Daily Archives: 31/03/2011

(eagainst) Japanese officials have conceded that the battle to salvage four crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has been lost. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], said the reactors would be scrapped, and warned that the operation to contain the nuclear crisis, now well into its third week, could last months. Tepco’s announcement came as new readings showed a dramatic increase in radioactive contamination in the sea near the atomic complex. The firm’s chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, said it had “no choice” but to scrap the Nos 1-4 reactors, but held out hope that the remaining two could continue to operate. It is the first time the company has conceded that the at least part of the plant will have to be decommissioned. But the government’s chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, repeated an earlier call for all six reactors at the 40-year-old plant to be decommissioned. “It is very clear looking at the social circumstances,” he said.Tens of thousands of people living near the plants have been evacuated or ordered to stay indoors, while the plant has leaked radioactive materials in to the sea, soil and air.

On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] suggested widening the 30-kilometre exclusion zone around the plant after finding that radiation levels at a village 40 kilometres from the plant exceeded the criteria for evacuation.”We have advised [Japanese officials] to carefully assess the situation, and they have indicated that it is already under assessment,” Denis Flory, a deputy director of the IAEA, said.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was due to arrive in Tokyo on Thursday to show support for the Fukushima operation and for talks with his Japanese counterpart, Naoto Kan. Sarkozy, the current G8 chair, is the first foreign leader to visit Japan since the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

An emotional Kastumata apologised for the anxiety the crisis has caused.

We apologise for causing the public anxiety, worry and trouble due to the explosions at reactor buildings and the release of radioactive materials,” he told reports in Tokyo late on Wednesday. “Our greatest responsibility is to do everything to bring the current situation to an end and under control.

He said the “dire situation” at the plant was likely to continue for some time.The pressure to make progress also took its toll on Tepco’s chief executive, Masataka Shimizu, who is in hospital being treated for exhaustion.The country’s nuclear and industrial safety agency, Nisa, said on Thursday radioactive iodine at 4,385 times the legal limit had been identified in the sea near the plant, although officials have yet to determine how it got there. On Wednesday the measurement had been 3,355 times the legal limit.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Nisa spokesman, said fishing had stopped in the area, adding that the contamination posed no immediate threat to humans. “We will find out how it happened and do our utmost to prevent it from rising,” he said.The government’s acceptance of help from the US and France has strengthened the belief that the battle to save the stricken reactors is lost.

On Tuesday, a US engineer who helped install reactors at the plant said he believed the radioactive core in unit 2 may have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor.While Nisa officials attempted to play down the contamination’s impact on marine life, any development that heightens health concerns among consumers will dismay local fishermen, many of whom already face a long struggle to rebuild their businesses after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

Experts say the radiation will be diluted by the sea, lessening the contamination of fish and other marine life. Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, said recent higher readings of radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 should be of greater concern than reports earlier this week of tiny quantities of plutonium found in soil samples.But he added: “It’s obviously alarming when you talk about radiation, but if you have radiation in non-gas form I would say dump it in the ocean.”

Gale, who has been advising the Japanese government, said: “To some extent that’s why some nuclear power plants are built along the coast, to be in an area where the wind is blowing out to sea, and because the safest way to deposit radiation is in the ocean. The dilutional factor could not be better – there’s no better place. If you deposit it on earth or in places where people live there is no dilutional effect. From a safety point of view the ocean is the safest place.” Criticism of Tepco is building after safety lapses last week put three workers in hospital – all have been discharged – and erroneous reports of radiation data.

Shimizu, 66, has not been seen since appearing at a press conference on 13 March, two days after the disaster.

He had reportedly resumed control of the operation at the firm’s headquarters in Tokyo after suffering a minor illness, but on Tuesday he was admitted to hospital suffering from high blood pressure and dizziness. Tepco said on Wednesday that he was not expected to be absent for long. The hundreds of workers at the plant must now find a balance between pumping enough water to cool the reactors and avoiding a runoff of highly radioactive excess water. As yet they do not have anywhere to store the contaminated water.The options under consideration were to transfer the water to a ship or cover the reactors to trap radioactive particles, Edano said.

Source and greek translation:

( A motion passed by EuroAnarkismo conference which met in London (UK) in February 2011.

I. Analysis of the current situation

Already a few months ago, we were told about the end of the economic crisis. What happened in Greece was said to be only an unfortunate episode, soon to be overcome by the generosity of Greece’s European “partners”. But catastrophist announcements are falling like rain again all over Europe, and new recovery plans, by the EU or the IMF, are being prepared. Unsurprisingly, they are in fact austerity plans which unfortunately are very similar to the Structural Adjustment Programs imposed on some developing countries by the IMF in the 1980s and 1990s. For capitalists, the current situation of budget crisis is an opportunity to impose their neo-liberal agenda on the people, as was the case with the crisis in Argentina in 1998.

As a matter of fact, these austerity plans are not at all aimed at facilitating economic recovery, but quite the contrary. The way European leaders are dealing with the current crisis can only lead to entrapment in a vicious circle of recession: repeated austerity measures enforced in the different countries contribute to slowing down the economy a little more by creating an even stronger contraction of demand. Yet, in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, governments rather announced recovery plans based on a Keynesian approach quite distant from the neo- liberal orthodoxy which structures the economic convergence policy of the states of the Euro- zone through the Stability Pact (which imposes extremely strict budget austerity criteria: 3% of GDP for public deficit and 60% of GDP for public debt). Read More

( Writing in The American ConservativeWilliam Lind bemoans the tendency revealed by current upheavals in the Middle East. “[T]he worst possible outcome … is the disintegration of states and their replacement either by statelessness — as we see in Somalia — or by fictional states, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But what’s so bad about that? Let’s look at a couple of Lind’s objections:

“Within the territories that were formerly real states,” he writes, “power devolves to many non-state entities.”

Color me clueless, but isn’t that exactly what “limited government conservatives” usually claim to be for?

Isn’t that, in point of fact, precisely the goal Lind himself pursued as Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation? That institution’s “Declaration of Cultural Independence” swears off state politics and commits its adherents to “the creation of a complete, alternate structure of parallel cultural institutions.” Moreover, those “parallel cultural institutions” are of a specifically “Judeo-Christian” variety. But these days Lind lists, among his fears, the possibility that power will devolve to “religions and sects.”

“Internally, war becomes a permanent condition,” he warns. To which I can only reply, “was it not ever so?” Hobbes’s “war of all against all,” if ever that war truly raged, didn’t end with Leviathan’s appearance on the scene. The modern state merely armed the political class at the expense of the productive class, then proceeded to systematize the slaughter and — with spectacular exceptions like Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s reign of terror, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields” — regulate its domestic intensity to a more bearable and sustainable level than that of all-out war between states.

It’s questionable, though, whether the “war of all against all” ever took place, at least at any thing like the level of horror Hobbes claimed. Lind invokes Somalia as a modern-day equivalent, but the most notable characteristic of Somalia is how peaceable the place is when foreign states and their domestic quislings aren’t trying to impose themselves in place of its loose non-state clan social structure.

The real nut of Lind’s objection to anarchy seems to be that “externally there is no one with whom other states can deal.” He treats this as a bug. I consider it a feature.

What kind of “dealing” takes place between states? The least onerous form of trade between states — the baseline — is a continuous barter, between their political classes, of wealth stolen from their productive classes.

From there, it only gets worse, up to all-out war that makes any conceivable stateless “war of all against all” look like a friendly game of flag football: Massive armies (cajoled or even conscripted from among the productive class, of course — if you’re looking for the political class, consult your directory of “undisclosed locations”) arrayed against each other, brandishing terrible weapons that only acolytes of the state could manage the psychosis necessary to imagine, or work up the hubris to invest the massive amounts of unearned wealth required to develop.

Do I really need a state to “deal” in my name? Here’s a little bit of that Judeo-Christian lingo for Lind:

“Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves …” (Isaiah 28:15)

That’s the bargain Lind proposes as a bulwark against good, clean anarchy. Thanks, but no thanks.