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Archive for March, 2011

More Bad News From Japan

Radiation levels at Japan nuclear plant reach new highs

WaPo, today

Leaked water sampled from one unit Sunday was 100,000 times more radioactive than normal background levels — though the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, first calculated an even higher, erroneous, figure that it didn’t correct for several hours.

Tepco apologized Sunday night when it realized the mistake; it had initially reported radiation levels in the leaked water from the unit 2 reactor as being 10 million times higher than normal, which prompted an evacuation of the building.

After the levels were correctly measured, airborne radioactivity in the unit 2 turbine building still remained so high that a worker there would reach his yearly occupational exposure limit in 15 minutes.

At some point we really need to start talking more about robots.

Very good article.


Go To Church, Get Fat

Praise the lard? Religion linked to obesity in young adults


“Our main finding was that people with a high frequency of religious participation in young adulthood were 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age than those with no religious participation in young adulthood,” says Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“And that is true even after we adjusted for variables like age, race, gender, education, income, and baseline body mass index,” he added.

The study, presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association, followed 2,433 men and women starting between the ages of 20 and 32 for 18 years. Study subjects were all of normal weight at the beginning of the study. By the end, however, those who had attended a religious function at least once a week were more likely to be obese, posting a body mass index of 30 or higher. Previous research by Northwestern Medicine has found a correlation between religious involvement and obesity in middle age and older adults.


Listening Wind

I never heard the phrase “Free Trade Zone” before Byrne made this piece.

Drive them away, drive them away.


Hilda Solis

h/t Meteor Blades.


Sometimes, you’re just lucky. My good fortune, not the only one, but I savor it, is that I live two doors up the street from one of Hilda Solis’s many sisters. Another one used to live two doors further down, but she and her husband managed to sell their their house just before the real estate market went belly up here in Los Angeles. That good fortune has meant I’ve gotten to rub elbows with Solis at a few private parties. I won’t reveal any secrets. Everybody already knows she’s smart, tough, and the most liberal member of President Obama’s Cabinet. A friend of working Americans since before she was appointed Secretary of Labor. A friend of labor unions before she was a Congresswoman. A working-class woman from a working-class immigrant family who has neither forgotten nor forsaken her roots.

If the Chamber of Commerce and its biggest right-wing pals in the Senate had had their way, she wouldn’t be where she is. Her open support for the Employee Free Choice Act was something that stuck in their craw. The prospect of that becoming law was what the CEO of Home Depot once called the “demise of civilization.” Her foes managed to delay her appointment for nearly two months before finally surrendering.

They were not eager to see Solis heading what might as well have been renamed the Crush Labor Department under her Republican predecessor, Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, named one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress in 2009.


Humanitarians of the Year

This is a public service announcement, to apprise you of the new Fafblog post. We’ve missed you, guys!


Oh, Susana

I’m glad you’ve got your priorities straight as to our problems here in New Mexico, with your stalwart adherence to assuring that people driving around here aren’t of some dreaded nationality such as that from which we bought much of this place (after winning a war against them) back in the 19th century. Cheap, too. Very cheap. You know; *those* people, Susana. The ones with surnames like Martinez. What a funny coincidence!

Gov: Loss in driver’s license fight only the first round

SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez says she has lost only the first round in her fight over illegal immigrants receiving New Mexico driver’s licenses.

A bill to repeal the law cleared the House of Representatives this session only to die in the Senate.

Martinez says she will continue trying to revoke the licensing law, which means she may have to reshape the Democrat-controlled Senate in the next election.

Oh, my. Reshape? Is that some kind of grizzly mama thing? Like reverse werewolvism?

Article goes on to run around with hair on fire about how people down south will use the opportunity to become licensed to drive, sans being citizens, to “gain access to secure buildings, such as federal courthouses and power plants.” Damn. If I knew a driver’s license would get you that, I would have taken up the practice long ago.

Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrant organization Somos Un Pueblo Unido, is also quoted, in a refreshingly sane and reasonable manner.

There will be those who say “But these people are (breaking some kind of law and/or are dangerous.)” To these people, I respond; do you *really* not have anything better to worry about than people who are not legally living in this country, driving to their horrible jobs where they do not have the sorts of legal protections that citizens of the USA still have? I mean, seriously. These folks are working shit jobs for a few bucks an hour, and basically living in fear. If one was to argue that they should not be allowed driver’s licenses, and even attempt to appear ethical, one would also have to argue that USA industry should stop going out of its way to stop taking advantage of these people, many of whom are trying to get away from oppressive regimes and terrible employment situations south of the border. And gosh, if that happened, then honest-to-Dog Merkins would maybe get those jobs for crappy minimum wage, as opposed to $2 an hour.

Instead, what kind of framing do we get? “They might be terrorists and might get access to secure buildings,” and then I guess use their $2 an hour wages to blow them all up in their spare time that doesn’t exist.

Yep, this is definitely now on the very top of my list of things to worry about, you lying Palin-promoted teabagger Martinez. It was a bad year when you won the governorship, and now we get to look forward to darlings like Steve Pearce or Heather Wilson fighting over Bingaman’s seat in the Senate. Wilson is spoken of around here as being not sufficiently conservative. I think my head has an appointment with a nearby wall.


Sand Dune Lizard Protection Could End Oil & Gas Jobs and Nuclear Enrichment in Little Texas

Rivals say protecting endangered lizard threatens oil, gas industries

The Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to list the sand dune lizard on the endangered species list, protecting its habitat from everything, including drilling. The lizard, native to southeast New Mexico and four counties in adjacent Texas, is causing a stir among oil and gas producers in the state who fear its protection could put thousands of New Mexicans out of work.

“The listing of the lizard has several bad outcomes, but jobs is the worst outcome. We stand to lose agriculture production, all of the oil and gas jobs; it might shut down the nuclear enrichment facility,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who cites New Mexico’s joblessness at 9 percent.



Why are we building such a big ship?

h/t to luckydog


The Blueprint to god’s face

“I wish love would just call me back..”increcible spoken word piece. I love this guy.


Globe And Mail Goes There

Why Japan embraced nuclear power after suffering the atomic bomb

From Thursday’s Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011 10:09PM EDT

The spectre of Hiroshima and Nagasaki haunts nuclear energy’s doubters, and the survivors of the bombings – known as hibakusha – have been prominent in campaigns against nuclear expansion. And yet their influence is more limited than non-Japanese might think. Information about the bombings was suppressed during the years of the American occupation of Japan (1945-52), and survivors of the blasts – sickly, disfigured and impoverished – often found themselves shunned by the rest of Japanese society.

Meanwhile, a Japanese civil nuclear program was launched in the early 1950s, supported by the Americans and building on the legacy of wartime scientific research. Nuclear energy, shedding its dark past, was now idealized as an instrument of peace and order. With information about the atomic bombings being suppressed, and with radiation victims forced to the margins, it was possible to make a case for the beneficial side of nuclear power in the country that had suffered its worst effects.

“The political and corporate elite constructed the infrastructure of Japan’s nuclear power project before the Japanese public even understood what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” says Michele Mason, who teaches Japanese culture at the University of Maryland.