This video says about itself:
5 May 2016
This video from Alberta, Canada says about itself:
Fort McMurray wildfire: Why the fire engulfed the city within hours
By Brent Patterson in Canada:
Evacuation order issued for Fort McMurray as wildfire threatens area
May 4, 2016
As a wildfire devastates the Fort McMurray area, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has tweeted, “Horrible! Hearts go out to residents!”
“A huge wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., destroyed an entire neighbourhood and burned homes and businesses in several others Tuesday, and continues to rage out of control. By late afternoon, the entire city of 60,000 had been ordered evacuated. Residents by the thousands fled the fire, and for hours caused gridlock on Highway 63, and even overwhelmed oilsands work camps [north of the city], where beds and meals were offered. Fire chief Darby Allen said the entire neighbourhood of Beacon Hill ‘appears to have been lost’ and the fire burned many homes in other parts of the city.” …
In addition, the Fort McKay First Nation, which is located about 50 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, has opened camps on its territory to people fleeing Fort McMurray. And Crystal Lameman has posted, “Beaver Lake Cree Nation Spruce Point Camping is available for evacuees, the resort is equipped w: 100 stalls (25 with power). BLCN has also offered the use of community hall parking lot if needed, for trailers.”
The National Observer notes:
“‘It’s apocalyptic,’ said John O’Connor, a family physician who has treated patients with health problems in the region related to oil sands pollution. He said there was no way out but north. ‘The place looks like it’s all going,’ O’Connor said. Anyone breathing the ash-filled air would be facing serious health risks, he added.”
The province’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says there have already been 311 fires in Alberta this season.
Every year an area half the size of Nova Scotia burns in Alberta.
Mike Flannigan, a professor with the University of Alberta’s Western Partnership for Wildland Fire, says the average amount of land reduced to ash by wildfire in Alberta annually has doubled since the 1970s.
The wildfire is being attributed in part to the El Nino effect, which causes warmer and drier winters. Global News highlights:
“Judith Kulig, professor in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Lethbridge, said the effects of climate change are also driving the increase in wildfires, and it’s not going to get better in the future. ‘The whole aspect of climate change and global warming, which is then interrelated things such as insect infestation, so pine beetle increases because it’s not a cold enough winter,’ she said. ‘The trees are infested and drier and more prone to fire. In general, we’ve had less rainfall; we didn’t really have a winter this year. And so consequently we have a very dry environment.'”
Our thoughts are with the people and wildlife affected by this devastating situation.
By Roger Jordan in Canada, 5 May 2016:
A number of tar sands companies have cut or entirely shut down production at plants located near Fort McMurray. Shell has shut down its Albion Sands site, while Suncor Energy has cut staffing levels.
The Fort McMurray blaze is only the largest fire in a growing number burning across western Canada. Dry weather conditions over the winter and an unusually warm spring, linked to the strong El Nino weather effect, forced Alberta to declare the start of its fire season on March 1, a month earlier than usual. Eleven forest fires are currently burning in the province.
In neighbouring British Columbia, authorities had to turn down a request for help from Alberta because their own resources are seriously stretched by numerous fires raging in the Peace River region in the province’s northeast. Since April 1, almost 200 fires have burned across 230 square kilometres of BC.
Two weeks ago, the Peace River Regional District declared a state of emergency, resulting in evacuation orders for the Baldonnel community, the Blueberry First Nation and parts of Fort St. John. At the time, 48 fires were burning in the area.
Predictions are that the fire season this year will be much worse than previous years, even the record year of 2015 when over 10,000 people were evacuated from communities in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta. Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta said that the number of fires which have broken out in 2016 is double the number at the same time this year.
Under these conditions, Alberta’s provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) government took the outrageous decision last month to slash this year’s wildfire management budget by $15 million. This comes on top of moves by the previous Progressive Conservative government in March 2015 to cut funding for the Firesmart program, which clears debris and trees in proximity to residential areas to prevent the spread of fires. …
The woeful lack of preparedness at all levels of government for catastrophes like the one confronting Fort McMurray is even less forgivable given the widespread evidence of increased risk of wildfires due to climate change. Last year, Canada had to call on assistance from fire crews as far away as Australia to cover firefighting needs.
The damage wrought by the fire is occurring in a community that has already been hit hard by the economic crisis and the collapse in oil prices. Unemployment in the Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo region increased 40 percent between January 2015 and January 2016, a figure which is likely an underestimation since many workers in the energy sector travel to the region temporarily for employment. Last month, the unemployment rate reached close to 10 percent.
A teacher from a Fort McMurray school spoke to the WSWS about the evacuation. He was given 15 minutes to pack personal belongings and leave the city, along with his girlfriend, her parents, and two dogs. He added that fire services had kept him and his pupils confined to their school for a large part of the day prior to the evacuation announcement.
After leaving the city, he came to a stretch of highway that had been jumped by the fire. Police officers permitted ten vehicles at a time to make a run for it and drive at high speed across the smoking stretch of roadway. As his truck passed through, a gas pipe under the road exploded next to his vehicle.
Entire Canadian City Faces Being Reduced to Ashes by Huge Fire: here.
Here’s how you can help as the Fort McMurray fires continue to rage (updated), by Mercedes Allen, May 4, 2016: here.
2013 article on tar sands oil around Fort McMurray: Blame Canada: Greedy for oil money, the country is turning into a rogue petrostate: here.
By Emily Hunter in 2009:
But in Fort McMurray, it wasn’t what was on the surface or the individual people that presented a problem. What was scary about Fort Mac was how there was something subversive about the town. The driving force behind the town and literally beyond the horizon, past the trees, was an empire that ruled — dirty oil.
It was this dirty oil that everyone in the town either directly or indirectly had a job from. The town’s economy was dependent on oil, the rapid population and infrastructure was coming from it, in turn Fort McMurray had been put on the map because of it. The boom it had created was the source of social evils. And because of the transient nature of the boomtown, few felt that Fort Mac was a home and there was an underlining sense that everyone just wanted to leave.
Fort McMurray was haunting because of this. On the outside, it looks like any town you’d find in North America. But underneath, dirty oil is king. And just as the town has very much been created on oil, it can all go just as fast when the oil boom is over — making it a ghost town one day. Here it is clear that life and communities are but a cost of prosperity.
Canadians Share Shocking Footage From Cities Engulfed By ‘Catastrophic’ Wildfire. “It’s a loss on a scale that is hard for many of us to imagine,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
18 April 2016
Supporters of atomic power, who are not scientists, have been able to broadcast their opinions to the public with hellacious titles such as Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Putting Indian Point Hysteria in Perspective by attorney and lobbyist Jerry Kremer for the Huffington Post. In an effort to combat misinformation and keep you informed, Fairewinds reached out to international radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie to clear up the false assurances and scientific denial spread by the nuclear industry and its chums.
Tritium, the radioactive isotope and bi-product of nuclear power generation, is making headlines with notable leaks at 75% of all the reactors in the United States, including Indian Point in New York, and Turkey Point in Florida. Speaking with renowned British scientist, Dr. Ian Fairlie, the Fairewinds Crew confirms the magnitude and true risk of tritium to the human body in its three various forms: tritiated water, tritiated air, and organically bound tritium.
Dr. Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. He has a degree in radiation biology from Bart’s Hospital in London and did his doctoral studies at Imperial College in London and Princeton University, concerning the radiological hazards of nuclear fuel reprocessing. Ian was formerly with the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs specializing in radiation risks from nuclear power stations. From 2000 to 2004, he was head of the Secretariat to the UK Government’s CERRIE Committee examining radiation risk of internal emitters. Since retiring from government service, he has acted as consultant to the European Parliament.
Is it safe to dump Fukushima waste into the sea? Japan has called for hundreds of thousands tonnes of irradiated water from the nuclear plant to be released into the Pacific Ocean. Karl Mathiesen looks at the potential impacts: here.
Japan has been dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster for the past five years. However, things do not seem to be getting easier for those maintaining the defunct nuclear plant. The topic of dumping nuclear waste into the Pacific has been hotly debated across the globe, but it appears that officials have finally decided to give Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) the go-ahead to dump thousands of tons of nuclear waste containing tritium into the ocean. TEPCO was previously allowed to dump upwards of 200 tons of “filtered” nuclear waste into the ocean starting in September of last year after an initial 850 ton dump: here.
Kyushu Earthquakes Expose Unaddressed Nuclear Reactor Risks: here.
This video says about itself:
Press Freedom in Japan in 2016 | Tokyo on Fire
19 December 2015
Japan passed a controversial State Department Secrets law in December of 2013 that has ever since been met with significant resistance. One of the most contentious points is that it punishes both distributers and recipients of SDS material (so, a reporter and a newspaper publisher, for example) with a minimum of 2 years in jail and fine of ¥500,000. Get the details with Timothy, Michael, and Nancy on this important episode of Tokyo on Fire!
From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:
How Japan came to rank worse than Tanzania on press freedom
By Jake Adelstein
April 20, 2016
The state of press freedom in Japan is now worse than that in Tanzania, according to a new ranking from the non-profit group Reporters Without Borders.
A group which is usually favourably biased towards the political and economic establishments in NATO countries, and in other rich countries like Japan.
Japan came in 72nd of the 180 countries ranked in the group’s 2016 press freedom index, falling 11 places since last year. …
For Japan’s journalists, things have taken a turn for the worse relatively recently. Just six years ago, the country ranked 11th in the world.
Japan’s poor performance on press freedom is particularly surprising given its standing as one of the world’s leading developed countries. The island nation of 125 million people has the world’s third-largest economy and a vibrant democracy whose postwar constitution guarantees freedoms of speech, press and assembly.
“With Japan hosting the G7 meeting next month of leading democracies, the press crackdown is an international black eye for Japan and makes it an outlier in the group,” said Jeff Kingston, a professor of history and director of Asian studies at Temple University and author of the book “Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s.”
The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant set the stage for the erosion of press freedoms, Kingston said. “Japan’s slide in the rankings began with the incomplete coverage of the Fukushima meltdowns and the government’s efforts to downplay the accident; Tokyo Electric Power Company (and Japan) denied the triple meltdown for two months,” he said. “Sadly, the Japanese media went along with this charade because here it is all about access. Those media outlets that don’t toe the line find themselves marginalized by the powers that be. Since [Fukushima], Japan’s culture wars over history, constitutional revision and security doctrine have been fought on the media battlefield.”
When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned for a second term in 2012, five years after he resigned abruptly amid growing unpopularity in 2007, his administration began cracking down on perceived bias in the nation’s media.
At first, the media didn’t hold back in criticizing his administration. The press lambasted Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso for saying that Japan should learn from the way the Nazi party stealthily changed Germany’s constitution before World War II. But critics say Aso’s suggestion foreshadowed things to come.
Two years ago, the Abe administration pushed through a state secrets bill ostensibly designed to prevent classified information from leaking to China or Russia. But the measure allows for journalists and bloggers to be jailed for up to five years for asking about something that is a state secret, even if they aren’t aware it is one. Thousands protested the law when it was passed on Dec. 6, 2013.
Abe’s friend, conservative businessman Katsuto Momii, became the head of Japan’s major public broadcasting company, NHK, in 2014, in a move that has compromised the independence of its reports. Momii has stated publicly that NHK “should not deviate from the government’s position in its reporting.”
Abe’s Liberal Democratic party also recently proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to curtail speech that “harms the public interest and public order.”
In June 2015, members of the party urged the government to punish media outlets critical of the government and pressure companies not to advertise with them.
This year, Abe’s Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi threatened to shut down news broadcasters over “politically biased reports” — something TV and radio laws in Japan empower her to do.
A week later, three television presenters who had been critical of the Abe administration were all removed from their positions.
Veteran reporters in Japan have criticized Abe’s government for applying pressure to reporters, but also decry the increasing self-censorship going on in the country’s press. “To me, the most serious problem is self-restraint by higher-ups at broadcast stations,” Soichiro Tahara, one of the country’s most revered journalists, told reporters last month.
“The Abe administration’s threats to media independence, the turnover in media personnel in recent months and the increase in self-censorship within leading media outlets are endangering the underpinnings of democracy in Japan,” Reporters Without Borders concluded in its report released this month about declining media freedoms in Japan.
“Independence of the press is facing serious threats,” David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Tuesday. “Many journalists who came to me and my team asked for anonymity in our discussions. Many claimed to have been sidelined or silenced following indirect pressure from politicians.”
The state originally invited Kaye to visit last December, but the trip was canceled abruptly after Japanese authorities claimed to be unable to set up meetings in time.
Kaye called for Japan’s Broadcast Law to be revised to ensure press freedom, and criticized Japan’s press club structure as detrimental to an independent press. In Japan, reporters are granted access through press clubs, or “kisha clubs,” formed around groups and government organizations. They serve as gatekeepers, and typically don’t grant access to weekly magazines, like Shukan Bunshun, which excel at investigative journalism.
“Journalists in those kisha clubs tend to be focused very much together in this same kind of social network. And I think that allows for mechanisms of pressure. It may be a kind of peer pressure that’s very difficult to resist,” Kaye said.
This video from South Korea says about itself:
Arirang Special (Ep.319) Fukushima and Its Aftermath
16 March 2016
After the Fukushima nuclear accident that busted Japan’s ‘safety myth’ in March 2011, continuous restoration and salt manufacturing work have been going on until now. Despite this, there are still traces of the horrific situation of that time remaining in various places, and the concern for radioactivity has grown to a point where our food and health are being threatened.
This video from the USA says about itself:
10 March 2016
Fukushima update: here.
The Fukushima accident has not served as a wake-up call in Japan — Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: here.
News coverage of Fukushima disaster found lacking; Few reports identified health risks to public — Celine-Marie Pascale, American University via Science Daily: here.
FUKUSHIMA – Public prosecutors decided on Tuesday not to indict Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose and other current and former executives of the utility over radioactive water leaks from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean: here.