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NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
"On March 10 they had a multibillion-dollar asset that generated a lot of electricity," David Lochbaum, director of nuclear safety at the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists told reporters on a conference call today. "On March 11 they had a multibillion-dollar liability that’s going to cost a lot to clean up."
"They’ve made considerable progress bringing equipment to the plant and restoring power," he said. "But they’re not out of the woods yet. They are working with razor-thin margins."
Japanese officials remain appropriately cautious at this hour as well, but positive signs for stabilization at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continued on Tuesday...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Not out of the woods yet: Japan's nuclear and humanitarian crisis continues as electricity returns to the Fukushima nuclear plant which remains precariously on edge while radiation poisoning is found in milk, vegetables and sea water --- but Japan's wind farms come to the rescue and new nuke reviews are set for US plants; PLUS: Surprise! A new 100-mile oil slick spotted in the Gulf of Mexico ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): New tech could make desalination portable, cheaper; Delay in coal plant rules cost thousands of lives; Record rains hit Phillipines, cause more flooding in Australia; German town where recycling really pays; US Chamber of Commerce: "The gang that couldn't lobby straight"; New UK plastic recycling plant takes all sorts; How not to change a climate skeptic's mind; Shipwreck threatens island's penguins; Wolves could be de-listed; King Crabs Invade Antarctica for First Time in 40 Million Years ... PLUS: World Water Day: Which nations are most at risk?....
It's probably too early to breathe a full sigh of relief [Update: Apparently it is. See our late UPDATES at bottom of article.], but encouraging signs continue to come from officials concerning the state of the six nuclear reactors (and their accompanying spent fuel pools) at the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan.
"We are getting closer to bringing the situation under control," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters at a presser on Sunday evening (local time).
Hiroko Tabuchi and Norimitsu Onishi at The New York Times offered a decent, up-to-date round-up of the state of the various units at the power plant on Sunday afternoon (US time), as heroic workers continue their tireless, around-the-clock efforts to stave off catastrophe following last week's 9.0 earthquake, ensuing tsunami and subsequent series of explosions at the crippled plant.
With largely just one exception at this hour (though it's an important one), the status of each unit, as reported earlier today, still seems to be holding tonight, as Monday is well under way in Japan. As well, officials have offered a few more noteworthy pieces of news in the past hour or so. We'll hit each of those points, as mercifully briefly as we can, to get you up to speed for U.S. Monday, below...
Choosing an interesting way to 'celebrate' the 8th anniversary of the launching of Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iraq kicking off our invasion there on March 19th, 2003, the U.S. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama approved the launching of Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on the anniversary today, as a five-nation coalition began to carry out a U.N.-approved No Fly Zone mandate over yet another oil rich Middle Eastern nation.
In response, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), General Electric, The Shaw Group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the nuclear energy lobby sent a thank you note to Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi, as the world media quickly turned their attention en masse to the new military action in the Middle East and away from the still-pending nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.
In related sarcastic and fake news, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-Koch) tore off all of his clothes and danced naked with glee in celebration, by himself, in the middle of the capital rotunda in Madison. No media were there to capture the moment.
Meanwhile, in news that is neither sarcastic nor fake, but seemingly impossible upon everything else, a giant 100-mile oil slick has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana near the site of last year's BP deepwater oil drilling disaster. And yet with all of that, CNN has still not announced plans to scale back the 150 staff contingent they are set to deploy to cover next month's Royal Wedding in the UK.
In still more, let's call it irony, over a 100 demonstrators, including "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, were arrested at the White House Saturday, protesting all the wars we were in prior to today, as well as against the reportedly deplorable conditions of detainment for 23-year old Army Private Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified war documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Many of the same protesters were arrested in a similar protest at the White House in December, also for failing to obey orders as they handcuffed themselves to the White House fence, though few media bothered to cover that demonstration either. Another rally is set for tomorrow in support of Manning, also sure to be ignored, at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia where he has been held in solitary confinement, reportedly, 23 out of 24 hours of each day for the last nine months.
At Fukushima today, only a bit more noticed, McClatchy reports that the spent fuel rod pool at reactor No. 3 is said to be "stabilized," with radiation levels dropping there after 13 hours of sea water was sprayed onto it with water cannon trucks [* See UPDATES below for more on Unit 3 issues.]; the Unit 4 fuel pool --- where, as we reported last night a "renewed nuclear chain reaction [was] feared" --- may in fact be cracked and leaking water, but with Unit 3 "stabilized" for now, fire fighters have turned the water cannon trucks onto that unit in hopes of cooling it down as well; and late last night, power was restored to Units 5 & 6, with pumps said to be working and the cooling ponds in both reactors cooling from their previously reported temperatures around 65C, back towards the desired temp of 25C. The readings there today were 37C and 41C respectively, in what can certainly be considered a bit of good news in a story desperate for some...
It was precisely one week ago last night at 9:46pm PT (2:46pm in Japan) that the worst earthquake and tsunami on record in that country hit. It was just a few hours later when Tohoku Electric Power Co. officials said that cooling at one of three reactors at their Onagawa nuclear power plant was "not going as planned
That disturbing, yet quietly reported statement certainly caught the attention of The BRAD BLOG, even as it took another 24 to 48 hours before much of the rest of the media began offering appropriate focus on what could still become the most catastrophic nuclear power disaster the world has ever seen. (Though note: CNN still has plenty of resources to spare to deploy 150 staffers --- 150 --- to cover the royal wedding next month in England, so don't worry! Luckily it's likely to be yet another slow news month in April.)
While the Onagawa plant, where a fire had broken out during the quake, was ultimately brought under control and said to be cooling properly, the alarm caused by a rise in radiation levels at that plant turned out to be due to problems at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) six-reactor nuclear power plant at Daiichi in the neighboring Fukushima prefecture. Now, one week later, TEPCO officials, in a joint effort with the Japanese Govt. --- and finally a number of other international agencies --- are working around the clock to keep all six of the facility's nuclear reactors and/or the associated spent fuel storage pools at each, under control, to avoid complete meltdowns at any or all of them. The work is exceedingly dangerous, and the progress at this hour remains precarious at best.
Some progress is being made in restoring the power plant to the power grid, allowing for the potential restoration of cooling systems at the reactors, if the cooling systems still work at any of them, following earthquake, tsunami flood, multiple explosions, and fires.
So here is where each of those six reactors stands, at this moment (even as a trace amount of radiation is said to have now reached Southern California, where we are located), what the greatest fears still are, how the worst case-scenario still looms, and how Japan's completely undamaged wind farms are currently "saving Japan's ass," even as their nuclear power plants struggle to get back online and/or avoid epic catastrophe...
I'm now doing a weekly thirty-minute show on Wednesday's at 3:30pm PT on KPFK, Los Angeles' Pacifica Radio affiliate. (Right! Public radio! No commercials! On our public airwaves! Come and get me, O'Keefe!) My first show yesterday was, by necessity, largely coverage of the breaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis, but also included a brief interview with Greg Palast, the BBC journalist, my fellow muckraking pal and author of the New York Times best-sellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Greg Palast.
Earlier this week, Palast wrote about the Obama-endorsed $4 billion plan to build two new nuclear reactors on the Gulf Coast of Texas by... wait for it ... TEPCO! That's right, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. responsible for the failing systems now at Fukushima Daiichi, as well as a number of local partners.
Palast offers insight from his pre-journalist days "as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations" during the 1980's, and explains how the same "bankrupt, corrupt and criminal companies" who were busted during his work investigating the Shoreham nuclear plant in New York are still in business, and ready to get to work again on nukes in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S.
MP3 Download, or listen online below. [Appx. 27 mins]...
New aerial footage released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) today details even more of the extensive damage to numerous reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following explosions at reactor Units 1 through 4 which occurred in the days following last weekend's record earthquake and tsunami.
Early word so far today is that yesterday's dangerous helicopter water drops onto Unit 3 have not succeeded in lowering the radiation levels at the crippled plant, as much of the water may have missed its target in the four drops. Radiation levels were so high that helicopter crews, outfitted in special protective gear, were forced to keep flying as they made their drops, rather than hovering over the No. 3 reactor.
As we reported yesterday, Japan's Defense Minister said during a pres conference following the missions that, despite risks to both the fuel rods at the reactors and the safety of the helicopter crews that forced them to scrap plans for a similar drop the previous day, the severity of the situation had increased such that they "could not delay further."
Water cannon trucks, normally used by Tokyo Police for crowd control, were dispatched to the plant after the air drops, but those efforts as well, reportedly, have been less than successful at lowering the temperature at the stricken nuclear reactors or the radiation levels at the plant itself.
As the UK's Guardian reports today...
Six fire engines and a police water cannon were sent in on Thursday evening to spray the plant's No 3 reactor. But afterwards radiation emissions rose from 3,700 microsieverts per hour to 4,000 per hour, the Kyodo news agency quoted Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) as saying.
An earlier attempt in which military helicopters dropped thousands of litres of water on the plant also appeared to have failed.
We will continue our coverage of noteworthy developments in Japan's nuclear crisis as warranted here at The BRAD BLOG, as well as via our Twitter account 24/7. You can follow us there at: @TheBradBlog.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Crisis in Japan: Compounding natural disaster, humanitarian disaster, and spiraling nuclear disaster --- desperate measures to hold off a nuclear nightmare ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA moves to curb toxic mercury pollution; Battle-proof wind farms survive Japan disasters; Op-ed: 'Save US children from toxic mercury'; End of cheap food in US?; Koch Bros: property rights only for polluters; Gov. Kasich (R) wants fracking in OH state parks; Sec. Chu: Clean energy puts U.S. ahead; PA: Coal Exec Given Vast Environmental Authority; WV considering geothermal future; Google backs biofuel startup; If President Obama calls it safe, watch out; Germany's Merkel plans faster shift to clean energy ... PLUS: Irish scientists help Guinness go green...
At 9:48am local time, after authorities determined the situation at Fukushima's crippled and quickly over-heating nuclear reactors Unit 3 and 4 was bad enough to warrant it, they began dropping water from CH-47 Chinook helicopters onto the nuclear reactors, despite the considerable risks (to both crew and to the fuel rods in the reactor.) As of now, four drops have been made.
[Update: See video at bottom of article.]
This is a very very bad disaster movie. Water cannon trucks, usually used for crowd control, are now headed into the facility to spray water from a distance into the gaping holes previously blown out of the sides of the Unit 4 reactor where spent fuel rods are currently stored. Unit 4 was off-line for maintenance when last Friday's earthquake/tsunami struck, with highly volatile fuel rods being held in a fuel storage pool. That pool, usually filled with circulating water, is feared to have gone dry, potentially allowing the rods to heat, burn, and release enormous amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
Yesterday, chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said during his press conference that plans for similar helicopter water drops were canceled after it was determined they would be too dangerous. It was feared that quickly dropping large amounts of water could further destabilize the fuel rods and that slower, gradual pumping of water from the ground was preferred. Also, radiation exposure to helicopter crews was a concern as well.
That officials decided to go ahead with the helicopter drops today is likely an indication of the increasing severity of the growing crisis.
In an article today about the "Fukushima 50," the small crew currently left at the plant to tirelessly keep its six reactors from complete meltdown, the New York Times notes today that "helicopter pilots who flew through radiation-laden smoke spewing from the [Chernobyl] reactor to drop fire-extinguishing chemicals on it," were exposed to particularly high levels of radiation during that disaster 25 years ago next month.
Officials at Fukushima are saying that helicopter crews dropping water are outfitted in protective gear and may fly missions for a maximum of only 40 minutes each day to minimize their exposure. The drops are made more difficult, NHK World reports, by the need for the helicopters to keep moving as the water is being dropped, rather than hovering above the plants, as might otherwise be done during such drops.
Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Katazawa held a press conference within the past hour following completion off the four planned drops. He said that radiation levels were too high yesterday to carry out the plan, but that early today, in consultation with Prime Minister Natao Kan, the decision was made to carry out the drops. "We could not delay further, so we decided to execute the plan," NHK World's translators reported him as saying.
In a competing press conference at the same moment, Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano offered little new information other than to say President Obama and Kan had a thirty minute conversation earlier today. The President offered sympathy and support, including for the nuclear crisis. Edano said investigators are working to determine how successful the water drops were, and he confirmed that water cannon trucks from the Tokyo Police were en route to the nuclear plant. Fukushima is located some 180 miles north of Tokyo.
UPDATE 8:20pm PT: About thirty minutes after Edano finished, officials from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) spoke at their own news conference. They said that, contrary to earlier reports, they were able to determine that there was still some water left in the spent fuel storage ponds at Unit 4 and so it was decided to prioritize the initial water drops today onto reactor Unit 3.
UPDATE 9:42pm PT The Defense Minister has said there will be no more water drop attempts today.
UPDATE 11:08pm PT Video of the helicopter water drops now follows below...
With trace amounts of radiation detected in Tokyo as of two days ago, last night, at 9:40pm PT, FRANCE urged its citizens to evacuate Tokyo due to concerns about radiation emanating from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant located approximately 180 miles to the north.
"The French government has urged its nationals living in Tokyo to leave the country or head to southern Japan due to the risk of radiation...The French embassy in Tokyo said in a statement that its advisory applied with immediate effect to those French nationals who were not obliged to remain in the city," says Reuters. France has begun to send jumbo jets to Tokyo to aid in the evacuation.
France is not the only only country to issue such an advisory. These are from Reuters' latest collection of travel warnings, as of 12:42pm PT today...
[STORY UPDATED 8:08PM PT, FOLLOWING THE CONCLUSION OF CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SPOKESMAN YUKIO EDANO'S PRESS CONFERENCE.]
The smoke seen rising above from Fukushima's Daiichi nuclear power planet is believed to be emanating from reactor Unit 3, according to the Japanese government's chief spokesperson Yukio Edano who just completed a press conference moments ago. Due to high radiation levels, all workers were evacuated from the plant, and all work suspended for a time. [Update: Reuters now confirms that workers were allowed back in after radiation levels fell, as we'd originally reported.]
Edano said that at approximately 8:30am local time, white smoke began coming out of the No. 3 reactor, but that the joint task force between the government and the plant's operators, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), are still trying to determine the cause. It's believed the smoke is actually vapor coming from a rupture in the reactor's containment vessel, he said. Steam was to be let out to allow workers to pump in more sea water in hopes of keeping the reactor cool.
Earlier today there were reports of rising radiation levels near the gate of the facility, leading to the evacuation of all workers at the plant, leaving no one to fight the fire. Last night, all but 50 workers had been evacuated after an explosion at Unit 2 and a fire at Unit 4 (which had been off-line for maintenance prior to last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, and storing spent fuel rods in a pool which may have caught fire.)
While workers had suspended operations, radiation levels have since begun to decrease, Edano said. They have now returned to continuing pumping sea water into Units 1, 2 and 3 in the ongoing attempts to cool down the reactors' fuel rods following failure of their emergency cooling systems.
At the same time, TEPCO released a photograph of the damage at the reactor Unit 4 building following the explosion there on Sunday...
IN TODAY'S SPECIAL RADIO REPORT: Natural disaster, humanitarian disaster, and now man-made disaster, as 50 nuclear plant workers are all that stand in the way of full nuclear meltdown at Fukushima in Japan ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Politifact says GOP lies about gas prices; 5 myths about EPA agenda; House GOP votes to discard science; CA farmers: pesticides vs. new bike paths; Feb. 2011 the 17th warmest on record; New rare earths mines slated for NM; CA high-speed rail project hits another snag; Photograph farms, go to jail; Air pollution from coal kills 13k a year; Russian heat waves to become more frequent by 2060; Naomi Klein: Global warming & the Shock Doctrine... PLUS: How to get to 100 percent renewables globally by 2050....
[* * * 7:50pm PT UPDATE: PRIME MINISTER'S 'MESSAGE TO NATION': Radiation levels rising, now risk human health, evacuations expanded See THIS UPDATE below for full details]
I was working on an UPDATE (not finished yet), concerning Fukushima Daiichi's reactor Unit 2 on last night's live blog thread following the explosion at Unit 3, when news just broke at 6:14am local time, that there has now been an explosion at the Unit 2 reactor.
The new explosion follows two others, said to have been hydrogen explosions first at Unit 1, and then Unit 3 a day later, and news late last night that the emergency cooling system at Unit 2 had been damaged during the Unit 3 blast, resulting in the uranium fuel rods at 2 becoming dangerously, and completely exposed for a number of hours before sea water injection was resumed in hopes of cooling the number 2 reactor.
Now, according to various reliable sources on Twitter over the last few minutes...
An explosion has occurred within the past hour at the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 nuclear reactor in Japan. It appears to by a hydrogen explosion similar to the one which occurred at Unit 1 on Saturday. There had been reports earlier in the day that radiation had been rising at the reactor, similar to what had been reported before the earlier explosion at Unit 1.
Yesterday, the emergency cooling system at Unit 3 had failed, prompting officials to announce another "nuclear emergency" following the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan one day earlier. Officials had taken the unusual measure to cool the reactor with sea water, which means it's unlikely to be usable ever again.
The previous explosion at Unit 1 is said to have destroyed the building housing the nuclear reactor --- causing what was variously described as a "partial meltdown" or "deformation" of at least one of the uranium fuel rods --- but did not breach the reactor container itself, so the release of radioactivity is said to have been minor. Officials are signaling a similar situation here.
Additional reports, updates, photos and videos on the new explosion all now being added below. Newest UPDATES at bottom...
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