Fort McMurray, Canada wildfire disaster continues


This video says about itself:

Wildfires Force Canadian City Evacuation

6 May 2016

Nearly all Fort McMurray‘s 90,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes due to several wildfires that are ravaging their city since Sunday.

The huge wildfire that has forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray—the northern Alberta city that is the hub of Canada’s tar-sands oil industry—continued to rage uncontrollably yesterday: here.

Fort McMurray teacher describes chaotic evacuation: here.

Kenyan woman saved from under collapsed building


This video says about itself:

5 May 2016

A woman has been extracted alive from the rubble of a poorly constructed six-storey building that collapsed in the capital of Kenya six days ago.

Fukushima nuclear plant disaster update


This video from the USA says about itself:

Tritium Exposé

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.

40-year rule for nuclear reactors on verge of being a dead letter — The Asahi Shimbun: here.

Kyushu Earthquakes Expose Unaddressed Nuclear Reactor Risks: here.

Japanese government among world’s worst press freedom violators


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.

In the graph which accompanies the Los Angeles Times article, the absolute monarchy Brunei is the worst in the world in decline in press freedom. Poland is third worst.

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.