groundbreaking study from Columbia law school Professor James Liebman and 12 students. Published in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the study describes how Texas executed an innocent man named Carlos DeLuna in 1989. DeLuna was put to death for the 1983 murder of Wanda Lopez, a young woman, at a gas station. Carlos Hernandez, who bragged about committing the murder and bore a striking resemblance to DeLuna, was named at trial by DeLuna's defence team as the actual perpetrator of the crime. But DeLuna's false conviction is merely the tip of the iceberg, as the database suggests.

Recently also, Charlie Baird, a Texas judge, was prepared to issue an order posthumously exonerating Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the 1991 arson-related deaths of his three young daughters. Based upon "overwhelming, credible and reliable evidence", Baird concluded Willingham had been wrongfully convicted; this in addition to a jailhouse witness who recanted his testimony, and scientists who challenged the evidence at trial that the fire that destroyed the Willingham home was caused by arson. Baird was blocked by a state appeals court from issuing the order before he left the bench to pursue private practice.

And again in Texas, lawyers for Kerry Max Cook, a former death row prisoner who was wrongfully convicted of a 1977 murder in East Texas, claim that the district attorney in the case withheld in his possession the murder weapon and biological evidence in the case.

In 2012, the American death penalty has reached a crossroads. Public support for executions has decreased over the years, with capital punishment critics citing its high cost, failure to deter crime, and the fact that the practice places the nation out of step with international human rights norms. Last year, the US ranked fifth in the world in executions, a member of a select club of nations that includes China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Further, in the US states that have repealed the death penalty in recent years – including New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois and, most recently, Connecticut – the killing of the innocent has been cited as a pivotal factor in favor of abolition.

Meanwhile, thanks to an EU embargo on lethal injection drugs to the US, states that practice capital punishment are faced with a shortage of poison to execute prisoners. Some have resorted to purchasing unapproved drug supplies on the black market, or using different chemicals altogether. For example, Ohio has abandoned its three-drug protocol for executions in favor of a single drug called pentobarbital, a barbiturate used to euthanize animals. And Missouri has decided to execute prisoners using propofol, a surgical anesthetic implicated in Michael Jackson's death.

Apparently desperate and lacking in options to kill, these states would be better-served by joining the civilized world and devoting their efforts to end the death penalty, rather than find new methods to satisfy their bloodlust – which, as the new evidence makes abundantly clear, cannot but cause them to execute innocent citizens. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 140 men and women have been released from death row since 1973 due to innocence. That death row inmates are exonerated much more often than other categories of prisoner – even when a person's life is at stake – should shatter anyone's faith in the presumed infallibility of the court system.

It is now transparent to the public that, at best, the application of the death penalty is rife with human error and incompetence. At worst, we know there is prosecutorial misconduct: that the courts shelter and nurture officials who are rewarded for gaming the system by career advancement, rather than determining true guilt or innocence and ensuring that justice is done. Guardian

Cig Lit.

I've been away for so long Blogger have gone and changed the format for writing posts. Anyway, grovelling apologies for such a prolonged absence. Much is happening in Unmitigated England, but amongst many good things is that today a friend appeared clutching The Cigarette Papers in his hand. "Sign this" he said. It wasn't supposed to be out until early June, but here it is. If there's anyone still out there reading this, you'll remember that this book has been in gestation for at least five years. It's my eulogy for the cigarette packet, when they were beautifully executed pieces of design and without hectoring government notices and lurid photographs plastered all over them. It's full of still life photographs and galleries of packs and cigarette cards, accompanied by my stories, anecdotes and extracts from literature- Gauloises being lit up by Len Deighton's nameless hero, that sort of thing.

I've had such fun putting it together: having ideas, choosing locations, discovering sentences in odd places like a Gold Flake packet appearing in John Cowper Powys' A Glastonbury Romance. An evening at a workbench in an isolated Northamptonshire shed, an afternoon amongst roadside dandelions, and a memorable morning on a Cumbrian beach waiting for the sun, whilst my glamorous assistant impatiently stood by waiting to ripple a rock pool with a stick. A really big thankyou to all of you who helped. I enjoyed it all immensely, I hope you will too. 

As Fukushima Goes, So Goes Japan; So Too Goes The World

It wasn't for just any old reason that a year ago now, I composed the graphic below. Befitting then, befitting now, and befitting for the foreseeable future. Unless of course, the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi Number 4 catches fire, and then I suppose, it won't matter much what kind of graphic I create.

But I think I can safely guarantee one thing, it won't be the rapture and the hand of God that takes centre stage in the final act of this little play called, The Arrogance of Man, no Sir, it will be those among us that have tried to play God.

I only mention this in passing, because I sourced the picture at the end of this post from just one of the ubiquitous sites that testify to their own puerility, the god worshippers. Of every ilk I add.

Between this post and the associated links, I suppose it's just about all there, but you will find further, including videos, under the Japan tag. The previous three posts all being relative to the spent fuel pool at Fukushima 4.

As Fukushima Goes, So Goes Japan

By The Fukushima Five

February 21, 2012

Tokyo has the largest “greater metro” population in the world at about 34.3 million. Tokyo has the largest GDP of all major cities in the world – larger than both New York City and London. Tokyo is the economic/financial capital of the world’s 3rd largest national economy, as well as the primary economic engine of East Asia.

Tokyo station is contaminated as much as the mandatory evacuation zone in Fukushima

Tokyo is contaminated as much as the worst place in Chernobyl

Fukushima, the location of the greatest nuclear power plant disaster in our age, is located a mere 238 kilometers or 148 miles from Tokyo. Unlike the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe which occurred in a landlocked area north of Kiev Ukraine, Fukushima is located directly on the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

Whereas Chernobyl was entombed in order to contain the environmental radiation, Fukushima is still out of control. Completely out of control, and no one yet has publicly offered a viable solution either short or long term.

Why Underground Entombment At Fukushima Daiichi Won’t Succeed

Because of the inherent dangers associated with properly diagnosing and assessing the true state of affairs at Fukushima, the on-site nuclear authorities do not even know what they don’t know!

Because of the extraordinary and ongoing level of misinformation, disinformation and false information routinely disseminated from the inception of this global environmental cataclysm, many educated onlookers believe that much of what is known with certainty has not, and will not, be shared with the public-at-large. And especially not with those unfortunate souls living within reach of proven emitted radiation whether it is carried by air, water or land.

The Japanese Government has been AWOL throughout this entire planetary ordeal. TEPCO, the responsible ‘power’ company, has been continuously out to lunch since March 11, 2011. As for the Mainstrean Media (MSM), there’s clearly nobody home. Many within the alternative media, however, have done their level best to get to the truth and publish whatever facts can be substantiated.

What’s really going on here … or rather there at FUKUSHIMA?

Why such a blackout on good info? What is so serious that a complete data lockdown was put into place from day one? Who is really calling the shots and why? Do we really want to know?! If so, then read on.

First, let us reiterate the sentiments of many deep contacts, whistleblowers and insiders within the nuclear power industry. These same strongly held convictions are also shared by many outsiders, experts who are quite competent in the related scientific and academic disciplines. We have likewise heard from the many investigative journalists and nuclear researchers who have simply applied common sense and the faculty of reason to evaluate this tragic predicament

Their collective verdict can be summed up as follows: Fukushima is, by far, the greatest technological challenge facing humanity today. Because of it’s resistance to being resolved in any meaningful way, it continues to do awesome and incalculable damage – globally – much of which is very difficult, if not impossible, to estimate or even identify.

Among the cognoscenti the following quotes represents the consensus around this whole matter:

Does anyone in their right mind believe that nuclear power plants can ever be designed, engineered or constructed to withstand 9.0 earthquakes followed by 15 meter high tsunamis? Sorry if we offend, but such a display of so deadly a combination of ignorance and arrogance must represent the very height of hubris. Particularly in view of the inevitable consequences which have manifested at Fukushima, how is it that so few saw this pre-ordained and disastrous outcome, except by willful blindness?” ~ An Open Letter to the People of Japan

Here’s another one to boot:

Quite purposefully, no one ever stopped to consider the obvious and far-reaching ramifications of constructing 55 nuclear reactors on the most seismically active piece of property on planet Earth! And, that doesn’t count another 12 reactors in various stages of planning or development.” ~ Japan: A Nation Consigned To Nuclear Armageddon

And then there’s this one which speaks directly to the title of this essay:

“When the actual costs are tallied, because of the proximity to the most populated metro area in the world, this disaster will be the most expensive in history. The amount required from the Japanese treasury to properly and safely remediate Fukushima are so staggering that they should have understood the true risks beforehand. However, once they sited so many nuclear reactors on the most earthquake-prone stretch of real estate in the Ring of Fire ….” ~ Japanese Nuclear Disaster: Health Watch (on Facebook)

How many truly get it yet?! Given the state of the art, which predominates throughout the entire global nuclear power industry, those nuclear reactors should never have been built anywhere in Japan. Actually, they shouldn’t have been built anywhere on Planet Earth, but that’s another story.

Moral of this story: Grossly Unsound and Extremely Dangerous Nuclear Technology is an Obvious Mismatch for a Planet Undergoing Unprecedented and Unpredictable Flux

All the seismological data indicates a dramatic uptick in earthquakes (on both land and undersea), volcanoes, and other geological phenomenon, which can profoundly affect the workings of a nuclear power plant. One hundred year, five hundred year and thousand year floods also have a way of wreaking havoc with nuclear reactors, especially when the loss of power (due to flooding) shuts down the cooling systems!

Japan Earthquakes in 2011: Visualization Map

Let’s bear in mind that Mother Nature can strike at any time throughout this earthly scenario, as she often does. Given that Japan has consistently experienced some of the highest levels of earthquake activity throughout the planet ever since such monitoring was possible, is it likely that the 9.0 was a natural event? All the seismologists seem to think so. Is there any evidence to the contrary? And if so, what cause a 50 foot tsumani that destroyed an entire coastline?

If there is credible evidence that a subsea nuclear blast caused this 15-meter wall of water, then let’s see it. Such explosions have very unique signatures and distinguishing sound features which can be easily traced and confirmed. There has been no scientific evidence that substantiates a nuclear origin of the tsunami to date.

There is also the massive amount of evidence that it currently making a trans-Pacific journey to the West Coast of America. Not sure how they plan to conceal the inevitable radioactivity associated with a deliberate nuke blast that would cling to at least some of the 25 million tons of waterborne debris. With the Twin Towers they were at least able to convey much of the most damning evidence to China by the shipload. Let’s see what shows up on Malibu before we close the book on this inquiry. Waterlogged mattresses that glow in the dark would definitely get our attention.

Japan Tsunami Debris May Soon Hit California Coast

Critical question for those who advance the theory of a nuclear blast-driven tsunami even in the absence of evidence (*Please see list of theories below):

Why would those who are at the peak of the global control matrix deliberately poison the Pacific Ocean, contaminate its sea life, and open up the myriad possibilities for a planetary contamination by radiation through sea currents and air dispersal? Who, or “What” would ever permanently poison their nest to such a self-destructive degree?!

Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation

By the way we are not suggesting that nuclear weapons are not involved in this whole saga. Evidence has been introduced into the public domain which clearly indicates the likelihood that a full blown weapons program had been hiding within Japanese nuclear plants. This is a serious allegation which would probably only have come to light by an Act of God. We’re thinking about something like a mega-quake followed by a massive tsunami.

Is Japan’s Elite Hiding A Weapons Program Inside Nuclear Plants?

As for the blasts that occurred at the actual nuke plants at Fukushima, these too may be explained away by the following expose:

Secret US-Israeli Nuke Transfers Led To Fukushima Blasts

Now, back our central thesis, As Fukushima Goes, So Goes Japan. If and when this ongoing nuclear calamity starts to grow legs and decides to take a trip south – to Tokyo, for instance – we can all agree that this will be the beginning of the end. Were Tokyo to be evacuated by governmental fiat, the world’s third largest economy would immediately tank. Bear in mind that the next three largest cities in Japan are truly a stone’s throw from Tokyo (Someone really liked the view!) In order of size, the metro areas of Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya, in the aggregate, contribute quite substantially to Japan’s GNP and, therefore, to the world economy.

Just in case you thought we were fear-mongering, the following headline appeared last September in one of the largest English newspapers in Japan:

Tokyo faced evacuation scenario: Kan

Evacuation revelations shocking

This begs the questions about why the same world controllers would conspicuously wreck the third largest economy on earth … right in the middle of the Greatest Global Depression of all time! We know they (TPTW) terribly dislike uncontrollable chaos and panic-ridden pandemonium. Would they risk a genuine global economic and financial breakdown in the midst of all the rest of their troubles?!

Not saying it’s not possible, but why in the name of Beelzebub would the Power Elite totally destroy the third largest economy on the planet, while they attempt to re-make EUROPE as the European Union disintegrates (literally) and the Euro collapses, take over an extremely unruly and unmanageable Middle East one oil-rich country at a time, and make mischief everywhere else the real Axis of Evil initiates a CIA/MI6/MOSSAD commandeered pick-your-color revolution.

Another question remains: Why would they (TPTW) forever ruin an aquatic economy known as the Pacific Ocean – the largest body of water on earth, which is also inextricably connected to all the other oceans? Don’t they eat the seafood, too? Certainly, the Pacific currents will ensure that what goes around, comes around.

There are many prophecies which speak specifically to the future of the four largest islands which comprise the nation of Japan. Might we be seeing a fulfillment of those predictions? If so, we might take consolation in the notion that whatever brought about the uniquely formidable, demanding and overwhelming challenge known as Fukushima, there is a much higher power in charge. This same “Higher Power” is behind the newly emerging and ever-evolving reality show known as 2012 on Planet Earth.

Maybe we should re-word our headline to read:

As Fukushima Goes, So Goes Japan; So, Too, Goes The World


Update: From February 2012 : Gundersen: 1/3 of Fukushima kids tested positive for lumps on thyroid -- Forebodes some real issues in future -- We're only 10 months into the accident here (Audio)

Long version below, short version here.

Flu Fridays: Flu shot can protect pregnant women from more than just the flu

Happy Flu Friday!

Are you pregnant, or do you know someone who is pregnant? You’ve probably heard that it’s important for pregnant women to get the flu shot. That’s because if a pregnant woman gets the flu, both she and her fetus are at high risk for complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women get the flu shot because it’s safe and because it’s the best way to prevent the flu.

A new study has found even more good news about the flu shot: It might protect from more than just flu! The study, published in APHA’s American Journal of Public Health, looked at medical records for more than 55,000 pregnant women. Researchers found that women who got flu shots during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009-2010 had a much lower chance of delivering premature or stillborn infants. According to the study, when a woman got the flu shot, her risk for delivering a baby before 32 weeks gestation dropped by 27 percent and her chance of having a stillborn baby dropped by 34 percent.

So there you have it: More great reasons for pregnant women to get their flu shots. For more information about pregnant women and the flu, visit the CDC seasonal influenza Web page.

State Fluoridation Quality Award

Maine is one of nine states to receive the 2011 State Fluoridation Quality Award, jointly awarded May 1 by the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors, the American Dental Association, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The award is in recognition of maintaining the quality of fluoridation as determined by the ability of fluoridating systems to conduct monitoring and consistently maintain optimal fluoride levels.  To meet the standard for this award, more than 90% of Maine’s fluoridating systems documented that they maintained their levels for at least nine months in 2011.  Maine has 66 public water systems that provide fluoridated water to 133 communities throughout the state, serving 80% of people who use public water supplies.

What Does a Trillion Dollar Defense Budget Actually Look Like?

Firstly let me apologise for the Americanese, but it will be 'defense' not defence, that will be the primary search term. And if you think I'm being pedantic, well, you just don't understand the English do you?

I also thought about calling it the attack budget, but I guess there won't be too many searches under that term either.

Just a brief intro to this contemporary article and then on to a re-up for a previous post that looks at the physical properties of a million, a billion, and a trillion dollars respectively.

The Mindboggling Sum We Actually Spend on National Security

If you've heard a number for how much the U.S. spends on the military, it's probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. But that's merely the beginning of it.
By Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer
May 22, 2012

Recent months have seen a flurry of headlines about cuts (often called “threats”) to the U.S. defense budget. Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives even passed a bill that was meant to spare national security spending from future cuts by reducing school-lunch funding and other social programs.

Here, then, is a simple question that, for some curious reason, no one bothers to ask, no less answer: How much are we spending on national security these days? With major wars winding down, has Washington already cut such spending so close to the bone that further reductions would be perilous to our safety?

In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion -- a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged. more

Are The Good Times Really Over?
June 21, 2011

Only until the second coming.

This was to be a post on Iraq's missing $6 billion, which has every chance of turning out to be a missing $18 billion. Story and video Al Jazeera. Which in turn got me to thinking, just how large physically is a billion dollars?

Well, judging by the photo below, (12 pallets) depicting one billion dollars in hundred dollar bills, it's not something you would want dropping on your toe. And if the report is to be believed and the figure is accurate, multiply that lot by eighteen.

So with my interest piqued, I started looking at other figures, specifically a trillion, and what that figure means in relation to the US national debt, now running at over fifteen trillion dollars.

Time is of the essence this evening, so I have taken advantage of the the work done by others, which is duly posted below.

One billion dollars in hundred dollar bills, and if you that's an eye opener, just wait until you get to the trillion dollar related data. But first, a short musical interlude.

From the man himself, Merle Haggard.

Or a studio produced Wynonna Judd cover.

How much is a million, billion, trillion?
Wise Young PhD MD
The W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8087

We often speak casually of millions, billions, or even trillions. We are accustomed to thinking of cities with millions of inhabitants, government agency budgets that add up to billions, and even the United States debt that that is now close to $9 trillion. Most people don't appreciate these numbers.

Let's start with a million.

• A million minutes is nearly two years (1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes). Put in another way, it will take you nearly two years to spend a million dollars if you paid a dollar a minute.

• A book called "How much is a million?" tried to explain the concept of a million to children, pointing out that it would take a person 23 days of non-stop counting to count a million anything, including dollars (Source).

• If you walked a million steps, you can walk to Boston from New York (approximately 200 miles), assuming that each of your steps is a bit longer than a foot (a million feet is 189 miles).

• Since each dollar bill weighs about a gram and each pound has about 454 grams, a million dollars in one dollar bills weighs about 2202.6 pounds (Source). In 20 dollar bills, a million dollars would still weigh 110 pounds. In 100 dollar bills, it would weigh 22.0 pounds.

• A stack of 1000 bills is about a foot tall. Therefore, a million dollar stacked on top of each other would be 1000 feet tall. The Empire State Building is 1250 feet tall. A dollar bill is about 6 inches by 2.5 inches (15.7 cm by 6.6 cm) or about 0.10 square foot. So one cubic feet of $1 bills has about $10,000. A million dollars would take up about 100 cubic feet.

A billion is of course 1000 million. You can multiply every thing above by 1000 but using $100 bills is a bit more practical.

• A billion minutes ago is about the time of the birth of Christ.

• A billion steps is more than 200,000 miles. The circumference of the earth is only 25,000 miles. Therefore, one can walk around the earth at least 9 times and possibly 10 times.

• A billion dollars in $100 bills would weigh 22,000 pounds, over 1,100 cubic feet of bills.

• A stack of $100 bills for a billion dollars would be 10,000 feet tall, taller than the tallest building in the United States and taller than any mountain east of the Rockies, including Mt. Washington (6288 ft, the tallest mountain in Northeast United States).

• It would take 230 days to count the 10 million $100 bills. That is to count $1 billion.

• On September 7, 2003, President Bush asked Congress to grant an additional $87 billion to continue the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The $87 billion would cover a whole football field with $100 bills to the depth of 6 inches. By September 2007, the United States will have spent $315 billion on the war (Source). The Senate is working on adding another $50 billion. The $365 billion would fill a football field to a depth of 2 feet with $100 bills.

• Filling a football field with $100 bills may seem sort of silly but it is not far from what the Bush Administration did. During Paul Bremer's tenure as administrator of Iraq, the United States shipped bales of cash to Iraq. The total amount cash sent was over $12 billion, requiring a football field size warehouse to store the cash. A special inspector general for the Iraqi reconstruction said that $8.8 billion is unaccounted for after being given to the Iraqi ministries. But more interesting, illustrating the physical dimensions of the cash shipped, $4 billion of the cash is missing, some 363 tons of it.

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and sixpence, result misery." Mr Micawber

A trillion is an mind-boggling number, well beyond the capability of most of us to imagine. The following will illustrate.

• A trillion minutes ago is 31,688 years ago, close to the beginning of human history. In other words, if you spent a dollar per minute, you could barely spend a trillion dollars during all of known human history. Even if you spent $100 per minute, you would not be able to spend $1 trillion in 300 years, virtually the entire history of the United States.

• Packed in bales of $100 bills (each weighing a gram), a trillion dollars would be 10 billion $100 bills, or about 10 million kilograms, 22 million pounds, or over 10,000 tons of cash (at 2000 pounds per ton). A trillion dollars in $100 bills would occupy a million cubic feet of space. It would fill a football field 6 feet deep. Before the end of 2008, the United States is likely to have spent over a trillion dollars on Iraq. conclusion

H/T and thanks for effort, Wise Young.

Childhood lead poisoning prevention

US CDC has issued its response to their Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention’s recommendations presented in its report:  Low Level Lead Exposure Harms Children: A Renewed Call of Primary Prevention (http://go.usa.gov/prD).

The most notable response is that for the first time in 20 years, US CDC will revise the blood lead level considered to be elevated.  The Advisory Committee recommended adopting a new reference value of 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 ug/dL) for identifying children with an elevated blood lead level, and US CDC has announced that it concurs with the use of this value.   The new reference value replaces the value of 10 ug/dL, which has been used as the benchmark for identifying children having an elevated blood lead level since 1991.

This change was motivated by a growing body of studies concluding that blood lead levels (BLLs) <10 μg/dL harm children, resulted in decreased IQ and other behavioral deficits such as attention-related behaviors and academic achievement.  Since no safe blood level in children has been identified, the Advisory Committee recommended the reference level be set at a value that represents a high level of exposure in the U.S. population – a level present in no more than 2.5 percent of young children.

Maine has tracked the number of children with a blood lead level of 10 ug/dL and higher for years, with the number of children above this benchmark dropping from over 200 in 2003 to about 100 children in 2010.   Maine estimates that there about 400 children under age 6 years were identified as having a blood lead level above 5 ug/dL in 2010.

Since no safe blood level in children has been identified, US CDC also concurred in principle with the Advisory Committee’s  recommendation  for an increased focus on primary prevention.  Fortunately for Maine children, a shift to primary prevention has already occurred because of action by the Maine Legislature to establish the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to support primary prevention efforts.  Maine CDC’s Childhood Lead Prevention Program already mails primary prevention information to all families in Maine with a 1- or 2-year-old.  In addition, the program will soon be offering free lead dust test kits to all families with a child with a blood lead level of 5 ug/dL lead or more.

US CDC also concurred with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that clinicians should monitor children with a confirmed BLL ≥ 5 μg/dL for subsequent changes in blood lead levels until all recommended environmental investigations and mitigation strategies have been completed. US CDC plans to assist with provider training and develop guidance for implementing this recommendation. 

For more information about childhood lead poisoning, visit http://go.usa.gov/prK

Get ready for warm weather with our new Summer Safe series!

We know it’s not officially summer yet, but the unseasonably warm weather in much of the country has us thinking warm thoughts. And because we’re always thinking about how we can help you be prepared and stay safe, we’re starting a new series of posts on our blog called Summer Safe.

What kind of topics will we cover in our Summer Safe series? Here’s a preview:

• How to stay safe in hot weather.
• Protecting yourself from tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses.
• Tips for staying safe on vacations.
• Information to help you prepare for severe summer weather, including hurricane preparedness.

Do you have any other ideas or burning questions about summer safety and preparedness? Let us know in the comments, or send us a tweet @GetReady!

Pual Watson on Democracy Now + Shark Finning in Taiwan

Captain Paul Watson is presently released from a German court on a quarter of a million dollars bond.

As hard as it might be to comprehend, fifty million sharks, valued in the billions of dollars, are taken annually by the shark finning industry.

Little wonder that Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd Conservation society have enemies. And let us not forget the Japanese, you can bet the farm that they will be up to their necks in this transparent piece of political chicanery.

For further reading: Don't Fuck With Teddy Blogspot

Captain Paul Watson, founder of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, has been released on bail in Germany following his arrest for possible extradition to Costa Rica on decade-old charges stemming from a confrontation with shark fin poachers. Sea Shepherd continues to maintain that Watson’s arrest was politically motivated and is calling on its supporters to come together in a day of action on Wednesday when the Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla visits Germany. Watson joins us from Frankfurt. “We’ve never injured anybody,” Watson says. “The most powerful weapon in the world as far as I’m concerned is the camera, so we go into battle armed with cameras...Right now 19 million sharks a year are being destroyed to feed the shark fin industry in Asia. And that means the fins are cut off of these animals and they’re thrown back into the ocean, and this is what we filmed off of Guatemala and this is what we intervened against — a highly illegal operation.” [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]

The post below previously posted here.

Sharks piled high, rows of fins: Photos reveal breadth of killings in Taiwan

Documenting the extent to which Taiwan is scouring the seas for sharks, the Pew Environment Group released a series of images Wednesday that capture that nation’s impact on global fisheries.

Shark fishing boats in Taiwan. ( Shawn Heinrichs for the Pew Environment Group) A series of photos and accompanying video suggest that Tawain, which reports the fourth-largest shark catch in the world, is an even greater player in the international shark trade than previously thought. The images capture imperiled shark species, such as scalloped hammerhead and oceanic whitetip, being prepared to be sold.

“These images present a snapshot of the immense scale of shark-fishing operations and show the devastation resulting from the lack of science-based management of sharks,“ said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group. “Unfortunately, since there are no limits on the number of these animals that can be killed in the open ocean, this activity can continue unabated.” Scientists estimate the global shark fin trade kills between 26 million and 73 million sharks a year. Sharks have become an increasingly priority for enviornmentalists because of the rising prices of shark fins. California recently banned shark fin soup to curb the trade and a number of countries have created shark sancturaries to protect the animals from overfishing. Those measures have not stopped the trade. In Colombia, this week, the Guardian reports that divers discovered a huge shark massacre in a shark sanctuary of the cost of an islaned called Malpelo.

Taiwanese officials, contacted in Washington, emphasized that the catch Pew documented complied with both Taiwanese and international law. Only three shark species — whale, basking and white sharks — have international trade protections, and there are no global limits on shark fishing.

Grace Lin, deputy director of the economic division at the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office, said her country has a national action plan for sharks in place and is working to protect whale sharks, which swim in Taiwan’s waters. She added that as of Jan. 1 vessels will have to land sharks with fins attached, a move aimed at curbing the fin trade.

“We are aware of this,” Lin said of the massive shark trade in her nation.

Shark fins at a processing warehouse in Taiwan.

The U.S.-based environmental Pew Environment Group expressed concern over new photos that seem to show the killing of large numbers of "biologically vulnerable" sharks by fishermen in Taiwan

Shark fins

The remains of sharks after their fins have been removed.

A shark processing plant in Taiwan. (Shawn Heinrichs for the Pew Environment Group) WaPo

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Recently, Chris Kresser published a series on dietary salt (sodium chloride) and health (1).  One of the issues he covered is the effect of salt on blood pressure.  Most studies have shown a relatively weak relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.  My position overall is that we're currently eating a lot more salt than at almost any point in our evolutionary history as a species, so I tend to favor a moderately low salt intake.  However, there may be more important factors than salt when it comes to blood pressure, at least in the short term. 

Read more »

The Greatest Singular Threat We Face Today is The Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi

It was only yesterday that I was explaining to my mother, that the greatest global threat facing us today, is not the posturing of America/Israel/Iran and any subsequent fallout which might occur from that testament to mankind's inanity. But rather our biggest threat is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear installation; more specifically, the spent fuel pool above the number 4 reactor.

The result of this little chat with Ma'ma, was to remind me that it was time once again to check the latest offerings from Fairewinds Energy Education, formally Fairewinds Associates. Lo and behold, purely by coincidence, as does happen on occasion, Arnie Gundersen discusses the very thing in this thirty five minute presentation.

Fortunately, for those of you with limited bandwidth, Gundersen addresses the problem right from the off. And in doing so must be said, saves me having to elaborate further on this very real threat facing, not just ourselves as a species, but Mother Earth herself.

Up first then, is Gundersen's opening statement, the full transcript being available at the link. You might also find of interest, this previous post: Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US This and others available under the Japan tag.

Fukushima Daiichi: The Truth and the Future


Arnie Gundersen: Unit 4 has always been my biggest concern. If you watched our website on the very first week of the accident I was saying that if Unit 4 were to catch fire, you would have to evacuate Tokyo. As a matter of fact the book that we wrote talks about that a lot. It is really important and it remains the biggest concern that I have about the Fukushima site. Unit 4 has more fuel in it than any of the other units in the complex, but more importantly it has the most recently used nuclear fuel. And all of that fuel is outside of the containment. So that would make it dangerous enough. Except that also, of course, Unit 4 has had a series of explosions and is weakened structurally. Before it might have withstood a 7.5 earthquake. I believe that the structural damage to Unit 4 is so great that if there is a 7.5 earthquake, it will not withstand it.

Here is what would happen if Unit 4 were to crack and the water were to drain out of the nuclear fuel pool. The fuel is hot enough that it needs to be water-cooled. If air is all there is cooling the fuel, it will burn. It will burn the zircaloy cladding on the fuel, (and) will react with the oxygen to create a fire. And it is a fire that once it starts, cannot be put out by water. Water would make it worse. So the nuclear fuel would have to burn completely before the fire would ever go out.

In the process, all that radiation would go up into the atmosphere and blow all over Japan and all over the world.

There is as much cesium in the fuel pool at Unit 4 as there was in all of the atomic bombs dropped in all of the tests in the 1940's, the 1950's, the 1960's, and into the 1970's. All of the above ground testing has less cesium in it than is in the reactor pool at Fukushima 4 right now.
So it is a grave situation. I don't believe that the Japanese Government is moving fast enough. If there is no earthquake, the plan to remove the fuel slowly is going to be adequate. But we cannot wait on Mother Nature. We have to quickly move that fuel out of that pool and onto the ground. The key here is quickly. The Japanese Government finally just this month came up with a plan to build a building around the fuel pool building and begin removing the fuel in 2013 or 2014.

I said that that is what they needed to do on the Fairewinds site in an interview with Chris Martenson a year ago. These things have been evident, but TEPCO is not moving fast enough and the Japanese Government is not pushing TEPCO to move fast enough either. I think the top priority of TEPCO and the top priority of the Japanese Government should be to move the fuel out of that pool just as quickly as possible. And in the meantime, they need to strengthen that pool to make sure that it can withstand an earthquake. Remember, that pool is not in a containment. You can look down in a satellite and see the nuclear fuel. The roof is blown off. And that is what makes it dangerous.

In America, we had the Brookhaven National Laboratory do a study to examine what would happen in a fuel pool fire. Brookhaven National Labs determined that there would be 187,000 people who would develop cancer from a fuel pool fire. It is a serious concern and I do not believe that Tokyo Electric and I do not believe that the Japanese Government is taking it seriously enough. For the last year I have been working with Akio Matsumora and finally it appears that the world community is listening to Akio Matsumora's concerns about the pool. We need to tackle this as a concerned world community and encourage the Japanese Government and encourage Tokyo Electric to solve it quickly. More transcript.

How Very Apt Official Saudi Calender Says It Is The Year 1433

Extremely civil of them to acquiesce to such modernity. But must be said, it strikes me as fairly accurate; about six hundred years behind the times.

Saudi Arabia bans using Gregorian dates

The use of the English language to answer calls or communicate, mainly in companies and hotels, has also been banned
May 17, 2012

Saudi Arabia has banned all government and private agencies from using the Gregorian calendar in official dealings.

The use of the English language to answer calls or communicate, mainly in companies and hotels, has also been banned, a local daily said.

All ministries and agencies have to use the Hijri dates (Islamic calendar) and the Arabic language, the interior ministry said. The ministry attributed its decision to preserving the Islamic calendar and the Arabic language, Arabic daily Al Watan reported.

In the statement to the ministries and establishments, the ministry said that it noted that some government entities were using Gregorian dates "unnecessarily", in a violation of high orders and instructions. Several hotel and company receptions used English in their communications, the ministry said.

However, ministries and agencies could use the Gregorian calendar, whenever needed, on the condition that it is associated with the corresponding Hijri date. Gulfnews

Plenty more on the Land of Darkness in the side-bar, tagged, Saudi and Us and Them.

Flu Friday: Canada fails its first Flu Report Card

Happy Flu Friday!

For the first time, some of America’s northern neighbors scored themselves on the flu — and they didn’t make the grade.

Image: Flu Report Card,
courtesy The Lung Association
The British Columbia and Quebec Lung Associations created a Flu Report Card to see how well prepared their provinces were compared to the rest of the country.

Released this week, the report card showed the percentage of adults that received a seasonal flu vaccination during the 2011-2012 flu season. They compared the rate to the percentage of people who reported getting the flu this year. Not surprisingly, provinces where more adults got flu shots reported lower rates of the flu.

Canada’s two most populated provinces, Ontario and Quebec, received the worst grades: D- and F, respectively. Quebec failed because its vaccination rate was the lowest — only 27 percent of adults got the flu shot this year, so one in four people living there got the flu. This is especially bad news considering the weak flu season we’ve had in North America this year.

“Clearly, Quebeckers are not ready for a severe flu season," said Dominique Massie, executive director of the Quebec Lung Association, in a news story.

The report found some good news: 52 percent of British Columbians received the flu vaccine this year, and they reported the lowest rates of the flu, at 10 percent. And overall, more Canadians are getting the flu shot every year. The researchers also found that more people said they would get the flu shot if it was delivered with a smaller needle.

What does this mean for the U.S.? Well, the biggest lesson is that if more people get the flu shot, fewer people get the flu.

We here at Get Ready think it would be really cool to have a Flu Report Card in the U.S. What do you think? If your state was failing at the flu — or passing with flying colors — would that change your flu shot behavior? Let us know in the comments!

Weight of the Nation

Obesity is common, serious, and costly. Behavior and environment play a large role causing people to be overweight and obese. These are the greatest areas for prevention and treatment actions.  Weight of the Nation brings together public health researchers and practitioners, policy makers, and national partners devoted to obesity prevention and control to raise awareness across the country as well as share approaches that show promise or demonstrated success for improving healthy eating and active living.

Over 1,200 people gathered in Washington, D.C. on May 7-9 for the Weight of the Nation 2012 conference. The Weight of the Nation is also a documentary series and public health campaign. Three years in the making, the campaign is an unprecedented collaboration of HBO and the Institute of Medicine, is association with CDC, the National Institutes of Health, made in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.  The core of The Weight of the Nation campaign are four feature films that take an unflinching look at the severity of the obesity epidemic and its crippling effects on our health care system. The films are available to stream free of charge at theweightofthenation.hbo.com

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/weightofthenation/

As I was Saying, When People Take The Piss

I wouldn't mind so much, if there wasn't, and always has been, the teeniest bit of controversy surrounding the case.

And perhaps I'm wrong, but isn't the first rule of policing to keep an open mind?

Madeleine McCann could be living with abductor, says Scotland Yard

Yard releases image of how Madeleine may look five years on and asks Portuguese police to reopen inquiry

Scotland Yard detectives released a picture of what Madeleine McCann may look like today as they said they had uncovered new information to suggest she could be alive and living with her abductor.

The senior officer leading an investigative review into the disappearance of Madeleine five years ago is calling on Portuguese police to reopen their inquiry into the case.

Releasing an age-enhanced image of Madeleine – as she nears her ninth birthday on 12 May – Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, of Scotland Yard's homicide and serious crime command, said: "We genuinely believe there's a possibility that she is alive. I want to make a direct appeal. If you know where Madeleine McCann is or if you have any direct information or evidence about what happened to her, then please make contact."

Redwood and his 37-strong team have identified 195 missed investigative opportunities in the 40,000 pieces of evidence they have examined from the Portuguese inquiry, the family's home force in Leicestershire, and the information gleaned by a team of private detectives hired by the McCann family since Madeleine went missing, aged three, from the resort of Praia de Luz on 3 May 2007.

"We are in a unique position seeking to draw together the three key strands of information about her disappearance," said Redwood.

He unequivocally dismissed the conspiracy theory – promoted by the original Portuguese lead detective Goncalo Amaral – that Madeleine's parents had anything to do with her disappearance.

He said detectives believe Madeleine was abducted in "a criminal act by a stranger".

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, worked closely with the Met to produce the new image of their daughter.

"Kate says she can see Madeleine's brother and sister Sean and Amelie in it as well as something of herself," said the family's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell. She and Gerry feel very positive and they hope it leads to the breakthrough they have been waiting for."

Redwood's team is sifting page by page through 100,000 documents within the 40,000 pieces of evidence, and are a quarter of the way through the exercise. They are working closely with a team of Portuguese detectives and liaising with law enforcement agencies across Europe and the world when necessary.

They are developing what they believe is "genuinely new information" in the hunt for the child. It is understood, though, that this is not based on any new possible sightings. The team is also pursuing the line of inquiry that after five years Madeleine might be dead.

It is understood that key areas being investigated by Scotland Yard – which the Portuguese police failed to pursue – include analysis of a huge amount of mobile phone cell site evidence that was gathered but never analysed. That evidence could help to trace any suspects who were around the resort.

They are also attempting for the first time to contact all the holidaymakers who were staying around the area of the Mark Warner Ocean club complex between 28 April and 3 May 2007, when Madeleine disappeared from her room while her parents were eating dinner with friends at a nearby tapas bar.

Officers are also focusing on any men in the area with criminal convictions that might indicate they are a danger to children, and investigating the backgrounds of resort staff, including examining whether any had suffered the loss of a child.

Commander Simon Foy, Scotland Yard's head of homicide command, said they would not stop until they discovered what had happened to Madeleine. The review inquiry – which has cost £2m to date – began after the McCanns appealed last year to David Cameron for Scotland Yard to investigate the case.

There are examples of children who have been abducted only to be found alive years later: Jaycee Lee Dugard was found alive 18 years after being snatched at the age of 11 from a bus stop in California; the Austrian schoolgirl Natascha Kampusch was found in 2006, eight years after being abducted aged 10; and Shawn Hornbeck, who disappeared aged 12 in 2002, was found four years later.

The decision on whether to reopen the inquiry in Portugal is in the hands of the country's attorney general. He has said he will only reopen the investigation if "new, serious and relevant evidence emerges". He was not available for comment.
Redwood said the police review team in Portugal were keen for this to happen. "[They] want to reopen the case … They are a new group of investigators and they are completely engaged and totally committed."

Jim Gamble, former head of the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit, said the hunt for Madeleine had now been reignited. "The person who's done it knows they have done it," said Gamble. "They will be paranoid, and it is likely that someone close to them will see that paranoia, or that as the pressure builds someone close to them who knows they have done it, and who is no longer a friend, might come forward.

"One thing is sure: the person who did this will be watching and listening." Guardian

H/T The #mccann Daily