Saturday, March 31, 2012

US Mass Media Guilty of Lying About Trayvon Martin Shooting - Deliberate Attempt to Incite Racial Tensions or Race Riots?


Today's blog post is about a very recent incident and a set of timely articles about one of the most disgraceful examples of false reporting of the news I've ever heard in my life, the Trayvon Martin shooting. 

Now, the mass media has been guilty of some very bad and false reporting in the past but they've generally had the excuse of being fed the wrong information by the government or by other sources (if that is an excuse for not getting off their a*ses and doing their jobs by doing some actual research and fact checking!) This time they have no excuse. This time the mass media intentionally and deliberately falsified the news. Today's blog post should make your blood boil with how dishonest and irresponsible our mass media has become. 

It's a recurring theme of my blog and writings. I've written many times about how you can't believe anything that you see or hear on the mass media. In: Japan Nuclear Disaster Update & Strong Criticism of Western Media Sensationalism I wrote:

Remember my Golden Rule about TV: "90% of everything you see on TV is bullshit; the other 10% are commercials."

Actually, it astounds me that people do accept what what the media says as gospel truth. Don't forget that this is the very same media that told us 3 years ago that Swine Flu was going to kill more than 50 million people worldwide. This was the same media that told us that the USA had to invade Iraq because of Saddam's nooklar weapons. This was the same media that told us that SARS also was a killer virus that was going to wipe out entire populations. This was the same media that told us that Bird Flu was going to do the same.

As of today, worldwide deaths from Swine Flu: 82. No nuclear weapons for Saddam (if he had any, do you really think we would have invaded Iraq?). Worldwide deaths from SARS: 100. Worldwide deaths from Bird Flu: 80. Don't even get me started on Man Made Global Warming!

Of course unless you've been asleep, or in a coma, for these last 20 years you'd know that the mainstream mass media is dying yet they'll do anything to keep their ratings up and keep the sponsorship monies coming in. At least with SARS the mass media had the excuse to claim ignorance! 

And now, back to the Trayvon Martin shooting, but before I go on, let me say that if the shooter, George Zimmerman, is found guilty of murder then he deserves the heaviest penalty under Florida law. But, as is the case in a supposed civil society that is guided by laws and not the rule of vigilante as, ostensibly the USA is, he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law...

How, until now, the news media has handled this incident is an absolute disgrace. I know, from working with the mass media, that far too many people who work in these places have no qualms about lying, and I can understand (sort of) them being ignorant about things like SARS and "deadly flu bugs" but this case today surprises even me It should infuriate any thinking person; the American news media have been caught red-handed lying and making up false information and editing the tapes of the police 911 call concerning the shooting of the black youth Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. The very taped phone conversations that supposedly paint the shooter as a racist NEVER HAPPENED!

"Never let a good crisis go to waste" - Rahm Emmanuel Obama's former Chief of Staff

It seems that they are intentionally stoking racial flames. For what purpose is anyone's guess!... Or is it?... Stay tuned as I did find one theory and will share it with you in a moment.... But first about the false information...

As some of you may know, this killing has been painted as a racially motivated killing. The biggest piece of evidence that this was a racially motivated killing is a recording of the phone call to police emergency 911 whereby the shooter, George Zimmerman, is supposedly quoted as saying, "This guys looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."

Well, now we find out that this conversation never occurred! Karl Denninger over at the Market Ticker has the scoop in: NBC is the Skittle Network - Are you *****ed off yet? You will be:

NBC News is being excoriated in some circles – with competitor Fox News Channel leading the charge – for selectively editing audio of the 911 call placed by George Zimmerman just before he killed Trayvon Martin.
Yep.   They got caught too. 
In the NBC segment, Zimmerman says: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
The full version, though, unfolds like this:
Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
911 operator: “Okay. And this guy, is he white black or Hispanic?”
Zimmerman: “He looks black.”
WTF?! A television network actually editing and altering a police recording to further a hidden agenda!? Who decided on this? That person and the program director and producer should have been fired immediately or even before this ever aired. Nazi Germany's Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of this fakery.


But, really, why am I surprised? I shouldn't be. The news (in bed with the government) lies about everything. They lied about World War I, World War II, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam War, SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Iraq, Libya, Kony 2012, Iran, Ron Paul, GMO, Afghanistan, etc., etc. I could go on for as many years as there are days of the former American republic....

But to edit recorded messages to push an agenda to spark racially motivated hate in the USA now and at this time? There are some very sick and evil people in charge of our government and the mass media. 

And on top of this, to throw fuel on the fire, idiots like Spike Lee actually used Twitter to Tweet out the home address of the parents of the shooter (Actually he is so stupid that he tweeted out the address of the wrong people the first time!) What do the parents of the shooter have to do with this event? Nothing! This after the Black Panthers put a $10,000 reward on George Zimmerman's head!

Folks, these sorts of actions are crimes that used to be called "inciting violence" and both Spike Lee and the Black Panthers who made these calls need to be made to pay for this. They should be arrested and put in jail awaiting trial. I don't care if they are black, white, hispanic, purple or what.

Denninger goes on with some very astute observations that make me proud of someone who takes everything they see/hear on the mass media with a healthy dose of skepticism (I wish the average person did too). He continues with a very interesting question that you can try to answer for yourself:

Trayvon Martin was allegedly out at night, on foot and in a rainstorm getting iced tea and skittles. Ok, here's the address where the altercation took place from the police report:

2381 Retreat View Cir
Sanford, FL 32771

Now go to Google Maps and type in that address. (Here:

Next, find me a convenience store -- you know, a place to buy skittles and an iced tea. Just type in "convenience store" in the "Search Nearby" box.

Where's the closest one and how far is it on foot?

In a rainstorm, for a bag of skittles and can of iced tea, both ways?  Possible?  Sure.  Plausible?  That story ought to be able to be checked, and rather easily -- all convenience stores these days have video recorders.

So has anyone checked to see if indeed the deceased hiked the anywhere from 2-4 miles to and from one of the half-dozen convenience stores in the general area (none closer than about a mile on foot, incidentally, and all somewhat of a pain in the ass to get to due to what appears to be a limited access highway -- 417 -- between the location and the stores which would force you to walk quite a bit further than you could go "as the crow flies".)

These are pretty basic questions.  In fact the closest convenience store is a Murphy USA; to reach the others north of the location (the ones south are a LOT further) you'd have to walk past it, so it's highly likely that's the store -- if the story of going out for Skittles and iced tea holds up.
That is an excellent question and it deserves much attention. 

I like them too but I'd never walk 2 ~ 4 miles in the rain to buy a pack... Would you?

But this post is not to perform detective work. This particular post is, once again, a full frontal assault on the mainstream mass media, especially TV, and once again proof of what I've always said, "You can't believe anything you see/hear on TV."

The mass media in the USA (and Japan) today are propaganda channels for the government. This incident should prove as just one more piece of evidence towards that fact.

"But why would the mass media fake information like this? For what purpose?" You ask? I can tell you two off hand: They need a crisis to keep up ratings. Riots and violent demonstrations make great TV. Great TV makes for high ratings. High ratings makes for profitability. If you don't think the TV news won't fudge the reports for a more sensationalist effect in order to make more money, then I have a TV station on top of a bridge to sell you. 

And two, it's all a part of the Military-Industrial-Media complex. 

What does the Military-Industrial-Media complex have to do with his? Consider this next article. On Lew Rockwell just today this appeared featuring a guy who predicted this sort of racially inflamed incident would be used by the Obama administration in 2012 in order to get re-elected... The final sentence gives you the motivation for the theory, "Does anyone expect the President to successfully run on the economy, health care, tax cuts, or budget reductions?"

From Lew RockwellPowder Keg: Rap Song Charges 'White Man' With Murder: 'Strap on your AK's Let's Start a Riot':

Flashback to August 16, 2011, when we published a White House Insider report detailing the possibility that the Obama administration would incite race riots in the build up to the 2012 Presidential election:
Insider: Yes. It’s in place and underway – being developed. Further developed. It’s gonna – gonna tie it in with the unions somehow. I don’t know exaclty how – just that’s included in it. It will be an all out campaign on race. The goal is to completely mobilize the Black vote while shaming an even greater number of white voters into not opposing a second Obama term. They are gonna get out the guilt vote man. The guilt vote!
Ulsterman: Obama…Democrats in general, already get the Black vote – most of it.
Insider: They want all of it. Every last one. Then bring in the Hispanic vote, tie them up in this race issue as well. Republicans want to toss you out. Obama wants to bring you in. They hate the color of Obama’s skin just like they hate the color of yours. Hey White America, you aren’t part of that group who hates non-whites are you? If not, you better get out and vote for Barack Obama.
Ulsterman: That sounds overly simplistic and insulting to voters. You really think something like that would actually work?
Insider: Hell yes-yes… it can work. It’s not gonna come so easy as it did in 2008, but that’s why they plan to ramp it up – the race issue.
In that report we noted the distinct possibility that the Obama Team would Incite Race Riots and attempt to Use White Guilt in 2012 Election:
A politician, especially at the highest levels, will stop at nothing to maintain their power. President Obama is no different, and considering that mouthpieces in his administration have repeatedly referred to unsupportive segments of the electorate as terrorists and racists, is it any wonder they are considering this strategy?
Does anyone expect the President to successfully run on the economy, health care, tax cuts, or budget reductions? 

I don't have any snappy cute remarks to make about this godd*mned disgrace. The only thing I can say is that if you believe what you see on TV and take that as gospel truth, then please.... Go back to your sleep or back to your coma...

They've got a special TV program on especially for the likes of you.

In my opinion, and as someone who has worked in the mass media for decades, I don't believe there is any place in journalism for these sorts of examples of malicious corporate propaganda.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports: "NBC News has fired a producer who was involved in the production of a misleading segment about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida." I wrote this blog post on March 31, it's now April 8. What the hell took NBC so long to fire that guy? And, if that producer is black, then I believe that the shooter, Zimmerman, could have a case against NBC news that his civil rights have been violated. If so, I hope he sues NBC for tens of millions of dollars.... And wins!

Beautiful Video of Hanami (Flower Views) in Fukushima Japan

Tomorrow is April 1st. The plums have already blossomed in Tokyo and we're having our annual hanami bash tomorrow. I've put the information on Twitter with tweets and on Facebook with, er, what-you-call-thems, so please come. Everyone is welcome!

Here's a breath-taking video of flowers in Fukushima with many views of "Hanami Yama" (Flower view mountain). Enjoy the beauty of Japan:

Japan's Noda Government Passes 200% Tax Increase - Look For Noda to Be Out by July - September at the Latest

Two interesting articles out this morning. The first one concerns the government of Japanese Prime Minister Noda approving a 200% Sales Tax increase. Fools!

The Wall Street Journal reports in Japan passes tax increases:

The Japanese government on Friday approved a politically charged bill to double the national sales tax, taking action after prolonged wrangling within the ruling party and narrowly avoiding an embarrassment for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The Cabinet approval finally clears the way for Mr. Noda to meet his promise to bring the bill before parliament before the March deadline stipulated by the tax law, with attention now focused on parliamentary debate, expected to begin in early April.

Passage of the bill, which would raise the tax to 10% in two stages by 2015, is likely to be far from smooth.

A large bloc of lawmakers from of Mr. Noda's ruling Democratic Party of Japan is threatening to vote against it, due mainly to worries that a tax increase would derail Japan's fragile economic recovery.

Mr. Noda also has yet to win support from opposition parties who are expected to use the issue to further pressure Mr. Noda to call a general election. Their support in the upper house of parliament is vital for the measure to become law.

Here are the key points to consumption tax (sales tax) increase bill:

-- The rate will be raised to 8 percent in April 2014, before being further increased to 10 percent in October the following year.

-- Relief measures will be introduced for low-income earners, such as tax exemption with the provision of benefits.

-- Full-fledged discussions should begin on establishing a national revenue agency.

-- An economic turnaround should be set as a condition for implementing the higher consumption tax rate in the future. The government should achieve a nominal economic growth rate of about 3 percent and a real growth rate of around 2 percent, while also implementing necessary measures to achieve the target.

-- Through comprehensive examinations of economic and other conditions, the government should consider suspending the implementation of the higher tax rate or other necessary measures.

That a large bloc of his own party members will vote against this law shows that this is the death knell for the Noda government. Never mind that opposition parties are dead-set against it. I've written about how raising taxes without cutting spending at the same time will not fix Japan's budget and debt problems. I've also mentioned that until this really becomes a major crisis, then the Japanese people will not tolerate a sales tax increase. The most recently was just about a month ago: Japanese Prime Minister Says he Can Get Sales Tax Doubled - I Predict He Will Be Out of a Job by September 2012:

There won't be any sales tax increase under this prime minister. He will be out of office if he really tries to do so. The crisis amongst the public and the political circles hasn't come to a boiling point (because people don't understand how exponential growth of our debts and interest rates on those debts are going to affect us). And, until this really hits home, people will not tolerate a sales tax increase.

We're way past that anyway. Even with a tax increase, if it is not coupled with a massive decrease in government spending, it will not matter because our debts will continue to accumulate along with the interest on those debts. Past history has shown that tax increases will not help as the government will deficit spend any increase in revenues it gets. WhenNoboru Takeshita was prime minister and instituted sales tax in 1988, he claimed that it would end our debt problem. It didn't. It couldn't without a cut in spending. After years of borrowing, we are already well past double the GDP in debt. We need to begin paying down that debt before any talk of a sales tax increase will even matter. That means we must massively cut spending right now

This is basic mathematics, folks. 

We need to cut spending, including interest on our debt - as well as paying down that debt to under what is received in revenue - as well as having tax increases to fix the problem we are in. I am against any and all tax increases especially if they aren't coupled with massive cuts in spending - and that's not cuts in future proposed spending, that's cuts in today's current budget.

It's simple. If you get five, you cannot spend seven. 

Without massive cuts in today's current spending, they can raise taxes to the moon and it won't help. Either way, I predict that this tax increase hasn't the chance of a snow-cone in hell of passing into law. The Noda government is extremely unpopular. The Daily Yomiuri reports in Noda Cabinet approval ratings slides to 30%:

The approval rating of the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda fell to 30 percent from 37 percent in a January survey conducted immediately after a Cabinet reshuffle, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey has found.

This trend doesn't bode well for any tax increases. Expect the next survey to have Noda in the low 20s.

In the nationwide telephone survey conducted Friday through Sunday, 57 percent of the respondents said they disapproved of Noda's Cabinet, up six percentage points from the previous survey conducted Jan. 13-14.

The approval rating of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan fell to 16 percent, down nine points from the previous survey and marking the lowest rating since the party won control of the government in September 2009.

The survey results suggest Noda is likely to face a difficult time ahead in his policy management.

Interestingly, it seems that while I was writing this blog post, the coalition government is already falling apart. Refer to: Government junior coalition partner already starting to unravel over consumption tax bill:

On Friday, PNP leader Shizuka Kamei said he would pull his party out of the coalition after the cabinet approved the bill. “We joined the government based on its 2009 election manifesto that it would not raise taxes,” Kamei said, according to TV Asahi.
This consumption tax increase proposal is dead in the water before it even gets launched. This really makes you wonder about what Noda is thinking. Proposing a sales tax increase when the economy is so bad and things are so difficult for the average person just shows how completely out of touch these politicians are to the public. They can only think of one thing and one thing only to fix budgets and that is raising taxes...

Our problems are debt... Raising taxes causes spending by the public to decrease proportionately... We need to massively cut spending! When will they ever learn?

Well, in Noda's case it won't matter if he ever learns... He's about to be out of a job.

Hanami Party Sunday April 1, 2012 at Tamagawa!


April 1, 2012, I will host a massive Hanami party in Tamagawa. It is free for everyone. If you are around, please come along. The party starts at 5:30 am and runs all day into the night. DO NOT DRIVE THERE IF YOU ARE GOING TO DRINK! (If you aren't going to drink, why go?)

The place is just from Tamagawa station on the Toyoko Line or Futakotamagawa station on the Denentoshi line. Please take a bus about an 8 minute bus ride! There will be a few hundred of my friends and their families and kids there too. Everyone is welcomed! It's completely free. Please bring your own booze and some snacks... I will bring some free food too but it is usually all gone with the early birds who get there before 7 am and start the festivities REALLY early! 

(First 200 people there get a free badge!)

Hey! I want to have a 【花見たかったけど寒いので4月にしようよ!」Party. 多摩川尾山台近辺4月1日(日)もちろん、ただ!Free! Family fun party! (これはInterFMの番組や局とはかんけいありません)!皆どうですか?このメッセージを読んだら、知り合いに連絡してください!僕はみんなの連絡先が分からないので。。みんなPartyしよう! 
日時;4月1日 日曜 朝7時から午後の4時ごろまで 
■目標は Volkswagen世田谷認定中古車センターの看板です。 
東京急行電鉄・東横線・目黒線・東急多摩川線 [多摩川駅] 
東京急行電鉄・田園都市線・大井町線 [二子玉川駅] 
東急東横線・目黒線・多摩川線 多摩川駅 または 
田園都市線 二子玉川駅より東急バスでそれぞれ8分 
[ 玉11 ] 二子玉川駅←→多摩川駅 



東京急行電鉄・東横線・目黒線・東急多摩川線 [多摩川駅] 
東京急行電鉄・田園都市線・大井町線 [二子玉川駅] 
東急東横線・目黒線・多摩川線 多摩川駅 または 
田園都市線 二子玉川駅より東急バスでそれぞれ8分 
[ 玉11 ] 二子玉川駅←→多摩川駅 




Friday, March 30, 2012

The Ultimate Japanese Song and Karaoke: Four Minute Taste of the Essence of Japan: 浪花節だよ人生は

Ever wanted to go to Japan but couldn't afford it or just haven't had the chance to? Well, here's your chance, folks. This short blog post will give you one integral part of anyone's vacation to Japan all in just under four minutes.

Kimura Tomomi made this song a standard Enka classic

Ask any foreigner whose ever been to Japan and partied with Japanese people and they will tell you that this, if anything could, captures one slice of the essence of Japan. Laugh now, but it's a Karaoke video. 


Let me set up the situation for you (as it happened to me!): You've been in Japan for one or two nights and your Japanese friends want to take you out eating and drinking. Of course you want to go and do.

They take you out to Shibuya or Shinjuku or some place that you can't remember the name of. First you go to an Izakaya and eat all sorts of delicious foods that come in all sorts of small plates. Everyone eats a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There's all sorts of foods there. The typical Japanese diet is not just a huge plate with one slab of beef, some mashed potatoes and gravy and bread. The Japanese eat a tine bit of this and that.

Of course you start off drinking beer. Everyone makes a toast and, instead of yelling, "Cheers!" they yell "Kampai!" (You just learned a very important Japanese word!)

After drinking and eating some,  then your Japanese hosts start drinking something else. It's probably sho-chu (Korean liquor). They ask you to try it. Heck, you're in Japan for the first time. What the heck? You'll try anything once. You do. The sho-chu is great! You drink a lot of it.

More food comes and you continue to eat and drink. Everyone is speaking Japanese so you haven't the clue as to what people are talking about and what's really going on, but you don't care... You're having a blast!

Then, it's on to the Japanese sake!

You get tipsy and have to go to the restroom... It's one of your first forays into Japanese world by yourself. The restaurant mama points you in the direction of the restroom. You walk in. You think, "Woah! These rooms are tiny! And what's that water faucet doing over the toilet water tank? Is that water clean?" 

When you return to your table, your friends continue with the festivities. You've eaten and drank to your hearts content. But, no! This is Japan! We have to go to somewhere else! Your friends want to go to Karaoke! You hate Karaoke, but you go anyway.

Outside, as you walk the city, you are blown away by the neon lights and the pretty girls who are just everywhere! What a sensory overload...

And the city is clean and the sidewalks are safe. There is no crime to fear! Heck, the most dangerous person in the entire 1 mile circumference of where you are is probably you!

You get to the Karaoke club. You haven't a clue as to which direction you came from. The club is a nice place. You go in. You drink more! It's a blast. "Wow! Japanese people are good singers!" You think (but no. They just are used to the controls of the Karaoke machine!) Everyone sings. You watch.

Then, the ultimate "Japanese song" and "Japanese Karaoke Video" comes on.... Like I said, this one video, at least for me, encapsulates the entire thing in just under 4 minutes.

浪花節だよ人生は (Naniwa Bushidayo Jinsei Wa) Suggested viewing? Watch along with drinking beer and sake

Later, your hosts make sure you find your way back to where you are staying... The next day, you wake up with a hangover...

You think, "God! I love Japan! I wish I could stay here forever."

Radiation and Reason - the Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear

Are you worried about radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plants? Are you confused about conflicting news reports? Do you wish you had some better information so that you can judge what's best for you and your family?

Well, the only way to do that is to educate yourself.

A good friend sends me the link to the Radiation and Reason website by professor Wade Allison. Professor Allison is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Oxford University and author of the book Radiation and Reason - the Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear

The book has been getting excellent reviews and after reading, I thought that you, dear reader, might find this quite interesting. But first, the things that initially caught my eye were some of the reviews:

Even if you disagree with where Allison takes his arguments, a large part of the book is a good accessible review of the science of radiation and its biological effects. This in itself makes it a potentially valuable read for activists interested in nuclear and environmental issues.” - Peace News, July/August 2010

"Why I'm becoming a pro-nuke nut..... I'd like to urge readers to check out two even more provocative analysts of the risks of nuclear energy..... The other scholar challenging my nuclear views is Wade Allison.... I do think that these and similar views should be included in the conversation we're having about how to solve our energy problems. These are desperate times, and we must consider all alternatives available to us—including nuclear energy, which just a few months ago I fervently opposed.” - John Horgan, Scientific American 23 August 2010

On that note, I'd like to reprint the final chapter of the book here for you to read to help you draw your own conclusions about the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Professor Wade Allison

Chapter 11 Summary of Conclusions

Risks to health associated with ionising radiation have been
overestimated by a wide margin. This conclusion has been
reached bringing together three sources of scientific information:
firstly a century of clinical experience of radiotherapy; secondly
the current knowledge of radiobiology based on laboratory
studies; thirdly the analysis of the long-term health records of
large populations of people exposed to radiation, either as a
single (acute) dose or as a continuing (chronic) one. The result is
that new safety levels for human radiation exposures are
suggested: 100 millisievert in a single dose; 100 millisievert in
total in any month; 5,000 millisievert as a total whole-of-life
exposure. These figures are conservative, and may be debatable
within factors of two, but not ten.
There are three reasons why existing radiation safety standards
have been set at levels that are typically a thousand times more
cautious: firstly the association in the public mind of radiation
with the dangers of nuclear weapons; secondly the advice of
authorities, set up with a narrow remit to minimise public
exposure to radiation and to satisfy the public aspiration for
safety and reassurance; thirdly the lack of available firm
scientific evidence and understanding in earlier decades. During
the Cold War era there were good political reasons not to
minimise the health legacy of a nuclear war, but this association
is now engrained in the general consciousness. In their physical
destructive power nuclear weapons are especially dangerous.
But, when the initial blast with its flash of ionising radiation and
heat has gone, the residual radioactivity and fallout have a much
smaller impact on human health than was supposed in the past.
The underlying idea that a radiation dose, however small, leaves
an indelible mark on health is not supportable. The evidence that
workers exposed to radiation have 15–20% lower mortality from
cancer before age 85 suggests that low doses of radiation might
be beneficial.
New dangers are now evident. These are more global and
threatening than any local nuclear incident, and arise from
changes in the Earth's atmosphere, triggered by the continuing
use of fossil fuels. Although many initiatives are possible in
response, the only large-scale solution is a major switch to
nuclear power for electricity generation and the supply of
additional fresh water. For this to happen rapidly, cheaply and
without disruption, the public perception of ionising radiation
needs to be turned around, and substantial changes in regulations
and working practices, based on new safety levels, determined
afresh. For the future, improved biological understanding may be
able to justify relaxing safety levels still further, and legislation
and working practices should be drawn up, allowing for this
possibility. Such a relaxation of safety levels by factors of about
a thousand means that current concerns, such as waste,
decommissioning, radiation health, terrorism and costs, can be
seen in a better light.
This is a most positive conclusion. But are we able and ready to
reconsider our views, and then act fast enough to lessen the
impending change in climate?
Epilogue: Fukushima
Instability and self destruction
There is a legend in English folklore about Canute, a wise king
of England and Scandinavia (1016-1035). His flattering courtiers
told him that he was 'So great, he could command the tides of the
sea to go back'. But he knew his own limitations -- even if his
courtiers did not -- so he had his throne carried to the seashore
and sat on it as the tide came in, commanding the waves to
advance no further. When they did not, he had made his point
that, though the deeds of kings might appear great in the minds
of men, they were as nothing in the face of nature. As with the
sea, so with radiation; it is nature and science that determine the
effect of radiation and its safety, not political authority. Just
following safety regulations is no substitute for achieving some
On 11 March 2011 a magnitude-9 earthquake struck the northeast
coast of Japan and generated a tsunami that completely
devastated a wide coastal area. The death toll was 15,247 with
8,593 missing (as at 27 May) and over 100,000 properties were
completely destroyed [62]. All eleven nuclear reactors at four
nuclear power plants in the region that were operating at the time
of the earthquake immediately shut down exactly as designed. In
the aftermath of the subsequent tsunami three nuclear reactors at
the Fukushima Daiichi plant destroyed themselves and released
radioactive material into the environment. The accident was
declared to be 'severity 7', the maximum on the nuclear accident
scale, the same as Chernobyl -- but Chernobyl was quite
different; its reactor was not shut down, there was no
containment structure to inhibit the spread of radioactivity and
the entire reactor core was exposed to the open air with a
graphite fire that burned and contributed further heat to 'boil off'
and send all volatile material high into the atmosphere.
So what happened to these reactors at Fukushima? The description 'shut down' means that the neutron flux was reduced
to zero and all nuclear fission ceased. Although there was never
any risk of a nuclear fission explosion -- a nuclear bomb -- heat
continued to be produced by radioactive decay, initially at 7% of
full reactor power and falling to 1/2% within a day. This 'decay
heat' is a feature of every fission reactor, as described in Fig. 22,
and the Fukushima reactors were provided with many ways to
disperse this heat without releasing radioactivity into the
environment. At the time of the accident the tsunami deprived
the reactors of power -- connections to the electrical utility were
severed, emergency diesel generators were flooded and back-up
batteries were exhausted after a few hours. As a result the
cooling systems failed and the reactor cores became too hot and
started to melt. In addition the pressure in the reactor
containment vessels rose beyond their design strength. To
prevent complete rupture it was necessary to reduce this pressure
by venting steam including some volatile radioactive material,
largely iodine and caesium. The released gas also included some
hydrogen which exploded (chemically) in the air, blowing the
roof off the outermost cladding of the buildings and hurling some
contaminated debris around the plant and its neighbourhood.
However, it would seem that these explosions did not involve
any further release of activity as they were external to the
primary containment vessel.
Of the dispersed radioactive elements, iodine-131 is known to be
dangerous because it causes thyroid cancer if ingested by
children who have not taken prophylactic iodine tablets. In Japan
these tablets were made available, unlike at Chernobyl (see
chapter 6). Since the activity of iodine-131 halves every eight
days following cessation of nuclear fission, there was no iodine
in the spent fuel ponds. Nevertheless the cooling of these storage
ponds and their potential radioactive discharges have been an
additional focus of attention. Radioactive caesium -- particularly
caesium-137 which has a half-life of 30 years -- was released in
significant quantities both at Fukushima and at Chernobyl.
Outside the plant at Chernobyl there were no fatalities that can
be attributed to radioactivity (other than iodine) and therefore
Instability and self destruction none attributable to caesium. 
Indeed it is a curious fact that at
Fukushima, in spite of the intense media interest in the radiation,
while the tsunami killed thousands, the radiation killed none, and
is unlikely to do so in the future. [After six weeks 30 workers
had received a radiation dose between 100 and 250 milli-sievert
[63]. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki 41 people contracted radiation induced
cancer in 50 years out of 5949 who received a dose in
this range -- that is 1 in 150 (Table 5). At Chernobyl no
emergency worker who received less than 2,000 milli-sievert
died from Acute Radiation Syndrome (Fig. 9b).]
The powerful self destruction of the reactors at Fukushima has
made arresting media headlines that have been closely followed
by predictable promises of increased safety by the authorities.
Modern reactor designs include more safety features than those
at Fukushima and spending many millions of dollars on
protecting a reactor against self destruction has always been a
major element of its design and construction. But the record
shows that human lives are far less at risk in nuclear than in
conventional accidents -- at Windscale (0), Three Mile Island (0),
Chernobyl (50) or Fukushima (0) than at Piper Alpha (167),
Bhopal (3,800) or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (11). The
distinction would seem to be the simple legacy of fear associated
with nuclear radiation. Distance is no barrier to alarm and fear;
press reports of traces of activity from Fukushima detected as far
away as Scotland, often failed to note the miniscule level found.
Such reports sometimes have serious consequences; following
Chernobyl, statistics for births in Greece published in the
medical literature showed evidence for nearly 2,000 extra
induced abortions attributed to the perceived threat [64]. Instead
of spending large sums on appeasing fears by isolating people
from radiation yet further in the name of safety, resources should
be spent on real public education about nuclear radiation and its
benefits for mankind.
Within days of the accident at Fukushima the media had
exhausted their ability to described the size of the radiation
threat, so spread panic rather than information. As a result many
people fled Tokyo by plane and train. The cause was the fear that
nuclear radiation engenders, rather than any knowledge of the
radiation effect itself. Over-cautious radiation safety limits,
enshrined in regulation in Japan as elsewhere, caused apparently
incomprehensible information to be given by the authorities. For
example, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the
electric utility company responsible for Fukushima, said that in
the week of the 4 April it had released 10,400 tons of slightly
contaminated water into the sea and that, although this contained
100 times the legal limit for iodine-131, this level would be safe,
and that eating fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day
for a year would add some 0.6 mSv to the dose above natural
background [63]. These statements are probably true but their
apparent mutual contradiction is a source for understandable
alarm. This contradiction would not have occurred if the legal
limits had been set to match a level As High As Relatively Safe
(AHARS) instead of As Low As Reasonably Achievable
(ALARA), a difference of a factor of 1000 or so.
However the story is not yet over and the task of containing the
fuel and keeping it cool continues. Water, so essential to the
cooling task, has become contaminated and must be filtered.
Even with the use of robots the management of these tasks is
daunting. Although the current position [4 June 2011] may not
improve for some months yet, it is worth noting that at
Chernobyl the fuel was open to the sky at high temperature so
that the fate of the cooling water became irrelevant.
Much attention has been given to pointing a finger at who is to
blame for the accident at Fukushima. For many TEPCO is seen
as the villain. But I argue that this is unreasonable; those who
live in Japan accept a very unstable geological environment. In
the tsunami other buildings and plant were swept away
completely, but the Fukushima Daiichi plant survived. It seems
that the nuclear plant was able to withstand an earthquake well
beyond its design and with a few changes it would have
withstood the tsunami too, for instance, a better site, a higher sea
wall and protected diesel generators. Indeed the other reactors in
Japan did so with little or no damage. With hindsight it is easy to
find measures that could have been taken, but why should
nuclear safety be treated as exceptional? Nobody died from
failure of nuclear safety but they died in tens of thousands from
failure of general protection against the effect of a tsunami, about
which there is far less comment [66]. This blame game arises
from a preference to pin responsibility on someone rather than to
sit down and think carefully about what happened -- and whether
a nuclear radiation incident is worse than a tsunami. In more
stable parts of the world these natural forces represent no hazard
to a nuclear plant in any event. However, irrational fear and a
loss of trust in fellow human beings and the organisations for
which they are responsible show the presence of instabilities in
society, just as earthquakes show geologically unstable regions.
International reactions to Fukushima have indicated that many
countries suffer from such instability, whether through
inadequate public education, uninformed political leadership or a
lack of readiness among individuals to learn about the science
that affects their lives. In every community a few members of
society should find out and others should trust them. Mutual trust
is essential for human survival and there is no reason to treat
nuclear radiation safety as a special case.
Explanation or appeasement
A lack of public information and over-cautious radiation
regulations, mis-interpreted as danger levels, caused widespread
despair and misery at Chernobyl where the enforced evacuation
at short notice of the local agricultural population to distant and
unfamiliar accommodation was responsible for serious social
damage; the consequences of this dislocation have been
emphasised in recent reports [12]. The nuclear accident
highlighted the fractures inherent in Soviet society and when
Gorbachev reflected on the disaster it was the socio-economic
earthquake of the end of the Soviet era that he saw. Abroad, the
over-cautious regulations based on appeasing public opinion
caused serious economic damage, as admitted, for instance, in
the press by the authorities in Sweden in 2002 [28].
At Fukushima too there has been damage to families,
communities and the economy caused by the evacuation on top
of the destruction and death from the tsunami. The exposure
level (20 milli-sievert per year) used to define the evacuation
zone is too low and large numbers of people have been evacuated
who should not have been displaced. The criterion for such
invasive socio-economic surgery should be set relatively high,
perhaps up to 100 milli-sievert per month, which is still some
200 times smaller than the monthly dose rate received by the
healthy tissue of patients on a course of cancer therapy.
Evidently concerns for human health based on ALARA are out of
balance with concerns for human health applied in clinical
medicine. At Fukushima, as at Chernobyl, the principal threat to
health has come from fear, uncertainty and enforced evacuation,
not from radiation. In Japan official caution about radiation has
damaged many lives and generated extra socio-economic cost,
misery, recrimination and loss of trust in authorities.
We need better public explanation and realistic safety standards.
Currently these are set on the advice of the International
Committee for Radiological Protection (ICRP) “based on (i) the
current understanding of the science of radiation exposures and
effects and (ii) value judgements. These value judgements take
into account societal expectations, ethics, and experience” [65].
In the past ICRP has followed opinion rather than leading it, a
mistaken approach given the state of popular understanding of
radiation derived from the primitive picture left by last century's
political propaganda. After Chernobyl the chairman of ICRP
admitted that the approach of extra caution had failed (see final
pages of chapter 6). The ICRP has been urged to revise its
approach by academic national reviews [21,22] and others [41].
Accordingly, it should now show some leadership; safety levels
should be revised in the light of modern radiobiology and
supported with programmes of public re-education -- some in the
community are quite bright and welcome reasoned explanation.
The new levels should be as high as is relatively safe (AHARS)
rather than as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). For their
sakes we need to educate young people for the dangers of the
21st century, not shackle them with the misunderstandings of the
20th. In a world of other dangers -- earthquakes, global warming,
economic collapse, shortages of jobs, power, food and water --
the expensive pursuit of the lowest possible radiation levels is in
the best interest of no one.

Thanks to Timo Budow