Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Last Call

CNN is reporting a complete evac of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at this hour, all personnel are suspending operations and leaving the plant.  Smoke is now pouring out of Reactor 3.  Japan is at this point turning to the US military to try to contain the disaster.

This is pretty much it, folks.  I'm not sure what the US Navy can do that the Japanese don't have the manpower or know-how to handle, but at this point it's all they have left.

Going to be a long day in Sendai.

The GOP Declares War On Tote Bags

While Republicans continue to complain that President Obama is out of touch for filling out his March Madness bracket, House Republicans held an emergency meeting to confront what they see as the gravest threat to America right now:

National Public Radio.

House Republicans are holding an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee on Wednesday to take up legislation that would block funding to NPR in the wake of James O'Keefe's hidden camera prank on the news organization.

The meeting will examine HR 1076, introduced by Republican congressman and NPR-nemesis Doug Lamborn of Colorado, which would bar the government from providing any funding to NPR and its affiliate stations. The House already passed an amendment to its Continuing Resolution funding the government through September that would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports both NPR and PBS, but the Senate defeated the bill and the latest CR only cuts $50 million in scheduled increases to NPR's funding that the White House had already cut from its own budget proposal.

According to a spokeswoman for Lamborn, Catherine Mortensen, the new standalone bill would only target NPR. And unlike the CR amendment would have defunded public broadcasting through the 2011 fiscal year, HR 1076 would permanently prohibit all federal funding to NPR and affiliate stations. 

Mortensen added that Lamborn "will definitely" seek to include an additional amendment blocking NPR funding through 2011 in any final deal with Senate Democrats on a 2011 continuing resolution. 

So the Republicans are willing to shut the government down over permanently eliminating NPR funding, specifically.  It's their way or everyone in the country suffers.

All because an employee told the truth.  This is what Republicans do to anyone who gets in the way of that whole "reality has a liberal bias" thing, they must be eliminated in order to be drowned out by FOX News.

Oh, hey, guys...where's the jobs?

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 6

AJE's Dan Nolan explains what's going on at Fukushima Daiichi.

It's the second part of the video that should have you worried:  the reactor is contained somewhat (but still a partial meltdown would be terrible.)  But the stored spent fuel rods submerged in rooftop pools to keep them cool are the more immediate danger.

Tokyo Electric Power Company officials announced on Tuesday evening that they would consider using helicopters in an attempt to douse with cold water a boiling rooftop storage pond for spent uranium fuel rods. The rods are still radioactive and potentially as hot and dangerous as the fuel rods inside the reactors if not kept submerged in water.

“The only ideas we have right now are using a helicopter to spray water from above, or inject water from below,” a power company official said at a news conference. “We believe action must be taken by tomorrow or the day after.”

Hydrogen gas bubbling up from chemical reactions set off by the hot fuel rods produced a powerful explosion on Tuesday morning that blew a 26-foot-wide hole in the side of reactor No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. A fire there may have been caused by machine oil in a nearby facility, inspectors from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, according to an American official.

Concern remained high about the storage ponds at that reactor and at reactors 5 and 6. All three of those reactors at the plant, 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, were not operating on Friday afternoon when an offshore earthquake with a magnitude now estimated at 9.0 suddenly shook the site. A tsunami with waves up to 30 feet high rolled into the northeast Japanese coastline minutes later, swamping the plant. 

If those rods overheat, the potential for a widespread release of radioactive material into the atmosphere is extremely high, and this is completely separate from any of the six reactors at the plant losing containment.  Word is reactors 5 and 6 are heating up too, potentially meaning that all six reactors at the Fukushima plant are damaged and could be in various stages of a partial meltdown.

And it seems the worse-case scenario continues to play out.

Two workers are missing after Tuesday's explosion at one of the reactors at a crippled Japanese nuclear plant, the country's nuclear safety agency said.

The agency did not identify the missing workers, but said they were in the turbine area of the No.4 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by last Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

Agency official also told a news conference there was a crack in the roof of the reactor building.

Reuters now quoting NHK World that Reactor 4 is now on fire again after the explosion today.   This can't be good.  It's on fire because the first reactor 4 fire was never fully extinguished.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

College basketball edition, courtesy of John Podhoretz, who completely loses it.

Japan may be on the verge of an unprecedented catastrophe. Saudi Arabia is all but colonizing Bahrain. Qaddafi is close to retaking Libya, with bloodbath to follow. And, as Jim Geraghty notes, the president of the United States is going on ESPN to talk about the NCAA and delivering speeches today on his rather dull plan to replace No Child Left Behind with No Teenager Left Behind, or something like that.

It’s hard to overstate how poorly Barack Obama is doing in the face of these crises — and I don’t even mean how he’s doing substantively, which is a scandal in itself. I mean how he’s doing politically. Recall how much hay Michael Moore made of the fact that George W. Bush read My Pet Goat for nine minutes in that Florida classroom on 9/11 after being informed that the first plane had struck.

We’re going on four weeks now, or more, that Barack Obama has been reading My Pet Goat.

How dare the President not get us into another war (or two, or three!) and kill thousands of Libyans!   How dare he fail to use his Kryptonian superpowers to single-handedly save Japan from nuclear disaster!  Why he's...he's acting calm and rational, the bastard!

I've seen some prime Obama hate in the last three years, but trying to pin the Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster plus Libya and Bahrain on Obama because he filled out his NCAA basketball picks is borderline psychosis.  Even better, Obama is more than happy to talk about the broken state of school education in the country, something that we all need to worry about here as Americans.  But that would be an act of governance of the country, something J-Pod and his screaming horde want nothing to do with.

Yes, how dare the President not act like a comic book character and instead take a measured and intelligent approach to events, many of which he cannot control.  And for all their bellowing that we can't afford to spend anything extra and have to make tens of billions in immediate cuts, these same fools want us to commit to yet another expensive theater of war with an air campaign that would have to be followed by a ground one.

Besides, I thought Presidents were supposed to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.  No doubt if Obama went into lockdown mode, we'd be hearing J-pod here complain that the President was insulating himself in the beltway bubble again.

Anyone who is equating the Bush administration failure to prevent 9/11 to Obama not starting a third war of choice needs to be laughed off the national stage.

F Is For Fail Redux

So, not only has the story of Glenn Seymour made it to Fark.com, but it has been updated.  Prepare for some train-wreck-sort-of-fascinating clips and click here for the full article.

The skill Seymour was learning when he died is not required to get a concealed weapons permit in Missouri. The state calls for instructors to cover such topics as basic marksmanship and safe storage of firearms at home during the eight-hour class.

County sheriffs oversee concealed carry training in Missouri, approving lesson plans and individuals instructors.

Degase stressed that while Seymour's death was accidental, he is reviewing whether Williams should continue teaching such courses. Degase said a previous sheriff approved Williams as an instructor.
Peggy Siler, the co-owner of Ozark Shooters Sports Complex in Walnut Shade, said she had never heard of the technique Williams was teaching being used in a class to get a concealed weapons permit.

Dan Smith, a firearms instructor in the St. Louis area, said the skill Seymour was learning when he died is only found at "very, very advanced levels of training.

"That's not what the Missouri conceal carry class is about," Smith said.

So, basically a guy decided to play Doc Holliday and shot himself.  His teacher calls it a tragic accident and in no way explains how this happened on his watch.  The only action being taken is a review?  Freaking incredible.

When The Going Gets Tough

The tough get creative.  A man took a simple trailer and turned it into a comfortable and modern home.  In direct opposition to the McMansion, a new trend of minimalist or portable housing is on the rise.

Please bear with the commentary and check out the beginning of a shift to creative and less expensive choices.  As more homes are lost to foreclosure, this and other projects like it could take hold and change the way we live, and where we live.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Me, Saturday on the growing Fukushima Daiichi disaster:

The good scenario is Three Mile Island.  The bad scenario is Chernobyl.

International nuclear officials, today:

FLASH: French nuclear agency says Fukushima nuclear accident is level 6 on INES scale

Background on the INES Scale:

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) rates nuclear events according to seven levels, from anomalies (level 1) to major accidents (level 7). 

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which developed INES in collaboration with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the Chernobyl disaster was a level-7 event, while the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the US was a level-5 event.  

Called it 72 hours ago.  Best case was Three Mile Island, worst case Chernobyl.  We're right in between the two as of Tuesday.  And this is one of those times I wish I was dead wrong.

The Next War, Part 2

Meanwhile a new poll shows majority support for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, but Daniel Larison notes that support starts to crumble when military specifics are mentioned.

Most Americans say they support U.S. participation in a no-fly zone over Libya as a way to neutralize Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s air force, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
But support slips under 50 percent when it comes to more unilateral U.S. action, as Democrats and independents peel away. And under either scenario, about a quarter of all no-fly advocates turn into opponents when the specifics of the military action are detailed [bold mine-DL]. ~The Washington Post
Put another way, a slim majority favors a no-fly zone in which the U.S. is just one participant when the respondents don’t have to think very much about what is involved. Once the respondents hear about what is involved, support plummets. The Post/ABC poll‘s question to respondents that support a no-fly zone seems reasonably accurate:
Creating a no-fly zone first requires bombing attacks on anti-aircraft positions, and then requires continuous air patrols. Given those requirements, would you support or oppose using U.S. military aircraft to create a no-fly zone in Libya?
72% of would-be supporters actually support a no-fly zone when confronted with what it would require. That means that just 40% of respondents favor a no-fly zone when the U.S. is one of many participants in enforcing it, and support for a primarily U.S. effort would be lower still

In other words, there's little support for the Next War if you look under the hood.  That 40% drops to around 30% when it comes to unilateral US action in Libya (There's that 27% number again!)  That's a good thing, frankly.  It's time for Europe to take care of this problem, not us.  Nine years of Afghan war and eight in Iraq means our days as global cop are over.

Bitter Cup Of Tea

The Tea Party overwhelmingly is made up of older Americans, and they rallied long and hard to say "hands off my benefits!" and "No death panels for Grandma!"  As such, they turned out in powerful numbers for the GOP and helped usher in a major wave of Republican lawmakers at the state level ready to make cuts.

And now America's seniors are finding out exactly what those cuts are.

Among the most dramatic of the proposed cuts is the severe reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rates to nursing homes in Texas. Facing a shortfall of up to $27 billion, state lawmakers want to reduce the rate by 10%. But payments to nursing homes would plummet by a total of 34% because they would also lose federal matching funds.

This could result in the shuttering of 850 of the state's 1,000 nursing homes, forcing up to 45,000 elderly residents to find other accommodations, said David Thomason, chair of the Texas Senior Advocacy Coalition.

Texas nursing homes already lose money on Medicaid patients so they could not absorb another reduction, facility operators say. If rates were cut further, many would be forced to stop participating in the Medicaid program and would need to either close the buildings or convert them to other health-related uses.

As it is, Sears Methodist Retirement System in Austin has to solicit donations and charge private patients more to make up the $4 million loss it suffers on its Medicaid residents, said Keith Perry, who heads the non-profit. If the cuts go through, Sears Methodist would have to stop caring for its roughly 400 Medicaid patients, whose average age is 84.

"There's no way we could staff those facilities at those reimbursement rates," Perry said.

This scenario is terrifying Carol Poor, whose 83-year-old mother lives in an Alzheimer's unit at Christian Care Centers in Gunter, a town north of Dallas. If her mother were discharged, Poor said she would have to retire early from her secretarial job to care for her mother since neither can afford to pay for a nurse or nursing home.

"My mother worked and paid taxes all these years," said Poor. "She deserves someone to be there for her."

Congrats, Tea Party seniors.  You gave the Republicans your vote.  Now you get to pay like the rest of us.  Didn't even take them more than a few months to sell you up the river with the rest of America.  Government is wasteful!  Don't tread on me!  Let's shrink government!

Only it's government that was providing Medicaid support for millions of seniors.  And now that's on the block too.

Hey, the Dirty F'ckin Hippies tried to warn you.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 5

The fire at Reactor 4 is out at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spent fuel rods may have caught fire and burned according to officials, and between that and the explosion at Reactor 2 yesterday, people aren't exactly sticking around in Tokyo.

Tokyo residents emptied store shelves of daily necessities and stocked up on gasoline as the risk of nuclear radiation leaks from a facility north of the Japanese capital escalated.

Seven & I Holdings Co., Japan’s biggest retailer, said its Ito-Yokado supermarkets are being emptied daily of necessities such as water, rice and batteries as soon as fresh supplies arrive. “Every day the stores provide a certain amount, but as soon as a shop opens, the products disappear,” Hirotake Henmi, a spokesman for Seven & I, said in a phone interview.

Workers today struggled to avert the risk of a meltdown at a crippled nuclear plant 135 miles north of Tokyo as Cabinet Chief Secretary Yukio Edano said radiation readings around the complex reached “a level that could harm people.” A blast and fire struck the Fukushima nuclear facility today, after two earlier explosions that followed the failure of cooling systems damaged by the March 11 earthquake, Japan’s strongest on record.

Masaru Sakamoto, a 49-year-old salesman for a food company in Tokyo, said he couldn’t buy gasoline over the weekend. “I went to more than 10 places on Saturday and Sunday and they were all sold out. Monday was no good, either.” He finally filled up his car at a Shell gas station in central Tokyo today.

People are not remaining calm.  They are leaving northern Japan.

At Haneda Airport, hundreds of young mothers lined up with children, boarding flights out of Tokyo.

"We are getting our of Tokyo and going to our home town because of the situation. For the time being we have bought a one way ticket and will wait and see what happens," said a Japanese woman with an eight-month-old baby and four-year-old son, who declined to be identified by name.

Tourists such as Christy Niver, of Egan, Minnesota, said they had enough. Her 10-year-old daughter, Lucy, was more emphatic. "I'm scared. I'm so scared I would rather be in the eye of a tornado," she said. "I want to leave."

Radiation levels have fallen some from the spike earlier today,  but confidence in the Japanese government has been all but lost and the threat of a nuclear meltdown continues to remain high as the situation continues to grow more dire.  Odds are almost assured that Reactor 2's containment system has been damaged and a meltdown scenario is imminent.

They have bought time, but that's all.


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