Friday, March 18, 2011

Walker's power grab driven back by the court

A State Judge in Wisconsin upheld and made permanent the WI Sec of State's decision to not publish the power grab law passed in defiance of open meeting laws by Republicans. The law would have ended public unions, allowed the no bid sale of State assets, converted all State jobs to political patronage and decriminalized a whole host of corrupt practices not seen since Tammany Hall (if you got a HS education since 1980 you'll need to look it up).

The stay ordered by the Court would not keep Governor Walker and his Republican cabal from passing the law in daylight but there is little chance of this happening with the likely defection of Republican Senators fearing recall. Walker would doubtless win in front of Bush appointed appellate judges in Federal Courts but by the time the case gets there Walker will be recalled.

If Walker appears anywhere in the State no matter how remote the location hundreds and even thousands turnout to protest. This has led to Walker publishing his official schedule in the dead of night to minimize the protests.

This is what Democracy sounds like on your car horn

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Long after we're gone as a species

The first shutdown of a major US plant was announced by GM today because of the crisis in Japan. This will spread fast as much of what Japan exports are technologies that they hold a monopoly on. It will take time for China to replace this production as Japan will not want to give up the technology on the assumption they will need the trade when (or if) they recover.

An American drone aircraft confirmed with close-up video today that the fuel rod holding tank of the number four reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is dry and producing an ugly looking plume of smoke. This is the real terror of the crisis as the fuel used in this reactor is enriched with plutonium salvaged from nuclear weapons.

There is no question that some part of Japan will become uninhabitable like the area around Chernobyl. The only question is how big the area will be. Tokyo has become a ghost town with empty streets and the local trains empty. Trains heading south however are packed as are international flights. Reports of passengers getting off planes from Tokyo in the US and setting off the radiation detectors are now being denied.

The first plume of radioactivity will reach the US tomorrow and the President came out to reassure the public that there is no danger but the EPA has doubled the number of radiation monitors just the same. The truth is that there is little chance of inhaling a particle of radioactive material at this time. If you do happen to be unlucky and suck a particle in, there is a pretty good chance but by no means a certainty that it will kill you in 20 or 30 years.

This is the way the numbers work, if you live in the US you would be far more likely to significantly increase your lifespan by better bathtub safety. While it is pointless to worry about radiation, some people in the US will die. There is no safe level for the inhalation of radioactive particles. It is not the same as getting chest x-rays, the numbers don’t really translate. On a number scale even an intense x-ray does only minimal cell damage rated about a “one” and at that some people will get cancer from it. A single particle of plutonium will damage cells around it severely being rated at a “seven” on the same scale.

Consider that a nuclear bomb only uses a couple of pounds of radioactive material although the blast irradiates a huge mass of material that comes down as fallout, but much of that material cools to a safe level in a matter of weeks. This disaster if not contained will put hundreds of tons of highly radioactive material into the environment that won’t cool down to a “safe” level for hundreds of years. The more “stable” isotopes of plutonium won’t cool to a safe level for 250,000 years. That’s longer than there have been humans and probably long after we’re gone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The economics of a pegged needle on your Geiger counter

The Dow dropped another 240 points today as concerns about Japan’s crisis weighs on the trans-national companies that dominate the index’s listings. The USD has gained against the Yen but is still weak against the Euro reflecting the oil market as most oil is still traded in USDs and while the price of oil is down speculation still dominates. Keep in mind the Federal Reserve is putting something on the order of a 120 billion USD into the markets every month or you would likely see the Dow fall through the floor.

Japan’s central bank has been pumping massive amounts of Yen to keep their markets from melting down. A bad pun I know, but it is a reasonable analogy just the same as Japan’s economy now teeters on the edge of oblivion. Japan has been “competing” in the world market by monopolizing the production of hundreds of critical electronic and industrial components. Much of this production is concentrated in the part of Japan now devastated and facing total abandonment without some sort of miracle at the nuclear plants.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission official under oath before Congress today testified that the Japanese are either understating the crisis or are unaware of the magnitude. The US NRC says the radiation is already at lethal levels around the reactor site and this is not just guesswork as the US is big in the spy satellite business. We have the capability to track nuclear radiation emissions with a high degree of accuracy.

Germany has ordered the immediate shut down of all its Nuclear plants based on the GE Mark one design. Three GE engineers resigned their jobs when these time bombs were being built over the stupidity of their design. The 36 GE Mark one reactors in the US have the very same waste fuel rod cooling pools on top of the reactor building with basically no shielding. Any long term failure of the cooling system will result in a complete melt down and metallic fire regardless of whether these plants are even in operation.

GE stock was down 3.37% today, double the market drop. Not that they will ever be held accountable for their negligence, companies this size never are, but they are not a US company anymore and the collapse of Japan where much of their business is based will hurt their bottom line. GE’s partner in Japan is Hitachi which holds an 80% stake and will bear the brunt of the responsibility for the disaster if anyone is held to account.

China, not being run by fools has ordered the immediate halt of all nuclear plant construction. President Obama is still paying lip service to the nuclear industry saying it is essential for our future. Japan’s and especially the foreign money elite there have bought up all corporate jet leases to ferry their people out of the country. The future, while often murky comes to complete clarity if your Geiger counter pegs the needle at the top of the scale.

And for all you people who think my references to canned goods are a joke, the stores in Tokyo are now empty.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is what Democracy looks like

Notice that they are not standing ten feet apart like the Tea Baggers do when they are having one of their "huge" rallies that gets 24/7 coverage.
The view is the same in all directions.