Monday, April 25, 2011

squirm carney squirm

ack to
you, Lynn. Let me -- yes.
Q Jay, a question on the
President ’s 2012 reelection
campaign. Back in 2008, the
President outlined to the LGBT
community a litany of objectives he
wanted to achieve over the course of
his administration. Do you expect
that as we get closer to November
2012 that he’s going to reissue
some sort of list of what he wants to
achieve with the LGBT community in
the second term of his
administration, perhaps making new
promises?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t
anticipate reissuing a list. I think his
position on a number of issues has
been clear and his accomplishments
on a number of issues have been
clear. So as is true with a number of
the goals he set forward during his
campaign and in the first two-plus
years of his administration, remains
those that are unfinished. As he ’s
been saying a lot lately we still have
a lot of work to do and we ’re not
done yet. And so I think that he will
remain committed to a number of
policy objectives that haven ’t been
achieved yet.
Q Just to be clear, just to be clear
-- two major promises that he made
to the LGBT community back in 2008
remain unfulfilled. That ’s passage
of the Employment Non-
Discrimination Act and full
legislative repeal of the Defense of
Marriage Act. Do you still see those
happening in the course of the
Obama administration?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think you
know that we ’ve taken a pretty
significant action on DOMA. And on
the other issues, I think he remains
committed to the agenda on a
variety of issues that he laid
forward.
Yes.
Q Thanks, Jay. I wanted to try to
clarify on Syria -- I know you don ’t
have any anno

WORTHY: I am worthy of love, simply because I exist: From the book Worthy

WORTHY: I am worthy of love, simply because I exist: From the book Worthy: "Everyone Has Worth Throughout our history, humans have battled or threatened others in pursuit of food, water, shelter and power. The surviv..."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some Of My YouTube Favorites

Bernstein conducting Mahler's 2nd (ending)



Parachuting Into Michigan Stadium with the 101st Airborne Division


I've gone skydiving twice and this is probably the best representation of what it's like to jump out of a plane. Love it.

Liza Minnelli "The Day After That"



The Maestro & the Diva - Georg Solti & Kiri Te Kanawa


Representative Kennedy on War Powers


Whitney Houston & Cece Winans - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

When Whitney still had a voice

Grace Jones - Slave to the Rhythm

The Costs Of Fossil Fuel Dependence

ENERGY
The Costs Of Fossil Fuel Dependence

Reminding us all how dangerous the dependence on fossil fuel can be, yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico -- the "greatest man-made disaster" since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center -- which resulted in the loss of eleven men, crippled the livelihood of Gulf residents, and severely deteriorated the Gulf's fragile ecosystem. A government-backed study found last month that the blowout preventer -- a cutting device that shears and seals the pipe of a leaking well -- failed on the Deepwater Horizon, resulting in the release of nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf. The detrimental effects of the BP disaster -- such as its grave contribution to global warming -- have prompted both retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who oversaw the Obama administration's response to the disaster, to warn that [t]here's no such thing as risk-free drilling," and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) to question the safety of deepwater drilling in the Gulf. The month of April provides yet another grim warning of the perils of dirty energy: the one-year anniversary of the Massey coal mine disaster, which tragically claimed the lives of 29 miners. But just yesterday, on the BP disaster anniversary, Pennsylvania got a haunting reminder of the potential dangers of drilling for fossil fuels when a natural gas well blew, causing a major leak of fracking fluid -- a mixture of sand, water, and undisclosed chemicals that pose significant threats to underground water supplies.

A YEAR AFTER THE SPILL: Breaking a one year moratorium on political donations, a campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday details BP's campaign contributions to climate zombies House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the leader of the climate-deniers Fred Upton (R-MI) -- among others. Noticeably, all but one of BP's political contributions were for Republicans. After writing off the losses incurred from the tragedy they created, BP received nearly a $10 billion dollar credit on their 2010 federal tax return -- compare that to the EPA's annual budget of $10.5 billion in 2010. Moreover, the president of BP's Alaska unit asked the state to lower its oil production taxes to boost investment in the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. Even worse, despite the country's month-old civil war and confrontation with Western g overnments, BP is still planning to move forward with drilling in Libya. Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of BP's $20 billion claims fund for victims of the spill, has faced sharp criticism for the slow pace of payments to Gulf residents, and has been found to be financially tied to BP, as documents show that BP pays Feinberg's law firm $1.25 million a month for his services. Adding insult to injury, the Gulf coast ecosystem is still reeling from the disaster. The National Wildlife Federation reported this month that the BP disaster contaminated 3,000 miles of beach, wetlands, and that new "tar balls" are washing up on the shores every day. Sixty-five dead baby dolphins have been found in the Gulf region -- five times higher than the average -- and the National Audubon Society has warned that the spill continues to threaten many endangered migratory species< in the Gulf. As CAP warned last year , the impact of the spill on the health of Gulf region residents has also been quite noticeable. James Diaz, director of the environmental and occupational health sciences program at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, said that [w]e're seeing patients who will come in and say my nose is bleeding all the time, my cough gets worse." Diaz said that he knows "a lot about the acute health effects of the compounds in petroleum because it's a major industry" in the Gulf region, and that he is "seeing a lot of" coughing, watery eyes, itchy eyes, nosebleeds, and sneezing -- all symptoms of exposure to crude oil.

MINING BLACK DEATH: A federal probe concluded in March that a trapped piece of drill pipe stopped a key failsafe device from sealing off the blown oil well, which lead to a methane explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and its collapse into the Gulf of Mexico. With nearly a total of five million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, the BP disaster wreaked havoc on the environment, caused overall tourism and consumer spending to drop 40 percent, and is the world's worst accidental offshore oil spill in history. The mining of coal has also brought devastation. A Mine Safety and Health Administration inve stigation found that the mixture of accumulated, highly explosive coal dust and methane gas set the stage for a blast of astonishing power in Massey's Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, which caused the death of 29 coal workers The Massey coal mine accident is the worst mining disaster in the US in the last 4 decades. But the accident came as no surprise, as four of Massey's coal mines in 2009 had injury rates more than double the national average, Massey's Freedom Mine in Kentucky was shut down by federal regulators, and even the Upper Big Branch mine -- the location of the disaster -- had more clos ure orders than any other mine in the nation.

SAFETY SACRIFICED FOR ENERGY: Oil and coal workers continually risk their lives for our dependence on dirty energy. "Coal mining is a dangerous profession," CAP's Daniel J. Weiss and Valeri Vasquez write, and results in "[e]xplosions, fires, and collapsed mine shafts [that] have killed at least 3,827 miners since 1968 — not to mention thousands of others who have suffered from pulmonary diseases and other work-related injuries." Oil workers are not exempt from the danger, as "[t]here have been 77 fatalities and 7,550 injuries at onshore and offshore oil production facilities since 1968," write Weiss and Vaquez. Totaling at 7.5 million barrels of oil, spills related to these accidents have wreaked havoc, causing billions of dollars of environmental and economic damage. Following the BP disaster, 101 oil-spill-related bills were introduced by the 111th Congress, but to date, zero have been enacted. And instead of hitting the brakes after the disastrous spill, House Republicans have accelerated the oil drilling permitting process in Gulf. Citing the resoundingly disproven concept that additional offshore drilling will lower domestic gas prices, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) has brought a bill to the House that " would dramatically accelerate the permitting process in the Gulf of Mexico and require the Secretary of the Interior to open portions of the heretofore untouched outer continental shelf in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans to more drilling," writes CAP's Michael Conathan. The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), on the other hand, advocates that oil companies use their thousands of existing, undeveloped leases in the western Gulf of Mexico first or lose them. Markey has also called for an immediate inspection of whether blowout preventers -- cutting devices that seal the pipe of a leaking well and failed during the BP spill -- could ever be counted on. And two bills introduced in the House and Senate would establish "legislation mandating 80 percent of BP's Clean Water Act fines that will ultimately come due as a result of this spill—likely to total between $4.3 billion and $16.9 billion—be sent directly to the Gulf Coast to repair the damage done to both the environment and the economy," writes Conathon. But West Virginia hasn't fared any better, as the stat e has failed to pass any mine safety package after the Massey disaster. Finally, as Weiss and Vasquez point out, the US needs to make significant investments in "clean, noncombustible renewable energy sources" -- such as solar panels and wind farms -- citing that they "are much less susceptible to large, catastrophic disasters such as the Massey and BP Deepwater Horizon tragedies."


THINK FAST

Despite running on a message that they would "shake up" Washington, House GOP freshmen are raking in money from PACs , with more than 50 of the 87 members taking in at least $50,000 in PAC money during the first quarter of 2011. Eighteen took in more than $100,000, led by Rep. Steve Stivers' (R-OH) $241,000.



A new poll found that 70 percent of Tea Party supporters oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. While in line with 80 percent of voters who disapprove, "it is something of a surprise for Tea Partiers" who consistently call for the GOP to make much larger cuts in the budget.

Yesterday, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R) issued an executive order prohibiting implementation of the federal health care reform law. While vetoing a bill that nullified the law, Otter used "its key provisions" in his order stating, "No executive branch department, agency, institution or employee…shall establish or amend any program or promulgate any rule to implement any provisions" of health care reform.

During a panel last week on the merger between AOL and the Huffington Post, an executive divulged that " AOL is more conservative than HuffPost ." Since the merger, founder Arianna Huffington has repeatedly stressed that she wants her site to move away from its perception as a progressive news outlet, saying, "We don't see ourselves as left."

During his Facebook townhall yesterday, President Obama reiterated his call for expiring the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The President turned to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and said that his budget calls on both of them to pay a little more in taxes. "I'm cool with that," Zuckerberg responded.

A Republican invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month "has kicked off a bizarre diplomatic race " to see if the United States or Israel will be the first to propose jump starting peace talks. Some administration officials are pressing President Obama to draft a new proposal, while others are pushing a more cautious approach.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld canceled an appearance at one of Donald Trump's charity events, saying that he is disturbed by Trump's rhetoric about President Obama. Seinfeld will however still make a monetary contribution to the charity, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Tim Hetherington, an award-winning conflict photographer and director of the Afghan war documentary Restrepo, was one of two journalists killed during fighting in the Libyan town of Misurata yesterday. Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images, was also killed. They were the third and fourth journalists killed during the Libyan civil war.

And finally: While it's no secret that John F. Kennedy was popular with women, Warren G. Harding may be the country's most promiscuous president , according to porn mogul Larry Flynt, who has a new book on the subject of presidential sex lives.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Broken Contract

MEDICARE
Broken Contract

For decades, Americans have counted on a basic promise: A secure retirement is the reward for a lifetime of labor. Yet last Friday, House Republicans voted almost unanimously to break one of America's most sacred promises that the cost of health care will not bankrupt seniors and their families once they enter retirement. Less than one year after Republicans hurled misleading claims that the Affordable Care Act's provisions to make Medicare more efficient would somehow deprive seniors of care, the House GOP passed a budget that will phase out Medicare and leave seniors entirely at the mercy of the large health insuran ce companies (ironically, while still keeping many of the Medicare cuts they once criticized). And just one year after Republicans peppered the airwaves with claims that Democrats were ramming major changes to the health system through Congress by spending just one year debating health reform, the GOP-controlled House took only two weeks to debate and pass their plan to eliminate Medicare. If the Republican budget ever becomes law, it will shred America's contract with seniors who worked every day of their lives knowing that Medicare would be there for them in their retirement.

THE END OF MEDICARE, PERIOD: The GOP budget does not "reform" Medicare. It does not provide seniors with the same coverage Members of Congress receive. And it does not end Medicare "as we know it." The GOP budget ends Medicare, period. The centerpiece of the House Republicans’ plan is a proposal that repeals traditional Medicare and replaces it with a health insurance voucher that loses its value over time. Because the value of the Republicans’ privatized Medicare replacement does not keep up with the cost of health care , their plan will gradually phase out Medicare as its increasingly worthless vouchers will eventually only cover a very tiny fraction of the cost of a health insurance plan. Worse, as President Obama told the nation last week, the GOP budget immediately fritters away much of the savings from eliminating Medicare with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans. The rich get richer, and America's seniors are tossed out into the cold.

THE PATH TO MEDICARE REPEAL: Although the GOP budget phases out Medicare gradually over many years, it will deal a body blow to America's seniors the minute it goes into effect. The GOP plan eliminates traditional Medicare and forces seniors into the private insurance market. But health insurers have substantially higher administrative costs than traditional Medicare, and they lack Medicare's ability to negotiate lower rates from doctors and hospitals. As a result, seniors will pay more for less as soon as the GOP plan becomes a reality. According to the CBO, total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old "would be almost 40 percen t higher with private coverage under the GOP plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare" in the very first year that the GOP plan goes into effect. As a clear sign that the GOP understands that seniors will not stand for losing their access to traditional Medicare, Republicans claim that Americans over age 55 will not lose their access to the nation's most successful health care program, but this claim is also misleading. The GOP's plan will shunt younger, healthier seniors into privatized plans, leaving traditional Medicare with an ever diminishing pool of the very oldest beneficiaries, and stealing away Medicare's power to drive a hard bargain with health providers. Moreover, it's not even clear that many health insurance c ompanies will even be willing to offer private plans to seniors, who represent the "oldest, sickest, and least profitable demographic."

THE GOP'S WAR ON HEALTH CARE: Lest there be any doubt, the GOP plan to end Medicare is just one part of a full-scale assault on America's health care safety net. The GOP budget does not simply kill Medicare, it guts Medicaid, forcing states to either cap enrollment, cut eligibility, slash benefits, lower payments to doctors or somehow dig up additional funds to pay for their newly starved health care system. This assault on Medicaid deals another body blow to seniors, as Medicaid pays for nearly half of all long term care costs in the United States. Nor is the GOP's war on the health care safety net anything new. The GOP lined up in near-unanimous opposition to the landmark Affordable Care Act, and they just as resoundingly embraced the utterly meritless notion that health reform violates the Constitution. Many GOP lawmakers go even further, claiming that Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and any other federal health care programs are unconstitutional. And the GOP's last campaign for the White House was built upon a plan to gut state laws protecting health insurance consumers and leave them to the mercy of the insurance industry. In other words, it's clear that the Republican Party has wanted to dismantle the nation's health care contract with all Americans for many years -- they just finally got the votes to pass this radical agenda through the House.


THINK FAST

The credit-rating firm Standard & Poor's changed its long-term outlook on U.S. Treasury securities to "negative" from "stable" due to its lack of faith that political leaders will agree on a deficit reduction package. Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said that the outlook was based on a "political judgment" that doesn't deserve "too much weight."

Protesters rallied outside Bank of America's headquarters in North Carolina yesterday, demanding that the banking giant pay its taxes . Bank of America has completely avoided paying federal corporate income taxes the past two years, exploiting the tax code's network of loopholes, deductions, and exemptions.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) yesterday vetoed both the state's "birther" bill and a bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses. The birther bill would have forced presidential candidates to present long-form birth certificates or other documents to get on the state's presidential ballot. Brewer: "This is a bridge too far."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the new head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is pushing for screenings of all gun purchases . Calling current law "outrageous" because it allows people to buy guns without background checks, Wasserman Schultz is sponsoring a proposal to require checks for all arms sales.

President Obama will hold a meeting today with current and former elected officials as well as business and faith groups to revive the possibility of immigration reform. "The question is going to be are we going to be able to find some Republicans who can partner with me and others to get this done once and for all instead of using it as a political football," he said yesterday ahead of the meeting.

Newly released British government memos reveal that plans "to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before" the invasion. Two of the companies mentioned in the memos, BP and Shell, had repeatedly denied that they had discussed Iraq's oil with the British government.

Creditors would have fared much better in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers under regulations of the Dodd-Frank bill , according to an FDIC report released yesterday. The FDIC estimated that creditors would have received 97 cents for each dollar of claims under Dodd-Frank, as opposed to 21 cents per dollar under current negotiations.

And finally: Real estate mogul Donald Trump knows any potential presidential campaign needs to smell nice, which is why he recently filed for a patent on "SUCCESS BY TRUMP," a line of cologne, after-shave lotions, and bubble bath , Gawker reports. Perhaps the bathroom products are an attempt to win over his daughter, whom he remarked about in 2006 as having "a very nice figure." "I've said if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her."

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

LGBT EQUALITY

April 5, 2011
LGBT EQUALITY
THE CHRONIC STIGMA PERSISTS

LGBT Americans have experienced many advances in recent months -- including the impending repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and polls showing a majority support for marriage equality -- but their health remains a serious concern as homophobia and transphobia are still debilitating forces in their lives. This past week, a series of new studies on LGBT health show that persistent stigma is taking a heavy, if unseen, toll on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Revving up their social conservative base, Republican presidential hopefuls have nonetheless been spouting anti-LGBT talking points as if it were still the late 1980s, but it is this very rhetoric that could have the gravest consequences for LGBT health, both mental and physical.

POOR UNDERSTANDING OF LGBT HEALTH NEEDS: Last year, the National Institutes of Health charged the Institute of Medicine to report on LGBT health research, expecting a report on the gaps in LGBT health; however, upon reviewing the existing literature, "the committee found that the existing body of evidence is sparse and that substantial research is needed." What they did find (and compiled for the first time) are health concerns across all age groups of LGBT people, including elevated risks for attempted suicide, depression, and substance abuse. It also found a dearth of health-care providers knowledgeable about LGBT health needs, and severe social isolation for LGBT elders. While the report's call for implementation of an LGBT-focused "research agenda" with extensive data collection does not make for a sexy headline, such a commitment to LGBT health could revolutionize understandings of this undeserved population. Indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services incorporated the report into a series of recommendations to improve LGBT health and well-being. The Affordable Care Act provides opportunities to address some of the "unique health disparities" of the LGBT community, but as a new Center for American Progress study outlines, the need for health care reform is still great, including preventing discrimination in health insurance exchanges and supporting LGBT families.

COMPOUNDING STIGMA: Another study released last week from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows how the impact of anti-LGB stigma compounds over time. Older lesbians, gays, and bisexuals reported higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, physical disabilities, and psychological stress. The study also stressed the need for "increasing cultural competency and sensitivity among health care providers," particularly as the number of LGB older adults rapidly increases. A 2010 study by the Movement Advancement Project already confirmed that LGBT elders have higher rates of poverty, homelessness, and depression due to the inequities of marriage inequality, sexism, and a lifetime of stigma. The spate of high-profile suicides among bullied youth has raised awareness about the need to minimize the stigmatizing language still prevalent in our schools, with President Obama even declaring that bullying is not "just a harmless rite of passage," but that it can have "destructive consequences for our young people." Transgender individuals experience "Injustice at Every Turn," facing high rates of poverty, unemployment, housing discrimination, homelessness, discrimination in healthcare, harassment by law enforcement, and attempting suicide at 25 times the rate of the general population. Meanwhile, HIV continues to ravage the gay community at infection rates far exceeding the general population, which seems to be as ill-informed about the disease as ever.

FANNING THE FLAMES: Despite all the new information available about LGBT health and inequitable access to healthcare, prospective GOP presidential candidates are catering to social conservatives with their favorite homophobic rhetoric. By reinforcing these anti-LGBT ideas, some of which are 40 years behind social science, these candidates are reinforcing the very stigma that impedes LGBT health. Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, and Mike Huckabee all want to reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Just yesterday, Newt Gingrich defended his donations to the American Family Association, refusing to disavow harmful repudiated ex-gay therapies and claiming the group's anti-gay positions were "allegations" he couldn't "check," despite having just agreed with many of them on Bryan Fischer's radio show. The RNC's new fundraising page repeatedly attacks President Obama for his support of LGBT rights. An important question for all candidates will be whether they would allow these LGBT health studies and initiatives to continue under their administration. Regardless, as the body of research on LGBT health grows, it will become more and more evident that as social conservatives try to limit the liberty of the LGBT community, they are diminishing the very life of that community as well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Japan nuke plant dumps radioactive water into sea

that is just the oddest headline to see isn't it?

Japan nuke plant dumps radioactive water into sea
(AP) – 3 hours ago
TOKYO (AP) — Workers began pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the reactors.
It will take about two days to pump most of the less-radioactive water out of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, whose cooling systems were knocked out by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.
Since the disaster, water with different levels of radioactivity has been pooling throughout the plant. People who live within 12 miles (20 kilometers) have been evacuated and have not been allowed to return.
The pooling water has damaged systems and the radiation hazard has prevented workers from getting close enough to power up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods.
On Saturday, they discovered that some radioactive water was pouring into the ocean.
The less-radioactive water that officials are purposely dumping into the sea is up to 500 times the legal limit for radiation.
"We think releasing water with low levels of radiation is preferable to allowing water with high levels of radiation to be released into the environment," said Junichi Matsumoto, an official with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Workers need to get rid of the highly radioactive water, but first they need somewhere safe to put it. Much of the less-radioactive water being dumped into the sea is from the tsunami and had accumulated in a nuclear waste storage building.
The building is not meant to hold water, but it's also not leaking, so engineers decided to empty it so they can pump in the more-radioactive water. The rest of the water going into the sea is coming from a trench beneath two of the plant's six reactors.
More water keeps pooling because TEPCO has been forced to rely on makeshift methods of bringing down temperatures and pressure by pumping water into the reactors and allowing it to gush out wherever it can. It is a messy process, but it is preventing a full meltdown of the fuel rods that would release even more radioactivity into the environment.
"We must keep putting water into the reactors to cool to prevent further fuel damage, even though we know that there is a side effect, which is the leakage," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear Safety and Industrial Agency. "We want to get rid of the stagnant water and decontaminate the place so that we can return to our primary task to restore the sustainable cooling capacity as quickly as possible."
Engineers have been using unusual methods to try to stop the more highly radioactive water leaking into the sea.
They thought it was coming from a crack in a maintenance pit they discovered Saturday, but an attempt to seal the crack with concrete failed, and clogging it with a special polymer mixed with sawdust and shredded newspapers didn't work, either.
They dumped milky white bath salts into the system around the pit Monday to try to figure out the source of the leak, but it never splashed out into the ocean.
In the meantime, workers plan to install screens made of polyester fabric to try to stop some of the contamination in the ocean from spreading.
Although the government eventually authorized the dumping of the less-radioactive water, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said officials were growing concerned about the sheer volume of radioactive materials spilling into the Pacific. It is not clear how much water has leaked in addition to what is being dumped purposely.
"Even if they say the contamination will be diluted in the ocean, the longer this continues, the more radioactive particles will be released and the greater the impact on the ocean," Edano said. "We are strongly urging TEPCO that they have to take immediate action to deal with this."
Also Monday, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, Sergei Novikov, told reporters that Japan has requested Russia send it a vessel used to decommission nuclear submarines, and that Moscow was considering the request.
"If the Japanese side arranges answers to the questions we sent them, it can be transferred ... within a very short period," Novikov said, according to a statement on Rosatom's website. The nature of the questions wasn't specified.
Novikov said the vessel, called the Landysh, was built with Japanese funds under the "Global Partnership" program to help dispose of liquid nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines.
The crisis has unfolded as Japan deals with the aftermath of twin natural disasters that devastated much of its northeastern coast. Up to 25,000 people are believed to have died and tens of thousands lost their homes.
The situation at the Fukushima plant has brought protests in Japan and raised questions around the world about the safety of nuclear power. Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told delegates at a nuclear safety conference Monday that the industry cannot afford to ignore these concerns.
"We cannot take a business-as-usual approach," Amano said.
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, who was in Tokyo this week to meet with TEPCO's chairman, defended the industry when asked by a reporter if the Fukushima incident would cause global concern about nuclear safety.
"This is an industry that's had an extremely safe track record for more than 40 years," Immelt said. "We have had more than 1,000 engineers working around the clock since the incident began and we will continue in the short, medium and long term working with TEPCO due to this horrific natural disaster."
All of the plant's reactors were designed by GE, and Immelt offered assistance in dealing with the electricity shortage brought on by damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility and other power plants. Japan is expecting a shortfall of at least 10 million kilowatts in summer, and Immelt said gas turbines with both short- and long-term capabilities are on their way from the U.S.
Associated Press writers Ryan Nakashima and Noriko Kitano in Tokyo and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Japan nuke plant dumps radioactive water into sea

Japan nuke plant dumps radioactive water into sea
(AP) – 3 hours ago
TOKYO (AP) — Workers began pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the reactors.
It will take about two days to pump most of the less-radioactive water out of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, whose cooling systems were knocked out by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.
Since the disaster, water with different levels of radioactivity has been pooling throughout the plant. People who live within 12 miles (20 kilometers) have been evacuated and have not been allowed to return.
The pooling water has damaged systems and the radiation hazard has prevented workers from getting close enough to power up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods.
On Saturday, they discovered that some radioactive water was pouring into the ocean.
The less-radioactive water that officials are purposely dumping into the sea is up to 500 times the legal limit for radiation.
"We think releasing water with low levels of radiation is preferable to allowing water with high levels of radiation to be released into the environment," said Junichi Matsumoto, an official with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Workers need to get rid of the highly radioactive water, but first they need somewhere safe to put it. Much of the less-radioactive water being dumped into the sea is from the tsunami and had accumulated in a nuclear waste storage building.
The building is not meant to hold water, but it's also not leaking, so engineers decided to empty it so they can pump in the more-radioactive water. The rest of the water going into the sea is coming from a trench beneath two of the plant's six reactors.
More water keeps pooling because TEPCO has been forced to rely on makeshift methods of bringing down temperatures and pressure by pumping water into the reactors and allowing it to gush out wherever it can. It is a messy process, but it is preventing a full meltdown of the fuel rods that would release even more radioactivity into the environment.
"We must keep putting water into the reactors to cool to prevent further fuel damage, even though we know that there is a side effect, which is the leakage," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear Safety and Industrial Agency. "We want to get rid of the stagnant water and decontaminate the place so that we can return to our primary task to restore the sustainable cooling capacity as quickly as possible."
Engineers have been using unusual methods to try to stop the more highly radioactive water leaking into the sea.
They thought it was coming from a crack in a maintenance pit they discovered Saturday, but an attempt to seal the crack with concrete failed, and clogging it with a special polymer mixed with sawdust and shredded newspapers didn't work, either.
They dumped milky white bath salts into the system around the pit Monday to try to figure out the source of the leak, but it never splashed out into the ocean.
In the meantime, workers plan to install screens made of polyester fabric to try to stop some of the contamination in the ocean from spreading.
Although the government eventually authorized the dumping of the less-radioactive water, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said officials were growing concerned about the sheer volume of radioactive materials spilling into the Pacific. It is not clear how much water has leaked in addition to what is being dumped purposely.
"Even if they say the contamination will be diluted in the ocean, the longer this continues, the more radioactive particles will be released and the greater the impact on the ocean," Edano said. "We are strongly urging TEPCO that they have to take immediate action to deal with this."
Also Monday, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, Sergei Novikov, told reporters that Japan has requested Russia send it a vessel used to decommission nuclear submarines, and that Moscow was considering the request.
"If the Japanese side arranges answers to the questions we sent them, it can be transferred ... within a very short period," Novikov said, according to a statement on Rosatom's website. The nature of the questions wasn't specified.
Novikov said the vessel, called the Landysh, was built with Japanese funds under the "Global Partnership" program to help dispose of liquid nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines.
The crisis has unfolded as Japan deals with the aftermath of twin natural disasters that devastated much of its northeastern coast. Up to 25,000 people are believed to have died and tens of thousands lost their homes.
The situation at the Fukushima plant has brought protests in Japan and raised questions around the world about the safety of nuclear power. Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told delegates at a nuclear safety conference Monday that the industry cannot afford to ignore these concerns.
"We cannot take a business-as-usual approach," Amano said.
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, who was in Tokyo this week to meet with TEPCO's chairman, defended the industry when asked by a reporter if the Fukushima incident would cause global concern about nuclear safety.
"This is an industry that's had an extremely safe track record for more than 40 years," Immelt said. "We have had more than 1,000 engineers working around the clock since the incident began and we will continue in the short, medium and long term working with TEPCO due to this horrific natural disaster."
All of the plant's reactors were designed by GE, and Immelt offered assistance in dealing with the electricity shortage brought on by damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility and other power plants. Japan is expecting a shortfall of at least 10 million kilowatts in summer, and Immelt said gas turbines with both short- and long-term capabilities are on their way from the U.S.
Associated Press writers Ryan Nakashima and Noriko Kitano in Tokyo and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.
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