Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Could Also Explain How Your Blogger CAPTCHA Gets Solved: Chinese prisoners sold to spammers

Chinese Prisoners Allegedly Forced to Play 'World of Warcraft'
One former prisoner says he had to farm virtual gold that the prison guards then sold in the real world for cash.
Prison guards were reportedly able to sell the virtual currency for up to 6,000 yuan a day, which is about $930 -- not a bad sum. The prisoners, who naturally never saw any of the money, also had quotas to meet. According to Dali, "If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me."

Friday, May 27, 2011


DR. GABOR MATÉ: You know, in other words—see, it never used to be that children grew up in a stressed nuclear family. That wasn’t the normal basis for child development. The normal basis for child development has always been the clan, the tribe, the community, the neighborhood, the extended family. Essentially, post-industrial capitalism has completely destroyed those conditions. People no longer live in communities which are still connected to one another. People don’t work where they live. They don’t shop where they live. The kids don’t go to school, necessarily, where they live. The parents are away most of the day. For the first time in history, children are not spending most of their time around the nurturing adults in their lives. And they’re spending their lives away from the nurturing adults, which is what they need for healthy brain development.

AMY GOODMAN: Canadian physician Dr. Gabor Maté, his book, _Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do about It_.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May Link Dump - Fukushima

It's actually September, reader. These are some post-dated(?) posts. I tend to throw links up on FB, where they could be read by a few dozen people, and which can be easier than Blogger, altho limited and perishable. I am picking a few links and skipping the handful of news items (mostly Fukushima-related) that I post more or less daily.

New Work Reinforces Megaquake's Harsh Lessons in Geoscience

High-tech analyses of Japan's March earthquake overturn long-held views of fault behavior and warn that another disaster may be looming.... Simons and colleagues see “the possibility of a sibling to the 2011 event” that could be “similar to what just occurred offshore,” but half as far from Tokyo. So researchers are anxious to find out whether the stress transferred southward from the 9 has accelerated slow slip on the fault and thus defused the threat of a quake.
Schoolyard Radiation Policy Brings a Backlash
The Japanese government's most controversial misstep in response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis may have been the release of guidelines on allowable radiological contamination in schoolyards.
The education ministry calculated that children could spend 8 hours a day in a schoolyard exposed to as much as 3.8 microsieverts per hour, and 16 hours a day indoors exposed to 1.52 microsieverts per hour, and not exceed the 20-mSv limit.

Fukushima Revives The Low-Dose Debate
The general public avoided exposure to high levels of radioactivity, but questions linger about the long-term effects of contamination.
Across Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, small amounts of cesium-134 and cesium-137, isotopes with half-lives of 2 and 30 years respectively, lie on the ground. Cleanup workers have stripped contaminated topsoil from some schoolyards, and remediation or permanent evacuation is likely for the worst areas.

Radiation Monitoring Data from Fukushima Area 05/13/2011
In March, the U.S. Department of Energy released data recorded from its Aerial Measuring System as well as ground...
Includes radiation measurements for the Shinkansen route from Tokyo to Sendai between and at stations.
The 60 billion yen project on a vacant 19-hectare site of a former Panasonic plant will see the construction of 1,000 homes as well as various facilities that will be powered using solar power generation and home-use storage battery systems, the consumer electronics giant said. The planned town, called Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, will also promote the sharing of electric vehicles.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Darkening Tokyo

Dark is the new light.
Before and after the disaster.
The audio track is also a free
Creative Commons licensed
download on Jamendo.
"Sounds From The Past" by mindthings

Friday, May 13, 2011

NASA - Aquarius - Sea Surface Salinity
NASA video release May 10, 2011
[This movie clip contains 10 seconds of surface flows colored by sea surface temperature, followed by 6 seconds of wind currents, followed by ocean currents. ]
Aquarius is a focused satellite mission to measure global Sea Surface Salinity.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Jumieka Langwij

Linggwis dem aidentifai "pior" Jumiekan, fain muosli a konchri, wid riijanal difrans, laka wahn mixcho a sebntiin sentri hIngglish ahn Wes Afrikan, muosli Shwi, kanschrokshan ahn vokiabileri, wid som Panish ahn Puotigiis iin de tu fi a gud mixop. Di haxent ahn kiedens kohn frahn Sikatish ahn hAirish.

Kansda di ischri a Jumieka, dis shudn sopraizn sens di bolk a di papiulieshan dem a disendant frahn slieb kiaa kom frahn Wes Afrika, fos bai di Panish, den dem laan hIngglish frahn dehn British uona, uobasior, hadvenchara, ahn mishaneridem.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Nature: Reactors, residents and risk
. . .

Conventionally, nuclear plant operators have considered some accident sequences so unlikely that they have not built in complete safeguards — such accidents are called 'beyond design basis' events. . . . The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has seven reactors, making it the world's biggest in terms of electrical output at 7,965 megawatts.

Gundersen: Fukushima Groundwater Contamination Worst in Nuclear History

Fukushima Groundwater Contamination Worst in Nuclear History from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

SciAM: a path to sustainable energy by 2030

Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power. Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.
You may remember this article. We are swimming in excessive energy. Solar and wind are widely distributed and cannot be as easily controlled and profitized as plutonium radioactive energy can.

A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030; November 2009; Scientific American Magazine; by Mark Z. Jacobson; Mark A. Delucchi; 8 Page(s)

In December leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to agree on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. The most effective step to implement that goal would be a massive shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. If leaders can have confidence that such a transformation is possible, they might commit to an historic agreement. We think they can.

A year ago former vice president Al Gore threw down a gauntlet: to repower America with 100 percent carbon-free electricity within 10 years. As the two of us started to evaluate the feasibility of such a change, we took on an even larger challenge: to determine how 100 percent of the world's energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030. Our plan is presented here.

Tsunami at Kesennuma (気仙沼) port

This bldg is visibl:

It looks like it may have been shot from the Kesennuma doboku jimusho 気仙沼土木事務所=office of civil engineering, which was a tsunami shelter, as shown here and here on this photoblog in Kesennuma. ("Angler's Fish Diary")

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I-131 exposure in the years of atmospheric nuclear bomb tests

IEER's article on I-131 fallout: "Let Them Drink Milk"
By: Pat Ortmeyer and Arjun Makhijani
Article published as "Worse Than We Knew,"
for November/December 1997 issue of
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

On August 1, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) revealed that as a result of U.S. nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), American children were actually exposed to 15 to 70 times as much radiation as had been previously reported to Congress.

LATimes on the Chernobyl zone

"It is the zone that kills the young and leaves the old be," Laptev's mother, Roza Lapteva, said in a quiet, almost indifferent tone. "I don't know how it does it, but the zone is to blame."

"User's Manual"?

All Things Nuclear (Union of Concerned Scientists)

While details of the damage to the nuclear fuel at the site are not known, it appears that more total fuel damage has occurred during this accident than all previous reactor accidents combined.

Currently all of these reactors and pools are being cooled, although normal cooling systems have not been restored. They will require active cooling for many months or years because of the high levels of radioactivity in the fuel they contain.

Links with information about the situation at Fukushima Dai-Ichi:

UCS website and blog posts on the Japan crisis

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) press releases (in English)

TEPCO videos and photos of Fukushima Dai-Ichi

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) website

New York Times reactor status

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists updates by Tatsujiro Suzuki

Japan Atomic Industrial Forum updates

Rolling Stone on America's Nuke Industry, Safety, and the revolving door of the toothless NRC

Some choice excerpts:

NRC has long served as little more than a lap dog to the nuclear industry, unwilling to crack down on unsafe reactors. "The agency is a wholly owned subsidiary of the nuclear power industry," says Victor Gilinsky, who served on the commission during the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979.

Even President Obama denounced the NRC during the 2008 campaign, calling it a "moribund agency that needs to be revamped and has become captive of the industries that it regulates."
In the years ahead, nuclear experts warn, the consequences of the agency's inaction could be dire. "The NRC has consistently put industry profits above public safety," says Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear executive turned whistle-blower. "Consequently, we have a dozen Fukushimas waiting to happen in America."
In his 2012 budget, President Obama included $54 billion in federal loan guarantees for new reactors — far more than the $18 billion available for renewable energy.

Without such taxpayer support, no new reactors would ever be built. Since the Manhattan Project was created to develop the atomic bomb back in the 1940s, the dream of a nuclear future has been fueled almost entirely by Big Government. America's current fleet of reactors exists only because Congress passed the Price-Anderson Act in 1957, limiting the liability of nuclear plant operators in case of disaster. And even with taxpayers assuming most of the risk, Wall Street still won't finance nuclear reactors without direct federal assistance, in part because construction costs are so high (up to $20 billion per plant) and in part because nukes are the only energy investment that can be rendered worthless in a matter of hours. "In a free market, where real risks and costs are accounted for, nuclear power doesn't exist," says Amory Lovins, a leading energy expert at the Rocky Mountain Institute. Nuclear plants "are a creation of government policy and intervention."

They are also a creation of lobbying and campaign contributions. Over the past decade, the nuclear industry has contributed more than $4.6 million to members of Congress — and last year alone, it spent $1.7 million on federal lobbying. Given the generous flow of nuclear money, the NRC is essentially rigged to operate in the industry's favor. The agency has plenty of skilled engineers and scientists at the staff level, but the five commissioners who oversee it often have close ties to the industry they are supposed to regulate. "They are vetted by the industry," says Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy adviser at the Energy Department. "It's the typical revolving-door story — many are coming in or out of jobs with the nuclear power industry. You don't get a lot of skeptics appointed to this job."
Jeffrey Merrifield, a former NRC commissioner who left the agency in 2007, is a case in point. When Merrifield was ready to exit public service, he simply called up the CEO of Exelon, the country's largest nuclear operator, and asked him for a job recommendation. Given his friends in high places, he wound up taking a top job at the Shaw Group, a construction firm that builds nuclear reactors — and he's done his best to return the favor. During the Fukushima disaster, Merrifield appeared on Fox News, as well as in videos for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying group. In one video — titled "Former NRC Commissioner Confident That Building of New U.S. Nuclear Plants Should Continue" — Merrifield reassures viewers that the meltdown in Japan is no big deal. "We should continue to move forward with building those new plants," he says, "because it's the right thing for our nation and it's the right thing for our future."
America has 31 aging reactors just like Fukushima, and it wouldn't take an earthquake or tsunami to push many of them to the brink of meltdown. A natural disaster may have triggered the crisis in Japan, but the real problem was that the plant lost power and was unable to keep its cooling systems running — a condition known as "station blackout." At U.S. reactors, power failures have been caused by culprits as mundane as squirrels playing on power lines. In the event of a blackout, operators have only a few hours to restore power before a meltdown begins. All nukes are equipped with backup diesel generators, as well as batteries. But at Fukushima, the diesel generators were swamped by floodwaters, and the batteries lasted a mere eight hours — not nearly long enough to get power restored and avert catastrophe. NRC standards do virtually nothing to prevent such a crisis here at home. Only 11 of America's nuclear reactors have batteries designed to supply power for up to eight hours, while the other 93 have batteries that last half that long.
Indeed, the NRC's "safety-last" attitude recalls the industry-friendly approach to regulation that resulted in the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Nuclear reactors were built to last only 40 years, but the NRC has repeatedly greenlighted industry requests to keep the aging nukes running for another two decades: Of the 63 applications the NRC has received for license extensions, it has approved all 63.
According to a 2003 study, it would cost as much as $7 billion to move the spent fuel out of the pools and into more secure containers known as dry-cask storage. So why hasn't the NRC required such a precaution? "Power companies don't want to pay for it," says Alvarez. "They would rather let the public take the risk." Gilinsky offers another explanation. "After insisting for years that spent fuel pools were not a problem," he says, "the NRC doesn't want to admit what everyone knows after Fukushima: They were wrong."
Some critics argue that it's time for an outside agency, such as the National Academy of Sciences, to take an independent look at the safety and security of America's aging nukes. A better idea might be to simply repeal the Price-Anderson Act and force the nuclear industry to take responsibility for the risks of running these old plants, rather than laying it all off on taxpayers. The meltdown in Japan could cost Tokyo Electric some $130 billion — roughly three times what the Deepwater Horizon spill cost BP. If nuke owners had to put their own money where their atoms are, the crumbling old reactors would get cleaned up or shut down in a heartbeat.
Instead, by allowing the industry to cut safety margins in exchange for profits, the NRC is actually putting the "nuclear renaissance" itself at risk. "It has not been protesters who have brought down the nuclear industry," said Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. "It has been Wall Street." Wind and natural gas are already cheaper than nukes, and the price of solar is falling fast. And with each new Fukushima, the cost of nukes — as well as the risks — will continue to rise.

Read the article!

Chernobyl of the sea

Surprise, surprise. Radioactive isotopes do not magically disperse evenly across the oceans to trace levels, but are deposited on the sea floor just as they are on the surface of the earth. I've heard of a few tests on the sea surface but haven't heard any mention until now of a mapping of the sea floor.

Seabed radiation 100-1,000 times normal level off Fukushima plant | Kyodo News
Radiation readings have risen to 100-1,000 times the normal level on the Pacific seabed near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator said Tuesday.


Amakudari, Japan's "Descent from Heaven" is like a combination of the "revolving door" of government and industry in the USA, and a "Golden Parachute" in the lucrative private jobs available after government service. Americans are less concerned with appearances and can come directly FROM industry into government posts pretending to regulate those industries.

At present, 13 retired career-track METI bureaucrats hold senior positions at electric power companies under the practice of "amakudari" (descent from heaven).

METI, which oversees 10 electric utilities and two electricity wholesalers, investigated the matter after the crisis at Tepco's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant fueled criticism of the practice.

The fact that former elite bureaucrats land key positions at private-sector companies in industries they previously oversaw has been widely criticized for creating cozy, corrupt relations, as well as allegations that this has led to slack s...upervision of the nuclear power industry.

METI minister Banri Kaieda recently urged his bureaucrats not to accept jobs offered by government-affiliated organizations or companies the ministry oversees, but he has no authority to force retired officials to leave their current jobs.

Five former ministry officials have assumed postretirement positions at Tepco over the past 50 years, including as advisers and board members. The utility is struggling to end the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima plant that was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The crisis has also cast a spotlight on the relationship between METI and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which plays the role of nuclear watchdog but is under the ministry's wings.

The agency, established as a special entity of the METI-affiliated Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, is responsible for ensuring the safety of nuclear plants. The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, institutionalized under the Cabinet Office, is supposed to double-check the agency's steps.

Calls are mounting for NISA to be organizationally separated from the ministry, which has long actively promoted nuclear power. Last month, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he will look into the feasibility of NISA's separation from METI.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


There has been a lot of reliable and honest content here, via Arnie Gundersen:

Gundersen Postulates Unit 3 Explosion May Have Been Prompt Criticality in Fuel Pool from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

Where is all that Fukushima radiation going, and why does it matter? from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

Dishing the dirt

The new standard of 20 millisieverts a year – equivalent to the annual maximum dose for German nuclear workers – will mean those schools remain open, but parents and nuclear opponents are angry that safety concerns are being ignored.
"I think 20 millisieverts is safe but I don't think it's good," said Itaru Watanabe of the education ministry, drawing howls of derision from the audience of participants.
"How dare they tell us it is safe for our children," said Sachiko Satou of the Protect Fukushima Children from Radiation Association. "This is disgusting. They can't play outside with such risks. If the government won't remove the radioactive dirt then we'll do it ourselves and dump it outside the headquarters of Tokyo Electric."

Real-world ecological half-life longer than expected

I think it's gonna be a long long time...

Reinhabiting the large exclusion zone around the accident site may have to wait longer than expected. Radioactive cesium isn’t disappearing from the environment as quickly as predicted, according to new research presented here Monday at the... meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Cesium 137’s half-life — the time it takes for half of a given amount of material to decay — is 30 years. In addition to that, cesium-137’s total ecological half-life — the time for half the cesium to disappear from the local environment through processes such as migration, weathering, and removal by organisms is also typically 30 years or less, but the amount of cesium in soil near Chernobyl isn’t decreasing nearly that fast. And scientists don’t know why.

It stands to reason that at some point the Ukrainian government would like to be able to use that land again, but the scientists have calculated that what they call cesium’s “ecological half-life” — the time for half the cesium to disappear from the local environment — is between 180 and 320 years.

“Normally you’d say that every 30 years, it’s half as bad as it was. But it’s not,” said Tim Jannik, nuclear scientist at Savannah River National Laboratory and a collaborator on the work. “It’s going to be longer before they repopulate the area.”
The original research pdf is existing here, written in the language English:

This is your kid on radiation.

U.S. doctors hit Tokyo radiation limit for kids

Physicians for Social Responsibility, a U.S. nonprofit organization of medical experts, has condemned as "unconscionable" the Japanese government's safety standards on radiation levels at elementary and junior high schools in nuclear disaster-stricken Fukushima Prefecture.

"(Twenty millisieverts) for children exposes them to a 1 in 200 risk of getting cancer. And if they are exposed to this dose for two years, the risk is 1 in 100. There is no way that this level of exposure can be considered 'safe' for children," the statement said.
The pressure rises. If they can't attend school there, they can't really live there. If the kids can't live there, the parents (or in Japan, at least the mothers) need to leave, too. Once the children and women leave, the towns basically die. It's better (imo) to force evacuation of the contaminated ag areas anyway to keep toxic food out of the supply chain.

A Look Back, ...sideways, and forward
Its population had been around 50,000 prior to the accident. Today, the only residents are deer and wolves along with a solitary guard. It took three days before all permanent residents of Chernobyl were evacuated. Let the story be told by these magical pictures taken ~20 years later...

The Battle of Chernobyl

A film by Thomas Johnson

On 26 April 1986 01:23:45 a.m., at the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power Station (Чернобыльская АЭС им. В.И.Ленина), the RBMK reactor of block No.4 suffered a catastrophic failure during a routine test. Only 56 deaths have been "officially" attributed to the disaster, however, documentation shows that well over 600,000 men women and children were directly affected by the fallout. In total, the fallout produced by the exposed burning reactor core would be 400 times greater than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. The deadly toxic molecules were spread across 100's of miles with nearly 60% of the pollutants falling on Belarus. The radioactive plume touched almost every European country including Sweden, Italy, Hungary, The Netherlands, Britain, and France. It is without question, the biggest nuclear disaster humanity has ever witnessed.



Mistrust of the media has surged among the people of Fukushima Prefecture. In part this is due to reports filed by mainstream journalists who are unwilling to visit the area near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But above all it is the result of contradictory reports... TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report compa...ny statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget. "The media keeps defending the information from TEPCO!”
There is one particularly telling example of the media shielding TEPCO by suppressing information. This concerns “plutonium”. According to Uesugi, after the reactor blew up on March 14, there was concern about the leakage of plutonium. Howe...ver, astonishingly, until two weeks later when Uesugi asked, not a single media representative had raised the question of plutonium at TEPCO's press conferences.
On March 26, in response to Uesugi’s query, TEPCO stated, “We do not measure the level of plutonium and do not even have a detector to scale it.” Ironically, the next day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano announced that “plutonium was detected”.
When TEPCO finally released data on radioactive plutonium on March 28, it stated that plutonium -238, -239, and -240 were found in the ground, but insisted that it posed no human risk. Since TEPCO provided no clarification of the meaning of the plutonium radiation findings, the mainstream press merely reported the presence of the radiation without assessment.

Chernobyl Disaster: Ghost City Chronicles

A documentary film about Pripyat from Russia Today.