Wonk’s Saturday Reads and a few words from Dr. Seuss

March 14, 2011: In Hyderabad, India, schoolchildren participated in a prayer ceremony for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. (Krishnendu Halder/Reuters, via NYT Lens)

Morning, everyone. As I drafted this post on Friday, news broke that a Wisconsin county judge has blocked Walker’s collective-bargaining law.

Other than that, not much happy news to report, so I’ve included some uplifting words from Seuss at the end of my Saturday picks below. Also, see photo to the right for reason to keep hoping against hope.

Onto the rest of the headlines…

Japan and Nuclear Energy

The number of dead and missing from Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami has now topped 16,000. It is the deadliest natural disaster to hit Japan in nearly a century.

For example, here’s a little line-up of TEPCO lies:

  • In 2002, Michael Zilenzieger reported that top officals TEPCO were forced to resign “after admitting that the company had covered up safety violations and falsified records at three of its largest nuclear power plants”.
  • In 2006, the government demanded that TEPCO “check past data after it reported that it had found falsification of coolant water temperatures at its Fukushima Daiichi plant in 1985 and 1988, and that the tweaked data was used in mandatory inspections at the plant, which were completed in October 2005.”
  • And in 2007, TEPCO reported that it “had found more past data falsifications, though this time it did not have to close any of its plants.”

Then there were some minor matters of building on fault lines that they claim not to have known about and releasing radiation into the atmosphere. And so on.

Distrust of government has also helped nurture anti-nuclear sentiment. As Flynn’s study found, the yawning gap between expert and public views on nuclear risk owes largely to a lack of trust in government and industry officials to manage the hazards safely. In the United States, the old Atomic Energy Commission was widely viewed as secretive and deceptive before its dissolution in 1974. Perhaps this explains why the two industrialized countries that have had the most success in allaying nuclear fears are France and Japan, cultures that are largely comfortable with leaving the task of governing to technocrats. (Though, admittedly, in Japan, confidence in the government and nuclear utilities had come under strain even before Fukushima.)

Why are we playing Russian roulette with the American people for nuclear plants whose principal objective is simply to boil water and produce steam? This is technological insanity. It presents national security problems, for every nuclear plant is a prime target. It affects our civil liberties. It endangers our workers. It is an industry that cannot be financed by Wall Street because it’s too risky. Wall Street demands 100 percent taxpayer guarantees for any nuclear plant.

So I suggest that people listening and watching this program to pick up the phone and dial the White House comment number, which is (202) 456-1111, (202) 456-1111, and demand the following: that there be public hearings in every area where there’s a nuclear plant, so the people can see for themselves what the hazards are, what the risks are, how farcical the evacuation plans are, how costly nuclear power is, and how it can be replaced by energy efficiency, by solar energy, different kinds of solar energy, by cogeneration, as Amory Lovins and many others, Peter Bradford, have pointed out.

We must no longer license any new nuclear plants. We should shut down the ones like Indian Point. How many people know that Hillary Clinton, as senator, and Andrew Cuomo, as attorney general, demanded that Indian Point be shut down? That doesn’t matter to the monetized minds in Washington, D.C. We also should prepare a plan where, apart from the aging plants, which should be shut down, and apart from the earthquake-risk plants—should be shut down—for the phase-out of the entire industry. We’re going to be left with radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years, for which there is no permanent repository. This is institutional insanity, and I urge the people in this country to wake up before they experience what is now going on in northern Japan: uninhabitable territory, thousands dead, hundreds of thousands at risk of cancer, enormous economic loss. And for what?

The levels of radiation experienced by the public at present should be no cause for concern,” said Dr. Richard Wakeford, visiting professor of epidemiology at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at University of Manchester in Britain.

“To put radiation doses into context, many Japanese undergo CT scans for cancer screening purposes, and these scans produce radiation doses of about 10 millisieverts (10,000 microsieverts) — much more than they are receiving from the Fukushima reactors.”

However, low levels of radiation have been detected on cargo arriving on flights from Japan at several U.S. airports, including Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth and Seattle/Tacoma, according to various media reports.


The Tribune spoke to an unidentified “airline source,” who said he had been briefed on the Customs and Border Protection’s efforts.

He tells the Tribune that as of Thursday afternoon, the highest radiation reading on any incoming flight from Japan was very low — averaging “several hundred times less than the radiation in a single chest x-ray,” the Tribune says.




Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s message on Libya’s ceasefire declaration was basically: she’ll believe it when she sees it.

“We are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. We would have to see actions on the ground. And that is not yet at all clear,” she said.


Civil Liberties & War Crimes

War on Women

  • This headline says it all really… In Illinois, Women Are Cattle — Literally (via RH Reality Check). Apparently, abortion regulation is being heard before the agriculture committee rather than the health committee. There is no low that the war on women will not sink to.

This day in history (March 19)

Need a pick-me-up? Prescriptions from the Good Dr. Seuss (taken from Seuss-isms):

On facing adversity

I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind.

But I’ve brought a big bat.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!

–I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

On activism

UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.

–The Lorax

What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]


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