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Fukushima Scare Tactics

4 Mar

Fukushima nuclear disasterA-boy-is-screened-for-rad-007Will Davis talks about how Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is pushing TEPCO to prepare Japanese nuclear reactors to go online.

The approach of the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 finds nuclear energy in Japan at a crossroads. After the quake and resulting tsunami, the nuclear plants in Japan that did not shut down immediately eventually all had to shut down for their required, scheduled outages. Political pressures, for the most part, prevented any near-term chance of any of them restarting, it seemed at the time. When Tomari Unit 3 shut down in May 2012, Japan found itself with not one single operating nuclear power plant for the first time in decades. Since that time, only two nuclear units have restarted—Ohi Units 3 and 4 in July 2012. Other plants, rumored to be “next” to start up, have still not started up, although they may soon. The question that springs to mind is naturally, “When will the majority of the plants be allowed to restart?” The more insightful question, though, is, “What will have to be done in order to allow any plant to restart?” And how can we tell which will start first—is there any clue present now? Yes, there is.

Continued debate rages about the possibility of active faults being located beneath a number of plants—perhaps the most widely discussed being Tsuruga. For the plants experiencing this problem, restart is highly problematic—and highly politically charged. For the informed, it’s also no safe bet.

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Who Watches The Watchers?

4 Mar

South African President Jacob Zuma June 2012In the context of the Bradley Manning case, it’s fascinating and responsible to ask how the American intelligence bureaucracies work. It’s not an attractive picture. As readers might surmise, I’m opposed to the sort of small-f  “fascism” – for lack of a better epithet – and I view the opinion, that there is a kind of information that citizens do not need to know, as problematic. Nate Jones offers reasons why unquestioning faith in “securocrats” is not prudent.

There’s a lot of revealing factoids in Jones’ stories. One is “Able Archer

In his memoirs, [former president, Ronald]Reagan, without specifically mentioning Able Archer 83—he states earlier that he cannot mention classified information—wrote of a 1983 realization:

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The Game No One Wants China To Start

4 Mar

China Navy CartoonAt first glance, China’s naval buildup is frightening (via Foreign Policy).

A report posted on the website of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, the largest state-owned shipbuilder, this week said the Ministry of Science and Technology had approved funding to its 719th Research Institute for two research projects, including core technologies and safety studies for nuclear-powered ships, as well as technical support for small nuclear reactors.

The shipbuilding giant is also the top contractor of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and took charge of the refitting work for China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

Military experts said the report indicated that Beijing was formally kicking off its plan to develop indigenous nuclear-powered carriers.

Fortunately, according to Andrew Erickson, China is becoming a less opaque about its budgeting priorities.

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