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Tepco Misleading Public Over Nuclear Crisis
The News - Current Events
May 18, 2011
tepco lies fukushima natural disaster

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has made misleading statements about when it will stabilize its nuclear reactors crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, said Tetsuo Ito, head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute at Kinki University in western Japan.

The company, known as Tepco, yesterday reiterated the schedule on its so-called road map announced a month ago to achieve cold shutdown of the three radiation-leaking reactors as early as October. Setting a timetable without knowing the condition of the reactor cores doesn’t make sense, Ito said in a phone interview from Osaka.

“Only after understanding what’s going on inside the buildings and reactors, will it be clear what parts of the timetable are achievable,” Ito said. “Devising a road map without that will give the public a false sense of security.” [ bloomberg ]

 
Mississippi River Flooding: Two Towns, Divided By A River
The News - Natural Disasters
May 18, 2011
mississippi flooding disaster

Traffic has been swift for weeks along the majestic steel bridge that connects this low-lying river town to its sister city across the Mississippi River.

Moving vans filled with furniture, tractors and combines from cotton and corn fields, and truckloads of office supplies all head toward Natchez, Miss., the hilltop town less than a mile across the river that is quickly becoming an expatriate community for hundreds seeking higher ground.

As floodwaters and tensions rise in this scenic stretch of the Mississippi Valley, an informal exodus takes place in Vidalia, as neighborhoods empty and businesses relocate to higher ground on the opposite side of the river. [ huffpo ]

 
Amazing Pictures - Volcanoes up close
The News - Natural Disasters
May 17, 2011
volcano picture up close

Dicing with death around fountains of 1,000C glowing lava wouldn't be everyone's idea of the perfect day. But for daredevil photographer Skarphedinn Thrainsson, teetering around the world's deadliest volcanoes is nothing but another thrilling day at the office.

Despite being lucky not to be injured or killed by chunks of volcanic ash crashing into the ground around him, his resulting images are stunning. [ DailyMail ]

 
The Draw of Doomsday: Why People Look Forward to the End
The News - Religion
May 17, 2011
doomsday armageddon apocalypse

Most people go through their daily lives assuming that tomorrow will be a lot like today. No pits of fire will open up, society won't collapse, and the world, most likely, won't end.

But for others, doom has a certain appeal.

The most famous example these days is Harold Camping, a California-based Christian radio broadcaster who believes that May 21, 2011, will mark Judgment Day, ushering in five months of torment for the unsaved until the universe finally ends on Oct. 21.  Camping has bought billboards and dispatched caravans of believers around the country, warning the world of its fate.

"It's going to be a wonderful, wonderful day," Camping told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter last June.

Camping has made this prediction before, in 1994 — it didn't pan out — but the thousands of failed doomsday predictions throughout history are no match for what Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, calls the "apocalyptic worldview."

 
Fukushima - "The situation is essentially out of control"
The News - Current Events
May 17, 2011

The situation at the Fukushima plant is currently out of control, says Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, who gave RT his insight into the recent developments in Japan.

“Of course, it’s time for the Japanese government to take control. But having said that, it’s very hard to know how you could take control of the situation. The situation is essentially out of control,” Busby stressed. [ rt ]
 
Growing threat from solar storms
The News - Science-Astronomy
May 17, 2011
solar storm growing threat

A senior official at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says solar storms pose a growing threat to criticial infrastructure such as satellite communications, navigation systems and electrical transmission equipment.

NOAA Assistant Secretary Kathryn Sullivan says the intensity of solar storms is expected to peak in 2013 and countries should prepare for "potentially devastating effects."

Solar storms release particles that can temporarily disable or permanently destroy fragile computer circuits.

Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut who in 1984 became the first woman to walk in space, told a U.N. weather conference in Geneva on Tuesday that "it is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet." [ ap ]

 
Fukushima nuclear plant not built to take megaquake
The News - Natural Disasters
May 17, 2011
fukushima earthquake disaster

The magnitude 9 earthquake that struck a Japanese nuclear plant in March hit with almost 30 percent more intensity than it had been designed to withstand, raising withstand, raising the possibility that key systems were compromised even before a massive tsunami hit.

Embattled operator Tokyo Electric Power said Monday that partial data recovered from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant showed the ground acceleration during the quake exceeded its design specifications at three of the six reactors.

"This was clearly a larger earthquake than we had forecast," said Junichi Matsumoto, a Tepco spokesman for nuclear issues. "It would have been hard to anticipate this."

The March 11 quake and the nearly 15-meter (50-ft) tsunami that followed devastated Japan's northeastern coast and killed more than 15,000 people. Another 9,500 are still missing. he disaster also unleashed the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Some 80,000 residents around the plant some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo have been evacuated because of the risk from radiation. [ yahoo ]

 
May 21 - Another Doomsday Upon Us?
The News - Religion
May 17, 2011
may 21 doomsday armageddon apocalypse

Doomsday prophets are often depicted in cartoons as bearded, robed men standing on street corners with signs reading, "The End is Now" or "Repent!" It's a cute caricature, but very dated. These days harbingers of the apocalypse - especially Christian fundamentalists - are getting their message out via Twitter, Facebook, pamphlets, radio shows and billboards.

It's not clear what, exactly, the public is supposed to do with this information. Most people perhaps respond with a shrug, assuming that it's another failed religious doomsday prediction. Others may assume that that if the world really is going to end soon, there's not much point in worrying about it.

Though mainstream churches have typically shied away from predicting that Armageddon is imminent (or its date even knowable), plenty of self-styled prophets believe they know the real truth. One of them is Harold Camping, the 89-year-old leader of the ministry Family Radio Worldwide, whose study of the Bible has convinced him and his followers that the world will end on May 21, 2011. Actually, the complete destruction may take up to six months, but certainly no one should make plans for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

 
Japanese nuke co. admits meltdown occurred 16 hours after quake
The News - Current Events
May 16, 2011
japan nuclear meltdown earthquake

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) admitted for the first time on May 15 that most of the fuel in one of its nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant had melted only about 16 hours after the March 11 earthquake struck a wide swath of northeastern Japan and triggered a devastating tsunami.

According to TEPCO, the operator of the crippled nuclear power plant, the emergency condenser designed to cool the steam inside the pressure vessel of the No. 1 reactor was working properly shortly after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, but it lost its functions around 3:30 p.m. on March 11 when tsunami waves hit the reactor.

Based on provisional analysis of data on the reactor, the utility concluded that the water level in the pressure vessel began to drop rapidly immediately after the tsunami, and the top of the fuel began to be exposed above the water around 6 p.m. Around 7:30 p.m., the fuel was fully exposed above the water surface and overheated for more than 10 hours. At about 9 p.m., the temperature in the reactor core rose to 2,800 degrees Celsius, the melting point for fuel. At approximately 7:50 p.m., the upper part of the fuel started melting, and at around 6:50 a.m. on March 12, a meltdown occurred.

 
Earthquakes 'could rupture glacial lakes'
The News - Natural Disasters
May 16, 2011
glacial lake earthquake threat

Glacial lakes in the Himalayas could pose a major hazard to population centres if they are ruptured by earthquakes, scientists say.

The true risk to settlements and infrastructure downstream in the Hindu-Kush-Himalayas region is difficult to assess.

But the Himalayan region is dotted with glacial lakes and is in a seismically active zone.

Experts say that, on the basis of past records, a large quake in the region is overdue.

 
Century of disasters - Meltdowns , floods , tornadoes , oil spills - oh my!
The News - Current Events
May 15, 2011
disasters of the  century

This will be the century of disasters. Meltdowns , floods , tornadoes , oil spills , grid crashes - are more things going wrong?

In the same way that the 20th century was the century of world wars, genocide, and grinding ideological conflict, the 21st will be the century of natural disasters and technological crises and unholy combinations of the two. It'll be the century when the things that we count on to go right will, for whatever reason, go wrong.

Late last month, as the Mississippi River rose in what is destined to be the worst flood in decades , and as the residents of Alabama and other states rummaged through the debris of a historic tornado outbreak, physicists at a meeting in Anaheim, Calif., had a discussion about the dangers posed by the sun.

Solar flares , scientists believe, are a disaster waiting to happen. Thus one of the sessions at the American Physical Society's annual meeting was devoted to discussing the hazard of electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) caused by solar flares or terrorist attacks. Such pulses could fry transformers and knock out the electrical grid over much of the nation. Last year the Oak Ridge National Laboratory released a study saying the damage might take years to fix and cost trillions of dollars. [ msnbc ]

 
Israel-Palestinian violence erupts on borders
The News - War-Draft
May 15, 2011
Israeli troops shot Palestinian protesters who surged towards its frontiers with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, killing up to 13 people on the day Palestinians mourn the creation of Israel.

Israeli forces opened fire in three separate locations to prevent crowds of demonstrators from crossing frontier lines, in the deadliest such confrontation in years.

The Lebanese army on the Lebanese frontier said 10 Palestinians died when Israeli forces shot at rock-throwing protesters to prevent them from entering the Jewish State. [ dailystar ]

 
Key facilities in Fukushima plant could have collapsed before tsunami
The News - Current Events
May 15, 2011

Key facilities at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power may have been damaged by the quake itself that day rather than tsunami-caused power loss that failed the reactor's cooling function, Kyodo News quoted a utility source said Saturday.

Data taken by workers entering the No. 1 reactor building at the crippled plant on the night of March 11 showing the radiation level was as high as 300 millisieverts per hour suggest a large amount of radioactive materials from nuclear fuel in the reactor was already released.

The findings may call for a review of preparedness against quakes at various nuclear power stations in Japan as they have primarily focused on securing auxiliary power supplies and embankment enhancement against tsunami after the Fukushima plant crisis, assuming that reactor facilities at the plant were unscathed by trembling. [ xinhuanet ]

 
The Great Flood of 2011
The News - Natural Disasters
May 14, 2011
great mississippi flood 2011

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says federal officials have been given approval to open a Louisiana spillway as early as Saturday to avert a Mississippi River disaster in places like Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Jindal said Friday that the Army Corps of Engineers had received permission to open the Morganza spillway for the first time in 38 years to relieve pressure on river levees. The corps says it will open the spillway when the river flow reaches a certain point, but an exact timing wasn't known. However, that flow rate is expected
to happen Saturday.

Sheriffs and National Guardsmen will warn people in a door-to-door sweep through the area, Jindal said. In addition to the 2,500 people living inside the spillway, there are 22,500 people and 11,000 structures in the backwater areas that could be flooded.
 
Mississippi River Floods Should Have Been Expected
The News - Natural Disasters
May 13, 2011

Last year, it was Pakistan and Russia. This spring, all talk of disasters attributable to freak weather conditions turns eyes to the U.S.

First, it was snowfalls that never seemed to end. After that came tornadoes . Now, a massive slug of water is working its way down the Mississippi River , forcing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deliberately flood farmland to spare riverside towns such as Cairo in Illinois, and threatening near-record water levels all the way to New Orleans. Here are the underlying causes of these extreme events, and how the surge might have been predicted. [ SA ]
 
Rich Russians Buy Bunkers on Apocalypse Angst
The News - Current Events
May 13, 2011
doomsday bunker apocalypse planning

Terrorism can be good for bunker builders. An apocalypse can be even better for business.

Danila Andreyev started building “panic rooms” three years ago, when fears of terrorist attacks and commercial disputes turning violent created demand in Russia. Now he’s selling “survival bunkers” for as much as $400,000 each to capitalize on angst over theories the world will end next year.

“I myself am not a believer in doomsday scenarios,” Andreyev, 31, whose Spetsgeoproekt company is completing 15 bunkers at hidden locations across Russia, said at his office in central Moscow. “But when you start hearing clients talking about the end of the world, it gets you thinking.”

While Russia has been a target for terrorists, with 37 people dying in a blast at Moscow’s busiest airport in January, more people are looking to protect themselves from what Andreyev calls a “global cataclysm” in 2012 based on predictions such as interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar. [ bloom ]

 
Farmers on the Mississippi see crops washed away
The News - Climate-Environment
May 13, 2011
mississippi flooding crops wash away

With crop prices soaring, farmers along the lower Mississippi River had been expecting a big year. Maybe even a huge one.

Now, many are facing ruin, with floodwaters swallowing up corn, cotton, rice and soybean fields.

And even more farmland will be drowned in the coming days if engineers throw open a spillway for the first time in 38 years, as they are expected to do, sometime over the weekend. Unlocking the spillway would inundate Louisiana Cajun country with as much as 25 feet of water but would ease the pressure on levees downstream, averting a potentially bigger disaster in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. [ ap ]

 
The Importance of the Morganza Spillway
The News - Climate-Environment
May 12, 2011
Morganza Spillway mississippi flooding

The Mississippi is a bloated beast of a river that has already reached record stages in 21 locations along the Lower Mississippi River basin, flooded towns in parts of Mississippi and is now set to make a final surge into south-central and southeast Louisiana.

How flooding shakes out across southern Louisiana all rests upon one key component - the .  It's just a matter of time before the flood gates are opened but the decision to open the Morganza is not an easy one to make. That decision is in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers.

When the Morganza is opened, you are purposely flooding some to save many. Yes, you may save Baton Rouge and New Orleans from waters spilling into those cities however you are creating widespread inundation of the Atchafalaya Basin. [ weather ]
 
Japan Reactor-Core Damage Worse Than Thought
The News - Current Events
May 12, 2011
japan nuclear risk higher than thought

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said one of the reactor cores at its stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant is more seriously damaged than previously thought, setting back the utility’s plan to resolve the crisis.

Fuel rods in the core of the No. 1 reactor are fully exposed, with the water level 1 meter (3.3 feet) below the base of the fuel assembly, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility known as Tepco, told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo. Melted fuel has dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel and is still being cooled, Matsumoto said.

Japan is trying to contain the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl after a quake and tsunami two months ago knocked out power and cooling systems at the Fukushima station. While authorities have previously suspected a partial meltdown at unit 1, high radiation levels had prevented workers from entering the building to check the damage until last week. [ bloom ]

 
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