Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So this is Heroic, Is it? Fascist, More Like!

How can we agree to all this mayhem and still have a clear conscience?

Don't our leaders brag we live in Christian countries? Since when did the Jesus Christ of the gospels approve of killing and injuring people, in these cases people none of us even know. Fascists could hardly be worse. So, whose trying to stop it?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tax the Rich Every Last Penny Until the Money Banks Stole is Replaced

Robbery: Fair and Square

Too many people believe the political and media propaganda that we have overspent and we must cut back.

Keep reminding them that the banks overspent, thinking mortgage collateral—houses—would rise in value to cover it—in fact, on the assumption that housing prices would rise indefinitely. They spent money they didn’t have, giving themselves massive bonuses for doing it, then, when the housing market collapsed, they told governments, governments!, they were too big to fail, and told governments, supposedly our governments, they had to give them £$trillions from national treasuries—our money collected as taxes—to replace the money the inept bankers had lost on junk mortgages and junk bonds. What did we have to do with it?

We have already paid the banks—the money they were given was not the government’s money, it was our money, entrusted by us to governments for nation wide social use—yet these governments, supposedly our governments are making us pay again, through enforced austerity measures that have nothing to do with us overspending. Tell them to stuff their austerity measures that hit everyone except the super rich, and to get every penny back from the rich leeches who do nothing and deserve nothing of ours.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

How Easily We Forget!


We read that within two months of the outbreak of World War I, as many as 640,000 young men had volunteered for service in the British army. They gathered outside recruiting offices in crowds so large that mounted police sometimes had to be called in to control them. 90 years on, Tony Blair had to lie to the nation trying to convince it of the moral and legal justification for invading Iraq. A century after “the war to end all wars” the British seemed convinced it should have been, and a million demonstrated against Blair’s fraud. But had popular opinion about warfare really been transformed from a stance of naïve patriotic fervour, to one of widespread aversion or abhorrence?

Cambridge visiting historian, J Winter, thought it was the consequence of a process of cultural evolution:

I do think that one reason Tony Blair lied about weapons of mass destruction was because he couldn’t take the nation with him in support of war. That is a consequence of the contribution artists, poets, filmmakers and others have made to our understanding of the horrors of war. Only a fool would argue that cultural history only moves in one direction at any given time. Nevertheless, there is clearly something that has brought most people to the view that war is simply not a legitimate human activity any more. Time and again culture has shown us that the best defence we have against the ravages of war is the human imagination itself.

There is a certain absence of reality here. It is true that artists and poets were in the forefront of those objecting to the mass murder justified as war, but in the intervening decade, the establishment has pushed warfare down our throats continually, and now there seems to be no substantial body of people willing to object to us acting like fascists in invading other people’s countries and killing poor people, men, women and children in their own homes. The lauding of heavily armed soldiers as heroes is nothing less than obscene, yet the BBC TV does it ad nauseum. With Wootten Bassett no longer the featured town for public displays of sickening one-sided sentimentality, it has now found a new one in the appropriately named, Warminster.

Our utter failure to comprehend the scale of our crimes is that we soak up the propaganda of intervention in the internal affairs of foreign countries, something that for decades after WWII was wrong because it was considered as openly fascist, the very thing that the fascist countries recently defeated, like Nazi Germany and Bushido Japan, had done in their attempts at power grabbing, but following the lead of Tony Blair—a Catholic Saint in the making when the miracle appears—in West Africa and Serbia, then Afghanistan and Iraq, the invasion of other people’s countries has become acceptable as the norm, and people now write to newspapers demanding it.

Yet, while condemning Assad in Syria for killing allegedly 8000 of his own people, the figures of how many people we are killing in Afghanistan are never published except as journalistic estimates, but they are not slight, and are certainly of the same order. The long term propaganda against Gaddafi ended up in another lie, a so-called no-fly zone, which even the Russians and Chinese were willing to accept, but which turned out to be a full scale air attack which destroyed the country’s main communications and fuelling centers, and killed 50,000 people, according to the government of the anti-Gaddafi victors. Everyone knows that at least a million people were killed in the Bush/Blair WMD attack on Iraq, and the Clinton/Blair sanctions on medicine and supplies that preceded it.

Collateral damage?

Do we seriously expect that we can treat people like rats and expect them not to bite back? Six British soldiers were killed in one explosion, to be accompanied by the usual BBC and Sky sentimentality, and mock shock.

“Ingrates! We try to help them and this is what we get.”

Just what would these people do if a foreign army landed in this “Sceptred Isle” and started to kill us in our homes, streets and fields? We certainly would not feel gratitude for the brave foreigners dying to “help” us.

Well, get real! Nor do the Afghans, and nor will the Syrians, if we try the same trick there, and nor will the Iranians, who are the real object of this continuous war build up, and propaganda.

Now we hear from politicians advocating the mayhem and their brain-dead supporters—including some parents of the dead, but not others—that we ought not to stop because, if we did, “our lads” will have died in vain. Does anyone seriously buy this? We have to keep sending in battalion after battalion to lose their lives until maybe we might win. It is the gambler’s insane way to recoup his gambling debts. Double up, each time. Eventually he must win. Yes indeed, if he has infinite resources to risk. In this case lives! These dolts are gambling with the lives of our own youth, and are murdering mostly innocent peasants abroad, assuming that we must win before our resources run out—before we run out of young men.

Well, at present we have plenty of young unemployed. They had better be ready to lose their lives as well as their incomes, if the present insane strategy is to work. Major economic crises, like the one between the world wars, ended up in mass brutality. The west is building up to a mass attack on Iran which could be nuclear, and will lead to many deaths and possibly a new World War with Russia and China.

It really is time for us all to begin objecting on a serious scale, to follow the lead of the sensitive souls who wrote moving verse, sang sad songs, made troubling images, and produced films exposing war for what it is—mass cull of human life—in the hopes that it really would end all war. Jay Winter thinks they succeeded, but we are fighting one long continuous war, and have lots of heroes, many dead and more horribly injured.

How can a mass cull of our own children be of value to us? We are not facing any serious external threat like Hitler. Our threat is right here at home. It is our warmongering rulers.

Whose War?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Game Theory Suggests Prejudice Fails When Groups Interact Frequently

Swiss researchers from ETH Zurich have used game theory to find whether prejudices might sometimes be rational. Dirk Helbing, a professor of sociology, and Thomas Chadefaux investigated the conditions under which intuitive judgements might be sensible, and when they are misleading. Using game theory in which co-operation between people is tested, they created various scenarios and played them fifteen million times.

Prejudices are generally regarded as irrational because they are not based on sufficient social experience, and as unethical because they lead to misjudgements and discrimination disrupting sociality. Yet we tend to be quick to judge others. Might prejudices have been helpful in the course of evolution? be an especially effective decision making method that has evolved

Game theory experiments on people have been done for many years, and have yielded a reliable body of results. The game players simulated on the computer behave in a friendly or unfriendly manner depending on their traits—gender, age, assets, religion or cultural background. Anyone who makes wrong decisions is outsmarted. If the player is friendly and acts in a friendly way to mean one, they get taken for a ride. To avoid it, they have to know the other players and judge what is the best way to act.

The researchers exhaustively tested five different strategies:

  1. ALLD—the players play it safe and are always UNfriendly. However, they do not profit from a friendly counterpart either, and miss many opportunities to be successful.
  2. TFT—“Tit For Tat” begins in being friendly and then requires copying the opposite player. In game theory, TFT is often the most successful play.
  3. P1—just one trait of the opponent decides whether one is friendly or not, a matter of extreme “black and white”—prejudiced—thinking.
  4. P3—three traits are taken into consideration, differentiating the decision.
  5. P5—five traits are taken into consideration, making the decision more differentiated.

In all five scenarios, the researchers varied the number of participants and the duration of the game, and played the simulation a total of fifteen million times. How long the game lasts and how many participants are involved is important.

If the game only lasts for a short time and many take part, the probability that any two players will meet several times is low. So, there is less time to get to know the others. Then the unfriendly ALLD strategy is the most successful. The “black and white” strategy P1 is also effective. But the “tit for tat” strategy has the disadvantage of insufficient time to learn the opposite player’s behaviour first. So, the ALLD and black and white strategy, P1, are triumphant in short games of several players.

Their success declines rapidly when the game lasts longer. The opposite happens for the differentiated P5 and the “tit for tat” strategies. Their success only becomes apparent after a while, but then remains at a high level.

Prejudiced strategies are therefore successful and rational for brief encounters, but, as learning from mistakes is precluded and behavior has no time for adjustment, in longer more complicated encounters they yield to more subtle strategies. Thomas Chadefaux explains:

If there are only five people on an island or the people on an island have known each other for a long time, prejudices are just plain useless.

Those who are prejudiced are soon at a disadvantage, as they learn nothing new and miss many opportunities. But how close are these simulations to reality? What do they say about our everyday life? Dirk Helbing thinks:

Prejudices are—especially because they are formed quickly and easily—often convenient in the everyday world but fail when the situation becomes more complicated.

To show this, the researchers took the real world into consideration. If participants are wrongly assessed and certain traits do not necessarily have anything to with the behaviour, then what happens? Prejudiced players cannot adjust their strategy. They cannot learn and cannot improve. So, they always come up short unless the interaction is brief. Prejudice therefore is only of value to groups of people who interact briefly, as in migrant tribes coming into contact, perhaps. When people meet in a settled cosmopolitan society, subtler, differentiated strategies fare better.

What happens when the participants simply behave randomly? Then, the result deteriorates for all strategies, but, even so, the more players act randomly, the worse prejudiced players perform. Helbing explains:

While it is efficient to react to a single trait in the beginning, you must not stop learning new things in a complex world, otherwise, you miss many good opportunities.

But, developing a differentiated, and, in the long run, more successful, judgement takes time. Helbing says:

The most successful strategy is to start with simple “rules of thumb” and then to refine them.

People who gain a wide range of experiences and are willing to adapt their behavior accordingly perform the best. How you can learn new things in a targeted fashion is central. Applied in real social situations, one should encourage the mixing of different people. Helbing says:

Minorities especially have the problem that they are often wrongly treated because they are not known well enough. So, multiplying contacts with different people avoids blowing your chances of successful interactions with them. Social networks play a key role here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Zionism for Palestinians: This Is The Meaning of Jewish Fascism


The UK Far Right is Ready to Arm Against British Moslems

In a survey of political extremism—From Voting to Violence? Far Right Extremism—Dr Matthew Goodwin, of the University of Nottingham’s School of Politics and International Relations, and Professor Jocelyn Evans, of the University of Salford, examined a YouGov survey of 2,152 supporters of the British extreme right wing parties, the British National Party (BNP), the UK Independence Party and the English Defence League (EDL).

To call a spade a spade, these are fascist or crypto fascist parties, so the results are hardly surprising. Large numbers of BNP and UKIP supporters agree that violence between different ethnic, racial and religious groups in Britain is inevitable. The BNP holds that view more strongly. Many went as far as approving armed conflict to ldquo;defend &the British way of life”, evidently a euphemism for killing British Moslems. Dr Goodwin said:

It is current and former BNP members who are the most likely to think that violence may be needed to protect their group, and that inter group violence is largely inevitable.

Large majorities of BNP and UKIP supporters are convinced that Islam poses a serious danger to the West. Dr Goodwin added:

Both groups express high levels of anxiety over Islam and its religious institutions. Both BNP and UKIP supporters would feel bothered by the presence of a mosque in their local community, but to a much higher degree among the BNP supporters. BNP supporters in our sample are overwhelmingly concerned about immigration and Muslims, almost to the exclusion of all other issues. Both BNP and UKIP supporters are considerably dissatisfied with the way democracy is functioning in Britain, and again BNP supporters are the least satisfied.

The authors stress that the report is exploratory rather than a definitive assessment of far right views. Their intention is that this will lead to far bigger research project analysing the beliefs held by far right extremists.

We want to examine whether these views, taken from a relatively small sample, are specific to the far right in Britain. This would include a much larger national population and serve to strengthen the evidence base we have, which is currently weak compared to that on religious extremism.

No doubt a lot of ordinary British people, readers of the dominant right wing press which daily stirs up hatred for immigrants, feel the same way. The answer is not to kill people but to stop hate mongering by millionaire press barons. Certainly, if we are to believe the history of Christianity, that Christians cite proudly, making martyrs of a persecuted monority is only likely to feed religious fanaticism. The Christians boast of their martyrs, just as do the Moslems, but Christians have few martyrs these days, they have millionaire TV evangelists instead, but our insane governments are giving Moslems all the modern day martyrs they need.

Fascists always pick on some unpopular minority to foster hatred of. It is a way of uniting people who otherwise have nothing in common, except their hatred or suspicion of the minority. For Hitler it was the Jews. For the Zionist Jewish state of Israel it is the Palestinians, who are, of course, Moslems. For western fascists the Moslems are the hated and feared minority, but the fear has been engendered by western and Israeli governments grossly abusing Moslem people in their own countries for decades, and indeed centuries.

Despite the justified suspicions of Romans, Christians ended up dominant, forcibly closing all rival religions and introducing a thousand year dark age in Europe. Those who refuse to learn from history are forced to relive it, as George Santayana famously said, though few people ever took any notice, especially the far right and our right wing politicians, whose simple philosophy is “if a battalion is not sufficinet to win, then send in a division, and if that is insufficient then send in an army, and if…”. Greater force is their perpetual answer, but all they do is lose the people, causing massive bloodshed in the meantime. If there are devils in the world, these right wingers are they. They are a distraction from our real enemies, the 1% and their management and banking prostitutes.

Most Moslems by far in the west are poor, they are with us among the 99% and so are our allies. Unite with them!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Year After Fukushima, Nuclear Madness Persists

A year on from the Fukishima nuclear meltdown, and the strong warning against the dangers of nuclear fission energy it offers, the United States is moving forward with nuclear power, and the United Kingdom’s coalition government intends to do the same.

In the US, for the first time since 1978, the National Regulatory Commission has approved two new plants. The $14 billion facilities will be built just outside Augusta and operated by the “Southern Company” based in Atlanta, Georgia. They’re scheduled to be operating by 2016 and 2017, and be producing 10 percent of Georgia’s power.

Marilyn Brown, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy, said:

It’s smart to continue generating nuclear power in the United States. It is a reliable, cost competitive option that doesn’t contribute to air pollution or contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown helps shape the nation’s energy policies as a board member of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and chair of the company’s Nuclear Oversight Committee. She added that nuclear power plants are expensive to build, compared to natural gas facilities…

But they are clearly worth the investment. A nuclear plant produces no carbon dioxide emissions and four times the power of a typical natural gas facility. Fourteen billion is a big number, but the plants should stay online for 50 to 70 years.

Despite the benefits, critics will always point to the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. These are the nation’s first approved nuclear facilities since Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Experts contend that modern plant designs are much safer than those built previously. Glenn Sjoden, Georgia Tech professor of nuclear and radiological engineering, said:

The new plant designs are passively safe, so there are far fewer issues to worry about, like those that occurred with the older plants at Fukushima with the loss of offsite power. With the new plants, you have a convection cooling loop that uses gravity and runs by itself for days in the event of lost power. There would be no active pumping required… The more modern designs and precautions taken make nuclear the best option to satisfy our energy needs.

Since last year’s Japanese incident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been reviewing existing US plants to ensure that they can withstand earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters and making retrofit upgrades when necessary.

Critics point to nuclear waste as another challenge with nuclear power. Each of the nation’s 104 plants store the radioactive waste onsite in steel casks protected by concrete and other safety systems. These are safe too, Brown said, because of careful construction and maintenance.

Nuclear waste would be a nonissue if the US reprocessed its spent fuel like other nations such as France, Sjoden said.

Like most nations, they recycle their used fuel, since 95 percent of the fuel can be recycled back into the reactor and used again, making nuclear power the most green energy source out there. Burying the waste, as we do in the United States, is completely wasteful.

The United States generates almost 20 percent of its energy from nuclear plants, the same amount as natural gas. Coal supplies 50 percent. The remainder is generated from hydropower and other natural sources. Brown says:

We must develop more renewables sources, such as wind, solar and biopower. Industry leaders, business and the general public must also become more energy efficient. That is the key to our future.


Yet, contrary to all these sweet siren voices, in a review article in the journal Science, the University of Michigan’s Rodney Ewing, a member of the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, and his two colleagues note that a year after the March 11, 2011, magnitude 9.0 earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, scientists and engineers still do not know how nuclear fuels behave under extreme conditions. They are calling for a national research program to study how nuclear fuels behave under the extreme conditions present during core melt events like those that occurred at Fukushima.

Three of the plant’s six boiling water reactors suffered partial core melt events that involved tremendously high temperatures and powerful radiation fields, as well as interaction between seawater and nuclear fuel. Many tons of seawater were used to cool the overheated reactors and nearby spent fuel storage ponds, and direct discharge of contaminated seawater to the ocean and groundwater occurred for a month. The paper reviews the current understanding of interactions between nuclear fuel and the environment during core melt accidents. Ewing said:

What I realized while watching all of this was how little we actually knew about what happens if you take hot seawater and pour it on nuclear fuel.

Ewing is also a professor in Environmental Sciences, Nuclear Engineering. He is, in short, an expert on nuclear radiation and waste.

No one, as far as I know, had asked the question, “Well, what happens when you do this? Are we doing something really good or really bad?”. That kind of information really wasn’t available, and that expertise, as far as I could see, wasn’t there to be called upon.

He thought that, despite all the uncertainties and unknowns about the short and long term effects, using seawater to cool the Fukushima reactors was probably the right call.

You have a crisis, you have to cool the cores, and you can’t afford to wait around. Using the seawater sounds like the right thing to do.

The use of seawater at Fukushima underscores the need for fundamental knowledge about nuclear fuel that can be applied over a range of unanticipated situations. The research should include studies of the various radioactive materials released from damaged fuel during a core melt incident, as well as a thorough examination of how nuclear fuel interacts with fresh water and seawater. Such studies would help nuclear plant operators respond to unforeseen events, taking appropriate and timely action to minimize impacts on the environment and human health. Ewing pointed out:

An accident will be something that puts you in a situation that you didn’t anticipate, so the research focus should be on the situations you don’t expect to deal with. Right now, that kind of knowledge is fragmentary, at best.

These studies are both difficult and expensive, but are essential to reduce the risk associated with an increasing reliance on nuclear energy.

Fukushima, 11 March 2011

Most of the fuel in the reactors was uranium dioxide. When the tsunami inundated the site about 40 minutes after the earthquake, electrical power was lost, followed by the loss of onsite backup power, resulting in a station blackout and the loss of reactor coolant. A partial core melt event ensued in units 1, 2 and 3. The Japanese operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO, guessed there was a nearly immediate loss of core cooling in unit 1, and almost all of its fuel assemblies melted and accumulated in the bottom of the pressure vessel. Partial melting of the cores in units 2 and 3, damaging a third of the fuel assemblies in each, occurred over the following days.

Reaction of the zirconium alloy fuel cladding with water at high temperatures generated hydrogen gas that accumulated and exploded in four of the reactor units. The release of radioactivity, other than gaseous and volatile fission products, was dominated by the many tons of seawater used to cool the cores and storage pools.

A month on, Tokyo finally upgraded its assessment of the severity of the nuclear emergency to a maximum seven on an international scale—equal with Chernobyl. It was not until May 5 that workers were able to get inside the reactor building for the first time, to see the size of the task ahead of them.

During the nuclear crisis that followed, hundreds of people were exposed to increased levels of radiation. 80,000 or more people were evacuated from the area nearest the Fukushima plant. A year later, all but two of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors remain shut following the precautionary closure of nuclear plants, in a country where nuclear power once supplied nearly 30 percent of the electricity, and all those people remain displaced. Although the Japanese government has declared the plant stable, and it is awarding an initial $13 billion in contracts to begin decontamination and rehabilitation of the more than 8,000 square mile region most exposed to radioactive fallout, the cleanup will be expensive and is expected to take decades, perhaps 40 years.

Under Control? Dissenting Voices!

TEPCO and the Japanese government say things are under control at Fukushima—the tsunami crippled reactors are all in a “state of cold shutdown”—and they are keen to give the impression that there is just cleaning up to do. But that is not how those who spend their days inside the plant see it. One worker in his 50s, a subcontractor who has been working on the plant’s cooling system since September, said:

I can clearly say it’s not safe at all. There are many spots where radiation levels are extremely high,

The man said subcontractors like him were treated like animals. He did not want to be identified for fear of losing the 8,000 yen ($100) daily paycheck he receives.

There have been deaths on site—a 60 year old subcontractor’s fatal heart attack in May was put down to overwork, according to a labour standards inspector—although TEPCO says none related to radiation exposure. In the height of summer with the mercury rising to 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit), workers had to go for up to three hours at a time without water because they were unable to take off their masks.

Chie Hosoda, a spokeswoman for the utility, admits conditions at the plant were unacceptable in the past, with the radiation exposure of some workers left unmeasured because of a shortage of dosimeters:

But working conditions have improved now and we are strictly checking the radiation exposure of all workers

TEPCO says at least 167 workers are no longer able to work in nuclear plants because their lifetime radiation exposure has topped 100 millisieverts—the upper limit for workers. Engineers, nuclear experts and ordinary electricians are among the 3,600 people working at the plant every day and TEPCO says it has no problems securing a work force despite the obvious hazards. But one worker told the Tokyo Shimbun:

Those who used to work at the Fukushima nuclear plant for a long time do not go to Daiichi because it’s dangerous. Payment is not good and many of them do not want to lose their jobs by risking exposure to high levels of radiation.

Katsuyasu Iida, secretary general of Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Centre, a support group for low paid workers, warned the utility may face a labour shortage “if it fails to improve working conditions”. Many with experience in the industry shy away from the plant.

Experts warn that few permanent safety measures are in place at the plant, where the initial rush to contain the accident saw a series of improvised solutions. They say that in another natural disaster—a big earthquake or another large tsunami—the plant could prove very vulnerable. Kazuhiko Kudo, a nuclear reactor expert and professor at Kyushu University said:

The cooling system is not a proper one for normal nuclear reactors and is still a stop-gap measure.

News of setbacks regularly emerge. In early February, TEPCO said radioactive water had spilled out of one of the reactors after a valve in the cooling system jammed, frozen by subzero winter temperatures.

One of the biggest challenges, as Professor Ewing said, is that scientists do not know exactly what they are up against and can only speculate what the inside of the reactors look like—how much of the fuel has melted and how far through containment vessels it has eaten. Kudo said that containment was still a priority and the risk of radiation was still high:

Stabilisation of the plant is a prerequisite for an end to the accident.

Freelance journalist Tomohiko Suzuki, who has written a book based on his experience working undercover at the plant last summer, said it was clearly still “in a state of crisis”. He said:

[TEPCO] was pushing for sloppy construction as it has been in a hurry to achieve cold shutdown as quickly as possible. TEPCO has to maintain this cold shutdown status for years and years to come, but can they make it happen without exposing plant workers to radiation? That’s the question.

The Reaction of the Authorities

The Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF) established an independent investigation panel to review how the government, TEPCO, and other key organizations responded during the disaster. The foundation’s chairman, Yoichi Funabashi, and staff director of the investigation panel, Kay Kitazawa, explain the reasons behind the lack of disaster preparation. Their findings are based on interviews with nearly 300 people involved in the accident, including then Prime Minister, Naoto Kan.

Kan secretly instructed Shunsuke Kondo, chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), to draw up a “worst case scenario” for the nuclear accident as the crisis deepened—that is, six increasingly drastic scenarios that would play out as various systems at the nuclear plant failed. The RJIF panel obtained a copy of this plan and published it in the Bulletin. The most extreme scenario would have involved evacuation of all residents living within 170 km or more of the Fukushima plant, and, depending on the wind direction, could have meant evacuating the 30 million residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

According to the investigation, the tsunami could and should have been anticipated. Earlier research on the Jogan tsunami of 869 AD showed that high water levels should not have been considered unprecedented along the Japanese coastline where Fukushima is located. TEPCO’s own nuclear energy division understood the risk, but the company dismissed these probabilities as “academic”. Regulatory authorities also encouraged the company to incorporate new findings into its safety plans, but did not make these measures mandatory.

Many human errors were made at Fukushima, illustrating the dangers of building multiple nuclear reactor units close together. Masao Yoshida, the director of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station at the time of the accident, had to cope simultaneously with core meltdowns at three reactors, and exposed fuel pools at four units. The errors were not the fault of one individual, but were systemic. When onsite workers sought answers in the official guide, the Severe Accident Manual, they were not there. And those who misjudged the condition of the emergency cooling system had never actually put the system into service. They had not been trained for such a crisis.

The reports says TEPCO bears the primary responsibility for incompetent handling of the disaster’s aftermath. The organisation failed to make rapid decisions, losing government trust in the process. It highlights government regulators, including the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), and the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) for their poor response. The Japanese government’s System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) was designed to help governments decide when to evacuate in the event of a radioactive leak. The system was not used, negating the time and money invested in developing the system in the first place. The Japanese government is now considering the creation of a new nuclear safety agency to replace NISA and NSC and be constructed as an external organ of the Environment Ministry.

A public myth of “absolute safety”, nurtured by nuclear power proponents over decades, and being echoed afresh by Marilyn Brown, et al, contributed to the lack of adequate preparation. The public was also ill informed about the meaning of reported radiation levels. The authors conclude:

It’s clear from our investigation of the Fukushima Daiichi accident that even in the technologically advanced country of Japan, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, were astonishingly unprepared, at almost all levels, for the complex nuclear disaster that started with an earthquake and a tsunami. And this grave oversight will affect the Japanese people for decades.

Worries of Concerned Scientists

In a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) entitled, “The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2011: Living on Borrowed Time”, 15 cases of safety equipment problems and security shortcomings at 13 nuclear plants were reported during the last year, a “high” number, although no employees or members of the public were harmed in the incidents. Even so, the lapses were serious enough to warrant special inspections by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has oversight of the industry and which had itself a mixed record in responding to the problems.

In some instances the NRC did an outstanding job of addressing safety problems before they could lead to a potentially dangerous situation, but there were other times when the federal agency did a less than adequate job of cracking down on nuclear plant owners, who in some cases have flouted agency regulations for decades. Dave Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with 17 years of experience working at nuclear plants, lead author of the report, and the director of UCS’s Nuclear Safety Project, said…

…the agency too often does not live up to its potential, and we are still finding significant problems at nuclear plants that could too easily trigger a serious accident.

Lax NRC oversight has allowed some problems to fester for decades, and found there are 27 reactors with inadequate protection against earthquakes, and 47 nuclear reactors—nearly half of the 104 nuclear plants operating in the United States—still do not comply with fire regulations established by the NRC in 1980 and amended in 2004. Lochbaum said:

That US plant owners could have avoided nearly all the near misses in 2011 if they had addressed known problems in a timely manner suggests that they and the NRC have not learned the lessons of these accidents. Someday their luck may run out.

The vulnerability of nuclear reactors to earthquakes was underscored after problems following a magnitude 5.8 quake that rattled the US East Coast last August, damaging two reactors at the North Anna plant in Virginia, some 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the epicenter of the tremor. Owners of atomic plants too often either close an eye to problems or fail to address them adequately.

Do we want to put our lives, and more importantly, the lives of our children in the hands of smug self-congratulatory back-slappers whose perpetual optimism in the face of warning after warning can be nothing other than insanity? This planet gets enough energy everyday from the sun, and some from the moon, and we can tap it naturally whether directly, or when it has changed into wind power water power, wave power, tidal power, and so on. It is sustainable energy. And we have the technology to overcome problems of the variability of supply.

Fossil fuels are poisoning the air now, and causing global warming. Nuclear energy can never be totally safe, and the waste from it will be radioactive when no one knows where it has been buried. If we do not destroy the human race soon, we will set up a time bomb for its destruction. No one motivated by greed and self aggrandisement will care a toss, but the rest of us do, or should, and we should not be taken in.