Archive for February, 2017

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

February 28, 2017

OpEdNews Op Eds 2/27/2017 at 19:53:08

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pie chart
(image by WorldBeyondWar.org) License DMCA Details
Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Ski Plant
(image by WorldBeyondWar.org) License DMCA Details
Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.

For similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.

If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.

Instead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.

If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes. And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true? We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war. But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind. Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption. Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war. That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.

So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first? Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?

Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)

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Your brain as laboratory: The science of meditation

February 27, 2017

SATURDAY, FEB 25, 2017 10:59 AM CST

The idea that meditation is actually a form of research is gaining respect
JOHN YATES, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SKIP TO COMMENTS
TOPICS: BUDDHISM, MEDITATION, SCIENCE, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INNOVATION NEWS, SOCIAL NEWS, LIFE NEWS

Your brain as laboratory: The science of meditation
(Credit: webphotographeer via iStock)
This article was originally published by Scientific American.
Scientific American Meditation has surged in popularity in recent years, from a fringe interest to a mainstream trend championed by therapists, scientists and celebrities. As part of this shift, misconceptions and dismissals have given way to the emerging recognition of meditation as a science. There are, however, those who would challenge this view. As both a scientist and a meditator, I feel a duty to respond.

In doing so, I must first acknowledge the huge number of activities commonly referred to as meditation. Many of those activities are not in any sense scientific. However, I will argue that some meditation practices, including the method I describe in “The Mind Illuminated” and other practices within the Buddhist tradition, do qualify as science. I will confine my discussion to those practices.

We can define science as the systematic study of the natural world through observation and experiment, yielding an organized body of knowledge on a particular subject. The human mind is undeniably a suitable subject for scientific study, and one purpose of meditation is careful observation of one’s own mind. This observation reveals consistent patterns that meditators share with one another and with teachers who direct their practice. Master meditators weigh these observations against their own experience and knowledge passed down from previous generations of meditation masters, thereby generating models of the mind. Over thousands of years, meditators have tested, refined and reworked their models of the mind based on new insights as later generations developed new meditative techniques. Thus, over time, an organized body of knowledge has accumulated describing the nature and behavior of the mind at a very fine level of resolution. This is one sense in which certain forms of meditation qualify as science.

However, meditation is not simply passive observation, nor could it be, since the very act of observation is itself an activity of mind. Rather the meditator intentionally employs attention, awareness and other mental faculties in a variety of ways to better understand the functional behavior of the mind. (The effect of observation on the thing observed is not different than what occurs in quantum physics.) Precisely how these mental faculties are used in the investigation of the mind is subject to modification that can increase or decrease the efficacy of this endeavor. Thus meditation is also technology.

In the history of meditation practices that qualify as scientific, meditation masters have used models of the mind generated by meditation to modify meditation techniques for increased efficacy. Such modifications can be viewed as hypotheses, and their implementation as experiments. When these modifications are subsequently preserved because they are effective, the experimental results have passed the tests of replicability and falsifiability required by the scientific method. The picture of meditation as science is complete. The hypotheses generated in response to observation and analysis have been tested, validated and incorporated into the expanding body of knowledge. Such meditation practices are justifiably described as an evolving science, and the laboratory in which this science is carried out is the mind.

Some would argue that the results must be objective in a sense that precludes any element of subjectivity. This requirement is ultimately indefensible and would exclude much of the important work being done today in psychology and social sciences. On the other hand, we are increasingly able to verify brain changes in subject populations employing particular meditation techniques. Thus there is an emerging ability of third-person science to corroborate the models created through the first-person mind science of meditation.

When discussing meditation as a science and technology, it’s important to acknowledge the ultimate goal is a profound cognitive shift to a more accurate perception of one’s self and one’s relationship to the world. This cognitive shift, is traditionally known as “liberation,” “enlightenment” or “awakening” (the latter being my preferred term), which in turn, produces a dramatic and persistent increase in well-being. Therefore, both knowledge acquisition and its consequence also serve as outcome measures by which to evaluate efficacy.

We are fortunate to live in a time when the investigation of the mind through meditative science comes face-to-face with the investigation of the brain through material science. The conjunction of these different but complementary approaches provides us with an incredible opportunity. What is the mind other than the brain as experienced from the inside? And what is the brain other than the mind experienced from the outside? We have succeeded in identifying the neural correlates of many behavioral and experiential phenomena and can expect the rapid acceleration of this process. (NB: This is not a description reflecting materialistic reductionism but is equally compatible with philosophical positions of idealistic reductionism and non-dualism.)

The knowledge of the mind that meditation provides can be of enormous value in guiding the future research of neuroscientists. On the other hand, this continued unfolding of our knowledge of the physical brain can allow us to understand more clearly the most amazing and powerful experiences of adept meditators, including awakening. This cognitive transformation, characterized by wisdom, compassion and freedom from most forms of suffering, might ultimately become available to millions, completely transforming human society and helping us solve the enormous threats our species and our planet now face.

MORE JOHN YATES.

Officials warn mysterious radioactive cloud is spreading

February 27, 2017

— Authorities ‘baffled’ over release… “Could indicate leak from nuclear plant” — Particles “very radioactive”

Latest Headlines from ENENews

Morbid Inequality: Now Just SIX Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World’s Population

February 26, 2017

Published on
Monday, February 20, 2017
by Common Dreams

byPaul Buchheit
37 Comments

“Inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year,” writes Paul Buchheit. (Photo: Austin Kirk/flickr/cc)
Yes, inequality is getting worse every year. In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity. About a year later Oxfam reported that just 8 men had the same wealth as the world’s bottom half. Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to 6.

How to account for the dramatic increase in the most flagrant and perverse of extreme inequalities? Two well-documented reasons: (1) The poorest half (and more) of the world has continued to lose wealth; and (2) The VERY richest individuals — especially the top thousand or so — continue to add billions of dollars to their massive fortunes.

Inequality deniers and apologists say the Oxfam methodology is flawed, but they’re missing the big picture. Whether it’s 6 individuals or 62 or 1,000 doesn’t really matter. The data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD) and the Forbes Billionaire List provide the best available tools to make it clear that inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year.

How It’s Gone from 62 to 6 in One Year

As of 02/17/17, the world’s 6 richest individuals (all men) had $412 billion. Tables 2-4 and 3-4 of the 2016 GWD reveal that the poorest five deciles of the world population own just .16% of the $256 trillion in global wealth, or $410 billion. That latter figure is based on mid-2016 data, but since then the status of the bottom 50% has not improved, and has in fact likely worsened, as both global debt and global inequality have increased.

Just a year ago, on 03/01/16, the world’s 6 richest men had $343 billion. They’re the same men today, although slightly rearranged as they play “king of the hill”: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim Helu (with Larry Ellison jockeying for position). The wealth of these six men increased by $69 billion in just one year.

Just a year ago, according to the 2015 GWD, the poorest five deciles of the world population owned much more than today, close to $1.5 trillion. What happened? It’s very clear: the world’s richest 10% (mostly the richest 1%) gained nearly $4 trillion while every other segment of the global population lost wealth.

That’s worth a second look. The world’s total wealth is about $256 trillion, and in JUST ONE YEAR the richest 10% drained nearly $4 trillion away from the rest of civilization.

It’s Not Just the Bottom Half: A 500-Seat Auditorium Could Hold As Much Wealth as 70% of the World’s Population

According to the Forbes Billionaire List, the world’s richest 500 individuals have $4.73 trillion in wealth. Tables 2-4 and 3-4 of the GWD reveal that the poorest seven deciles of the world population own just 1.86% of the $256 trillion in global wealth, or $4.76 trillion. That’s over two-thirds of all the people on earth. That means 5,000,000,000 people — FIVE BILLION people — have, on average, and after debt is figured in, about a thousand dollars each in home and property and savings.

In the U.S., the Forbes 400 Own as Much as 3/5 of the American People

The bottom 60% of Americans, according to Table 6-5 in the GWD, own 3 percent of the nation’s $85 trillion in total wealth, or $2.55 trillion. The Forbes 400 owned $2.4 trillion in October 2016, and that’s been steadily increasing.

So as apologists like the National Review refer to “a growing upper-middle class” of people earning over $100,000 a year, they’re inadvertently offering an explanation for the demise of the middle class: Some are moving up, way up; many others are dropping to the lower-middle-class or below. The once sizable and stable middle of America is splitting into two.

The Deniers Are Lurking

The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby calls the Oxfam analysis “irrelevant.” Reuters contributor Felix Salmon calls it a “silly stat.”

Jacoby’s column includes some stunning assertions. He says, “Just as capitalism made it possible for Gates, Zuckerberg, and the others to reach the highest rung on the economic ladder, it is making it possible for billions of men and women to climb up from the lowest rung. Oxfam’s billionaires are richer than they used to be. So is almost everyone else.” And he quotes writer Johan Norberg: “Poverty as we know it is disappearing from our planet.”

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Billions moving up? Almost everyone getting richer? Poverty disappearing?

While we keep hearing about the world “climbing out of poverty,” much of the alleged improvement is due to rapid economic growth in China and creative math on the part of the UN. And yes, many Americans have negative wealth because of debt. A human being doesn’t have to live in a third-world slum to be impoverished.

Yet as inequality ravages the American and world economies, denial grows right along with it. Cato’s Michael Tanner suggests that “even if inequality were growing as fast as critics claim, it would not necessarily be a problem.” George Will, of course, agrees. But like the other deniers, they all protest too much as they try to explain away reality.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Paul Buchheit
screen_shot_2017-01-23_at_8.39.57_am.pngPaul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago. His latest book is, Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income. He is also founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul [at] UsAgainstGreed [dot] org.

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Latest Headlines from ENENews “Smoke billowing” from Japan nuclear plant — Possible fire reported near reactors — TEPCO “has not identified the cause of the incident” Posted: 23 Feb 2017 05:58 PM PST

February 24, 2017

Latest Headlines from ENENews

“Smoke billowing” from Japan nuclear plant — Possible fire reported near reactors — TEPCO “has not identified the cause of the incident”
Posted: 23 Feb 2017 05:58 PM PST

February 24, 2017

Accreditation for the UN conference to negotiate a ban treaty!
Inbox
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Akira Kawasaki kawasaki@peaceboat.gr.jp via post.freeml.com
Feb 23 (1 day ago)

to abolition-japan
核兵器禁止条約交渉会議へのNGOの登録方法について、先にお送りしたRCWのものと基本的に同じですが、ICAN国際事務局からのメールを転送します。川崎哲

———-転送メッセージ———-
From: Beatrice Fihn
日付: 2017年2月23日木曜日
件名: [ICAN] Accreditation for the UN conference to negotiate a ban treaty!
To: ICAN Campaigners

Hi everyone,

Registration for UN accreditation the first session on 27-31 March has opened, the aide memoir can be found here As always, the UN is slightly complicated, so if you are attending the negotiations in March, please read the following information carefully. The official NGO coordinator for the negotiating conference is Reaching Critical Will, so if you have any questions about the procedure, please contact ray@reachingcriticalwill.org or allison@reachingcriticalwill.org

Registration is done in three steps.

1. Accrediting the organisation you belong to

First, the organisation needs to be accredited before we can start registering individuals. ICAN will of course register, but we encourage partner organisations to register your own organisation, as we’re not really able to coordinate the registration for all campaigners coming in March. So please register your own organisation if possible, but make sure you coordinate with other people from your organisation so you don’t send several different accreditation applications on behalf of the same organisation. ¨

If your organisation can’t or doesn’t want to register, please let me or Daniel know, and we’ll help you get on another organisation’s delegation.

The deadline for applications of accreditation of organisations is 3 March 2017. The application is done through the United Nations Civil Society Network (CSO-Net) by completing an online accreditation form available at http://bit.ly/2m9jfr5. (Your organisation must first be registered on CSO Net, and NGOs with ECOSOC Consultative Status must indidate this.) If your organisation is not already registered in the CSO Net, please create an organisational profile here: http://esango.un.org/civilsociety/showNewProfile.do?method=addNewProfile&sessionCheck=false

Those non-governmental organizations that have requested accreditation as above will be informed by UNODA by e-mail by 10 March 2017 of the outcome of their request. NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status will be accredited to the Conference. All other approved NGOs will be provisionally accredited to the Conference, pending the decision of the Conference on the list of such NGOs. We don’t foresee any problems with any ICAN partner organisation being rejected.

Please note: A second accreditation period will be opened prior to the session of the Conference in June/July 2017, only for those organisations that did not apply for accreditation prior to the March session. The accreditation of NGOs granted in time for the March session will remain valid for the June/July session.

2. Registering individual participants

NGOs that receive confirmation of accreditation must then register their representatives who will to attend the Conference. This is also done via CSO Net. The registration of individual representatives will be open from 13 to 17 March 2017 at http://bit.ly/2lJlG6w.

Once you’ve completed the registration of individual representatives, you need to download the personal registration form and the confirmation letter from CSO Net. You must print these documents out and bring to New York.

3. Picking up the badge at the conference

Once you are in New York, you will be able to pick up your your badge on 27-28 March at the United Nations Pass and ID Office located on 320 E 45th Street, New York, NY on 27 and 28 March (9:00am – 11:00am; and 1:00pm – 3:00pm). You will need to bring the printed personal registration form and the confirmation letter, as well as valid photo identification to the Pass and ID Office.

Representatives arriving after 28 March must contact Ms. Haruka Katarao, E-mail: haruka.katarao@un.org, Tel. +1 (212) 963-4178, or Mr. Hong Tan, E-mail tan1@un.org, Tel. +1 (212) 963 7062 to arrange for issuance of a security identification badge.

Once the badge is issued, you will be able to get in to the UN and access the negotiating meetings.

——————————————————————

So, to recap. Your organisation need to apply for accreditation before 3 March (please coordinate with other colleagues from the same organisations, so you don’t double up), the organisation need to register the individual people that are coming to New York between 13 to 17 March.

And if you haven’t done so yet, please register for the ICAN campaigners meeting on 25-26 March in New York, so we can budget for catering etc. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdHEuZrXx2PHmicM6qQneRAtQGKIIcWi8GRiFZm-THYDxjKVg/viewform?mc_cid=d367a28712&mc_eid=a6d9a999e1

Looking forward to seeing many of you in New York!

Beatrice

Retreat fromTokyo Olympics and a new page

February 24, 2017

Dear Friends,

Governor Yuriko Koike has finally succeded to set up the article 100 Committee
to clarify the background of the Toyosu market issue.Together with other recent developments,
such as the surfacing of the Dentsu’s illegal labor management with its subsequent consequences,
the persitent investigation by the French prosecuters concerning Olympic corruptions.

This reminds us of the saying “Heaven’s vengeance is slow but sure”.We owe this thinking to
Chinese ancient philosopher Laozi who is considered as the principal source of Japanese maternal culture.
I often use the term “the will of heavevs and the earth”whose definition is “the law of history researched by philosophy”,
such as the inevitable fall of the arrogant,that of all dictatorships and the impossibility of immorality to last long.

It is based upon this way of thinking that I foresee the approaching retreat from the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020
being prepared totally ignoring the deterioratong situation in Fukushima and the consequent reactions from abroad such as
the following;

ENENEWS http://enenews.com/ 、CLICK HERE for this week’s episode, #296、
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?、 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0bsrFyLz6U 

The ongoing attempt to revive militairism in some quarters has encountered a serious obstacle which is linked to the acquisition by a school corporation of national land at an exceptionally low price.It may develop into a fatal political scandal that could lead Japan to open a new page.

Please allow me to count on your understanding and support.

Mitsuhei Murata
Former Ambassador to Switzerland

‘Mystery’: Radiation spikes being detected in many countries

February 21, 2017

Latest Headlines from ENENews

‘Mystery’: Radiation spikes being detected in many countries — US military secretly deploys ‘nuclear sniffer’ aircraft — Radioactivity levels quadrupled — Officials: Iodine-131 is “proof of rather recent release… the origin of which is still unknown”
Posted: 20 Feb 2017 01:57 AM PST

Japan history revisionists bolder under Abe: analysts

February 20, 2017

POLITICS FEB. 20, 2017 – 10:32AM JST ( 52 )

Japan history revisionists bolder under Abe: analysts

A man walks past advertising for the APA hotel group at a subway station in Tokyo
AFP
TOKYO —
Successful hotel chain operator Toshio Motoya doesn’t mind if his denial of a notorious Japanese World War II military atrocity in China drives customers away.

Motoya not only penned a book calling the 1937 Nanjing massacre a lie but proudly displays it in guest rooms of his nationwide chain of APA hotels.

In protest, China and South Korea pulled their athletes from his inns for the Asian Winter Games that began in Sapporo on Sunday. China has also told its tour businesses to stop cooperating with APA, essentially calling for a boycott.

Motoya has told supporters he “will never withdraw” the book under foreign pressure.

Such an attitude, analysts say, shows how those who whitewash Japan’s modern history are growing more emboldened by what they see as a tacit wink from hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Now in his fifth year in power, Abe makes no secret of his nationalist views. He says Japan must shake off past constraints, including altering its war-renouncing constitution imposed by American occupiers after World War II.

Tamotsu Sugano, an expert on Japanese rightist groups, said hotelier Motoya has close ties with ultra-conservative lobby Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, which has published a dossier calling the Nanjing massacre a “false accusation”.

And while Abe does not question the massacre, he and more than half his cabinet ministers hold membership in a parliamentarians’ league that supports the group.

“Since he was first elected to parliament, Abe has acted very closely with the core members” of Nippon Kaigi, said Sugano, who has written a book on the organisation.

Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo, says revisionism has been rising among politicians, the business sector and media since the late 1990s.

“Abe has been careful after becoming prime minister, but his firm foothold is these people,” Nakano said, calling him “their flag bearer”.

The prime minister, who once prevaricated over whether Japan’s wartime aggression amounted to “invasion”, has also appointed cabinet ministers with a revisionist bent.

And while Abe has stood by previous government apologies for the war, he said ahead of the 70th anniversary of its end in 2015 that future generations should not have to say sorry.

China says 300,000 people died in a six-week spree of killing, rape and destruction by the Japanese military that began in December 1937.

Some respected academics estimate a lower number of victims, but mainstream scholarship does not question that the incident, known as the “Rape of Nanking,” took place.

Motoya’s book, dryly titled “The Real History of Japan: Theoretical Modern History II,” uses the word “fabrication” to describe Nanjing.

“Revisionists in Japan are seeking to rewrite Japan’s shared wartime history in Asia and promoting an exonerating narrative that ignores what happened,” Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, told AFP in an email.

Motoya has also come under fire for anti-Semitic comments made in an in-house magazine placed in his Canada hotels, asserting that Jews “control” key sectors of the United States.

His history book has elicited no condemnation from the Japanese government and little from media or broader society.

The nationalist Sankei Shimbun daily has rather applauded the government for “neither pressuring APA hotel nor urging self-restraint”.

The situation in Japan contrasts with Germany, where opinions expressing sympathy for Nazi rule are broadly considered unacceptable and displaying fascist symbols such as the swastika, or denying the Holocaust, are illegal.

Last year, an 87-year-old woman was sentenced to prison for denying that Auschwitz was a death camp.

The lack of vocal criticism over revisionist ideas in Japan, however, does not mean nationalist views resonate widely.

Indeed, voters have bet on Abe mainly for his promise to revitalise the economy. Polls show underwhelming support for his pet project of constitutional revision.

“The rise of China is stoking anxieties and nationalism in Japan, but nationalism doesn’t resonate powerfully among Japanese because they understand what can go wrong,” said Temple University’s Kingston.

© 2017 AFP

IAEA fact-finding team examines devastation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in May 2011. (photo: IAEA/Greg Webb)

February 16, 2017

IAEA fact-finding team examines devastation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in May 2011. (photo: IAEA/Greg Webb) go to original article

Fukushima: Still Getting Worse After Six Years of Meltdowns
By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
12 February 17

Even Fox News reports radiation at “unimaginable levels”

fter a week of limited coverage of “unimaginable levels” of radiation inside the remains of collapsed Unit 2 at Fukushima (see below), Nuclear-News.net reported February 11 that radiation levels are actually significantly higher than “unimaginable.”

Continuous, intense radiation, at 530 sieverts an hour (4 sieverts is a lethal level), was widely reported in early February 2017 – as if this were a new phenomenon. It’s not. Three reactors at Fukushima melted down during the earthquake-tsunami disaster on March 3, 2011, and the meltdowns never stopped. Radiation levels have been out of control ever since. As Fairewinds Energy Education noted in an email February 10:

Although this robotic measurement just occurred, this high radiation reading was anticipated and has existed inside the damaged Unit 2 atomic reactor since the disaster began nearly 6 years ago…. As Fairewinds has said for 6 years, there are no easy solutions because groundwater is in direct contact with the nuclear corium (melted fuel) at Fukushima Daiichi.
What’s new (and not very new, at that) is the official acknowledgement of the highest radiation levels yet measured there, by a factor of seven (the previously measured high was 73 sieverts an hour in 2012). The highest radiation level measured at Chernobyl was 300 sieverts an hour. What this all means, as anyone paying attention well knows, is that the triple-meltdown Fukushima disaster is still out of control.

“Sievert” is one of the many terms of mystification used to prevent most people from fully understanding radiation. A “sievert” is roughly equivalent to a “gray,” as each represents a “joule” per kilogram (not to be confused, for example, with “Curie” or Bequerel,” or with “rem,” “rad,” or “roentgen”). In the International System of Units (SI), a “joule” is the “unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by a force of one newton when its point of application moves one meter in the direction of action of the force, equivalent to one 3600th of a watt-hour.” Got that? The jargon doesn’t much matter as far as public safety is concerned. All ionizing radiation is life-threatening. The more you’re exposed, the more you’re threatened. As Physics Stack Exchange illustrates the issue:

The dose [of radiation] that kills a tumor is deliberately aimed at that tumor. If, instead of using a collimated beam, you put a person in a wide beam for radio “therapy”, you would be treating their entire body as a tumor and kill them.
Radiation levels at Fukushima are comparable to a nuclear explosion that doesn’t end. That’s one reason that TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. that owns Fukushima, keeps trying to reassure the world that little or no radiation escapes from Fukushima. This is not true, radiation in large, mostly unmeasured or undocumented amounts pours into the Pacific Ocean all the time, without pause. One reason this release is out of control is because no one apparently knows just where the three melted reactor cores have gone. TEPCO says it thinks the melted cores have burned through the reactors’ inner containment vessels, but are still within the outer containment walls. They keep looking as best they can.

On February 3, 2017, the Guardian reported the high radiation levels discovered by a remote camera sent into the reactor on a telescopic arm. Reader Supported News carried the story from EcoWatch on February 5. Essentially the same story was reported on February 6 by Smithsonian.com, on February 7 by ZeroHedge.com, and on February 8, Fox News reported that “radiation levels at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are now at ‘unimaginable’ levels.” There have apparently been no such reports on CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC. On February 9, ABC ran an AP story about pulling a robot out of Unit 2 because of “high radiation,” without specifying a level and adding: “TEPCO officials reassured that despite the dangerously high figures, radiation is not leaking outside of the reactor.” (PJMedia.com calls the Fox story “fake news,” relies on ad hominem argument, trusts TEPCO on keeping track of the irradiated ocean flow, and accepts US EPA standards for “safe” drinking water – without actually discrediting the story.)

On February 12, Pakistan Defence ran the AP story of February 9, but included the new level of radiation at 650 sieverts that fried a robot’s camera, adding:

The high levels of radiation may seem alarming, but there’s good news: it’s contained, and there are no reports of new leaks from the plant. That means that the radiation shouldn’t affect nearby townships. Higher levels of radiation could also mean the robot is getting closer to the precise source of radioactivity to properly remove the melted fuel.
All this coverage relates only to Unit 2’s melted reactor core. There is no reliable news of the condition of the melted reactor cores in two other units. Last November, in a half-hour talk reviewing the Fukushima crisis, Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Energy Education discussed the three missing reactor cores and what he suspected was the likelihood that they had not been contained within the reactor.

The ground water flowing into, through, and out of the reactor is contaminated by its passage and is having some impact on the Pacific Ocean. The US, like other governments, is ignoring whatever is happening, allowing it to happen as if it doesn’t matter and never will. In Carmel, California, local residents are finding that tide pools, once vibrant with life, are now dead. They blame Fukushima.

Whatever is actually going on at Fukushima is not good, and has horrifying possibilities. It is little comfort to have the perpetrator of the catastrophe, TEPCO, in charge of fixing it, especially when the Japanese government is more an enabler of cover-up and denial than any kind of seeker of truth or protector of its people. It took private researchers five years to figure out that Fukushima’s fallout of Cesium-137 on Tokyo took a more dangerous, glassy form that wasn’t cleaned up effectively.

The US and most of the rest of the world have chosen not to take Fukushima more seriously than a multi-car Interstate pile-up. The policy is one more roll of the dice, saving money now and gambling the future. But now we have Rick Perry heading up the US Department of Energy and Scott Pruitt slated to take over the Environmental Protection Agency – so we can expect big changes, right?

Actually there has been one big change already at the Energy Dept., which uses more contractors than any other US agency. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Energy Dept. failed to protect whistleblowers who raised legitimate nuclear safety and other concerns. In response, the Energy Dept. prepared a new rule protecting whistleblowers from contractor retaliation. That rule was blocked from going into effect by President Trump’s regulatory freeze on January 20.

In a sense, Fukushima is perhaps a metaphor for the current American moment. The electoral earthquake and tsunami of 11/9 has produced a political meltdown of unknown and expanding proportions, that continue unchecked, causing still unmeasured destruction and human suffering far into a dark and dangerous future.