Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Biting the bullet

When you here phrases like this you know some serious denial is in action:

This is why, despite the damage caused by the efforts so far, Japanese officials have little choice but to continue down the feed-and-bleed path. “The worst-case scenario is that a meltdown makes the plant’s site a permanent grave,” said Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor in the department of quantum engineering at Nagoya University. “In a small island nation like Japan, that’s just not an option. That is why the government is trying to prevent a meltdown at any cost.” 
Unfortunately, in cases like this you cannot always control your 'options'. Avoiding a 'permanent grave' may be a laudable intent, making things worse, and killing people, before accepting the inevitable can be just kidding yourself and the public.

Small island nation or not, if the cores have been breached, they won't be able to get the genie back in the bottle. Then what, if not a permanent grave?

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Joe Bageant, he of Deer Hunting with Jesus, has passed away. Joe was a fine writer, and a perceptive observer of the American Tragedy. He talked about things that seldom, if ever, cross the radar screen of either the MSM, or the so called liberal blogosphere. He will be missed.

Friday, March 25, 2011


The Japanese version of neo-liberalism faced with a catastrophe is not that different from the US version, but the license it allows the news media to spin is surreal. After this CNN headline "Japan suspects nuclear reactor core at stricken plant has breached" we are presented with this concatenation of sentences:
Safety fears at the plant and beyond — radiation particles have been found as far away as Iceland — are compounding Japan's worst crisis since World War Two.

More than two dozen people have been injured trying to bring the plant under control.

Two of the reactors are now regarded as safe in what is called a cold shutdown. Four remain volatile, emitting steam and smoke periodically, but work is advancing to restart water pumps needed to cool fuel rods inside those reactors.

"It's much more hopeful," said Tony Roulstone, a nuclear energy expert at Cambridge University.
Tony is hopeful, but there is absolutely no context in the article, nor to the actual tragedy unfolding in slow-motion that lets us know why. We just must need feel good phrases from experts, especially from prestigious universities, no matter how far away.

Monday, March 21, 2011

No fly my eye

The news media continues in large part to repeat that the military action in Libya is the imposition of a 'no fly' zone. Since when does a no fly zone require bombing troops and tanks?

This is an intervention in a civil war. The enthusiasm of Britain and France is especially appalling, evidently it is impossible for mankind to learn anything for more than a few years.

The farcical notion that the 'West' is on the side of 'the people' in the Arab world will be hard to maintain for more that another few weeks or months. The tottering of the repressive apparatus will lead to other interventions, Yemen will probably be next. It remains to be seen if the cowardly and stupid Saudi regime can handle the repression in Bahrain, otherwise the US will need to overtly intervene there as well.

There's a good chance that all these different wars will start to merge. This will be the product of the sclerotic policies that have remained unchanged and unquestioned until something had to give. And with an administration that gives new meaning to the word incompetence, it could be a disaster with world wide consequences.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The about face by the Obama administration on military action against Libya is usually being evaluated on its own merit. Here we think otherwise, military action against Libya is a smokescreen to obscure the repressions in course in Bahrain, Yemen, and the festering source of the Arab counter-revolution, Saudi Arabia.

Time will come!

A drone a day

Obama's drone war in Pakistan keeps escalating, and according to Pakistan, keeps missing. One can understand why Obama does so, for all its inaccuracies, it is risk free, it gives the little cowardly prick a sense of power that he otherwise lacks, and he can pretend that it will help win in Afghanistan. All wrong, of course, but that has never dissuaded him from anything in the past.

Pakistan Gen. Kayani has been one of Washington's most faithful lapdogs since he took over the army, but he must have been forced to speak out this time:
Gen. Ashfaq Kayani said an unmanned U.S. Predator drone had earlier Thursday "carelessly and callously targeted" a peaceful meeting of elders in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region and Taliban stronghold.

"In complete violation of human rights, such acts of violence take us away from our objective of elimination of terrorism," Gen. Kayani said in a statement. Pakistan had officially protested the strike, he said.
In typical fashion, the US replied in the most insulting tone possible:
A U.S. official dismissed the criticism of the strike. "These guys were terrorists, not the local men's glee club," the official said.
Naturally, the official remains nameless.

Just as in the Davis case, we can expect that the Pakistan government and army will get over their snit as soon as public opinion moves on. But propping up a corrupt subservient clique is a game that will run out of time. And when it does, the US will find itself with an enemy that will be beyond its power to control.

A Question

Hearing that some of the relief problems the Japanese are facing after the tsunami were caused by roads being destroyed washed out, and it thus taking days to reach fishing villages, we wonder why ships and amphibious means have not been used to reach these places.

I've seen nothing about the Japanese navy being used.

Is this from a lack of reporting, a lack of means, or a lack of will?

Emergency responses

The official response to the nuclear emergency at Fukushima is reminiscent of the official response to the Gulf oil spill.
What are the similarities?
  1. The emergency is handled from the outset by the private corporation that ran the operation before the emergency.
  2. The company minimizes the damage, using government officials as a chorus to prove them correct.
  3. As the situation worsens, the government steadfastly refused to participate.
  4. As the situation worsens, the government steadfastly minimizes the risks.
  5. Ridiculous solutions, the cap on the well, dropping water from helicopters on the holding tanks are offered as the situation worsens. Minimizing continues to farcical levels, while evidence is hidden/blacked out.
  6. Finally, after much time is lost, real solutions are explored, the relief well in one case, and encasing the plant in sand and concrete in the other. 
So we can conclude, as opposed to those that contend that this is a Japanese style response to an emergency, that this is a neo-liberal style response to an emergency. The government is used as a tool by a corporation to avoid liability and cost.

And since now neo-liberalism rules from the US, to Japan to Europe, we can expect new crises to be handled in the same blundering fashion, featuring obfuscation, shirking of governmental responsibilities, with the burdens placed on the public coffers and health.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


That only 50 workers are fighting multiple issues in at least four nuclear reactors seems absurd, if not futile.

Oops, as I write, breaking from MSNBC:
Operations to prevent meltdown at Japanese nuclear plant halted due to radiation surge

What's the Japanese equivalent of the China Syndrome, Milwaukee?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


IOZ has spoken, re Bradley Manning:
What this episode reveals is that the most salient aspect of Barack Obama's character is that he is an asshole of the worst order. He does not delight in cruelty like his predecessor, but is grossly indifferent to it. The Ts have all been crossed. Proper procedures followed? Yes. Fine. Let's move on. I have been assured.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exit, pursued by a bear

Whether your some shlump at NPR, or their boss, or the Director of National Security for this benighted nation, the quickest way to get your ass fired is to speak an uncomfortable truth.

Protests and other protests

Saudi police have opened fire at a rally in the kingdom's east in an apparent escalation of efforts to stop planned protests.
Expect a strong statement from Hillary Clinton about peaceful protesters being shot, and drawing parallels to Iran. Expect the US Secretary of State to say nothing.

Tomorrow is the Saudi 'Day of Rage'. Things might get hairy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

More top secret hilarity

From Pensions and Investments:
The Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System could go bankrupt by the end of 2012 without an appropriation of $513.7 million, according to a request in the 2012 federal budget.

"Independent actuarial projections show the CIARDS fund going bankrupt by the end of 2012 with an unfunded liability of $6.4 billion," according to the funding request.
That is pretty funny, but the kicker is a rib buster:
CIA spokesman Preston Golson declined to reveal the size of the assets or liabilities of the pension plan, or the location of the fund.

"The CIA cannot address your specific questions because details associated with the CIARDS budget are classified," Mr. Golson said in an e-mailed response to questions.
(h/t The Agonist)

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Bradley Manning's defense attorney, David E. Coombs:
Last night, PFC Manning was inexplicably stripped of all clothing by the Quantico Brig.  He remained in his cell, naked, for the next seven hours.  At 5:00 a.m., the Brig sounded the wake-up call for the detainees.  At this point, PFC Manning was forced to stand naked at the front of his cell. 

The Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) arrived shortly after 5:00 a.m.  When he arrived, PFC Manning was called to attention.  The DBS walked through the facility to conduct his detainee count.  Afterwards, PFC Manning was told to sit on his bed.  About ten minutes later, a guard came to his cell to return his clothing.

This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification.  It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated.  PFC Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight.  No other detainee at the Brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation.
(h/t Glenn Greenwald)


Gen. Petraeus 'apologized' after NATO helicopter gunships slaughtered 9 Afghan children the other day.
These 'mistakes' happen frequently, but there doesn't seem to be much impetus to eliminating or reducing them. The Afghans are well aware of this, it's obvious to everyone that an Afghan life isn't worth shit to the US and especially its soldiers. Still, people like Petraeus continue the farce that it does matter, while trying to cover up anything that can be covered up.

At the same time, Bradley Manning has been charged with 'bringing discredit upon the Armed Forces'. That is, for revealing that the US slaughters civilians, and covers it up.

Kinda says it all, don't it.