Category Archives: Public service

Interview: Government deception at Fukushima

Jessica Desvarieux of The Real News Network interviews nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, who, she notes, “holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Arnie also managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants in the US.”

Nuclear Engineer: Japan’s PM “Lying to the Japanese People” About Safety of Fukushima

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

It’s never happened where three nuclear reactors have blown up in three days. So this is a brand-new event.

But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that Tokyo Electric has been allowed to continue to operate this plant and try to clean up the site. They’re an operator, thy’re not an engineering firm, so that you’ve really got the wrong skill set. So you’ve got the wrong people trying to do the cleanup.

There’s one other piece, though, and that piece is the cost. Tokyo Electric doesn’t have enough money to do this. I made some recommendations two years ago to prevent this water from going into the Pacific, and I was told Tokyo Electric didn’t have enough money to do it. Well, if they had done my recommendations years ago, they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now.

The money’s got to come from the nation of Japan. And the Japanese government doesn’t want to admit that they’re on the hook for half a trillion — that’s with a T — half a trillion dollars. And they would rather not tell the Japanese people that, because the Japanese government wants to get 50 nuclear plants up and running, and if the people ever realized the liability that they face, I don’t think that would happen.

Berkeley hit by rash of smart phone bandits

A warning notice just received from the Berkeley Police Department:

We saw a large increase in the targeting of Smartphones in the first six months of this year. In 57% of cases, people had their phone visible when approached. The data also showed that robbers prefer targeting lone pedestrians, often at night.

When walking, we believe these measures can make a difference:

  • Put your Smartphone in your pocket.
  • ‘Take off your earphones.
  • Be alert to your surroundings.
  • At night, consider walking with others &/or carrying a flashlight.

John Ralston Saul: It’s Broke how Can We Fix It?

Another of those wonderful extended talks at the Sydney Opera House from Ideas at the House [previously], this time featuring provocative author/philosopher John Ralston Saul.

John Ralston Saul: It’s Broke how Can We Fix It?

The program notes:

Declared a ‘prophet’ by TIME magazine, John Ralston Saul’s critically acclaimed works have been translated into 22 languages in 30 countries, displaying a growing impact on world political and economic thought.

A long-term champion of freedom of expression, watch John Ralston Saul in intimate conversation on the state of the world today; from economic stability, unemployment and poverty to inequality, racism, terrorism and fundamentalism.

It’s a fascinating talk, and his focus is the end of globalism — a concept premised on the impossibility of organizing societies around economics, while rejecting the notion of a society organized around citizens rather than consumers [or, as he calls them, “servants of greed”].

Globalism and democracy are mutually exclusive, he contends, because democracy is based on the local, on making decisions about the communities where citizens live and work.

One of the most pernicious effects of globalism is to disguise the nature and operations of real power, while diverting the discontented into NGOs, organizations which seek to influence rather than wield power.

A self-described optimistic pessimist [expecting the worst while working for the best], he offers an incisive critique of contemporary philosophy, academia, governance, and power.

We particularly like his focus on debt, and on the futility of austerian policies.


Massive privatization protests rock Latin America

From Oscar León of The Real News Network, two reports on protests, one that ended with a win and the other ending with massive police repression.

First up:

Mexico City Police Violently Crackdown on Occupying Teachers

From the transcript:

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: On Friday, September 13, a force of an estimated 3,000 anti riot police cleared El Zócalo Plaza in downtown Mexico City.

CROWD: Solutions, solutions. We don’t want repression.

A public place that tens of thousands of teachers had occupied for five months now, opposing an “Educative Reform” allowed, and among other things it would impose nationally standardized evaluations of teachers that would lead to their automatic firing if they receive negative ratings.


Once in control of the plaza, following a script that has become familiar to many cities in the world, the riot police tore the occupation camp down and arrested those who dare resist the government and its policies, even if they are teachers.

Since assuming power, Enrique Peña Nieto had faced opposition from many different sectors, which he has met with a heavy hand, criminalizing unions and student groups, all of which have faced police brutality and arbitrary detentions. Amnesty International reported the detention and violation of human rights of a number of independent journalists. AI called the Mexican government to respect the freedom of the press.

Some of the detainees are charged with “disrupting public peace” and even “attacks to the nation”. Beatings and inhumane treatment were reported by detained teachers and journalists.

In Xalapa, Veracruz, near the Caribbean coast, Sin Embargo, an independent newspaper, reported that police armed with electric knives evicted 300 teachers who had occupied Plaza Lerdo. There was an unreported number of injured and detained.

But further south, another nationwide protest ended in a victory:

National Farmers and Social Strike gets seeds control law 970 suspended

And excerpt from the transcript:

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: In Colombia after 21 days of a nationwide strike by thousands of farmers, who were supported by bus and truck drivers, miners, students, and others joining massive demonstrations in cities and towns all around the country in places as far as Boyacá, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Huila, Putumayo, Caldas, Cundinamarca, and Nariño, and blocking more than 40 roads, in an historic moment, protesting farmers forced the Colombian government to negotiate the rejection of a farm bill and the release of detained protesters.

On Sunday, September 8, Vice President Angelino Garzón met with the Strike Negotiating Commission in Popayan and agreed to suspend Law 970, the one that gave control over seeds to the government. They also were promised the release of the 648 arrested during the strike and the creation of a new mining law.

Under this first and provisional agreement, the government will compensate the farmers for their losses when competing with cheaper products imported under as much as ten free market treaties with countries all around the world. In other cases it will suspend the importation of such products.

The strike was ended and negotiations started to discuss the farmers’ proposals. The process of negotiation, as well as the final agreement and its implementation, will be verified by the United Nations.

In Putumayo in the south of the country, farmers leaders and other actors of Colombian society met with President Santos and other authorities and officially started the negotiations after signing the initial document.

The destruction of the farmers’ rice stock seeds, seeds they were keeping for the following year’s planting time, occurred in Campo Alegre and other towns in 2012. For some these images became the symbol of the farmers’ strike fighting for the right to keep their seeds. Seed control was described by President Santos as having Colombia “tune up to international reality”.

Malware tied to Syrian bombing alert email

If you get an email headed “The United States began bombing!,” trash it immediately.

CNBC reports:

Clicking “Full story” after the two-sentence lead triggers the download of a Trojan Downloader and various other malware, computer security company Kaspersky Lab told CNBC. The spam targets older, vulnerable versions of Adobe Reader and Java.

Chomsky tackles corporatization of the university

A very important, very timely video from Noam Chomsky addresses one of our greatest concerns, the corporate takeover of the American university, nowhere more evident than right here in Berkeley, home of the largest corporate academic grant in American history, $500 million from the deep and bloody pockets of BP.

American universities are being transformed into labs and training grounds for multinationals with no ties to local communities and no desire other than the accumulate profits by offloading costs onto the rest of us, a legal obligation under the Doctrine of Fiduciary Responsibility, the corporate version of the Prime Directive.

Chomsky’s remarks were delivered 12 July at the University of Michigan and deserve a wide audience:

Some excerpts from a report on the address by Giacomo Bologna of the Michigan Daily:

Chomsky said as the price of higher education has continued to increase, many public institutions have often operated on a budget increasingly comprised of private rather public funds, leading to these institutions to act more like their private counterparts.

He said this trend could have catastrophic results for the future of higher education.

“It’s pretty hard to imagine an economic reason for (increasing tuition rates across the country),” Chomsky said.

To prevent increasing privatization, he said the United States should put greater emphasis on funding higher education. He added that many other countries, such as Germany and Mexico, offer free or heavily subsidized access to higher education.

“If you want to privatize something and destroy it, it’s simple,” Chomsky said. “First you defund it so it doesn’t work anymore.”

Read the rest.

A future for community journalism, or not

In the last decade, a third of newspaper reporting positions have vanished, along with half of newspaper advertising dollars, raising this question: Is there a future to the journalism trade?

Here’s a talking head discussion from C-Span’s The Communicators with Peter Slen sparked by the acquisition of the Washington Post by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos.

One of the discussants is an industry consultant who also teaches at the UC Berkeley journalism school, while the other is an industry scribe for Bloomberg News.

The real question remains: Will Americans find a way to fund community news? We hope so, but the outlook isn’t good.

The Communicators: The Future of the Newspaper Industry

The program notes:

Alan Mutter, newspaper consultant, and Edmund Lee, Bloomberg News Media Reporter, talk about the newspaper ownership and the future of newspapers and the newspaper industry.

Mutter’s blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur, is a regular esnl read.