Another Protester Dies In Bahrain

Another Protester Dies In Bahrain

By Bahrain Youth Society

03 April, 2011

Death of a suspect protester after 7 days in detention.
This is the case no 27 of “Extra judicial killing” since 14 February
Urgent actions are requested to save the lives of hundreds of other detainees

The Ministry of interior has announced today, 4 March 2011, the death of Mr Hassan Jassim Mohammed Makki, aged 39, in a detention centre where he has been kept since his arrest on 28 March as a suspect of being involved in the recent unrest. The General Inspector of the Ministry, Ibrahim Habib A-Ghaith, claimed that the cause of death is a hereditary blood disease suffered by detainee. Source:

The death of Hassan Makki brings the number of people who lost their life since the beginning of protests, on 14 January, to at least 27, among them one child and one women. (List attached).

? Ali’s brother told Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights: ” That Ali suffered from hereditary blood disease , but not dangerous for him. Ali One and half years did not went to the hospital because of this disease “.

Ali’s Relative told : ” After we saw his body , we noticed torture in the hands , legs and back ”

There is high concern on the physical and psychological well being of hundreds of citizens who have been in detention since 14 February with no access family or legal counseling while whereabouts is unknown. Therefore, Urgent actions are requested to save the lives and secure their well-being.

List of people killed in Bahrain since 14 th February 2011 (Updated 30 March 2011 ):

•  Below is a list of documented cases. However, t here are scores of missing people some of home are seriously injured or might have lost their lives

•  The list includes three police men, a according to the Interior Ministry, were affiliated with the government security services and died as a result of being “run over by an unidentified car”. The list also includes non-Bahrainis.

•  Photos of persons killed can be found on the following link: )

No Name Age Area or country of origin Date of death Details
26 Sayed-Ahmad Sa’eed Shams 15 Saar






30 March





Born Sep. 1996.Student in Duraz secondry school. Died on the way to the American Mission Hospital in Sar after being shot in the face by security force.


25 Isa Mohammed 71 Ma’ameer 25 th March Died of asphyxiation in his home after police fired tear gas in the village of Ma’ameer . His family called the emergency room but there was no response from Salmaniya hospital. Ma’ameer had been blockaded by police forces and a lack of hospital assistance made it impossible to revive him. Sons of the victims said that they were forced by the ministry of intrior to sign that their father death was of natural causes.
24 Aziz Jumma Ayyad


33 Al-Hajar / Hamad Town






24th March






Has been working at the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) for 10 years. His family lost contact with him for 10 days, during which the BDF denyed that they have any one with that name. On 24 March they the family was contacted by the authorities to tell them that he is admitted to the military hospital. Two hour later they were contacted again to tell them that Aziz is dead as a result of heart attack. According to death certificate he died 9 days arlear. There are suspensions that being a Shiaa, his death could be caused by government thugs.


23 Hani Abdul-Aziz Abdullah Jumah





















































24th March
























A cleaner and the father of year-old twins, left the family’s house at about 5 p.m. on March 19. His father, told Human Rights Watch (HRW) his son was responding to a cry for help outside just as riot police began sweeping through the neighborhood. Fifteen minutes later, a witness said, the younger Jumah was seen running from the Khamis roundabout pursued by eight riot police wearing helmets. “Hani was running toward the nearby building, which was under construction, and the police were 15 meters behind him,” the witness said, “He ran straight past my house.” Another witness said he had seen police chase Jumah into an empty apartment building under construction, but only realized an hour-and-a-half later that Jumah had not left the building after the police did. Local residents went to search for Jumah. They found him unconscious, lying in a large pool of his own blood. He sustained massive injuries to his knees and arm caused by being shot at point-blank range with a shotgun. HRW examined the scene of the attack on March 22, three days afterwards, and found fragments of bone, which a medical expert confirmed to be fragments of knee bone consistent with being shot at close range, as well as a tooth and pieces of human tissue still stuck to the wall and ceiling of the empty room, apparently the result of the velocity of the shots that maimed Jumah.

Witnesses told HRW that they rolled Jumah onto a carpet provided by a local resident and brought him by car to a nearby private hospital, where doctors struggled for nearly two hours to stabilize him after massive blood loss. Jumah’s father said that at about 9:20 p.m. , an ambulance arrived from the Bahraini Defense Force (BDF) Hospital, accompanied by two masked police officers, and the officers announced they were transferring his son to that hospital. That was the last time Jumah’s family saw him.


Death certificate:

Photos of body:


22 Bahia Abdelrasoul Al-Aradi (Ms)











51 Manama












20th March












A female nurse. She was shot in the head on 17 th March by sniper She was on the phone with her younger sister when she was shot. According to witnesses who came to her aid from nearby houses. They claim they were also shot at by the military vehicles parked on a highway near Al-Gadam roundabout. Video of the car after the incident: . Bahia ‘s family refused to take her body when they were asked to sign a paper saying that she died in a car accident. Final official death certificate stated that Bahia died as result of “severe brain injury”






21 Jawad Mohammed Ali Shamlan






48 Al-Hajar







20th March







Gunshot in the stomach. Signs of beating on his back. On 16 March he went to work at Khamis police station but did not come back home. A person answered his mobile saying to the family that Shamlan is killed. They family were unofficially informed that he was at the Military hospital. 21 March a relative recognized his body at the morgue at Suleymania Hospital .



20 Abdul-Rasoul Hassan al-Hujairi














20th March





Was stopped at a checkpoint on 17 th March. Ministry of interior reported finding his body in a remote area in Awali and contacted his family on March 20 th to receive his body. Signs of harsh beating all over the body.
19 Aklas Miah
























  Has been in Bahrain for 31 years, A father of 3 girls. Died as a result of bullet wound in the head during an attack on Sitra village by security forces, reportedly while defending woman protestors. Buried on 23 March in Gulap Gong village in Sylhet , Bangladesh .

Photos of body:

18 Isa Radhi al-Radhi









19th March



Was missing since 15 March, family was called to pick up the body. He was severely beaten all over his body and his skull and neck were broken. His legs bear pellets of bird shotgun. The official death certificate states that the cause of death was broken skull and brain bleeding.
17 Fareed Mugbel 31 Bangladish 19 th March Was injured in Manama on 13 th March during clashes between pro-government thugs and protesters
16 Ali Ahmad Rashid Al-Mraisi 30 Rafa’ 17 th March According to the Interior Ministry, he is affiliated with the government security services and was killed during clashes with anti-government protesters. Died as a result of being “run over by an unidentified car” in Sitra on March 15.
15 Mohammed Faruq Abd al-Samad al-Balooshi   Pakistani March 16 According to the Interior Ministry, he is affiliated with the government security services and was killed during clashes with anti-government protesters. Died as a result of being “run over by an unidentified car”
14 Kashef Munther 21   March 16 According to the Interior Ministry, he is affiliated with the government security services and was killed during clashes with anti-government protesters. Died as a result of being “run over by an unidentified car”
13 Ahmed Abdulla Hassan 22 Daih/Hammad Town 16th March Bird shotgun wounds in the neck, back and legs
12 Jaffer Mohammed abd-Ali 41 Karraneh 16th March Live bullet pierced arm and settled in his chest
11 Jaffer Abdulla Ma’yuf















16th March




Shot with birdshot in the leg during the raid of roundabout, and then with a live bullet on the 13back and settled in the chest. He was unable to reach Salmaniya hospital. They took him to Jidhafs medical center which was not equipped to treat such cases. The bleeding was heavily continuing, so they took him to Ibn Nafees Hospital (private hospital), but he died before reaching the hospital.
10 Steven Ebraham 48 India   Shot by a stray bullet while on work as a security guard.
9 Ahmed Abdulla Farhan 30 Sitra 15th March shot in the head with stun grenade at point blank
8 Ali al-Demestani     13th March Run over by car
7 Abdul-Redha Mohammed Buhmeid 32 AlMalkiya 21th February Shot in the head
6 Ali Mansoor Khudhair 53 Sitra 17th February Bird shotgun wounds
5 Mahmood Ahmed Makki (Abu-Takki) 23 Sitra 17th February Bird shotgun wounds
4 Ali Ahmed Abdulla al-Moumen 23 Sitra 17th February Bullet in hip, main artellies were cut in both legs which caused him to bleed to death
3 Isa Abdul-Hassan 60 Karzakkan 17th February Bird shotgun wounds
2 Fadhel Salman al-Matrook 31 Mahooze 15th February Bird shotgun wounds
1 Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima 21 Daih 14th February Bird shotgun wounds

Other relevant information:

•  Alayam, a pro- government newspaper, reported that Rashid Hamad Al-Ma’amari, a taxi driver, was beaten by “terrorists”, whilst Al-wasat daily newspaper reported details by an eye witness that it was a traffic accident.

•  A Pakistani worker died when Pearl Roundabout was razed.. huge concrete pieces fell on the crane he was operating…he died on the spot.


New contact no. for Mohammed Al-Maskati ( President of the Bahrain Youth Society For Human Rights)

Line phone: +973 17 595 134 , Cell phone: +973 36 43 70 88

Possible to follow the news on:

Twitter: https: / / / byshr

Facebook: https: / /

E-mail: ,

Or contact (for media and breaking news), Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

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Eternal Punishment: Obama Leads Third Century Of Imperial Revenge On Haiti

Eternal Punishment: Obama Leads Third Century Of
Imperial Revenge On Haiti

By Chris Floyd

03 April, 2011
Empire Burlesque

The blood and thunder (or is it thud and blunder?) of the American-led intervention in Libya has obscured one of the more revealing episodes of our times — especially for those many millions who still cling to the idea that Barack Obama is somehow an improvement, however slight, over the ruthless, lawless, corroded souls who preceded him in the post of imperial manager.

We speak of course of the American rigging of the election in battered, helpless Haiti — a brazen effort to disenfranchise the majority of the population and ensure the election of a vicious — but acquiescent — client to the presidency. This sordid episode comes complete with a personal intervention by the Nobel Peace Laureate himself to try to continue the exile and persecution of the democratically elected Haitian president overthrown by George W. Bush in a brutal coup.

Even as he was scheming with the CIA to put covert American “boots on the ground” in the Libyan civil war, Obama and his dream team have been maneuvering like mad to put one of a pair of right-wing fanatics into office in Haiti while excluding any other candidates from the running — including those from Haiti’s biggest political party. Obama also personally called South African President Jacob Zuma to ask to keep holding Bush-ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Africa and prevent him from returning to his native land before the election.

With the sublime hypocrisy that has become the hallmark of this most mendacious militarist administration, an Obama spokesman said the Peace Laureate opposed Aristide’s return due to “deep concerns that President Aristide’s return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilising,” adding that the defender of freedom and democracy believes “that the Haitian people deserve the chance to choose their government through peaceful, free and fair elections.”

Even from Team Obama, this is pretty rich. After blocking the largest political party from running, then forcing a run-off between two former supporters of vicious coups, Obama said he didn’t want Haiti’s democratically elected former leader to return to the homeland he was trundled from at gunpoint by Bushist goons in order to give the Haitian people “a free, fair election.”

The result has been a record-low turnout and run-off so riddled with corruption that it may be weeks before one of America’s hand-picked stooges is declared the winner. Meanwhile, Aristide did return — Zuma told Obama plainly that Astride was a free man, he had a passport from his home country, and “I cannot hold him hostage.” He did not interfere with the election, he endorsed no candidate. Most of his supporter simply boycotted the election, because of its blatant illegitimacy.

So this is what Barack Obama and his partner in imperialism, the globe-trotting Hillary Clinton, have been up to on the side while they are killing children in Libya and bluntly declaring to Congress that Obama will not acknowledge any restriction on his imperial will to wage war where whenever and wherever he damn well pleases. As John Caruso notes in a blistering post:

In an episode that makes the importance of democracy subversion in Haiti eminently clear, even while the popular uprising in Egypt was peaking, our Secretary of State was dispatched to Haiti to ensure that Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly advanced to the presidential runoff election rather than Jude Celestin (she flew there literally right after she’d finished putting out the administration’s Egypt spin on the Sunday morning talk shows). So just who is this U.S. favorite?

Seven months after his inauguration, President Aristide was overthrown by a US-backed neo-Duvalierist military putsch on 30 September 1991. “Sweet Micky” was one of the principal cheerleaders of this three-year coup, which claimed some 5,000 lives, according to Amnesty International.

In the years following Aristide’s restoration to power in 1994, Martelly became obsessed with hatred for the man. In a video from not too long ago, which can be seen on YouTube, the candidate threatens a patron in a bar where he has performed. “All those shits were Aristide’s faggots,” he says. “I would kill Aristide to stick a dick up your ass.”

You can certainly see why Clinton made the trip. And if the Obama administration doesn’t manage to get this homicidal homophobic Duvalierist into power, they’ll still end up with the Secretary General of the right-wing RDNP party (and wife of a former right-wing “president” of Haiti). Win-win!

…As I’ve written before, anyone who feared that our first black president might not be sympathetic to the need to smash the democratic aspirations of the first free black nation in the hemisphere can rest assured: Obama will never let race—or anything else—stop him from doing the empire’s dirty work.

No, indeed. Doing the empire’s dirty work is the Obama Administration’s raison d’etre. Caruso helpfully points us to this incandescent post by Linh Dinh:

As firemen and cops are being fired across America, as teachers are being told they must accept austerity measures, the country is broke, after all, as public radio and television, with their supposed liberal bias, lay on the chopping block, as more homeless sprawl and tent cities spring up, as casinos, a sure sign of desperation, mushroom, the United States has entered another costly war without any fanfare or discussion whatsoever. Obama didn’t have to persuade anybody, no sending a Secretary of State to make a fool of herself in front of the United Nations’ General Assembly, no congressional vote, which, last time I checked, was supposed to be a Constitutional requirement, no media blitz. No lies even. He simply ordered more than a hundred Tomahawk missiles, so far, to rain down on Libya, with many more to come. In any case, this it not even a war, but merely a “kinetic military action,” according to an Obama aide. Such straight faced butchery of language, even as one butchers real people, shows that the United States has entered a deep psychotic state. Upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama himself declared, “I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.” …

The President of the United States is a traveling salesman for the military industrial complex. In 2010, Obama came to India to visit the Mumbai home of Gandhi, a hero of his, someone he would most like to dine with, very touching, before announcing a mega arms deal of GE fighter jet engines and Boeing military transport planes. Now, as he bombs Libya, Obama tries to sell F-18 fighter planes to Brazil. According to an aide, “President Obama underscored that the F-18 is the best plane on offer” as he made a “strong pitch” to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The President of the United States is also a spokesman for murderers and crooks. He doesn’t rule, but obeys. His main job is to deceive the masses as he serves his enablers. He can say anything at any time, and means none of it. The President of the United States is the world’s most visible actor, in short. Campaigning in 2007, Obama said, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.” Quite a performance. This year, as Wisconsin teachers fight to retain their right to collectively bargain, Obama has said absolutely nothing. One would have to be a fool to think he would join them. …

As Obama fizzles out, as he loses legitimacy, the power brokers will come up with other figureheads and slogans for American liberals and conservatives to become passionate about. These candidates will jabber, jab and insult each other. As in professional wrestling, the battle will appear fierce. Barack, meanwhile, can look forward to a lucrative memoir and six-figure speaking fees. Even that man of malapropisms and snafus, the much despised Bush, is getting $150,000 each time he opens his mouth these days.

In any case, the latest draconian farce in Haiti is only par for a savage course that Obama and Clinton have been carrying out from the get-go, standing on the shoulders of that giant statesman, Dubya. As I noted here almost two years ago (again following in Caruso’s footsteps):

Haiti has been a cursed nation throughout its existence. As I noted in a piece in 2004:

Exactly two hundred years ago, Haitian slaves overthrew their French masters — the first successful national slave revolt in history. What Spartacus dreamed of doing, the Haitian slaves actually accomplished. It was a tremendous achievement — and the white West has never forgiven them for it.

In order to win international recognition for their new country, Haiti was forced to pay “reparations” to the slaveowners – a crushing burden of debt they were still paying off at the end of the 19th century. The United States, which refused to recognize the country for more than 60 years, invaded Haiti in 1915, primarily to open it up to “foreign ownership of local concerns.” After 19 years of occupation, the Americans backed a series of bloodthirsty dictatorships to protect these “foreign owners.” And still it goes on.

It certainly does — even under the “enlightened” foreign policy of Barack Obama. As John Caruso reports (in separate pieces in A Distant Ocean and A Tiny Revolution), Obama and his “superstar” secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, are loudly championing the latest egregious, brutal farce that Washington and the West have foisted upon the uppity natives of Haiti.

Senatorial elections held this month by the government imposed on Haiti after the U.S.-backed coup of 2004 (more on this below) produced a turnout of less than 10 percent of eligible voters: a result that mocks any notion of a popular, legitimate democracy. But this is not because the Haitians are so lazy and disinterested that they couldn’t be bothered to vote. Nor that they are so satisfied with the benevolent, paternal care of their American-appointed masters that they saw no need to let silly electoral contests trouble their bucolic life.

No, the 90 percent refusal rate was in fact a massive protest action, driven chiefly by the fact that the American-backed government would not allow the most popular party — the party of the government ousted by the 2004 coup — to run a slate of candidates in the election. By clerkly hook and bureaucratic crook, Haiti’s election overseers banned the Fanmi Lavalas slate back in February. At that moment, the April elections became a dead letter, a meaningless farce — yet another cruel joke played on the people of Haiti.

Another April, another joke — and a third century of imperial revenge goes on.

NOTE: For more background, especially on the 2004 coup that led to the current crisis, see “Operation Continuing Sweatshop.” Below is an excerpt:

This week, the Bush administration added another violent “regime change” notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators – a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.

Although the Haiti coup was widely portrayed as an irresistible upsurge of popular discontent, it was of course the result of years of hard work by Bush’s dedicated corrupters of democracy, as William Bowles of Information Clearinghouse reports. Bushist bagmen funded the political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, smuggled guns to exiled Haitian warlords, and carried out a relentless strangulation of the county, cutting off long-promised financial and structural aid to one of the poorest nations on earth until food prices were soaring, unemployment spiked to 70 percent, and the broken-backed government lost control of society to armed gangs of criminals, fanatics and the merely desperate.

Meanwhile, Haiti was forced to pay $2 million a month on debts run up by the murderous U.S.-backed dictatorships that had ruled the island since the American military occupation of 1915-1934. The Haitian press, controlled by cronies of the former dictators, supplied the lazy American media with reams of stories about Aristide’s “tyranny.” These were swiftly followed by thunderous denunciations from the Bush Regime. Wholesale murders of government officials and Aristide partisans by Bush-backed opposition gangs were, of course, demurely ignored — as were Aristide’s own condemnations of violence by his supporters. The old reliable “madman” trope was also brought out for an airing, with constant press drumbeats about Aristide’s “mental instability.” (America’s designated targets are always “deranged monsters,” although sometimes, when they prove politically useful again, they miraculously recover their wits, like Libya’s Moamar Gadafy.)

[Note 2001: Although, as we can see today, our good reformed monsters always relapse — when it suits the imperial agenda.]

[Aristide’s] real crime, of course, was not the Florida-style election follies or the reported “tyranny.” … No, Aristide did something far worse than stuffing ballots or killing people — he tried to raise the minimum wage, to the princely sum of two dollars a day. This move outraged the American corporations — and their local lackeys — who have for generations used Haiti as a pool of dirt-cheap labor and sky-high profits. It was the last straw for the elitist factions, one of which is actually led by an American citizen and former Reagan-Bush appointee, manufacturing tycoon Andy Apaid.

Apaid was the point man for the rapacious Reagan-Bush “market reform” drive in Haiti. Of course, “reform,” in the degraded jargon of the privateers, means exposing even the very means of survival and sustenance to the ravages of powerful corporate interests. For example, the Reagan-Bush plan forced Haiti to lift import tariffs on rice, which had long been a locally-grown staple. Then they flooded Haiti with heavily subsidized American rice, destroying the local market and throwing thousands of self-sufficient farmers out of work. With a now-captive market, the American companies jacked up their prices, spreading ruin and hunger throughout Haitian society.

The jobless farmers provided new fodder for the factories of Apaid and his cronies. Reagan and Bush chipped in by abolishing taxes for American corporations who set up Haitian sweatshops. The result was a precipitous drop in wages — and life expectancy. Aristide’s first election in 1990 threatened these cozy arrangements, so he was duly ejected by a military coup, with Bush I’s not-so-tacit connivance.

Bill Clinton restored Aristide to office in 1994 — but only after forcing him to agree to, yes, “market reforms.” In fact, it was Clinton, the privateers’ pal, who instigated the post-election aid embargo that Bush II used to such devastating effect. Aristide’s chief failing as a leader was his attempt to live up to this bipartisan blackmail. As in every other nation that’s come under the IMF whip, Haiti’s already-fragile economy collapsed. Bush family retainers like Apaid then shoved the country into total chaos, making it easy prey for the warlords whom Bush operatives — many of them old Iran-Contra hands — supplied with arms through the Dominican Republic, the Boston Globe reports.

When Aristide called for an international force to stem the terrorist attack, Bush refused. When Aristide agreed to a deal, brokered by his fellow leaders in the Caribbean, that would have effectively ceded power to the Bush-funded opposition but at least preserved the lineaments of Haitian democracy — Apaid and the boys turned down the offer, with the blessing of their paymasters in Washington, who suddenly claimed they had no influence over their recalcitrant hired hands. When Aristide asked for American protection as the rebel gang closed in on the capital, Bush refused.

Instead, Aristide was told by armed American gunmen that if he didn’t resign, he would be left to die at the hands of the rebels. Then he was bundled onto a waiting plane and dumped in the middle of Africa. Within hours, the Bush-backed terrorists were marching openly through Port-au-Prince, executing Aristide’s supporters.

Guess they won’t be asking for two dollars a day now, eh? Mission accomplished!

This policy is what the Nobel Peace Laureate — the first African-American president in history — is now perpetuating in the only nation to liberate itself from slavery. But of course, the most important thing is not the dispossessed in Haiti, nor the innocent people in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan being killed, day after day, by the Laureate’s bombs, bullets and assassins. No, the main thing is — he’s not John McCain! And we must put aside these trifles, these heaps of corpses, and rally around the prez to “defend our gains and regroup for a progressive counter-offensive in 2012!” The best is yet to come!

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After The Great Quake, Living With Earth’s Uncertainty

After The Great Quake, Living With Earth’s Uncertainty

By Verlyn Klinkenborg

03 April, 2011
Yale Environment 360

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami remind us that we exist in geologic time and in a world where catastrophic events beyond our predicting may occur. These events — and the growing specter of climate change — show how precariously we exist on the surface of a volatile planet

In my layman’s cosmology, the anthropic principle says this: our existence implies that the universe must take the shape it does or we wouldn’t be here to perceive it. A universe with even minutely different physical laws wouldn’t include us (which isn’t to say that such universes don’t exist).

An anthropic principle of sorts is also at work in geologic time — the 4.5 billion or so years this planet has existed. For the vast majority of Earth’s history, conditions were unsuitable for the evolution of mammals. (Nor were humans even remotely certain to evolve from those earliest mammals.) We’ve come to exist in the window of time in which we could have come to exist. Or rather, we’ve survived in the window of time in which we can survive. We call a portion of that window “historic time” — not the entire history of our species, but the history that’s part of our cultural record in one form or another, reaching back only several thousand years.

Historic time overlaps with geologic time the way a whale louse overlaps with the blue whale it infests, though the scale of that comparison is too small by several orders of magnitude. And yet it’s all too easy to believe, with the self-importance of a whale louse, that we exist apart from or outside of geologic time. That’s what our experience tells us. The last 10,000 years or so have been relatively uneventful, geologically speaking. Given the overall length of geologic time, it’s likely that any span of 10,000 years or so would be relatively uneventful.

But the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami remind us there’s no guarantee that historic time must be geologically uneventful. They remind us — forcibly, tragically — that, despite vast differences in extent, historic time and geologic time always converge in the present.

We’ve been reminded before. But one of the interesting things about humans, psychologically, is how rapidly history loses its tangibility. The eruption of Krakatoa in August 1883 occurred two months before my maternal grandfather was born, putting it within a degree or two of personal connection. And yet, as an event, it’s no more palpable to me or anyone living than the major Sumatra earthquake that preceded Krakatoa by 50 years — or the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano 640,000 years ago.

Seismologists were surprised by the magnitude of the Tohoku earthquake, which exceeded their predictions for earthquakes along that fault line. But then seismologists have only had 130 years of earthquakes — at the outside — in which to calibrate their instruments. Realistically, they’ve had much less time than that. Which is to say that an understanding of what’s seismically likely, based on our experience, may come to differ sharply from an understanding of what’s seismically possible.

Perhaps you’ve seen a computer animation showing the breaking apart of Pangaea, the super-continent that existed some 250 million years ago. In animation, the continents “drift” — that is the word, after all — into their present position as though they were running on greased ball bearings. The animation captures the average motion of the continents, a few centimeters a year. An average is an abstraction.

But the tectonic plates that continents rest on neither glide nor drift, nor is their movement abstract. They lurch, heave, resist, yield, bend, fracture, ripping great seams in the planet’s crust, forcing each other down into the mantle below the crust — a process that sounds much more benign when it’s called subduction. None of this happens averagely. It happens momentarily, event by event over eons, generating volcanism and seismic activity on a scale we know almost nothing about, living, as we do, in conditions that allow our existence.

The trouble is that we look back at the breaking up of Pangaea and the movement of the continents and think, well, that’s how we got here, as if we’d arrived somewhere special and the process had somehow paused for us. Two hundred and fifty million years from now, another animation might lead its viewers (whoever they may be) to look back at where the continents are now and think the same thing, as though in 2011 we were — as we are — merely a moment in the ongoing migration of the tectonic plates.

Geologically speaking, we manage to be nowhere special (that’s also our location in the universe) and, at the same time, in a period special enough to allow our existence (ditto). Historically speaking we’re someplace unique — here and now — a uniqueness we share with every other moment that has been or will be the present. Some of those moments were placid. Some were and will be violent beyond our imagining, off the scale even by the standards of Tohoku.

The uneasiness I think we all feel since the Tohoku earthquake is a compound of many things, including the forcible realization that we’re living in geologic time, where catastrophic events capable of dwarfing our outposts of civilization do occur. The next massive eruption of Yellowstone isn’t likely, but it certainly isn’t impossible. It’s one of those things you worry about knowing you shouldn’t worry about it.

But I recognize the uneasiness from somewhere else. As we watch the specter of climate change unfold — trying to grasp the shifting, accelerating likelihoods — we’re looking at potential change of a kind normally associated with geologic time. It’s as though we’re running our own high-speed animation of atmospheric and climatic models over epochs — so much so that scientists seeking meaningful comparisons in temperature and atmospheric carbon concentrations look tens of millions of years before the Holocene, which includes all of historic time. Except that the atmospheric and climatic changes we’re looking at aren’t models. They’re real.

The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami were genuinely humbling, a reminder that we ride skimming on the surface of a volatile planet. But what’s the word for the emotion caused by knowing we’re contributing to the planet’s volatility? We run the risk of raising global average temperature at a rate faster than any time in the past 50 million years (5 degrees C by 2100). As ice masses melt and sea levels rise, the load on the Earth’s crust will change, with the likelihood of what is gingerly called “geospheric response” — i.e., more earthquakes and volcanoes. This is a subject only beginning to be understood by geologists.

A terrible uncertainty follows a major earthquake, an uncertainty we’ve always lived with. It dies down after a time, like the memory in Japan of the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake or the memory in this country of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. But there’s a more terrible uncertainty in how we live and where we’re headed — the uneasy feeling that we’re entering geologic time in a way we’ve never known before.


Verlyn Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board at the New York Times. His books include Timothy; Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, The Rural Life, and Making Hay. In previous articles for Yale Environment 360, Klinkenborg reflected on the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and explained why he continues to oppose geneticaly modified crops.

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Revisiting Israel’s Terror War On Gaza

Revisiting Israel’s Terror War On Gaza

By Stephen Lendman

03 April, 2011

Despite no legitimate provocation, Israel began terror bombing Gaza on December 27, 2008. Invasion followed, attacking innocent civilian men, women and children for over three weeks, using missiles, bombs, shells, and illegal weapons against defenseless people. Mass slaughter and destruction ensued.

Brazen crimes of war and against humanity were committed. No culpable officials were held responsible. Security Council no-fly zone protection wasn’t ordered. International community leaders approved or were silent. Washington was complicit by supplying Israel with weapons, munitions, and encouragement. Obama acts the same as Bush, waging a quartet of lawless wars and using proxies in others.

Operation Cast Lead remains one of history’s greatest crimes. Yet Israel was green-lighted to wage it with impunity, what it’s done numerous times in its history, besides terrorizing Palestinians by:

— illegal military occupation;

— collective punishment and intimidation;

— air and ground attacks;

— isolating Gaza illegally under siege;

— intermittently bombing and shooting its residents, including noncombatant farmers, fishermen and children;

— regular residential neighborhood incursions;

— bulldozing homes;

— dispossessing residents;

— land seizures;

— arbitrary arrests;

— torture as official policy, including against women and children;

— targeted assassinations;

— denying refugees their right of return;

— movement and free expression restrictions;

— violence, not peaceful coexistence;

— confrontation, not diplomacy;

— war, not peace; and

— denying Palestinian sovereignty, as well as equal justice, human rights and civil liberty protections.

Israel is a rogue terror state, a democracy in name only affording rights solely to Jews. Remember Cast Lead, one of history’s greatest crimes. Justice Richard Goldstone documented them convincingly in his 575 page report titled, “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.”

It covered Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza siege, the impact of Israel’s West Bank military occupation, and much more, including:

— events between the “ceasefire” period from June 18, 2008 to Israel’s initiated hostilities on December 27, 2008;

— applicable international law;

— Occupied Gaza under siege;

— an overview of Cast Lead;

— obligations of both sides to protect civilians;

— indiscriminate Israeli attacks on civilians, causing many hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries;

— “the use of certain weapons;”

— attacking “the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment plants and housing;”

— using Palestinians as human shields;

— detention and incarceration of Gazans during the conflict;

— the IDF’s objectives and strategy;

— impact of the siege and military operations on Gazans and their human rights;

— the detention of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit;

— internal Gaza violence – Hamas v. Fatah;

— the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem;

— Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, including excessive or lethal force during demonstrations;

— Palestinians in Israeli prisons;

— Israeli violations of free movement and access rights;

— Fatah targeting Hamas supporters in the West Bank, and restricting free assembly and expression;

— rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians;

— repression of dissent, access to information, and treatment of human rights defenders in Israel;

— Israeli responses to war crimes charges;

— proceedings by Palestinian authorities;

— universal jurisdiction;

— reparations; and

— conclusions and recommendations.

It collected enough information “of a credible and reliable nature….to make a finding in fact.” It established clear evidence of crimes, determining they were deliberate or reckless. An accompanying press release said:

“(T)here is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.”

It explained that Israel falsely used the pretext of rocket attacks to attack “the people of Gaza as a whole” illegally.

A detailed discussion of Goldstone’s findings can be accessed through the following link:

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Report Remembers Cast Lead

In its December 2010 report titled, “The Illegal Closure of the Gaza Strip: Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population,” the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) remembered Cast Lead, saying it exacerbated isolation:

— killing over 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians;

— injuring thousands more, many seriously; and

— causing “extensive destruction of houses and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and industry.”

Moreover, Israel violated Security Council Resolution 1860 (January 8, 2009), calling for “full withdrawal of Israeli forces,” as well as “unimpeded humanitarian assistance” for Gazan victims. As a result, deepening crisis ensued.

On April 1, Richard Goldstone’s Washington Post op-ed headlined, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes,” saying:

“Our report found evidence potential war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by both Israel and Hamas.” The latter ones, in fact, were minor by comparison, responding only to Israeli provocations.

Israel’s, however, “were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where….evidence (pointed to no) other reasonable conclusion.”

Goldstone, however, softened his initial condemnation by commending Israel’s Cast Lead inquiry, ignoring how all its internal investigations whitewash crimes of war and against humanity – most recently the Gaza and May 2010 Freedom Flotilla massacres.

According to PCHR:

“Rather than uphold the rule of law, the Israeli investigative and judicial system is artfully manipulated to provide an illusion of investigative and judicial rigour, while systematically perpetuating pervasive impunity” for crimes too extreme to ignore.

Whitewash Examples

On April 29, 2009, IDF Chief of Staff, General Gabi Ashkenazi authorized publication of the findings of five military investigate teams. Unsurprisingly, they concluded that:

“(T)throughout the fighting in Gaza, the IDF operated in accordance with international law. The IDF maintained a high professional and moral level while facing an enemy that aimed to terrorize Israeli civilians whilst taking cover amidst uninvolved civilians in the the Gaza strip and using them as human shields.”

It continued at some length justifying brazen Israeli crimes of war and against humanity. In contrast, a year after hostilities ended, Human Rights Watch called Israeli attacks “indiscriminate, disproportionate (and) at times seemingly deliberate, in violation of the laws of war,” condemning IDF investigations as no “substitute for impartial and thorough investigations into laws-of-war violations” they whitewashed.

In his April 1 op-ed, Goldstone failed to explain and denounce them. Instead, he defended the indefensible.

Netanyahu’s (Jacob) Turkel commission investigation of Israel’s Freedom Flotilla massacre also produced lies, distortions, omissions, false conclusions, and exoneration of cold-blooded murder, ordered by top government and military officials who got off scot-free like Cast Lead criminals.

Specifically, it concluded that Israel’s (illegal siege) does not break international law….(and) there were clear indications that the flotilla intended to break the naval blockade….By clearly resisting capture, the Mavi Marmara had become a military objective,” despite on board activists having no weapons and offering no resistance. Saying so was a lie.

In contrast, an independent UN Human Rights Council investigation “concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation.”

It added that Israel’s attack:

“was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers.”

Also that at least six of the dead were killed by “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions,” some shot multiple times in the head at close range.

Moreover, similar tactics were used before, during, and after Cast Lead, facts Richard Goldstone knows and should have explained instead of suggesting civilians may not have been “intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

Indeed they always are under Israel’s “Dahiya Doctrine,” targeting civilians as official policy. Named after the Beirut suburb IDF attacks destroyed in the 2006 Lebanon war, it’s how all Israeli wars are waged. IDF Northern Commander Gabi Eisenkot explained, saying:

“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

It also prioritizes damaging or destroying assets, economic interests, and centers of civilian power, requiring long-term reconstruction even though international law prohibits attacking civilians and non-military related targets. Israel spurned international law in Cast Lead, against humanitarian Flotilla activists, and in all its belligerent confrontations.

Instead of condemning this policy, Goldstone softened his criticism, contradicting his detailed findings, replicated by other reputable human rights studies, unequivocally accusing Israel of crimes of war and against humanity.

A Final Comment

On March 25, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution, urging the General Assembly address Israel’s Cast Lead impunity by asking the Security Council to request investigation, action and resolution by the International Criminal Criminal Court (ICC).

For over two years, justice for thousands of Palestinian victims has been denied. Gaza remains illegally under siege. Meaningful action is demanded. Crimes this great can’t be tolerated.

Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council can request ICC action. Washington’s veto, of course, looms. Nonetheless, it’s high time other members demanded, shamed, and did whatever it takes to assure long-suffering Palestinians justice. Then do it for other victims of injustice instead of authorizing war on Libya when it should have acted resolutely to prevent it.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Japan’s Apocalypse

By Stephen Lendman

03 April, 2011

Despite a disaster multiples worse than Chernobyl, major media reports all along downplayed it. Now they largely ignore it, moving on to more important things like celebrity features and baseball’s opening day, besides pretending American-led Libya bombing is well-intended when, in fact, it’s another brazen power grab – an imperial war of conquest, explained in numerous previous articles.

The horror of all wars aside, waged solely for wealth and power, never humanity, Japan deserves regular top billing, given its global implications and potential millions of lives affected. Ignoring it is scandalous, yet it’s practically disappeared from television where most people get news, unaware only managed reports are aired omitting vital truths.

Over three weeks and counting, Japan’s crisis keeps worsens. Radiation levels in Fukushima’s underground tunnel water reached 10,000 times above normal and rising. In nearby seawater, they’re 4,385 times too high. Heavy rainfall exacerbates the problem. Food, water, air and soil contamination is spreading.

On March 31, New York Times writer Henry Fountain headlined, “Cleanup Questions as Radiation Spreads,” saying:

At issue is “how to clean up areas that have been heavily contaminated by radioactivity,” stopping short of suggesting they’re dead zones that may affect all northern Japan, an area comparable to Pennsylvania, potentially making it uninhabitable.

On March 31, the IAEA (the industry’s global promoter) “said a soil sample from Iitate, a village of 7,000 about 25 miles northwest of the plant, showed very high concentrations of cesium-137,” a harmful gamma ray-producing isotope, contaminating air, water and soil for decades.

Levels found are “double” those in Chernobyl’s dead zone, raising concerns about extending Japan’s evacuation, not done so far. Moreover, they’re rising daily and will continue for months, perhaps years, creating permanent contamination combined with uranium, plutonium, and other hazardous toxins.

On April 1, Al Jazeera headlined, “Japan nuclear evacuation will be ‘long term,’ ” saying:

“Residents of evacuated areas….have been warned that they may not be able to return to their homes for months,” if ever, given increasing hazardous contamination levels. Cleanup will take decades and fall far short of making areas toxin-free.

Experts call conditions “unchartered territory,” wondering what, if anything can be done. The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. The imponderables are huge, and potential implications staggering.

On March 25, Helen Caldicott highlighted “a medical problem of vast dimensions,” saying “the situation has grown increasingly grave.” A week later, it’s worse with no end of crisis in sight, Caldicott calling nuclear power’s harm “the greatest public health hazard the world will ever see.”

On March 31, physicist Michio Kaku said “three (Fukushima) raging meltdowns” plus one or more (melting) spent fuel ponds opened to the air are ongoing, adding:

“This is huge,” involving “uncontrolled radiation releases into the environment,” including plutonium, the most toxic substance known. “A speck of plutonium, a millionth of a gram, can cause cancer if ingested.” Moreover, if the plant site is abandoned, “we could be in free fall.” Before it ends, Kaku believes it may far exceed Chernobyl. Perhaps it already has, though no one’s admitting it or knows for sure.

Every Radiation Dose Is an Overdose

Experts like Harvey Wasserman agree. On March 27, he headlined, ” ‘Safe’ Radiation is a Lethal TMI Lie,” saying:

— No amount of radiation is safe; they’re harmful, cumulative, permanent and unforgiving;

— It’s why pregnant women aren’t x-rayed;

— “Any detectable fallout can kill;”

— Fukushima’s “serious danger” requires everyone to “prepare for the worst;”

— “Fukusima is deadly to Americans;”

— Minimally, “it threatens countless embryos and fetuses in utero, the infants, the elderly, the unborn who will come to future mothers now being exposed;”

— There’s “no defense against even the tiniest radioactive assault;”

— “Science has never found such a ‘safe’ threshold, and never will;”

— “All doses, ‘insignificant’ or otherwise, can harm the human organism;”

— Three Mile Island (TMI) victims experienced “cancer, leukemia, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, malformations, open lesions, hair loss, a metallic taste and much more….;”

— Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture also documented the farm and wild animal death and mutation rate;

— TMI was minor compared to Fukushima; its radiation is “pouring into the air and water;” operators reported levels “a million times normal, then retracted the estimate to a ‘mere’ 100,000;”

— Most frightening is what’s unrevealed; coverup after TMI and Chernobyl was scandalous;

— All North America and Europe are affected, especially by rain, increasing soil and water contamination;

— “Fukushima’s worst may be yet to come,” by far the worst ever environmental and human disaster;

— “The response of the Obama Administration has been beyond derelict,” claiming Americans face no threat; he lied and now remains silent;

— ” ‘Impossible’ accidents continue to happen, one after the other, each of them successively worse.”

What will it take to stop this monster? Because of enormous industry profits, perhaps it will take ending human life to convince skeptics.

Candidate v. President Obama

In 2008, candidate Obama was skeptical about nuclear power, telling NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert on January 15, 2008:

Unless a “safe way to produce (and store) nuclear energy (is found), then absolutely we shouldn’t build more plants.”

At a January 13, 2008 town hall meeting, he said:

“Nuclear is bad because we don’t know how to store it. And it poses security hazards.”

On December 30, 2007, he said:

“….(N)uclear energy is not optimal so I am not a nuclear energy proponent….I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel (to produce) clean energy and (new) jobs….I have not ruled out nuclear (but) only so far is it is clean and safe.”

Earlier he said:

— “Nuclear power is not working for us right now;”

— The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is “a moribund agency that needs to be revamped, and it’s become captive of the industries that it regulates and I think that’s a problem.”

He also called storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain “a bad idea.” Nuclear power “has a host of problems that have not been solved,” and “I don’t think there’s anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up….and irradiate us….and kill us. That’s the problem.”

Even candidate Obama was less than candid. On July 4, 2007, CounterPunch co-editor Jeff St. Clair and contributor Joshua Frank called him “another automaton of the atomic lobby” in their article headlined, “Barack Obama’s Nuclear Ambitions,” saying:

During the 1990s, “the atom lobby….had a stranglehold on the Clinton administration and now they seem to have the same suffocating grip around (Obama’s) neck, (the Democrat’s) brightest star….”

It showed (and still does) in generous industry contributions. As of late March 2007, he “accepted $159,800 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator.” They previously funded his 2004 Senate campaign, contributing $74,350.

In return, he helped kill an amendment to stop large industry loan guarantees “for power-plant operators to develop new energy projects the public will not only pay millions of dollars in loan costs but will also risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default.”

In 2005, Nuclear News praised him for “keeping an open mind” on nuclear power. In other words, for supporting it despite the unforgiving hazards. “The atom lobby must certainly be pleased.” Why else would they help elect him president.

A previous article explained Obama’s longstanding industry ties, including with Chicago-based Exelon. Its web site says it operates 17 reactors at 10 stations in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, providing 20% of US nuclear capacity.

In addition, Obama’s former top political aide, David Axelrod, once lobbied for Exelon, and Rahm Emanuel, his former White House chief of staff (now Chicago’s mayor-elect), profited handsomely as an investment banker, arranging mergers that created the company.

In his proposed budget, Obama includes $36 billion in industry loan guarantees for new facilities – free money. He’s committed to jump-start new construction, halted since Three Mile Island in 1979. Already takers are lining up, 20 or more applications pending before the NRC.

In fact, he and Energy Secretary Steven Chu downplay Fukushima, ignoring industry hazards, including 23 US nuclear plants at 16 locations using the same failed GE-designed Mark 1 containment vessels. Earlier, the NRC called them susceptible to explosions and failure because of cost-cutting design features.

Its 1985 study warned that failure within the first few hours after a core meltdown was very likely. Its top safety official at the time said it had a 90% probability of failing if an accident caused overheating and melting. When reactor cooling is compromised, the containment vessel is the last line of defense. However, GE’s design is hazardous and unsafe.

Today, Obama supports the NRC, the same agency Karl Grossman calls “an unabashed promoter of nuclear power,” the one candidate Obama called “moribund, (a) captive of the industries it regulates.” The one with a perfect record – never having denied applicants new plant licenses. The one now dangerously extending operating lives of aging, poorly maintained plants with deplorable safety records to 80 years, assuring multiple likelihoods of trouble.

It now says no new regulation or oversight is needed. No moratorium on new construction or old plants will be instituted, and, in fact, Vermont’s trouble-plagued Yankee plant (using the same type Fukushima reactor) got a 20-year extension instead of being shut down.

That in spite of recent reports highlighting serious industry “near misses,” safety violations, failures to reveal legally-required information regarding defective equipment, electrical supply system inadequacies, and other examples of industry mismanagement and criminality, risking an American Fukushima disaster.

According to nuclear technician Tom Saporito:

“The administration, including the president of the United States, is recklessly endangering the population by promoting the construction of nuclear plants and by not taking affirmative action to deal with known safety problems.”

In fact, shutting the industry down is crucial, especially as Grossman, a longtime industry expert, says:

“Safe, clean, renewable energy technologies fully implemented can provide all the power we need – and energy that we can live with” safely, unlike the hazardous nuclear roulette played each day these ticking time bombs operate.

As president, however, Obama fronts for Wall Street, war profiteers, Big Oil, Big Pharma, other corporate favorites, and his nuclear industry friends, risking a major disaster to assure generous 2012 campaign contributions for another four years to complete wrecking America and other nations globally. That’s his “change we can believe in” plan, not the one sold to constituents.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Fukushima And The Future Of Nuclear Power

Fukushima And The Future Of Nuclear Power

By Sharon Astyk

03 April, 2011
Casaubon’s Book

The Oil Drum has a well-referenced, thoughtful summary of the present situation at Fukushima – bad and getting worse as it gets harder and harder for workers to get close to the facility. The word “entombment” has been mentioned – which may be the only viable outcome. More than a million Japanese people risk losing their homes for a very long time, if not for good.

There are a lot of discussions of the future of nuclear power out there. Most of them don’t assume declining other energy resources, however. The emerging assessment I see is that while modern nuclear plants are much safer, that won’t matter in public estimation. I generally disagree – I think that when our emergent energy crisis becomes more evident, the public will get over its general fear of nuclear power, whether it should or should not. There will be a clamor for new nuclear power plants. The lessons of Fukushima will be forgotten – much as the lessons of Macondo are rapidly being forgotten. I wrote more about this in my essay about Baby Harp Seals last week.

It would seem that all the nuclear power industry has to do is watch and wait, right? Not so fast. While I suspect that public opposition to nuclear power will falter in either the fac of any kind of electrical crisis (likely simply because of decades of put-off infrastructure work on the grid) or any kind of oil crisis (in which there will be enormous calls for electrification of nearly everything, regardless of whether it makes sense or not), that doesn’t mean I think nuclear power is the wave of the future.

There are two related problems with nuclear power that make it unlikely that nuclear will emerge as a major solution, particularly given the delays in public acceptance that Fukushima is likely to create. The first is the EROEI of nuclear – in an time of abundant cheap energy for many sources, low EROEI sources are fine – because there are so many high net energy sources to draw on.

There is a lot of debate over the EROEI of nuclear, but unless you calculate it in purely thermal terms, the returns come in on the lower side – 3-6. This is not enough excess energy to run a society on. Remember, oil at first production had a net energy return of 100-1 and it is still nearly 20-1. Replacing low energy density sources with high energy density sources makes a real structural change in the kind of society you can expect. Even the high estimates of EROEI, if true, will have to be readjusted downwards to take into account the need to make nuclear power plants safe in more “worst case scenarios” like the Tsunami. Moreover, many of the high estimates of EROEI don’t include the costs of transmission or the full costs of decommissioning.

Even EROEI is not the central obstacle, however – it is the upfront costs of nuclear, financial and energy that will be nearly impossible for an energy system in overall decline to bear. Again, those costs jumped dramatically the day that the Fukushima disaster began – while memories are short, building plants to withstand rare and outer parameter events will be part of the cost. None of us can say that it is worth playing the odds on a 1000 year event now – and climate change increasingly makes 1000 year weather events likely. In some measure, the one thing that the Fukushima disaster is likely to do is simply ensure that we do have to take some kinds of failure into account, as I’ve argued.

More than any other kind of energy generation, nuclear frontloads its energy costs dramatically – reliable estimates vary from as low as 12 years before they produce more energy than went into building them to as high as 20. The upfront plant building costs are also vastly higher than for coal, natural gas or any other source.

At this stage (and this is the most critical point) just about EVERY SINGLE BIT of the upfront cost of nuclear power comes from fossil fuels. The energy that runs the economy to make the money to build them comes from fossil fuels. Uranium mining isn’t done on solar electric. The transport of fuel and worker, the concrete and heavy materials, the containment systems – everything is built with a huge front load of fossil fuels and fossil fueled money.

So while nuclear power does return net energy and while it may be true that public opposition to nuclear power will fall, it probably won’t matter – because no society in an energy decline, with declining fossil fuel resources, can afford to front-load a decade or two decades of energy in fossil fuels into a plant. It simply doesn’t scale – yes, you get more out in the end but that doesn’t matter – you can’t afford it, not financially, not in energy terms. Rising costs of those fossil fuels increases the upfront costs of any plant, while simultaneously undermining the financial stability of both the public and private resources that might otherwise be building nuclear plants. Those upfront costs of building plants also got substantially higher when the Fukushima disaster proved the limits of arguing that the 100 or 1000 year event will never hit your plant. If nuclear plants didn’t take 20 years to return net energy before, they almost certainly do now.

This scenario for nuclear power is only a microcosm of the overall scenario for any proposed renewable energy build out – most renewables have much lower upfront energy and monetary costs, but they also often have issues of both intermittency and low energy density themselves – when you have to build enormous solar and wind projects, you run into problems of resource allocation too. That said, the worst case scenario for a wind farm is pretty benign, and the cost of any given wind turbine or solar panel is pretty reasonable – and it meets the failure analysis too – if you can only build 1/2 your solar panels, that’s ok – that’s still some valuable electrical generation. A half-built nuclear plant is not an asset.

Financially and in energy terms any major build out will compete with other resources and needs. Now could a society collectively choose to put aside all other projects for the greater good? Sure – but remember, you don’t get net energy out of those plants for two decades. The history of people sacrificing their own interests for their posterity is real and could be invoked here – but you have to sacrifice for a long, long time, on a long long build out, costing you lots of money you wanted for other things, and energy resources you would have liked to use for other things. It could be done, but the will to do so does not exist. Will it? Maybe. It is also possible that Fukushima has put the final nail in nuclear’s coffin – not because people will never accept it, but because it won’t matter when they do.

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Why Military Spending is Untouchable

By ANDREW BACEVICH or download here:

A Cow Most Sacred
Why Military Spending is Untouchable

In defense circles, “cutting” the Pentagon budget has once again become a topic of conversation. Americans should not confuse that talk with reality. Any cuts exacted will at most reduce the rate of growth. The essential facts remain: U.S. military outlays today equal that of every other nation on the planet combined, a situation without precedent in modern history.

The Pentagon presently spends more in constant dollars than it did at any time during the Cold War — this despite the absence of anything remotely approximating what national security experts like to call a “peer competitor.” Evil Empire? It exists only in the fevered imaginations of those who quiver at the prospect of China adding a rust-bucket Russian aircraft carrier to its fleet or who take seriously the ravings of radical Islamists promising from deep inside their caves to unite the Umma in a new caliphate.

What are Americans getting for their money? Sadly, not much. Despite extraordinary expenditures (not to mention exertions and sacrifices by U.S. forces), the return on investment is, to be generous, unimpressive. The chief lesson to emerge from the battlefields of the post-9/11 era is this: the Pentagon possesses next to no ability to translate “military supremacy” into meaningful victory.

Washington knows how to start wars and how to prolong them, but is clueless when it comes to ending them. Iraq, the latest addition to the roster of America’s forgotten wars, stands as exhibit A. Each bomb that blows up in Baghdad or some other Iraqi city, splattering blood all over the streets, testifies to the manifest absurdity of judging “the surge” as the epic feat of arms celebrated by the Petraeus lobby.

The problems are strategic as well as operational. Old Cold War-era expectations that projecting U.S. power will enhance American clout and standing no longer apply, especially in the Islamic world. There, American military activities are instead fostering instability and inciting anti-Americanism. For Exhibit B, see the deepening morass that Washington refers to as AfPak or the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations.

Add to that the mountain of evidence showing that Pentagon, Inc. is a miserably managed enterprise: hide-bound, bloated, slow-moving, and prone to wasting resources on a prodigious scale — nowhere more so than in weapons procurement and the outsourcing of previously military functions to “contractors.” When it comes to national security, effectiveness (what works) should rightly take precedence over efficiency (at what cost?) as the overriding measure of merit. Yet beyond a certain level, inefficiency undermines effectiveness, with the Pentagon stubbornly and habitually exceeding that level. By comparison, Detroit’s much-maligned Big Three offer models of well-run enterprises.

Impregnable Defenses

All of this takes place against the backdrop of mounting problems at home: stubbornly high unemployment, trillion-dollar federal deficits, massive and mounting debt, and domestic needs like education, infrastructure, and employment crying out for attention.

Yet the defense budget — a misnomer since for Pentagon, Inc. defense per se figures as an afterthought — remains a sacred cow. Why is that?

The answer lies first in understanding the defenses arrayed around that cow to ensure that it remains untouched and untouchable. Exemplifying what the military likes to call a “defense in depth,” that protective shield consists of four distinct but mutually supporting layers.

Institutional Self-Interest: Victory in World War II produced not peace, but an atmosphere of permanent national security crisis. As never before in U.S. history, threats to the nation’s existence seemed omnipresent, an attitude first born in the late 1940s that still persists today. In Washington, fear — partly genuine, partly contrived — triggered a powerful response.

One result was the emergence of the national security state, an array of institutions that depended on (and therefore strove to perpetuate) this

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