Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fukushima I in undeniable meltdown

The information is piling up and all supports the idea that at least one of the reactors at Fukushima I is in unstoppable meltdown. Latest reports from Energy News:

This is just from the last few hours but indications of meltdown were apparent earlier, I understand, just that played down.

Also a nearby reactor, Fukushima II, showed a smoke plume yesterday. Let's not forget that there are other three reactors that have got cooling problems.

Now the authorities may finally acknowledge that this is a Chernobyl-like situation that requires Chernobyl-like measures but there are serious unspoken difficulties.

The evacuation zone is ridiculously small: criminal negligence

The true danger zone around Fukushima I (legend here)
This has been an obvious issue: Japan has tried to avoid evacuating its citizens from a large area, even if that would be the rational thing to do. Already since day two or three, the USA suggested an evacuation zone of 80 km (50 miles), what is more than half the Fukushima prefecture, including the capital. However Tokyo has insisted in keeping the evacuation zone at the smallest size imaginable and, even when they decided to expand it, they did it only minimally. 

Dangerous levels of radiation have been detected at the latitude of Tokyo, by people and ships traveling to China, where radiation scanning is strict. This implies that all Northern Honshu is affected at levels that endanger human health to at least some extent and in ways pervasive enough as to be carried around the World through transport (i.e. it's not mere acute radiation but deposited, maybe inhaled, radioactive materials, where the true danger is). 

A 'Chernobyl solution' may not work

The Chernobyl solution consists in encasing the damaged reactors in a thick concrete sarcophagus. It is not a good solution but a lesser evil and surely needs persistent maintenance of some sort (a second sarcophagus to encase the original one is planned for Chernobyl but in wait of funding, design pictured at left).

The sarcophagus surrounds the reactor by five sides out of six. The sixth side, bottom, is Earth's ground. In the case of Chernobyl, well inland, this sixth side may not be a huge problem (though I am unsure of the details) but in the case of Fukushima and other seaside reactors it may be  big problem. 

Almost at sea level, Fukushima I surely sits on land that is continuously impregnated of water from the sea and/on underground channels flowing to the sea. One of the characteristics of a meltdown is that the magma-like radioactive core penetrates, by action of its corrosive nature and gravity, the bottom of the reactor and into the soil. 

While Tokyo may still decide to use the "Chernobyl solution" for lack of better ideas, I understand that there is clear risk that this solution is much worse for the circumstances of Fukushima I than for Chernobyl: continued radioactive filtration to the sea will not be possible to avoid most likely and that means that contaminated water will not just be spreading around the NE coasts of Japan (and beyond, how far?) but also that, via evaporation, some of that radiation will reach the atmosphere and keep haunting the region for centuries to come. 

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Repression against Basque ecologists: prision for a graffiti?

    The dimension of today's Capitalist dictatorship (in which bankers and big corporations dictate the terms and politicians and judges merely administrate for them) is crossing all red lines. Sometimes we have the feeling that even under fascism repression was not so brutal as under today's "democracy". 

    Whatever the case, the state attorney is asking two years of prison, plus two months of fine (equivalent to €5,400) plus indemnities of the order of thousands of euros to the town hall of Zizur (Navarre). 

    Others may suffer 20 months of prison, plus fines and indemnities. 

    Why? For drawing a graffiti against the High Speed Train (AHT-TAV in the Basque/Spanish acronym) within the context of a mountain march of protest.

    Usually this would be a case of misdemeanor, not any crime, and therefore the penalties would be much smaller. 

    The groups against the High Speed Train also denounce the attitude of the supposedly progressive and pro-Basque coalition ruling Zizur, Nafarroa Bai, which is demanding thousands of euros for something that obviously does not cost more than €50 or €100, demonstrating that way their repressive and fascist instincts. 

    Source: La Haine.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    First practical 'artificial leaf' developed

    These are very hopeful news, immersed as we are in the consequences of major oil and nuclear disasters, solar energy (as well as other renewables) are the way to go and there have been impressive advances, specially in the field of solar power, in the last years. 

    While the comparison is made to a leaf, nature's photosynthetic power plant, the device is more like a game card but thinner, and also requires a gallon (some 4.5 liters) of water and a fuel cell (for storage of hydrogen and oxygen). In bright sunlight this tiny device makes enough energy for a normal home to run the whole day... and night.

    This leaf is, it seems, ten times more efficient that natural leaves. 

    See also: Leherensuge (my old blog), label: solar energy, for other interesting advances in the field since 2008 (many of them from the MIT, which seems to be leading the research in this field, as is the case now).

    Basque anarchist sentenced in Italy against evidence

    I just read at Sare Antifaxista how a Basque citizen, Oscar Olasagarre, has been sentenced to one year and eight months of prison on recent incidents happened in Varese province (Lombardy). 

    The evidence available was some photos of an individual whose constitution does not correspond at all with that of Oscar. For that reason he and his attorney expected a quick absolution if they chose the quick trial method, as they did. Nevertheless he was declared guilty.

    After this unexpected political sentence he greeted the people in the room saying: viva la anarchia (long life anarchy).

    I will update as I get further information.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Acknowledging the extreme severity of Fukushima

    News on the destroyed nuclear power plant pile up, I do not bother anymore writing new entries unless it looks particularly important: I just list them as updates at the bottom of the latest entry. Maybe I'll recycle those notes later or at least writing a line on them (with link) will help me keep track... 

    But even if I want to become oblivious to the dimensions of the tragedy, to the difficulty of controlling this nuclear monster, to the many people who are probably being irradiated right now unbeknown just because governments have panic to panic, panic to truth, panic to the overwhelming responsibility they cannot ignore once more. 

    Yesterday and today it has been known that reactor no. 2 (oddly enough the only one whose outer building is still intact) has suffered what officials describe as partial meltdown, and that radiation levels there were so extremely high that workers measuring them suffered instantaneous radiation burns and had to run away without completing the procedures. 

    We do not know if what TEPCO and the Japanese government are trying to do (all extremely experimental) could have worked if there was only one damaged reactor, but with radioactive feedback between the various reactors, each one suffering from slightly different aliments but all in very bad shape, the situation is clearly out of control and has been so almost since the accident happened in March 14th. 

    The only remaining solution seems to be that of a Chernobyl style sarcophagus but there are additional problems in Fukushima not existing in Chernobyl:
    • The proximity to the sea makes unavoidable that radiation will leak into groundwater and seawater. I doubt that any Chernobyl solution can prevent this (though it can prevent further release to the atmosphere).
    • The tectonic instability of the area may mean that what is a solution now will surely be open as a problem in the future. 
    Chernobyl does not have these two geographical problems. 

    But Chernobyl does have two problems that would be also present at any such solution applied to Fukushima:
    • Radioactive erosion of the sarcophagus from inside, what requires another larger sarcophagus around it (planned but delayed by budgetary issues). 
    • The cruel need to sacrifice workers to the dangers of high level radiation in order to save the general populace (it is not clear how these would be enticed to volunteer but I propose that they are all advocates of nuclear energy: high officials or ideologues of the nuclear-yes camp preferably).
    In addition to all problems and unknowns, Yves Smith mentioned yesterday that there seems to be a lack of resolution by the Japanese authorities, maybe driven by national customs that emphasize excessive politeness and rigid hierarchies. However, as we can see in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, this is not just a Japanese problem, even if the symptoms are slightly different. 

    What we see in both cases is how the government struggles to save the industry and a fictitious calm, even at the cost of the health and potentially lives of the citizens. Supposedly a government must serve its citizens first, not business (business are after all supposed to be just a tool for citizen happiness and national well being), but in practice citizens are abandoned and the interests of the industry is what prevails. 

    This is cruel evidence of what Capitalism really is and what Marx meant by dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, even if the forms are democratic. We can see that the reality is not democratic when the people is sacrificed to the Moloch of the private interests of mafia-like oligopolies, as happens, very blatantly, in these two cases.

    More information:

    Update: authorities acknowledge that plutonium has been found on the ground of the destroyed power plant, surely from the explosion of reactor no. 3, it includes three different isotopes.

    Update (Mar 29):
    Update (Mar 30):

    The finding of plutonium pools and other dangerous mishaps (three workers drenched in radioactive water) behind the "maximum alert" declaration.

    Fukushima II (Daini) smoking out today. We must not forget that there are other three plants more or less severely affected by earthquake and tsunami. We do not hear much on them but that is not necessarily because they are alright. Two of them already emitted radiation in the early days of the accident and all them had cooling system problems.

      Sunday, March 27, 2011

      New ETA communication: would accept informal verification of the cease fire if that helps to overcome Spanish veto to talks

      The Basque guerrilla ETA has issued a new communication, the first one since the declaration of permanent unilateral cease-fire in January (pictured left).

      Most noticeable is, following Gara, that ETA declares to be ready to accept an informal verification of the cease-fire by international actors, instead of a formal one, as proposed previously. Allegedly this was one of the obstacles put by Madrid in order to initiate the peace process. 

      In another, more reflexive part of the communication, ETA divides Basque society between those supporting freedom and those blockading it, trying to keep the terms imposed by Spain. They think that the first bloc is clearly growing but that there is still a long way to go and hence there must be continuity in the process of adding up efforts. 
      They say that the French and Spanish governments are being irresponsible. They argue that keeping the repression high is not compatible with claiming the will to find a solution. This irresponsibility has even caused cracks inside the political parties supporting the Spanish status quo, they say (probably in reference to PSE President J. Egiguren and also conservative politician F. Herrero de Miñón, who, among others, have cheered for a resolute commitment from Madrid with the peace process and not throwing away this opportunity, surely condemning us all to another many years of war). ETA makes also an appeal to them so they act with the courage and resolution this moment requires.

      See also:

      Marching to Washington for the Gulf of Mexico

      Please take a moment, very specially if you are a US citizen, to watch this video. After being ignored by the media and the political institutions for almost a year, one person, Cherri Foytlin, has decided to take action, with or without your backing (but better with it):

      She's been already on the road for some time now. 

      Further information:
      People is being killed by their poisons, without even healthcare benefits, because stringy and heartless BP (with the support of all the oil industry) wants to save money, hiding instead of solving the problem they have created, and the White House kneels before them.

      Saturday, March 26, 2011

      Basque internationalists protest against Maccabi Tel Aviv - brutally attacked by police

      Basque-Palestinian solidarity action
      The Zionist colonial apartheid regime (Israel) enjoys a preferential treatment by European institutions, including allowing them, quite anomalously to take part in certain European competitions such as the continental basketball league, the stupid Eurovision music contest, etc.

      In the case of basketball that means having to put up with a racist team such as Maccabi Tel-Aviv. This situation is not anymore tolerated by much of the European citizenry and, of course, Basques are among those who like the least the Zionist criminal project and its manifestations, feeling the Palestinian, Sahrawi, Kurdish and Chechen liberation struggles as similar to our own. 

      For that reason sympathizers of the Palestine-Basque Country Commitee displayed Palestnian banners in protest with the presence of the racist team in Vitoria-Gasteiz on March 24th. This action is fully legal and should have been subject to no sanction whatsoever, as the banner has all the official recognition it may have (UN, IOC even Israel).  

      At that point another person threatened them and, as they ignored him, he attacked one of them, Koldo Olaizola, trying to take the banner from his hands. Immediately after, police intervened against Olaizola and threw him to the playing field. Then he was arrested and kept immobilized in the basement of the building by a boot on his face.

      He was threatened and beaten for a while until higher graduation officers arrived. They wrote down the declaration of the agents who arrested him, who declared that Olaizola had begun a fight. In the background he noticed two people in black clothes "with Nordic looks and shaven heads" he imagined would be Israeli agents. 

      When he went to hospital he found that all medics acknowledged that "we will sign the report of the lesions but do not expect this to be paid attention by anyone". 

      This account is based on the declarations of Koldo Olaizola himself. You may believe him or not but, knowing how reality and police is here first hand, I know he is telling the truth. 

      Also as I do not expect to be any such aggressive Zionist among real Basque citizens (people can be neutral or maybe even sympathetic with Zionism but never in such violent way), I can only imagine that the individual who began the fight was a policeman in plain clothes.

      Source: La Haine.

      PS- Maybe for inclusion into a later entry on the Arab Revolution as of this weekend, there is an interesting article in Al Jazeera on how even Israelis (privileged Palestinians of Jewish ethnicity) are joining the BDS campaign.

      This offers interesting possibilities because I am persuaded that this revolutionary process knows no borders and will eventually bring the state of Israel down somehow. It'll be better if colonist or Palestine-born Jewish people join the movement for freedom and justice and stop being such dickheads. It'll be better for all: there's a lot of abuses to undo and to repair. The task ahead is still immense.

      Large demo against budget cuts in London today

      Half a million people marched through London protesting the draconian budget cuts spearheaded by the tory-liberal government under orders of the IMF. 

      The demonstration was called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the largest union of England. 

      The demo was peaceful except for some very minor incidents, including a sit-in at Fortnum & Mason department store in protest for tax cheating by big business (organized by UK Uncut).

      75 people have been arrested according to police sources, most of them seem to be victims of police repression at the peaceful sit-in at Fortnum & Mason.

      Update (Mar 27): videos at

      Central Japan already affected by radiation

      Two Japanese citizens have been sent to hospital upon arrival to Chine because of dangerous levels of radiation, seriously exceeding limits. This seems to highlight how the actual looming danger of radiation is already reaching well beyond where the authorities would admit to. 

      The two travelers live in the prefectures of Nagano and Saitama, west of Tokyo, which is even closer to the destroyed nuclear plant. The travelers had gone through Tokyo airport but they felt they had not been exposed to radiation... until the Chinese told them better.

      If these two people are indicators of where actual radiation has become pervasive enough to seriously exceed limits, what is very possible, then most of Northern Honsu, including the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, is a danger zone and should be evacuated (but can you actually evacuate so many people? what about all the business and government infrastructure that sits in Tokyo?)

      I made the following map with my estimate of what area is clearly dangerous right now in Japan, according to the data provided by this Chinese detection:

      • Red dot: Fukushima I (Daichi) nuclear plant
      • Orange dots: other nuclear plants affected by the earthquake and tsunami
      • Blue area: Nagano and Saitama prefectures, in lighter blue Tokyo prefecture. 
      • Red dotted circle: my simplistic estimate of the area already affected by dangerous levels of radiation.
      That is about half of Japan! We may be talking of 50 million people (a rough but surely not too wrong estimate). 

      And the situation can only get worse, unless the plant is effectively secured somehow (surely some sort of Chernobyl-like "solution"), what does not look like happening any time soon.

      Radiation levels at sea near Fukushima I more than a thousand times the legal limit. 

      BBC reports that radioactive iodine levels at sea near Fukushima (no distance specified) are 1250 times the legal limit. 

      There are concerns that radiation may be seeping into groundwater. This I already mentioned before can be a major problem in order to adopt a "Chernobly solution" because the plant is barely above sea level, what makes almost impossible to seal it under ground level.

      Update: Radiation near Fukushima higher than anything ever measured at Chernobyl. The highest cesium-137 levels at Chernobyl were c. 5 million Bq/m². NE of Fukushima (two points) levels are now c. 8 million Bq/m². (Source: Science Insider, via ENews).

      Update (Mar 27):

      US Iraq deserter asks for political asylum in Germany

      Andre Sheperd joined the US Army out of patriotic pride but once in Iraq he realized he had joined an army of war criminals and he was becoming one himself. Six months after joining he deserted.

      Now he is married to a German and has surfaced from clandestineness asking for political asylum. If deported to the USA he could face extremely harsh penalties such as life in a military prison or even the death penalty.

      Source: Russia Today.

      The circumstances of this man who faced with becoming a minion of evil or risking his life for disobeying can't but arise the sympathies of anyone who is not a militarist but I believe that his situation underlines how rotten the imperial policies are that they cannot even keep the motivation of their own soldiers. 

      This guy might have been a committed soldier who could have given away his life to defend his country (in the unlikely event it was ever attacked at all), just if he would not have been ordered to go in rampage creating corpses and enemies where there was no need, in a colonialist operation that only serves the interests of a reduced oligarchy. 

      Reactor no. 3 has a huge vertical crack and other awful news from Nuclear Japan

      Energy News reports (original source: NYT but it's pay per view) that reactor no. 3 of Fukushima I nuclear plant has a long vertical crack that has allowed fluids and gases directly out from the reactor. A senior nuclear executive speaking on condition of anonymity admitted that:

      There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it’s up and down and it’s large.

      This reactor uses the infamous MOX fuel, an even more dangerous mix of uranium and plutonium that the classical uranium-only variant. 

      Other bad news:
      For older news or just to stay tuned in almost real time, Energy News is where you should look at (among other sources, of course).

      When is the government of Japan decide that it is about time to proceed to a Chernobyl style solution? When is IAIEA going to acknowledge this is at least as bad as Chernobyl - or probably much worse? When is the World going to realize that nuclear energy is a perennial risk (in form of unmanageable residues and hyper-hazardous sites) that we just cannot afford, no matter how they cheat in the accountancy books?

        Friday, March 25, 2011

        Gaddafi, Sarko, Berlusconi, Obama, Mesmari...

        It was rather obvious that there were internal conflicts within the Capitalist Empire (alias NATO) in relation with Libya. It was also quite obvious that Italy was playing soft on Gaddafi, while France was playing extremely hard. This is no mere good cop, bad cop scenario but, it seems, a genuine intra-Capitalist rivalry between various actors. 

        On one hand, Italy's interests, represented by its oil and gas corporation ENI, had in Libya a safe source of oil and gas. However the division of the cake was highly favorable to the Libyan regime, which took as much as 88% of the oil and 60% of the gas extracted by the Italian corporation (i.e. by its workers*). It is not clear how much of this went to the Libyan people or to the mostly immigrant workers, probably not much. 

        For Italy anyhow, Libya was a secure source of oil independent from other multinationals, so, even if reluctantly it was willing to pay such a price and give Gaddafi his bribe in form of titles in FIAT, etc. 

        On the other hand France seems to have been less happy about Gaddafi in spite of this one having bribed Sarko by paying for his electoral campaign (it seems now). We do not know many details but in October 2010 a red-haired Libyan, a close ally of Col. Gaddafi by name of Nouri Massoud El-Mesmari (left), deserted the regime and sought support in France. He proved to be a valuable source of information for them. 

        A month later, a French commercial delegation landed in Benghazi, including members of the more than dubious "Swiss" multinational Glencore Inc. and, of course, standard French spies. They contacted military officers who Mesmari suggested would be willing to defect or revolt against Gaddafi. 

        This is what Miguel Martínez gathers from the revelations of right-wing journalist F. Bechis at Come Don Chisciotte (Like Don Quixote) - translated to English and French at Voltaire Net.  Martínez explains that Bechis is a media pretorian guard of Silvio Berlusconi, so what he says is probably a leak coming directly from the Italian PM and his closest circle. 

        And this underlines the Italo-French rivalry underlying the current messy coalition.

        However it is also clear that neither of the imperialist actors under the NATO acronym are happy with the conditions imposed by Gaddafi, taking most of the product. They all want a greater share of the cake, preferably a true neocolonial one in which the multinational corporations take most of the product and the benefits. 

        This should worry the local actors and that is probably why the Arab League has eventually pulled back from the deal and is not really taking part in the coalition. And should also worry the nationalist actors of Latin America, which have to fear that, after Gaddafi, the next ones could be themselves: either Cuba or Venezuela. 

        The circumstances are very different because the Libyan autocracy emphasized isolationism and never fought any media battles to sell its social system as any sort of success. Instead the Latin American countries are open for all to see the good and the bad, we can judge and take sides informed, unlike in Libya.

        So, has there been a revolutionary process in Libya? Surely yes: inspired by what was happening around them, in Tunisia and Egypt, the Libyan people tried to join the movement and make change also in this peculiar state (nobody likes living in a police state). However, while in other countries the main goal of the Western powers was to keep things under control and only allow minimal change if possible, in Libya it was soon something different: co-opting and promoting the revolutionary movement instead.

        Nowadays, the USA has, more or less, taken over the leadership of the anti-Gaddafi coalition but Sarko's leadership is still more than apparent, whoever is formally in charge. The UN resolution, rightfully described as a "crusade call" by Putin, allows for nearly anything short of landing troops in Tripoli and it seems clear to me that Sarko is going to make use of these ambiguities to make his plans succeed. 

        Whether he actually success is yet to be seen however - and a defeat would see Libya falling into the arms of Russia and China, even if only out of necessity.


        *Old good Bertolt Brecht always rings when we have to make such an emphasis on how a company are the workers, not the accountancy virtualities like money or property titles:

        Julius Caesar conquered Gaul.
        Didn't he bring even a cook with him?

        Thursday, March 24, 2011

        Revolution spreading to the Levant?

        The Levant is a particularly difficult area because of the persistent menace of Israel trying to grab land and security for its criminal colonial project. Excepting Lebanon, all the states there are anything but democratic: Israel is an apartheid colonial regime, Jordan is an absolute monarchy with token concessions to 19th century-style parliamentarism and Syria is a single-party autocracy. Even Lebanon, which has regular fair elections in which all citizens take part freely, carries the burden of a sectarian political system imposed by the former colonial power, France, that gives undue weight to certain groups over others but specially does not allow for a non-sectarian, secular democracy. 

        It is no surprise therefore that only Lebanon has been mostly exempt from popular protests and, when these have happened, they have been part of the democratic normality. 

        Instead, Palestine (ruled as Israel and bantustans with a pretense of self rule), is in the other extreme, entering a new highly volatile cycle of inter-ethnic civil war.

        In between these two extremes: democratic Lebanon and apartheid Palestine (Israel), the situations of Jordan and Syria are more in the line of what is happening elsewhere in the region: an increase of protests, sometimes quelled violently, sometimes forcing reforms. However while Jordan is like the Botswana of the Middle East (a puppet of Israel and its Imperial allies), Syria is more like the states more actively engaged against racist South Africa: Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique specially. Their autocratic regimes can be questioned but still they keep the moral high stand by comparison with those practicing apartheid and genocide, Israel (the colonial racist regime in Palestine) in this case.

        Latest developments in this troubled region are:
        • Palestine: Zionist armed forces and native militias have made more or less indiscriminate attacks in several locations in the last days, often killing children. Nonviolent resistance to the regime is active since long ago but mostly sidelined by the media.
        • Jordan: a protest camp has been set up in the capital Amman, including at least 500 unaffiliated protesters, mostly students or unemployed graduates. They have adopted the name March 24th Youth. Their main demands are an end to corruption and to rule by the secret police, as well as the resignation of the prime minister and change to electoral laws. 
        • Syria: most protests have been concentrated in the southern city of Daraa, brodering Jordan. Some 25 people have been killed by the repression after a historical mosque was stormed. The government claimed it was just an armed gang but the fact that it has caused the government to promise to consider quite radical reforms (legalization of political parties, end to state of emergency, active since 1964, and effective freedom of speech) is indicative that there is some serious unrest and that Damascus feels the need to move ahead of the demands of the people.
        Approx. intensity of the Arab Revolution (green X indicate wars)

        Update: In Defense of Marxism has a very informed article by Isa Al-Jaza'iri on what has been going on in Syria these last weeks, how the sole perception of what is happening elsewhere across the region has got spontaneous masses in the mood of not being bullied around by corrupt police officers or other authorities anymore. Worth a read.

        Portuguese government resigns after austerity budget defeated

        Prime Minister Carvalho (best known by his given names José Sócrates) resigned after his draconian "program of stability and growth" was defeated by an opposition which fulfilled its role and said "no".

        Recently Portuguese citizens massively went out to the streets in a "facebook revolution" style of almost headless spontaneous mobilization. Surely these protests, out of the established  parties and unions, for the right to have a dignified job have put all opposition parties on their toes and have influenced the outcome of this vote.

        While the  conservative President Cavaco da Silva has yet to accept the resignation and is holding consultations across the board, the most likely outcome is early elections.

        For the BBC (notice in the video how the economy minister Texeira looks very much like the former Irish PM Cowen: they clone them in Hell, I bet) this outcome forecasts a EU bailout but I'd dare say that what forecasts is a default because a EU bailout would come with too many strings attached to be acceptable.

        The background problem is that EU and the member states are too submissive to the big banks and are therefore unable to guarantee anything close to full employment (and/or generous benefits for the unemployed). You cannot rule a society when you are just dumping its members massively into marginalization, misery and eventually death. It does not matter if you rule by means of votes or by some other form of consensus (there's no government without consensus, even if the consensus has to be implemented by means of fear).

        If the authorities do not face big banks and corporations and guarantee dignified employment for all and related fundamental rights (per the UNHRD) such as dignified housing, then the People will face the authorities. 

        The People does not care about macroeconomics, the People does not care about defaulting foreign debt, the People does not care about nationalizing the banks or other companies... the People just cares about a decent standard of life and a future of some sort. That's what the People wants the governments to deliver: in Athens, in Lisbon and in Brussels. 

        If they do not deliver, they will have to face uprisings. It is unavoidable. And uprisings in Europe should evolve into a full fledged communist revolution - because the working class is fully mature.

        This is it: it has already begun. Sing with me: 

        Wednesday, March 23, 2011

        Spanish triubunal forbids Basque political party in spite of "rejecting ETA"

        In a show of the absolute arbitrariness and plain autocratic idiocy that is the Kingdom of Spain (re-created by fascist-fundamentalist dictator Franco), the Spanish Supreme Court has declared that the new party formed by the Basque Nationalist Left, which strictly abode by the requirements of the Spanish Law of Parties, designed ad-hoc to destroy what was left of traditional Basque democracy, arguably the oldest of all Europe, is illegal and cannot exist nor take part in the upcoming municipal elections in May. 

        The formal reasons of the banishment, after the new party included in its statutes a very explicit rejection of ETA and of violence in general, and after ETA has been for months in a highly disciplined unilateral truce not corresponded at all by the imperial authorities of France nor Spain, are unclear at this moment. However the real reasons are clear: Spain wants to make sure that there is no democracy worth that name in the Southern Basque Country for a long time. 

        Most Basques support the political rights of the Basque Nationalist Left
        I'd dare say that Spain wants ETA to break the truce and wants the war to continue indefinitely. This may be because Spain seems to use ETA as a rally point for its lack of solid identity. As they cannot exist for a reason they try to exist against something, now ETA, in the past typically the Moors (Morocco is also used now as then as rally point for Spain's nonexistence).

        Three particular votes were issued and Sortu can still appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal but I think that, with nearly all Spanish Nationalist politicians set against the legality of Sortu, the organization will be forbidden. 

        It is a major setback for any hope of peace. I do not think that the peace process can continue in the current circumstances. Maybe there is people in the Nationalist Left determined to turn all the weight into the political side of things but previous such attempts have been largely ignored by voters, who won't easily support anything that falls in the trap of attacking ETA, for many still a very legitimate military avant-guard.

        The only option for such thing happening was that all the Nationalist Left did that jointly but that is precisely what the state attorney argued as evidence of not being a genuine rejection of ETA: that there was no split.

        Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If they split, it is pointless because most voters will support the faction that stands, even if shyly, by ETA (which is the bearer of the legitimacy here - at least mostly so); and if they do not split and jointly reject ETA, then it's not good enough for the state. 

        It is clear that there is no way to satisfy the state, what adds legitimacy to ETA, not just to its goals but also to its means. After all the discourse of ETA has always been that this is no true democracy and therefore the only way is armed struggle. 

        Spain seems to agree. The Supreme Tribunal has vindicated the hardcore line of ETA.

        The air cowboys do it again: shoot first then ask

        The humanitarian intervention in Libya already smells as rotten as Hamlet's Denmark... or worse. Regardless of motivations, leadership, dissidences, etc. what is clear is that the saviors are already murdering civilians and even sympathizers... just in case.

        Two (not one but two) US airplanes were shot down (not fell down because of technical issues) by Libyan forces. Somehow, the second plane, acknowledged by Barack Obama in his first press intervention vanished from the governmental discourse and even from the question of the alleged journalists later on.

        One can imagine that second crew (two people) is dead or captured and that the Pentagon wants to hide the casualties (and the public humiliation of having its best airplanes downed) of a war that will barely be understood at home (as far as I know it was not supported by the public opinion)... but there can be other reasons. In any case claiming technical issues it the most pathetic excuse I have ever heard for suffering military loses - in teenage gamer slang: LOLZ POWNED!

        Instead of just admitting to the facts, these politicians of today, notably in the USA, tend to lie by default. So much that we do not even get surprised or even question their pathological insincerity anymore, even when, as in this case they are so insultingly and blatantly failing to the truth. 

        This assumption of total amorality among those who should be the most subject to scrutiny, those in power, supposedly answering to the People, is just unbelievable.

        But there it is. We almost do not even blink about that anymore. And so it goes this pathetic period of self-destruction: Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima and whatever comes next... all will be lied about instead of faced honestly and adequately.

        Maybe worse is the fact that the helicopter rescuing one of the pilots, who fell in (so far) friendly rebel territory, just shooted a group of people who were welcoming them, injuring six. One of them, a minor, may have his leg amputated.

        In other developments, Italy (who supported Gaddafi until a few days ago and has the greatest stake in Libyan oil) complains of lack of organization among coalition troops and threatens to withdraw the use of its bases. Follows Reuters' graph of coalition forces and bases used, most of which are in Italy:

        Sources: La Haine[es], Uruknet[en].

        Terrorist Israel murders children in Gaza

        Children of people expelled from what is now Israel most probably, as most people surviving in Gaza Strip, the largest concentration camp on Earth, are refugees from what has been formally annexed to the colonial state of Israel. Natives whose rights are not acknowledged in any way and who are murdered almost every other day just because they are not part of the chosen people. 

        The United Nations has not said a word about it. No no fly zone is scheduled, nobody will bomb the murderous army, it does not even get prominent spots in the media. Why the double standards in Libya and Palestine? Rhetorical question of course: because Libya is not part of the US Empire while the Jewish colony of Palestine (Israel) is a pampered part of it. 

        News story: Al Jazeera.

        Tuesday, March 22, 2011

        Fukushima update: Hirosi Takashi and acknowledging how bad it is

        There is a very interesting translation of (part of ) an interview with Hirose Takashi today at CounterPunch.

        You should read it but, anyhow, I'd underline three items:

        He claims (reality has sadly proven him right today as well) that the cooling system has been damaged by the salt of the evaporated water and cannot be reinstated as was hoped. He also says that pouring water is useless: “like pouring water on lava”, that only a Chernobyl solution (sarcophagus) will work. 

        Also that, as the area becomes radioactive, there is a risk of domino effect to other reactors and even other power plants such as nearby Fukushima II. This is because the radiation impedes workers to keep control of the reactors and this is highly delicate stuff that just can’t lay idle: it needs systematic surveillance and maintenance. 

        [Note: when people claim "nuclear is safe" they forget even this: that, unlike coal or a windmill, this stuff just can't lay on its own without causing big problems].

        Comparison with X-rays and CT scans are pointless because you do not breath or eat radioactive material in such processes. Ingested radioactive ions make you radioactive inside, receiving constant radiation from those sources. 

        [Note: He does not say but, obviously, what is on the outside (dust, etc.) also keeps emitting radiation every single second, so if you are nearby your get radiated (only thick lead can protect you but it's impractical)].

        With the acknowledgement that the cooling system is beyond repair, I understand that there's only one thing to do: the Chernobyl solution. But being by the coast, this solution has increased difficulties (erosion, meltdown core falling into water, how to prevent pollution from reaching the sea). And also Chernobyl is not at any active seismic zone, so we can expect the complex and imperfect solution (the double sarcophagus) to withstand at least for some centuries. It may not be so easy in the Japanese case.

        Other news can be found at Energy News. For example the 1600x level of radiation at the edge of the 20km forbidden zone from Fukushima yesterday.

        Update (Mar 23):

        Cesium-137 released at Fukushima in just the first four days could well be half of all released by Chernobyl. Also 20% of Iodine-131 of what was emitted by Chernobyl in all that other accident. Source: PDF, Energy News.

        Repairs in reactor no. 2 halted today because of excessive radiation (500 mS/h) (source).

        Later in the day, black radioactive smoke from reactor no. 3 (pictured above) forced another evacuation of workers (source).

        Monday, March 21, 2011

        Arab revolution update

        Here there go my latest thoughts on the latest developments of the Arab Revolution:

        Libya - protecting civilians or killing them?

        There are serious concerns that the, rather unilateral, NATO intervention in Libya is overdoing it. The no-fly zone resolution of the UNSC was approved with ample leeway for all kind of direct attacks as the ones that Sarko and company are executing trigger-happily. The Arab League has already protested them, as they say that the UNSC resolution is intended to protect civilians, not to attack them.

        A political reference in the area, the Workers' Communist Party of Tunisia (PCOT), which spearheaded to some extent the Tunisian Revolution and supports the Libyan rebels, is against the intervention because it can only serve to uphold Western interests in the area.

        Other Tunisian forces have diverse opinions. In general the ones more to the left are opposed to any foreign intervention because they fear it may damage the revolution overall, including in Tunisia itself. The Islamists are also opposed, while the Liberals (center-right forces) are supportive of NATO's attacks.

        Personally, I am highly concerned about the possible use of depleted uranium ammo, which has already caused widespread health problems in Bosnia and Iraq. There is nothing in the UN resolution or in the declarations of Sarko and co. that suggests that they are not using depleted uranium in the bombings.

        I also subscribe to the evaluation of the PCOT, because now the Libyan rebels have suddenly become a Western protectorate. True that without the intervention they may be all dead by now but with the intervention they have become indebted with Sarko and NATO in general, what is always something bad and dangerous.

        Yemen - rapidly evolving situation, officers stage coup

        Yemen looks every day more like a tactical victory for the Arab Revolution. Three top ranking officers have brought their troops to the streets to protect the demonstrators, after the regime attempted to quell the revolution bloodily in the last days, after several ministers resigned in protest and after Saleh sacked his entire cabinet eventually. 

        This is a de facto coup, an Egyptian way out of a situation that has become unsustainable and impossible to win by the regime. Saleh has not yet been ousted but that seems now a mere technicality.

        Egypt - minimal constitutional changes upheld in referendum

        Only 15% of voters opposed the minimal constitutional changes promoted by the Egyptian Junta. The remnants of Mubarak's party and their satellite Muslim Brotherhood party promoted the yes vote, while liberal and leftist parties opposed it on diverse argumentations (constitutional assembly should be called, they have no time to organize for upcoming elections...)

        The reforms remove some of the most abusive regulations of Mubarak's regime but leave the system essentially untouched. Most NO votes came from the urban areas, while the rural zones went overwhelmingly for the YES, highlighting a divide between city and country in the North African country.

        Only 41% of voters exerted their right, still a much higher fraction than in past tightly controlled and even rigged votes under Mubarak. The details of the approved reforms can be read here.

        Update (mar 23): add Syria to the equation. Police stormed a mosque in the southern town of Daraa, at the border with Jordan, killing some. While the revolt has yet to extend to the whole country, demonstrations have happened already in several cities. That's who the Tunisian uprising began: not in the capital but in the provinces... and has proven to be a much more solid revolution than others for that reason.

        Fukushima: workers moved out after problems in reactor 3

        At 15:55 local time (6:55 GMT) smoke was spotted coming out from reactor no. 3 and personnel was evacuated, reports Gara newspaper[es], citing NHK (pictured left). 

        At least two more days would be needed for the cooling system of reactor no. 2 to get back to work, in spite of the successful reconnection to the electric grid yesterday, as reported by the  Nuclear Security Agency of Japan. This reconnection will also allow to restore ventilation, light and measuring devices in the only of the four reactors that keeps its outside cover intact, improving somewhat the working conditions of the liquidators (in suicide mission).

        Update: the smoke from unit 3 has already stopped but now it is reactor 2 which is smoking...

        Affected citizens abandoned

        While the management of the catastrophe as such may well be criticized, the management of the humanitarian problem caused by the conjunction of the tsunami and nuclear catastrophe is just awful. 

        The authorities seem unable to organize aid for the many victims of both combined catastrophes. Food and other basic resources are just not reaching  the victims, largely because of fear but also, it seems to me, because inability of the authorities to organize the rescue and evacuation effort. 

        People in the affected areas feel totally abandoned. We are not talking of a poor country with little infrastructure: we are talking of the third power on Earth in terms of economic might. One would expect Japan to be able and effectively provide quality help for the people affected. Even if private transporters do not want to take risks, they could always use the military. 

        But the impression is that they do not care about the victims: that it is everybody by themselves.

        Also (update): German nuclear expert: Fukushima is 20-30 worse than Chernobyl.

        Saturday, March 19, 2011

        Arab Revolution quick update

        I just do not have time or energies to keep up to date with everything that happens. But important things are happening in the last days anyhow:
        A lot to discuss but I'll leave it at that for now.

        Update (Mar 20): what seems to be a large demo at Agadir (Morocco):

        I could not gather more info yet but I follow with particular interest the situation in Morocco because it is very much ripe for revolution. It is in fact long overdue.

        Aristide returns to Haiti (finally!)

        Not really sure what to think of this in the sense of "why" he's been allowed to return, but it's clearly good news in any case, as he still has widespread support and is the only Haitian (former) President to retain an aura of legitimacy and of working for the people and not foreign powers and oligarchs. 

        That's surely why George W. Bush got him deposed, the same his father had before. 

        Aristide returns oddly enough amidst the second round of presidential elections deemed illegitimate and rigged by most Haitians. He also returns after one of the last classical dictators of the American country, Baby Doc, returned some weeks ago, in a move that surprised everybody. 

        Whatever the case, I have been a supporter of Aristide, fundamentally because he was always the popular choice in Haiti, I even took part in a huge demo in New York in the early 90s for his return. So I still support Aristide's arrival, the same that I could not but reject his removal from power by the US-France imperialist coalition. 

        Was Fukushima I "hacked" by Israel and the USA?

        Not intentionally but through a virus intended against the Iranian nuclear program, Stuxnet.

        Stuxnet is a virus that targets industrial soft and hardware, specifically that used in nuclear reactors, it spreads via memory sticks and targets Siemens computers with an intermediate stage at the infamous Windows OS. The virus was apparently found in Iran, delaying this country's nuclear program last  year, but soon it also spread to other computers through Asia, reaching Japan in October

        The details of how Fukushima and the other affected plants could not follow the normal procedure of close-down, sustained by generators and batteries, have never been fully explained. Stuxnet would be an explanation, as suggested by I understand and I wish to continue blog, because we know it had reached Japan, we know that Fukushima I plant used Siemens systems and we know that that's exactly what the virus would do: pretend everything is working properly when it is not. If so, a normal shutdown would have the same results, there was no need of tsunami nor earthquake. 

        Israel has claimed authorship of Stuxnet, however there are reasons to believe that the virus is co-authored with Washington.

        Source: Window into Palestine.

        Important update (Mar 21): while the other points of the Stuxnet hypothesis are reasonably confirmed by mainstream media sources, a key point is not: that Fukushima I used Siemens technology. (although it is plausible). Hat tip to A Female Faust for highlighting this key issue (see comments section).

        I tracked the source of this information via I understand and I wish to continue and it is a mere comment at a Maya-calendar-apocalyptic forum.  It can still be true but it is not  a credible  source and hence this point remains unconfirmed at the moment.

        Update (Mar 23): Some support for the thesis that Fukushima's computers are made by Siemens has been provided  in the comment sections. At least it is confirmed that, in 2000-2001, Siemens Power Generation (a branch of Siemens AG in the USA, former Siemens-Westinghouse) provided nuclear fuel for Fukushima Daichi reactor no. 5 and another plant: Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 7 (source - you need to fill a form to read). It says nothing directly about whether the hardware and software of the plant is also from Siemens but it makes it much more likely, adding to the credibility of the whole story.

        Update (Apr 3): Still all the evidence of Siemens computers being involved is oblique, however Siemens has not denied this fact (and by now the rumor is too big to remain silent). Crucially, Siemens (German engineering conglomerate) has an intimate partnership with Areva (French nuclear corporation) and 10 German technicians from Areva were at Fukushima I when the disaster unfolded.

        The hypocrisy of NATO in the Arab World

        Why is there no threat of no fly zone in Bahrain or why was no such thing in Gaza two years ago? 

        Obviously I am glad that the military cannot merely drown in blood the demands of the people in at least one place but I am pretty much outraged at the double standards used for this resolution. Are some dictators worse than others? Is Gadafi worse than Khalifa? Has he murdered more people than Israel? Is he more fascist than Ibn Saud? 

        I am quite concerned at this imperial intervention which will no doubt turn imperialist. Sarkozy is not there for the people of Libya, mere cannon fodder or pretext for his interests, but for the oil. Let's recall that Libya is the main source of oil to Europe after Russia.

        PS- For the record: who voted in favor of the no-fly zone and allowing gunboat diplomacy to NATO?

        NATO members: USA, France, UK, Portugal (but not Germany, who abstained)
        Other Imperial satellites: Bosnia, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Colombia
        Independent: South Africa

        Who abstained (nobody voted against): Russia, China, Germany (NATO member), Brazil and India.

        Essentially all powers (except South Africa) with a wish of some independence shrugged in discomfort but did not dare to challenge something that is not in their areas of influence. In the case of Russia there is some benefit if Libya is kept off the oil market by this crisis for a while.

        From inside the exclusion zone

        Found at Energy News. Japanese journalists travel into the forbidden zone where there is still people to be evacuated.

        Uploaded to YouTube today but has time stamp of March 16th.

        Let's face it: radiation is forever

        Chernobyl reactor after the 1986 explosion
        Uranium-235 ha a half life of 700 million years, more that all human existence and even all primate existence. It is in practical terms forever.

        And half-life is only half of it, as the name says. Like the sophists' turtle which lightfooted Achilles could never reach, that only means loss of half of its radioactivity, it needs another such time to reach to 1/4, etc. 

        The other usual component of nuclear fuel, Plutonium-239, has a much shorter half-life, "only" 24,200 years, which is like the span from the Last Glacial Maximum to now, a little bit more actually. 

        Even radioactive cesium's effective half-life in the wild is above 180 years.

        Radioactivity is forever and we can do little about it but dig a huge hole somewhere that is considered geologically stable and desertic (like in the middle of the Sahara or Siberia), dump everything there in the best containers we can conceive and bury it many kilometers under the soil. 

        But what we cannot do is to keep producing radioactive materials and assuming unacceptable risks with them. Chernobyl and Fukushima are there to stay, forever. We can (at a high cost of lives) bury them maybe but we cannot guarantee that we can forget about them ever in the future. 

        Russian doll nuclear logic: containment for the containment
        Chernobyl still needs a new better sarcophagus and even this one will need replacement in the future. Chernobyl's radioactivity still haunts Central Europe and even Scotland, thousands of kilometers away from the doomed reactor. Much of the same can be said of other sites, like Chelyabinsk, where much of the Soviet nuclear arsenal was developed.

        See also: Wikipedia - Chernobyl disaster effects, Chernobyl's New Safe Confinement

        Thanks to Xdrfox posting at EnergyNews comment section with a bunch of useful links, and to Energy News itself, which is replacing the emergency effort of Florida Oil Spill Law on the Fukushima catastrophe, not their focus of attention (it is the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe instead).