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March 29, 2011

Japanese ignored Tsunami threat

By Ai Lung Nguyen - March 2011.

ENVIRONMENT - The Japanese government admitted Tuesday that its safety precautions were insufficient to protect a nuclear plant against the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the facility and caused it to spew radiation. An overhaul of safety standards is in the works.

The Fukushima Daiichi struggle has unfolded with constant missteps and accidents, including an incident where two workers were drenched Tuesday with radioactive water.

A level of imcompetency has plagued the disaster relief efforts as a plethora of other incidents have led to serious doubts about the quality of the workers at the nuclear plant, hired perhaps because of their willingness to risk their lives in exchange for money, and not because of any engineering background.

The March 11th tsunami which killed over 25,000 Japanese (some people are still missing and not confirmed dead) has unveiled a lack of education and safety standards amongst the workers.

Damage from the tsunami exceeds $310 billion, the most expensive natural disaster on record, and has crippled Japan's economy. Coupled with the incompetency of the workers its a shameful exhibition that will hurt Japan's reputation for years to come.

More Accidents and Gaffs:

The Japanese government has been telling residents near the disaster zone to stay indoors and that this will protect them from the radiation. (Radiation goes right through walls, stone, etc. Only lead walls slows down radiation, although not completely.)

Specks of Plutonium has been found in earth samples found near the plant, the result of debris from explosions inside the plant. If someone collected enough Plutonium (10 kg worth) they could make a small nuclear bomb. The region should be sealed off by the Japanese military and they should be checking all people leaving the zone for radiation levels to prevent plutonium smuggling.

The Japanese have been dumping radioactive water into the ocean because they don't know where else to put it. Trucking the water and storing it somewhere safer has not occurred to them. The radioactive water is now causing many countries to be skeptical about fish imported from Japan.

The dirty radioactive water in question includes plutonium debris as well.

There has been proposals that the water could be stored in oil tankers instead, but the Japanese government seems to be too busy bickering. For now the water is being poured into poorly dug trenches, causing the water to seep into the ground and into the local drinking water, rivers and the ocean.

Another mishap happened Tuesday, when three workers trying to connect a pump outside the Unit 3 reactor were splashed by radioactive water that gushed from a pipe. They were supposed to be wearing radiation protective suits meant to be waterproof but ended up soaked with the contaminated water.

Last week, two workers were hospitalized with severe burns after issued ankle-high protective boots and told to walk through highly radioactive knee-high water.

There has also been a lot of miscommunication and lies company from TEPCO, the utility company in charge of the nuclear plant and cleanup has been lying constantly about the radiation levels being released (the same way BP Oil lied about the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico).

“This quake, tsunami and the nuclear accident are the biggest crises for Japan,” says Prime Minister Naoto Kan, saying that Japan was grappling with its worst problems since World War II.

But Naoto Kan is hardly able to do anything. He is being hampered by opposition lawmakers like Yosuke Isozaki. “We cannot let you handle the crisis,” says Yosuke Isozaki. “We cannot let you be in charge of Japan’s crisis management.”

You would think Japan would learn to work together in such a crisis, but apparently there is always a few bad eggs who would rather resort to partisan politics.

Tough Economic Times Ahead

CANADA/POLITICS - Consumer confidence fell almost 6% in March, but its just one sign of a growing economic crisis.

Bailouts, buyouts and stimulus packages have all failed to boost the economy back to pre-2007 levels. And why should they? They're just bandaids measures, not real solutions for the serious problem with North America's manufacturing sector.

Consumer confidence measures how much people are spending, and Canada's CC levels are leagues ahead of the USA's thank to Canada's stronger mining and oil sectors, whereas the USA is more dependent on manufacturing. In March Consumer Confidence fell to 83.7 from 89.3 in February. Consumer confidence is now worse than it was in March 2010.

Canadians are becoming increasingly worried about their finances, part of the pre and post-xmas phenomenon. Before the Christmas shopping season Consumer Confidence routinely goes up because people think the economy will get better with lots of xmas sales. But in January when the credit card bills come people become worried about finances again.

What doesn't help is that many gifts are manufactured overseas, boosting the economy in China, Taiwan and so forth, often with no positive impact whatsoever on the North American economy because our trade deficit is so high (around half a trillion USD / year).

Here is some interesting stats for you to consider:

USA Interest Rate 0.25%
USA GDP Growth Rate 3.1%
USA Inflation Rate 2.1%
USA Jobless Rate 8.9%
USA Budget Deficit -$4.08 billion per day.

Meanwhile back in Canada...

25% of Canadians are in worse financial shape than they were 6 months ago, up 2.4% from February.

According to the report Canadians have been in worse and worse financial shape "for 30 consecutive months"

Less than 1% of people said their finances got better.

20% of Canadians say they expect their finances to get even more worse in 6 months time.

Meanwhile soaring oil ($103 USD) and gasoline prices aren't helping. Thanks to unrest in the Middle East we've seen the return of "hundred dollar oil" and with a Canadian election coming in mere weeks (and an American election coming in 2012) we can expect economics to be a big issue.

Record gold prices also suggest that many of the financial gurus know even worse economic times are coming.

CREDIT CARD DEBTS SOARING

Weird question... what is more important to you? Paying your credit card bill or your mortgage?

Apparently many Americans are dragging their feet on mortgage payments and paying their credit card debts first, and yet at the same time credit card debt in both the USA and Canada are soaring to record highs.

The danger of this unusual phenomenon is that many people will end up homeless, people will default on their mortgages, and banks will end up holding the debts when the real estate market crashes again.

CREDIT COLLAPSE

With unemployment still high, another real estate market collapse coming, the next thing we can expect to happen is a credit crunch with the credit card companies. Eventually the debt will get so high that people will just plain start refusing to pay their credit card bills.

And when that happens we're going to be facing some extremely tough economic times.

At which point our governments are going to have no choice but to find a real solution to our economic problems instead of these bogus bailouts which only fatten the wallets of bankers.

See also The Enslavement of the American People.

Government of Canada selling used thongs

CANADA/FASHION - The government of Canada is desperate to get rid of its budget deficit and its selling everything including the kitchen sink in an effort to balance the books.

Thus any Crown assets, including seized or forfeited property, is being sold off... including used thong underwear. Its all about prettying up the bottom line.

Seized property includes items gained through police seizure, tax evasion seizure, and so forth.

In 2010 the Canadian government sold a mere $14 million in Crown assets.

The Public Works and Services Canada’s auction website is currently displaying a range of sexy thongs that come in pink, magenta, violet, blue, silvery black, white and nude. The lingerie items are advertised "as is" and "like new".

And they're apparently selling like ice cream cones on a hot day. ie. One box of 10 panties sold for $50. Another box containing 14 bras sold for $171.99.

Some of the thongs still have the original tags on them and some have never been worn. The thongs were seized from stolen from an Ottawa lingerie boutique, recovered by the Ottawa Police, but never returned to the shop because they had already been covered by the store’s insurance company

Thus the police handed the thongs over to the federal public works department.

The sale of stolen/seized property results in a small commission for Public Works, and another % is re-invested in educational programs targeted towards reducing crime. The rest goes towards trying to balance Canada's budget.

Buyers are anonymous and protected by privacy laws.

Unlike eBay and similar auction sites bids aren't posted until after the sale is made. Its a silent auction and there are plenty of deals to be had.

Unfortunately shipping is not included. You have to pick up, pack and ship the items within 5 days of getting the winning bid.

The Conservative Party is also thinking of selling the CN Tower in Toronto, but only if the Conservatives can get re-elected. No word on whether that will also be a silent auction.

March 28, 2011

Israeli president Katsav gets 7 years for rape

FEMINIST/POLITICS - Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was sentenced last Tuesday to seven years in jail for rape. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the case, saying “that no person is above the law.”

Katsav twice raped an aide while he was a cabinet minister during the late 1990s. He molested / sexually harassed two other women who worked for him during his 2000-2007 term as president.

A tribunal of three judges in Tel Aviv District Court convicted him in December, saying that his testimony had been “riddled with lies.”

“The defendant committed the acts as any man and as any man he must bear the punishment,” the judges said at sentencing last Tuesday. The judges added that his clean record and political stature were insufficient grounds for granting leniency.

So justice won out in the end.

The verdict in December was welcomed by Israeli women's groups who have long complained about sexual harassment in workplaces.

Following the verdict Katsav started shouting at the judges, even threatening them, before bursting into tears. Katsav, 65, was whisked out of court by bodyguards. A scuffle broke out when one of his sons attacked a camera crew trying to photograph the former president.

Katsav's lawyers say they will launch an appeal, which would mean going before another tribunal. Otherwise his sentence is to begin on May 8th.

This scandal has been going on for years. It forced Katsav to step down as Israeli President in disgrace, although it should be noted the presidency is largely a ceremonial position with no real power (the Israeli Prime Minister is the one with the real power).

Katsav was born in Iran, raised in the slums where poor Jews and Africans lived. His family moved to Israel in 1951 and at the age of 24 became its youngest mayor and went on to hold a number of Likud cabinet posts.

Parliament elected him president in 2000 in a surprise victory over Shimon Peres, Israel’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning elder statesman. Peres later succeeded Katsav as president, restoring dignity to the post that Katsav had tarnished with his reputation for being a rapist and a molester.

See Also: The Truth about Rape Trials

March 25, 2011

Should you vote?

CANADA - So Canadians are going to another election, the 4th in 7 years thanks to Stephen Harper's inability to gain the trust of Canadians and general ineptiness.

But should you even vote? ie. If you don't know who to vote for, and you don't even know about the issues, maybe the best thing for you to do is NOT to vote. Check out the following video:

Conservative government falls on contempt of parliament and corruption

CANADA - Allegations of corruption, lying and keeping secrets from parliament has resulted in Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government being kicked out of parliament today due to being "in contempt of parliament".

No government in the entire history of Canada has ever been removed from power due to being in contempt of parliament. It is a mark of the series of scandals and corruption within Stephen Harper's government.

A long list of legal problems is currently plaguing the Conservative party, including cheating in the last election in the "in and out scandal", a series of high security military leaks, the nuclear safety scandal, the proroguing of parliament twice to avoid scandals, Harper MPs lying about knowing about Canadian troops involved with torturing detainees in Afghanistan, the Bev Oda corruption scandal, the scandal where Stephen Harper stole a speech from the Australian Prime Minister, illegal lobbying using the Indian Affairs department, the Ottawa escort/prostitute scandal, the Guergis-Jaffer scandal, the fighter jet scandal and charges of fraud and corruption.

And to top it all off Stephen Harper stole $26 million of taxpayers money and used it for ads promoting the Conservative party.

Today's vote of non-confidence and contempt of parliament marks the start of a Spring election campaign.

(For Americans and non-Canadians reading this, this may be of interest. In Canadian politics the Prime Minister of Canada can be kicked out of office if he fails a confidence vote. In contrast American presidents cannot be kicked out so easily.)

Stephen Harper says his party's re-election campaign will be focusing on the economy, but his party's record on the economy is shoddy. His party has been spending stimulus money in their own ridings using large cheques marked with the logo of the Conservative party and ignoring the parts of Canada which need stimulus money the most.

Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff spoke both earlier today and also after Harper and talked about how Stephen Harper is out of touch with Canadians and out of control, and is ignoring the priorities of Canadians by wasting Canada's money on things like fighter jets which are not high priorities for Canadians like education, health care, the economy of all of Canada and not just Conservative ridings and that his party will stand for hope, unity and social justice.

Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister of Canada to be found in contempt of parliament.

March 24, 2011

The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown and Fallout

ENVIRONMENT/HEALTH - On Wednesday March 11th 2011 a 9.0 earthquake took place off the coast of Japan and unleashed a massive tsunami. The recorded death poll at this point is over 7,300 and another 11,000 people missing. But the disaster doesn't stop at the damage from the earthquake and tsunami... Four of Japan's nuclear power plants, including 2 reactors at Fukushima suffered damage and have since released huge amounts of radiation. The Onagawa and Tōkai nuclear power plants suffered comparatively minor damage. A total of 11 nuclear reactors were automatically shut down.

Seismic recordings at the nuclear plants indicate the ground velocity was 6.18–52.62 cm/sec.

However the diesel generator and water pumps at Fukushima I and Fukushima II were damaged by the tsunami, making it impossible to pump cold water into the reactor to cool it down. The reactors began overheating, resulting in a meltdown similar to Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. *Cooling is needed to remove nuclear decay heat for several days even when a reactor is shut down. The cooling process is only possible through large emergency disel generators, all of which were destroyed by the tsunami/earthquake.

The meltdown caused two large explosions at Fukushima I and leakage of radiation, resulting in the immediate evacuation of over 200,000 people from the region.

Since then the scope of the disaster has become more clear.

Japanese emergency crews have been pumping seawater into the reactors in an attempt to cool down and stablize the reactors, but to little avail. The machinery they are using aren't up to the task and there is delays getting new diesel generators and pumps into the region because of the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami. Under normal circumstances getting the required machinery into the region would be comparatively easy.

Fires at the reactors have since been put out, but the radiation from the meltdown and the nuclear fallout has since got into the local food supply and even into Tokyo's drinking water. Rumours and speculation about the future of Japan and even ideas of evacuating most of Japan until the crisis is over.

There are also confusing and conflicting reports about the amout of radiation being released. If we use the BP Gulf Oil Spill as a rule of thumb (BP lied about the amount of oil being spilled daily, it later turned out to be over 10 times the daily amount they had claimed.) then we can assume that the worst reports are probably the most accurate.

The INES – International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale – ranks incidents from one to seven, with one described as "anomaly" and seven as "major accident". The disaster in Fukushima has been ranked a 6. (Chernobyl in 1986 was a 7.)

Normally a human is exposed to 2 milliSieverts/year of radiation from the sun and other sources. Airplane staff are exposed to approx. 9 milliSieverts/year. 100 can cause cancer, 1000 can cause fatal cancer in 5% of the people exposed, 5000 kills a person within 4 weeks 50% of the time, 10,000 is fatal within a week or two.

According to several reports the radiation leakage is 400 milliSieverts per hour, enough to cause a fatal dose within 25 hours. People closest to the centre of the disaster will be receiving higher doses. There is also conflicting reports the amount of radiation is going both up and down.

As of last week the radiation levels in Tokyo were 20 times normal levels. The local government was warning people not to panic. (Tokyo is approx. 300 km away from Fukushima.)

The radiation was so bad that Japan ordered a no fly zone in the region around Fukushima.

Indeed the radiation levels are reaching far more distances than mere Japan. Heightened radiation levels are now being recorded as far away as the United States.

A Canadian team sent to help tsunami victims was later recalled because they were not equipped to handle radiation and were asked to leave by Japanese authorities.

On the economic side Japan's economy is in a freefall, and will likely suffer serious blows if Japan's government cannot get the radiation leaks under control (possibly resulting in a large scale evacuation of the region around Fukushima). Even if the reactors are stabilized Japan's future will still be dire, both in terms of health concerns from lingering radiation but also from growing demands to dismantle Japan's other nuclear plants.

For other countries it could also mean a dramatic increase in nuclear refugees from Japan, seeking a safe place to raise their children free of radiation.

Food exports from Japan have been banned in many countries and this spells even more trouble for Japan's future.

Power lines have since been reattached to a number of Japan's nuclear plants and there is high hopes of restarting the turbines and the regular coolant system in an effort to cool down the reactors.

March 23, 2011

We're back!

The Lilith News is back after a 5 week vacation... and oh boy do we have some catching up to do. Tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, the Canadian government teetering on collapse/election, revolution and chaos in Libya.

So lets get back to work!

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