Archive for September, 2012

Edano says Japan must quickly phase out nuke energy

September 30, 2012

By Mari Yamaguchi

 

TOKYO —

Japan’s industry minister said the country must give up nuclear power plants as soon as possible because they pose too much risk in one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

Yukio Edano said last year’s meltdowns after a tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant showed that nuclear power’s cost is too high. He expressed the opinion in his new book of policy views that hit stores Saturday.

Edano, who served top government spokesman during the height of the nuclear crisis last year, said he came to the conclusion after seeing “what was believed to be masterpiece of modern technology succumb to natural disaster so easily.”

“Now I want to eliminate nuclear power plants as soon as possible,” he wrote in the book, “Even if I get a beating, I must say this.”

Japan, whose land is the size of California with the population of 128 million, “cannot risk nuclear power plants,” he said.

Massive radiation leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi contaminated land, trees and crops around the plant, forcing more than 100,000 people to leave their homes and making some areas uninhabitable for years. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, burdened with massive cost of cleanup and compensation, had to be nationalized.

Edano, however, said nuclear energy cannot be eliminated overnight. The process takes a difficult task to fight “counteraction” and face “debts” that nuclear energy has produced.

The most serious problem is spent fuel buildup at each plant as well as an additional storage at a fuel reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture. The country lacks plans about what to do with the highly radioactive waste.

Japan’s government adopted a plan this month to phase-out nuclear energy by 2040. The plan leaves out many details unclear, including what to do with waste buildup or how best to promote green energy, prompting criticism that the government backed down due to pressure from businesses and communities that depend on the nuclear industry.

Plans to abandon nuclear energy means that the Rokkasho fuel recycling operation won’t be needed. Fearing a possibility of their region becoming a final waste dump site, officials and residents in Aomori have threatened to send thousands of tons of spent fuel at the Rokkasho plant back to where they came from.

Edano said such a move would immediately fill up storage space at most of Japan’s 17 nuclear plants and make them inoperable. He urged big electricity users in major cities to think seriously about the pressing issue and share the burden and cost.

Edano also stressed the need to end the monopoly in the power industry to help promote renewable energy and speed up nuclear phase-out. He told reporters Friday that further details would be decided by a new industry minister after a cabinet reshuffle expected on Monday.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

A Resurgent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Movement Just in Time

September 28, 2012
 Ken Butigan
Waging non-violence/Op-ed
Published: Friday 28 September 2012
“The citizenry isn’t being asked to weigh in on this projected re-run of nuclear politics and all that it implies.”

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Nuclear weapons have been U.S. society’s plumb line for seven decades. Even when other issues capture our attention and the atomic threat fades in and out of public consciousness, nuclear arms and their sprawling reach — physical, political, cultural, economic, psychological — endure. They are always somewhere in the picture, even if we happen to be looking elsewhere.

It’s this constant but unseen presence that makes a story like one theWashington Post ran recently so jolting, if also so utterly predictable. “The B61 bomb: A case study in cost and needs” sets out the Pentagon’s plans to refurbish the 500 or so B61s in its arsenal. But more importantly it goes on to detail how the U.S. government plans to overhaul the nation’s vast nuclear weapons complex over the next decade, with a minimum price tag of $352 billion. If history is any gauge, it is likely to cost much more.

This news, so far as I can tell, hasn’t nudged its way into the speeches of the presidential candidates. The citizenry isn’t being asked to weigh in on this projected re-run of nuclear politics and all that it implies. While this would be a perfect time to have a reasoned and spirited debate about these plans, this hasn’t been scheduled. Assessing what being a nuclear state for nearly seventy years has meant, mulling on its consequences for us now, and envisioning what it might mean going forward — none of this is in the works. Instead we are put on notice, fleetingly, by theWashington Post.

 

Democracy is purportedly on display on many fronts, but rarely on the nuclear one. Since the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, nuclearism has shaped our culture and society in incalculably far-reaching ways but no plebiscite has even been held to sort out if this is the way we want to live. Who of us voted to build and pay for — and suffer the geopolitical, psychological, epidemiological and spiritual consequences of — a globe-circling nuclear weapons regime? 

 

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That’s where the decades-old anti-nuclear weapons movement comes in. Soon after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it became clear that the robust and critical conversation that needed to take place about this new technology was not in the cards. Early attempts to have that open and searching dialogue — beginning with the scientists who designed these weapons — were smothered. It was out of the need to open space for a national debate on policies transmuting America into a nuclear national security state with long-lasting impact at home and abroad that prompted theemergence of a new peace movement soon after that system began to take shape. Relentlessly, it has alerted, educated and mobilized the populace to envision an alternative and to throw their weight behind it. 

This movement created the conditions for the Partial Test Ban Treaty in the 1960s and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the 1990s. It rebelled against first-strike weapons that were put online in the 1980s and mobilized people power that moved power-holders off their adamant nuclearist positions, opening the space for a series of arms control agreements struck between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s and 1990s. And it catalyzed a series of shifts that moved things in the right direction. For example, on September 27, 1990 — 22 years ago today — the U.S. removed the last Pershing II nuclear missiles from Germany. Installing these so-called tactical nuclear weapons nearly a decade earlier had catalyzed a massive response from the anti-nuclear movement in Europe and the U.S. and had prompted the U.S.S.R. to sign the Treaty on Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces. Exactly one year later — September 27, 1991 — President George H.W. Bush announced a series of unilateral initiatives to reduce some of the weapons in the U.S tactical nuclear arsenal, which Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev responded to with a similarly significant list of reductions. The decommissioning and destruction of thousands of specific kinds of tactical weapons took place over the next decade.

Since these half-measures were taken years ago the prospect for a nuclear weapons-free world has stalled. Although it offered a vision of eliminating nuclear weapons in 2009, the Obama administration has not taken substantive steps in this direction, as Gareth Evans, Australia’s former foreign minister and emeritus chair of the International Crisis Group, underscored in detail this week. This administration, like each before it, is loath to surrender the power that nuclear hegemony confers. While it may weave dreams of peace, it will put its money on the threat of nuclear war, and go ahead and “modernize” the capacity to threaten and wage it. Though the U.S. is a party to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — which requires the five nuclear nation signatories to engage in good faith negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament — the administration plans to upgrade this system rather than dismantle it.

So we are in the midst of the next phase of the movement for nuclear disarmament, where a series of campaigns across the U.S. are pumping life into the seven-decade struggle. In Kansas City a local coalition is working to stop a new nuclear weapons parts facility. It has organized several dramatic actions and, as part of this effort, a group named Peace Planters has gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the local ballot that would forbid the city from subsidizing any facilities that produce or procure parts for nuclear weapons. At the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Michael R. Walli, 63, and Gregory I. Boertje-Obed, 57, entered the facility in late July and carried out a nonviolent disarmament action entitled Transform Now Ploughshares. And at Vandenberg Air Force Base north of Santa Barbara, California, where missiles designed to carry hydrogen bombs are tested, the largest nonviolent action in 30 years took place earlier this year. A group arrested at the base — including peacemakers Daniel Ellsberg and Cindy Sheehan — will head to court October 15 to face charges for crossing the line there.

These efforts are bolstered by long-term direct action campaigns that continue to organize for a nuclear-free world — including at the Nevada Test Site (National Nuclear Security Site), Bangor Naval Base in Washington State,Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in northern California, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico — that are led by the Pacific Life Community, the Atlantic Life Community, Jonah House, which has been the stalwart center of anti-nuclear nonviolent resistance for 40 years, and a host ofCatholic Worker houses across the United States.

For those of us who first came to political activism by tackling the nuclear arms race in the early 1980s, the announcement that the U.S. is online to refurbish and reassert its nuclear might far into the future has a glumly déjà vu feel. At the same time, we know the power of people power movements to change history. Together we can build on this emerging next phase to take action, to stoke alternatives and to prompt a powerful nationwide debate on what, buried in the back pages of the Washington Post, is presented to us as a foregone conclusion.

ABOUT KEN BUTIGAN

Ken Butigan is director of Pace e Bene, a nonprofit organization fostering nonviolent change through education, community and action. He also teaches peace studies at DePaul University and Loyola University in Chicago.

9/11 official story doubts becoming more mainstream

September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012

 

By Gregory Patin

After 11 years and a constant drip of information from a myriad of sources, more people in the U.S. are questioning the events of 9/11.

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This article was originally published at Madison Independent Examiner. The video that is referenced in this article is available for viewing there.


Credit: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More and more people from all walks of life and all professions seem to be questioning the “official” narrative of what happened on 9/11. Those who are questioning the events of 9/11 may be moving under the radar of the corporate media from being labeled “conspiracy theorists” to legitimate investigators with legitimate questions and concerns.

A good example is Jesse Ventura’s recent appearance on CNN‘s Piers Morgan. Ventura, an ex-navy SEAL and former governor of Minnesota who hosts a program on TruTV called “Conspiracy Theory,” appeared on Morgan’s show last week. After discussing 9/11, Morgan tried to dismiss Ventura and said he has “crackpot” ideas. Ventura then asked the audience, “How many people think I make crackpot points?” Only one audience member acknowledged. He then asked, “How many people think I make sensible points?” Almost the entire audience applauded him. See video here. That segment can be found at 32:10.

Another good example is Colorado PBS’s airing of a documentary film that was created by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth. It is the first time a major news network has aired anything like it. The documentary, entitled “9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out,” features dozens of architects and engineers who unequivocally state that the twin towers, and WTC 7 which was not hit by a plane, were brought down by controlled demolition. (You can watch the full-length film here for a limited time before it is only available for purchase on DVD).

If the official story that fires brought the buildings down is to be believed, then 9/11 was an architectural and engineering disaster that should have led to an urgent and exhaustive inquiry, along with suggestions for improvements and upgrades for other buildings of the same construction.

The film has a section near the end in which psychologists explain why the media and many of the public are so reluctant to question the official story. The reasons come down to trauma, belief in authority and cognitive dissonance. People simply do not want to believe anything that contradicts their “world view” and their faith in the authorities that provide their security. Confronted with contradictory evidence, people resort to denial as a defense mechanism.

According to Victoria Alexander, writing for Digital Journal, three days before the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy, the documentary ranked number three among “most watched” documentaries on PBS and number one among “most shared.” “With the presidential election only weeks away, both the Republicans and Democrats, as equally staunch defenders of the official story, stand to be affected if the public’s suspicion of government corruption grows deeper.”

Questions regarding the events of 9/11 and studies are nothing new. They have been taking place for years. For years the internet has been full of information like this, a collection of hundreds of linksquestioning the official story of 9/11. Several versions of a documentary entitled “Loose Change” were released between 2005 and 2009 and generated over 50 million hits on the internet.

In August of 2004, a Zogby poll revealed that half of New Yorkers believe U.S. leaders had foreknowledge of impending 9/11 attacks and “consciously failed” to act. 66 percent at the time called for a new probe of unanswered questions by Congress or New York’s Attorney General. That poll was ignored by mainstream media.

In 2006 The Washington Post reported that even members of 9/11 commission suspected deception on the part of authorities. “We to this day don’t know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Defense Command] told us what they told us,” said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission. “It was just so far from the truth….It’s one of those loose ends that never got tied.”

In 2009 a research paper was published by several scientists in The Open Chemical Physics Journal in which traces of nanothermite, a military-grade explosive used to cut steel, were found in four separate samples of dust from the World Trade Center site that were analyzed by scientists. The conclusion:

Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.

That study, however, never made it out of academic circles and into the mainstream media. In a true criminal investigation, the findings in that report could be considered real forensic evidence that more than jet fuel caused the collapse of the buildings on 9/11.

Another fact that has never been publicized in mainstream media is the amount of credible people that question the events of 9/11. The corporate media publicizes questions by people such as Rosie O’Donnell and Charlie Sheen, but ignore the people listed on Patriots Question 9/11, which include over 3000 professionals from the military, government, academia, engineering, aviation, architecture, etc., that question the official story. A quick browse of the list reveals that these are not a bunch of “crackpots,” but are professionals who have the knowledge and skills in their fields to ask legitimate questions about what really happened on 9/11.

One key distinction between the 9/11 truth movement and conspiracy theorists, however, is that the 9/11 truth movement and many of the victim’s families have simply been calling for a new investigation, not making allegations as to whom are really behind the attacks. Some, however, do go further than that.

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. expert on Arabic and Islam cultures, is one of America’s best-known critics of the war on terror. Barrett, writing for Press TV, quotes Alan Sabrosky, former Director of Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army War College:

I have had long conversations over the past two weeks with contacts at the Army War College, at the Headquarters Marine Corps, and I have made it absolutely clear in both cases that it is 100 percent certain that 9/11 was a Mossad operation. Period.

Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets. He has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York TimesThe Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications. In addition to teaching at colleges and universities in San Francisco and Paris, Dr. Barrett also taught at U.W. — Madison and ran for Congress in 2008.

Yet another voice bringing the unanswered questions of 9/11 to the attention of the mainstream may turn out to come from Italy. Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, the honorary president of the Italian Supreme Court, has written to the Journal of 9/11 Studies announcing his intention to bring a case before the International Criminal Court citing key figures in the U.S. administration for involvement in the execution of the 9/11 attacks.

Imposimato writes:

The 9/11 attacks were a global state terror operation permitted by the administration of the USA, which had foreknowledge of the operation yet remained intentionally unresponsive in order to make war against Afghanistan and Iraq. To put it briefly, the 9/11 events were an instance of the strategy of tension enacted by political and economic powers in the USA to seek advantages for the oil and arms industries.

Whether or not anything comes of Imposimato’s law suit, the work of the architects and engineers, or anyone else who demands a new investigation into the horrific events of 9/11, one thing is clear. With a slow but steady drip of information coming from the many 9/11 researchers and grass roots movements, more people than ever are questioning the events of 9/11. And by implication, they are questioning the honesty of U.S. government officials who are engaging in costly wars and passing legislation that erodes the U.S. constitution in order to “protect” Americans from terrorism.

If most Americans come to believe that the terrorists responsible for the events of 9/11 are the same people that run huge corporations, banks, the U.S. government’s and Israel’s intelligence agencies, then that could change the dynamics of the political scene for years to come.

I simply encourage readers to watch the documentary that was broadcast on PBS, do their own research and draw their own conclusions.

Sources:

Jesse Ventura on CNN‘s Piers Morgan Sept. 17, 2012 via YouTube

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth

PBS Colorado (CPT 12)

Digital Journal

takeourworldback.com

Loose Change — Full-length version via YouTube

9/11 Truth

The Washington Post

The Open Chemical Physics Journal

WhatReallyHappened

Press TV

Patriots Question 9/11

Journal of 9/11 Studies — Imposimato letter

Madison Independent Examiner – 14 defining characteristics of fascism: The U.S. in 2012

Submitters Website: http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-madison/gregory-patin

Submitters Bio:

Gregory Patin is a free-lance writer residing in Madison, WI. He earned a BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a MS in IT management from Colorado Tech. He is politically independent and not affiliated with either the Democrat or Republican party.

Magnitude-8.7 Quake Was Part of Crustal Plate Breakup

September 27, 2012

This map of the Indian Ocean region shows boundaries of Earth’s tectonic plates in the area, and the epicenters (red stars) of two great earthquakes that happened April 11, 2012. A new study from the University of Utah and University of California, Santa Cruz, says the main shock measured 8.7 in magnitude, about 40 times larger than the previous estimate of 8.6. An 8.2-magnitude quake followed two hours later.The scientists explain how at least four faults ruptured during the 8.7 main shock, and how both great quakes are likely part of the breakup of the Indo-Australian Plate into separate subplates. The northeastward-moving plate is breaking up over scores of millions of years because the western part of the plate is bumping into Asia and slowing down, while the eastern part is sliding more easily beneath Sumatra and the Sunda plate. (Credit: Keith Koper, University of Utah Seismograph Stations)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 26, 2012) — Seismologists have known for years that the Indo-Australian plate of Earth’s crust is slowly breaking apart, but they saw it in action last April when at least four faults broke in a magnitude-8.7 earthquake that may be the largest of its type ever recorded.

The great Indian Ocean quake of April 11, 2012 previously was reported as 8.6 magnitude, and the new estimate means the quake was 40 percent larger than had been believed, scientists from the University of Utah and University of California, Santa Cruz, report in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

The quake was caused by at least four undersea fault ruptures southwest of Sumatra, Indonesia, within a 2-minute, 40-second period. It killed at least two people, and eight others died from heart attacks. The quake was felt from India to Australia, including throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia.

If the four ruptures were considered separate quakes, their magnitudes would have been 8.5, 7.9, 8.3 and 7.8 on the “moment magnitude” scale used to measure the largest quakes, the scientists report.

The 8.7 main shock broke three faults that were parallel but offset from each other — known as en echelon faults — and a fourth fault that was perpendicular to and crossed the first fault.

The new study concludes that the magnitude-8.7 quake and an 8.2 quake two hours later were part of the breakup of the Indian and Australian subplates along a yet-unclear boundary beneath the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra and southeast of India — a process that started roughly 50 million years ago and that will continue for millions more.

“We’ve never seen an earthquake like this,” says study co-author Keith Koper, an associate professor geophysics and director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. “This is part of the messy business of breaking up a plate. … This is a geologic process. It will take millions of years to form a new plate boundary and, most likely, it will take thousands of similar large quakes for that to happen.”

All four faults that broke in the 8.7 quake and the fifth fault that ruptured in the 8.2 quake were strike-slip faults, meaning ground on one side of the fault moves horizontally past ground on the other side.

The great quake of last April 11 “is possibly the largest strike-slip earthquake ever seismically recorded,” although a similar size quake in Tibet in 1950 was of an unknown type, according to the new study, which was led by two University of California, Santa Cruz, seismologists: graduate student Han Yue and Thorne Lay, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences. The National Science Foundation funded the study.

The 8.7 jolt also “is probably the largest intraplate [within a single tectonic plate of Earth’s crust] ever seismically recorded,” Lay, Yue and Koper add. Most of Earth’s earthquakes occur at existing plate boundaries.

The researchers cannot be certain the April great quake was the largest intraplate quake or the largest strike-slip quake because “we are comparing it against historic earthquakes long before we had modern seismometers,” says Koper.

Why the Great Quake Didn’t Unleash Major Tsunamis

Koper says the 2012 quakes likely were triggered, at least in part, by changes in crustal stresses caused by the magnitude-9.1 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of Dec. 26, 2004 — a jolt that generated massive tsunamis that killed most of the 228,000 victims in the Indian Ocean region.

The fact the 8.7 and 8.2 quakes were generated by horizontal movements along seafloor strike-slip faults — not by vertical motion along thrust faults — explains why they didn’t generate major tsunamis. The 8.7 quake caused small tsunamis, the largest of which measured about 12 inches in height at Meulaboh, Indonesia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Without major tsunamis, the great earthquake caused “very little damage and death, especially for this size of an earthquake, because it happened in the ocean and away from coastlines,” and on strike-slip faults, says Koper.

The researchers studied the quake using a variety of methods to analyze the seismic waves it generated. Because the same data can be interpreted in various ways, Koper says it is conceivable that more than four fault segments broke during the 8.7 quake — conceivably five or even six — although four fault ruptures is most likely.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

The Indo-Australian plate is breaking into two or perhaps three pieces (some believe a Capricorn subplate is separating from the west side of the Indian subplate). The magnitude-8.7 and 8.2 great quakes on April 11 occurred over a broad area where the India and Australian subplates are being sheared apart.

“What we’re seeing here is the Indo-Australian plate fragmenting into two separate plates,” says Lay.

The breakup of the northeast-moving Indo-Australian plate is happening because it is colliding with Asia in the northwest, which slows down the western part of the plate, while the eastern part of the plate continues moving more easily by diving or “subducting” under the island of Sumatra to the northeast. The subduction zone off Sumatra caused the catastrophic 2004 magnitude-9.1 quake and tsunami.

Seismic analysis shows the April 11 quakes “involve rupture of a very complex network of faults, for which we have no documented precedent in recorded seismic history,” the researchers write.

The analysis revealed this sequence for the faults ruptures that generated the 8.7 quake, and the estimated fault rupture lengths and slippage amounts:

— The quake began with the 50-second rupture of a fault extending west-northwest to east-southeast, with an epicenter a few hundred miles southwest of Sumatra. The fault ruptured along a roughly 90-mile length, breaking “bilaterally” both west-northwestward and east-southeastward, and also at least 30 miles deep, “almost ripping through the whole plate,” Koper says. The seafloor on one side of the fault slipped about 100 feet past the seafloor on the fault’s other side.

— The second fault, which slipped about 25 feet, began to rupture 40 seconds after the quake began. This rupture extended an estimated 60 miles to 120 miles north-northeast to south-southwest — perpendicular to the first fault and crossing it.

— The third fault was parallel to the first fault and about 90 to the miles southwest of it. It started breaking 70 seconds after the quake began and ruptured along a length of about 90 miles. This fault slipped about 70 feet.

— The fourth fault paralleled the first and third faults, but was to the northwest of both of them. It began to rupture 145 seconds after the quake began and continued to do so for 15 seconds until the quake ended after a total time of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The fault rupture was roughly 30 miles to 60 miles long. The ground on one side of this fault slipped about 20 feet past ground on the other side.

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Large 2012 Earthquake Triggered Temblors Worldwide for Nearly a Week

September 27, 2012

A map of the earthquakes triggered around the globe within a week of the April 2012 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra (white star). (Credit: Fred Pollitz, USGS)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 26, 2012) — This year’s largest earthquake, a magnitude 8.6 temblor on April 11 centered in the East Indian Ocean off Sumatra, did little damage, but it triggered quakes around the world for at least a week, according to a new analysis by seismologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The April 11 quake was unusually large — the tenth largest in the last 100 years and, similar to a few other recent large quakes, triggered small quakes during the three hours it took for seismic waves to travel through Earth’s crust.

The new study shows, however, that some faults weren’t rattled enough by the seismic waves to fail immediately, but were primed to break up to six days later.

The findings are a warning to those living in seismically active regions worldwide that the risk from a large earthquake could persist — even on the opposite side of the globe — for more than a few hours, the experts said.

“Until now, we seismologists have always said, ‘Don’t worry about distant earthquakes triggering local quakes,'” said Roland Burgmann, professor of earth and planetary science at UC Berkeley and coauthor of the study. “This study now says that, while it is very rare — it may only happen every few decades — it is a real possibility if the right kind of earthquake happens.”

“We found a lot of big events around the world, including a 7.0 quake in Baja California and quakes in Indonesia and Japan, that created significant local shaking,” Burgmann added. “If those quakes had been in an urban area, it could potentially have been disastrous.”

Burgmann and Fred F. Pollitz, Ross S. Stein and Volkan Sevilgen of the USGS will report their results online on Sept. 26 in advance of publication in the journal Nature.

Burgmann, Pollitz, a research seismologist, and their colleagues also analyzed earthquake occurrences after five other recent temblors larger than 8.5 — including the deadly 9.2 Sumatra-Andaman quake in 2004 and the 9.0 Tohoku quake that killed thousands in Japan in 2011 — but saw only a very modest increase in global earthquake activity after these quakes. They said this could be because the East Indian Ocean quake was a “strike-slip” quake that more effectively generates waves, called Love waves, that travel just under the surface and are energetic enough to affect distant fault zones.

Burgmann explained that most large quakes take place at subduction zones, where the ocean bottom sinks below another tectonic plate. This was the origin of the Sumatra-Andaman quake, which produced a record tsunami that took more than 200,000 lives. The 2012 East Indian Ocean quake involved lateral movement — referred to as strike-slip, the same type of movement that occurs along California’s San Andreas Fault — and was the largest strike-slip quake ever recorded.

“This was one of the weirdest earthquakes we have ever seen,” Burgmann said. “It was like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, a strike-slip event, but it was huge — 15 times more energetic. This earthquake and an 8.3 that followed were in a very diffuse zone in an oceanic plate close to the Sumatra subduction zone, but it wasn’t a single fault that produced the quake, it was a crisscrossing of three or four faults that all ruptured in sequence to make such a big earthquake, and they ruptured deep.”

The seismologists analysis found five times the expected number of quakes during the six days following the April 11 quake and aftershock. An unusually low occurrence of quakes during the 6-12 days before that 8.6 quake may have accentuated the impact, possibly because there were many very-close-to-failure faults sensitive to a triggering shock wave, Pollitz said.

One possible mechanism for the delayed action, Burgmann said, is that the East Indian Ocean quake triggered a cascade of smaller, undetectable quakes on these faults that led to larger ruptures later on.

Alternatively, large quakes could trigger nearly undetectable tremors or microquakes that are a sign of slow slip underground.

“One possibility is that the earthquake immediately triggers slow slip in some places, maybe accompanied by detectable tremor, and then that runs away into a bigger earthquake,” Burgmann speculated. “Some slow slip events take days to a week or more to evolve.”

The work was supported by the USGS.

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Salt Marsh Carbon May Play Role in Slowing Climate Warming

September 27, 2012

ScienceDaily (Sep. 26, 2012) — A warming climate and rising seas will enable salt marshes to more rapidly capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, possibly playing a role in slowing the rate of climate change, according to a new study led by a University of Virginia environmental scientist and published in the Sept. 27 issue of the journalNature.

Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called “greenhouse gas” that acts as sort of an atmospheric blanket, trapping Earth’s heat. Over time, an abundance of carbon dioxide can change the global climate, according to generally accepted scientific theory. A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise.

A large portion of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is produced by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to energize a rapidly growing world human population. “We predict that marshes will absorb some of that carbon dioxide, and if other coastal ecosystems — such as seagrasses and mangroves — respond similarly, there might be a little less warming,” said the study’s lead author, Matt Kirwan, a research assistant professor of environmental sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Salt marshes, made up primarily of grasses, are important coastal ecosystems, helping to protect shorelines from storms and providing habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, from birds to mammals, shell- and fin-fishes and mollusks. They also build up coastal elevations by trapping sediment during floods, and produce new soil from roots and decaying organic matter.

“One of the cool things about salt marshes is that they are perhaps the best example of an ecosystem that actually depends on carbon accumulation to survive climate change: The accumulation of roots in the soil builds their elevation, keeping the plants above the water,” Kirwan said.

Salt marshes store enormous quantities of carbon, essential to plant productivity, by, in essence, breathing in the atmospheric carbon and then using it to grow, flourish and increase the height of the soil. Even as the grasses die, the carbon remains trapped in the sediment. The researchers’ model predicts that under faster sea-level rise rates, salt marshes could bury up to four times as much carbon as they do now.

“Our work indicates that the value of these ecosystems in capturing atmospheric carbon might become much more important in the future, as the climate warms,” Kirwan said. But the study also shows that marshes can survive only moderate rates of sea level rise. If seas rise too quickly, the marshes could not increase their elevations at a rate rapid enough to stay above the rising water. And if marshes were to be overcome by fast-rising seas, they no longer could provide the carbon storage capacity that otherwise would help slow climate warming and the resulting rising water.

“At fast levels of sea level rise, no realistic amount of carbon accumulation will help them survive,” Kirwan noted.

Kirwan and his co-author, Simon Mudd, a geosciences researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, used computer models to predict salt marsh growth rates under different climate change and sea-level scenarios.

The United States Geological Survey’s Global Change Research Program supported the research.

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Frank Rich on the National Circus: Romney Neutralizes His Own Super-PACs

September 27, 2012

 

Wisconsin Man Could Not Resist Sex With Couch

DAILY INTEL HOME

No One Erased Congressman Michael Grimm’s Computers After All [Updated] 

Bob Perry, Foster Friess and David Koch.

Every week, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich talks with assistant editor Eric Benson about the biggest stories in politics and culture. This week: why the super-PACs have fizzled, Paul Ryan’s long game, and Mitt’s Hispandering.

We’re now in late September, and the summer’s ad barrages have done little to change the polls. Super-PAC money was one of the biggest stories of this election and possibly its determining factor. Was the expected impact of the sugar daddies overhyped? Will their money play a major role in the campaign’s final six weeks?
It may turn out that many, including me, were more worried about the post–Citizens United wave of money from the Kochs and Adelsons than we had to be because (a) Romney proved an even weaker candidate than anyone imagined (which is saying something), and (b) he’s so weak that those pulling the strings of the super-PACs (e.g., Karl Rove) may in desperation start shifting money away from the national ticket to salvage troubled GOP Senate candidates. The most important political story so far this week was on the front page of Monday’s Wall Street Journal: It cites example after example of pro-Romney super-PAC expenditures failing to get the job done. Obama is up nearly ten points in Michigan and eight points in Pennsylvania even though right-wing super-PACS have spent $18 million on TV spots in those two states (more than twice the amount spent by the Obama campaign and a pro-Obama super-PAC combined). In North Carolina, the race is still close despite nearly $34 million in pro-Romney spending there (nearly 50 percent more than Obama forces have spent). Democratic Senate candidates are ahead in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia despite similarly huge pro-GOP super-PAC outlays in those races. As I wrote in my piece about attack ads, the quality of the ads matters, and Romney’s ever-shifting campaign strategy may have made it impossible for anyone on his side to come up with a devastating “Daisy” ad. And at this late point, the audience may be too desensitized to respond to one in any case. (Just go to a swing state and turn on the television for an hour; the volume is shocking.) Money’s biggest role in the final weeks may be on the ground, not on the air — an advantage for the better-organized Obama.

One key campaign player who many expected to have a bigger role is Paul Ryan. On 60 Minutes Sunday night, Romney shot back at a Scott Pelley question about Ryan’s Medicare plan by snapping, “I’m the guy running for president, not him.” Is Mitt having buyer’s remorse? And given his disastrous last two weeks, why not unleash Ryan to make his case?
I doubt Mitt regrets picking Ryan; he needed him to nail down his own base, and what was the alternative, Tim Pawlenty? (Who has now moved on to his rightful calling — as a lobbyist.) But even before the GOP convention ended, prominent voices on the right were wailing that Ryan had been castrated by the Romney campaign. Ryan’s acceptance speech was largely Republican Muzak rather than the Ayn Randian exercise in “big ideas” the faithful was craving. That he remains muzzled would be in keeping with the Romney campaign’s conviction that the tiny sliver of undecided voters would be frightened away by hard-line conservative ideology. A further indignity for Ryan is that his campaign minder is now Dan Senor, the mastermind behind Mitt’s hapless foreign policy tour during the Olympics. But no one should count Ryan out post-2012. He may look like Eddie Munster, but he’s the GOP’s Sammy Glick, ambitious as hell. It may fit his own career plans to be seen and heard as little as possible in a Romney defeat. As a Republican political operative in Iowa told the Times last week“If Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.” Looks like Ryan is already lathering up!

Mitt still can’t escape the subject of taxes. Everyone seems a little perplexed as to why his promised release of his 2011 tax returns was accompanied by a notarized summary of his 1990-2009 returns. The former Romney strategist Alex Castellanos said he “thought this was an April Fool’s joke.” Why did Mitt do this now?
Apparently he thought he was being clever dumping this stuff on the press on a Friday afternoon, the traditional time for burying bad news. He seems to have forgotten, however, that this particular Friday came at the end of a week when the country was focused on the Boca video in which he insulted the 47 percent of the population that (in his formulation) doesn’t pay taxes. Who can explain why this campaign does anything the way it does? In any case, the so-called summaries of Romney’s tax returns raise more questions than they answer — a good six weeks’ worth, I’d say.

Obama and Romney conducted two “shadow debates” last week. They both appeared on 60 Minutes, and both visited a Univision forum in Miami. We’ve been saturated by this campaign for months. Can either candidate say or do anything at this point to change the minds of voters? And did you see any evidence of that in either set of appearances?
Answer to both questions: not much. The first “real” debate — next Wednesday — may well be Romney’s last chance to move any minds. What we learned about Mitt on 60 Minutes is that, incredibly, he still thinks he can get away with avoiding all specifics, not just just about his own tax returns but also about his most fundamental policy bullet points: what tax deductions and exemptions he’d eliminate; what federal departments and programs he’d cut to offset the red ink implicit in his promised tax cuts; and any fine print of his ideas for immigration and Social Security reform. If he really thinks he can get away with this Wednesday night, he’s delusional. What we mainly learned about Obama is that he looks exhausted and had better rest up. But in one answer to Steve Kroft, the president did suggest he’s ready to stop Romney from skating away from the specifics of his saber-rattling foreign policy: “If Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.” If this line of Obama attack is not focus-group tested, I’d be very surprised. Perhaps the Obama camp is hoping to spring its own “Daisy” ad.

The Romney Univision appearance sprouted two unflattering stories: that he was wearing really bad orange makeup and that his campaign packed the audience with supporters. Both made him seem almost comically desperate. Any thoughts?
Romney can dye his skin brown in reverse emulation of Michael Jackson and he still is going to lose the Hispanic vote by a margin so huge that it’s hard to see how he can make up the losses elsewhere. What I don’t understand is why his campaign doesn’t bus in a Latino claque to every campaign appearance, not just the Univision forum. With the exception of that appearance and this week’s speech before the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, every Mitt audience registers as all-white on the evening news. Hiring Latino extras for every Romney rally — and, while they’re at it, African-American and Asian-American extras, too — might be campaign money well spent.

The TPP: A Quiet Coup For the Investor Class

September 27, 2012

Demonstrators rally against the TPP in Leesburg, VA. (photo: Global Trade Watch)
Demonstrators rally against the TPP in Leesburg, VA. (photo: Global Trade Watch)

By Hilary Matfess, Foreign Policy In Focus

26 September 12

 

t would be a relief to report with any certainty that the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a massive proposed free-trade zone spanning the Pacific Ocean and all four hemispheres – are definitely empowering corporations to the detriment of workers, the environment, and sovereignty throughout the region. Unfortunately, the secretive and opaque character of the negotiations has made it difficult to report much of anything about them.

What can be confidently reported about the TPP is that, in terms of trade flows, it would be the largest free-trade agreement yet entered into by the United States – and, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, that the ministers negotiating the agreement “have expressed an intent to comprehensively reduce barriers in goods, services, and agricultural trade as well as rules and disciplines on a wide range of topics” to unprecedented levels. Yet despite these grandiose ambitions, details of the negotiations and drafts of the text have been purposefully withheld from Congress and American citizens.

The secrecy surrounding the negotiations is breathtaking. In July, 134 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk requesting that the appropriate congressional committees be consulted and that a draft of the text be released. The members reminded Kirk that draft texts were circulated and congressional committees consulted throughout the NAFTA negotiations in the early 1990s. Their letter received no response. A month later, House members petitioned Kirk to allow a congressional delegation to observe the negotiations – as in the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the launch of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization, and numerous NAFTA rounds. Despite its persistence, Congress has not been granted any significant oversight or insight regarding the negotiations.

While Congress, the press, and the public have had to make do with leaked chapters of negotiations, Just Foreign Policy reports that 600 corporate lobbyists were granted access to the negotiated text. American democracy is in a sorry state when corporations are granted more access to even the text of sweeping government agreements than the public and its elected officials. Although corporate influence on U.S. trade policy is hardly a new phenomenon, the simultaneous waning of congressional oversight is all the more unsettling.

In May, Democratic Reps. Barney Frank and Sander Levin wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to express their concern about the TPP’s provisions entrenching capital mobility. Their letter requested “an official written statement of the U.S. policy” concerning the ability of parties to the agreement to deploy capital controls in the face of a financial crisis. If the leaked drafts accurately reflect the direction of the negotiations, countries that instituted capital controls could be taken to court by private corporations and could be held liable for damages. Hundreds of economists signed letters inJanuary and February 2011 opposing these provisions, yet the investment chapter leaked in June suggests that neither their concerns nor Frank’s and Levin’s were taken into consideration.

Other troubling trends have emerged in the leaked chapters. According to Citizen.org, the negotiations thus far have given corporations the right to avoid government review when acquiring land, natural resources, or factories. They have also banned corporate performance requirements, guaranteed compensation for the loss of “‘expected future profits’ from health, labor, [or] environmental” regulations, and included stunning provisions concerning the right to “move capital without limits.” If these are indeed terms of the TPP, then the agreement would make it nearly impossible for countries to hold corporations accountable for their conduct – and would in fact hold governments liable for any “damage” incurred by corporations due to the institution of regulations.

Many progressives had hoped that President Barack Obama would shift U.S. trade policy away from staunch free-marketeering. But according to Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, the leaked chapters of the TPP “sent shock waves through Congress because it showed that U.S. negotiators had totally abandoned Obama’s campaign pledges to replace the old NAFTA trade model and in fact were doubling down and expanding the very Bush-style deal that Obama campaigned against in 2008 to win key swing states.”

The struggle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership reveals a disturbing trend in American politics. The much discussed Citizens United ruling granting corporations personhood has given way to a trade negotiation process in which corporations are granted more rights than American citizens, their elected representatives, or foreign governments impacted by the deal. That trade negotiations with such an immense potential impact on numerous sectors of the American economy have been conducted in secret is troubling enough. To consider that those negotiating the treaty have willfully ignored experts and elected representatives in favor of corporate interests calls into question the sustainability of American democracy.

100 Million Dead, Trillion of Dollars Lost from Climate Change by 2030, Estimates Study

September 27, 2012
Published on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 by Common Dreams

– Common Dreams staff

A shocking new analysis warns that if the danger of climate change continues to be ignored by the world’s governments, the encroaching disaster could claim the lives of 100 million people in the next two decades and lost economic prosperity to in world economies would be measured in the trillions of dollars.

A Bangladeshi woman stands outside her house in Gabura, in southern Bangladesh, after Cyclone Aila devastated the area on May 26, 2009. Low-lying southwest Bangladesh is on the front line of the battle to adapt to climate change. (Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)Findings contained in the “Climate Vulnerability Monitor”—a study sponsored by 20 nations and conducted by the humanitarian and development research organization DARA—point to unprecedented harm to human society and current economic development if runaway carbon emissions are not contained and new models of energy generation and consumption are not pursued.

“A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade,” the report said.

The study estimates human and economic impacts for 184 countries in 2010 and 2030 across a wide range of separate effects. Indicators of impact range from issues such as hunger and skin cancer, to permafrost thawing and sea-level rise, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and fisheries, biodiversity and forest deterioration.

Responding to the report, Oxfam International executive director Jeremy Hobbs told Reutersthat the costs of political inaction on climate were “staggering”.

“The losses to agriculture and fisheries alone could amount to more than $500 billion per year by 2030, heavily focussed in the poorest countries where millions depend on these sectors to make a living,” he said.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate chief, warned that extreme weather was becoming more common, as the effects of climate change take hold. “Climate change and weather extremes are not about a distant future,” she wrote in a comment for the Guardian last week. “Formerly one-off extreme weather episodes seem to be becoming the new normal.”

The report, which is being officially presented in New York City on Wednesday, is the second such study conducted by DARA. The first was released in 2010.

“1.3 billion people are still fighting their way out of the most extreme forms of poverty while major economies are today fighting their way out of crippling financial and economic crises,” said DARA Trustee and former president of Costa Rica José María Figueres in response to the report’s findings.

“Governments and international policy makers must act decisively to combat the spiraling costs to national and global GDP resulting from inaction on climate change,” he said. “The Monitor shows how failure to do so has already caused unprecedented damage to the world economy and threatens human life across the globe. With the investment required to solve climate change already far below the estimated costs of inaction, no doubt remains as to the path worth taking.”

The new Monitor report, subtitled “A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet (pdf),” juxtaposes on the one hand the large-scale anticipated increases in fossil fuel consumption over the coming decades with the enormous human and developmental consequences of this. However, it also points out that decisions taken on cold monetary terms alone would actually favour strong action on climate change globally and regionally.

Key findings from the report include the following estimates:

• Failure to act on climate change already costs the world economy 1.6% of global GDP amounting to $1.2 trillion in forgone prosperity a year
• Rapidly escalating temperatures and carbon-related pollution will double costs to 3.2% of world GDP by 2030
• Losses for lower-income countries are already extreme: 11% of GDP on average for Least Developed Countries already by 2030
• Major economies are heavily hit: in less than 20 years China will incur the greatest share of all losses at over $1.2 trillion; the US economy will be held back by more 2% of GDP; India, over 5% of its GDP
• Economic losses dwarf the modest costs tackling climate change: emission reductions at just 0.5% of GDP for the next decade; and support to the vulnerable: a minimum of $150 billion per year for developing countries

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TPP Trans Pacific Partnership– the Threat and Danger; Interview with Ben Beachy

September 26, 2012

September 26, 2012

 

By Rob Kall

TPP– the Trans Pacific Partnership– is NAFTA on steroids. It’s a dangerous trade deal that Obama Appointee Ron Kirk will not allow members of congress and their staffs to see and digest, while, at the same time, allowing corporations full access. We discuss how this will change America and advance the world Corporatocracy

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Photo by 

Ben Beachy is Research Director with Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. He investigates the impacts and implications of U.S. trade policy on jobs, public interest regulation, financial stability, and democratic policymaking. Before joining Global Trade Watch, Beachy analyzed the impacts of U.S. trade, aid, and lending policies in Latin America for six years as a Nicaragua-based policy analyst and as D.C.-based National Organizer for Witness for Peace. He has also worked as a visiting research fellow with Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute, investment analyst for the Tellus Institute in Boston, agriculture researcher for ActionAid in India, and labor rights investigator for the Worker Rights Consortium in Central America. Beachy’s published articles have focused on post-food crisis trade policy, the impacts of U.S. and IMF policies in Latin America, and new economic indicators to supplement GDP. Beachy received a B.A. from Goshen College and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

My rough interview notes

TPP Transpacific Partnership– expansion of NAFTA model of trade

Like NAFTA on steroids– would be largest trade deal the US ever signed.

Also potentially the last agreement”

This co-exists with and expands from NAFTA?

We call this a trade deal, which is a misnomer. Only 3 of 29 chapters in TPP have to do with trading goods. What are the other 26 chapters and in whose interest have they been written.

Trade advisory committee set up by Nixon– with 600 representatives 85% are corporate. Most are from General Electric.

Text has been kept more secret than previous trade agreements.

Ron Kirk is the trade representative restricting access to the agreement by elected members of congress while allowing corporations to view it.

Obama Admin campaigned against NAFTA model”

Are there any members of congress or the White House who have taken a stand against the NAFTA model of globalization.

The Trade Reform Development and Employment Accountability Act put forward by Sherrod Brown– a majority of Democrats signed on.

Any more info on Ron Kirk?

What’ll happen post election?

Buy America program would be eroded.

Intellectual property provisions– patent extensions for Pharmaceutical companies.

Patents are opposite of free trade.

Congress would actually be changing a multitude of laws, passing anti-worker policies if they authorize this agreement.

Has this even been an issue in campaigns?

US public has rejected NAFTA model 4 to 1.

Since so many US industries have been hurt, the argument that global trade agreements help protect our exports.

Trade balance with Canada and Mexico has ballooned so there are now more imports from them.

Elevates corporation to level of sovereign state– allowed to sue governments.

Is Ron Kirk a liar? He says this has been the most transparent trade agreement negotiation.

He bases this on “stakeholder engagement.”

Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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