Society's ChildS

Evil Rays

Gaps in US Radiation Monitoring System Revealed

civil defense monitoring
© flickr
Part of the nation's key radiation warning system was out of service as the U.S. braced for possible exposure to the fallout from a nuclear crisis in Japan.

While no dangerous levels of radiation have reached American shores, the test of the monitoring network has spurred some lawmakers to question whether it can adequately safeguard the country against future disasters.

The system is crucial because federal officials use the monitors' readings to validate the impact of nuclear incidents, then alert local governments and the public.

In California, home to two seaside nuclear plants located close to earthquake fault lines, federal officials said four of the 11 stationary monitors were offline for repairs or maintenance last week. The Environmental Protection Agency said the machines operate outdoors year-round and periodically need maintenance, but did not fix them until a few days after low levels of radiation began drifting toward the mainland U.S.

Heart - Black

Navy Training Linked to Dolphin Deaths

© National Marine Fisheries Service
Navy training off the Silver Strand has been linked to the deaths of at least three dolphins in the area and may be responsible for two more, the National Marine Fisheries Service said on Friday.

Fisheries agency leaders said they will take another look at the Navy's pending request to disturb marine mammals between Imperial Beach and Coronado, where the Navy runs what it calls "a realistic venue for amphibious training and special warfare tactical training in the coastal environment." The existing application - which has been in the works for years - doesn't anticipate dolphin deaths related to training, and that premise is now in question.

The fisheries service also has opened an enforcement case. A central question is whether the Navy violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, a landmark law designed by Congress to safeguard dolphins, whales and similar creatures.


Corporate Profits At All-Time High As Recovery Stumbles

© Unknown
New York -- Despite high unemployment and a largely languishing real estate market, U.S. businesses are more profitable than ever, according to federal figures released on Friday.

U.S. corporate profits hit an all-time high at the end of 2010, with financial firms showing some of the biggest gains, data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show. Corporations reported an annualized $1.68 trillion in profit in the fourth quarter. The previous record, without being adjusted for inflation, was $1.65 trillion in the third quarter of 2006.

Many of the nation's preeminent companies have posted massive increases in profits this year. General Electric posted worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, while profits at JPMorgan Chase were up 47 percent to $4.8 billion.


Japan: Now, a Weak Link in the Global Supply Chain

Setbacks to Japan's industries could disrupt the flow of components to tech and auto companies in the U.S. as well as in other countries

Samsung Electronics, Ford Motor (F), and Boeing (BA) are waiting for suppliers in quake-stricken Japan to increase one key export: information. A top supplier of high-end components for the global tech and auto industries, Japan may need weeks to recover lost output from the country's strongest earthquake on record, according to a forecast by Barclays Capital (BCS). That's why manufacturing executives from San Mateo to Stuttgart are scrutinizing production schedules, searching for backup suppliers, and figuring out how to cope with rising component prices.

The crippled nuclear reactor complex in northeast Japan has resulted in rolling blackouts throughout the country, forcing Japanese suppliers such as Sanyo Electric and Toshiba to reduce their production in order to conserve power, water, and materials. If the reduced output continues well into April, the ripple effect will be felt in Seattle. "We're O.K. for a few weeks, and I can't tell you beyond that," says Boeing Commercial Airplanes President James F. Albaugh. Japanese companies design and supply 35 percent of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner.


Social Media Stomps Traditional Media

The web is increasingly becoming the top source for news and information with about 41 percent of Americans citing the Internet as the main location they seek out national and international news from -- a 17 percent rise since December 2010. Journalism professor Jeff Cohen from Ithaca College explained that new and social media fills a void often ignored in traditional media -- it enables more voices and transparency and allows for greater government change. "The debate among quality bloggers is better than the debate amongst the best TV mainstream shows in America, Cohen argued. He noted that social media has been far more damaging to world dictators than old media ever was.

Arrow Down

Canada: Hunger is an Epidemic

We need an intelligent national discussion on hunger in Canada.

Let's get down to it.

Look, the number of Canadians forced to visit a food bank last March set a record, according to Food Banks Canada.

This upward trend started in 1989.

The number of Canadians who must turn to food banks to feed themselves and their families has more than doubled over two of the most prosperous decades in the country's history.

Canada's GDP was close to $1.4 trillion in 2010, more than twice what it was in 1989. Total that cumulative annual value and it amounts to more than $11 trillion.

Our collective wealth grew by more than 100 per cent at a time in which the number of people who couldn't get enough to eat was doubling.

This troubling trend should register as a warning flag that there is serious structural imbalance in Canadian society's economic ability to distribute incomes.

Instead, we get constant pleas of poverty from on high. And we get the same bleating from business, where CEOs award themselves fat increases every year while low incomes stagnate.

In fact, 30 per cent of companies that fell below the median for total shareholder return still gave management raises, according to one independent report tracking executive compensation.

Let's be clear. Last year, in March alone, 867,948 Canadians visited food banks. If these folks were classified as a province -the province of hunger -it would rank seventh in population just behind Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. In a country so self-congratulatory about its compassion, this seems unpardonable.

Top Secret

Japan: Reveal fallout data: ex-nuke chief

Evacuees must know radiation exposure risks, expert says

© Kyodo Graphic
A former acting head of the Atomic Energy Commission called Thursday for the government to tell the public how radioactive emissions have spread from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in the past and to predict future radiation exposure risks according to distance for the most critical scenarios.

In a telephone interview with The Japan Times, Shunichi Tanaka, former acting chairman of the commission, said it was irresponsible for the government to force people to evacuate their homes without disclosing concrete data on the calculated exposure risks they face from wind-borne radioactive materials.

"The government has not yet said in concrete terms why evacuation is necessary to the people who have evacuated," he said.


Texas: The Beefy Crunch Burrito incident

Texas fast-food shooting
© EDWARD A. ORNELAS / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS NFSMembers of the SAPD SWAT team work the scene of a standoff at the Rodeway Inn.

The price of the Beefy Crunch Burrito had gone up from 99 cents to $1.49 and the man at the Rigsby Road Taco Bell drive-thru had just ordered seven.

The fast food customer was so disgruntled by the price hike he shot an air gun at the manager, displayed an assault rifle and pistol while in the restaurant's parking lot, fled as police were called, and pointed one of his weapons at three officers who pulled him over. Fleeing when they opened fire, he barricaded himself in his hotel room - all over $3.50 plus additional tax.

All three of his weapons were found to be air-powered and not firearms.

The final incident in the burrito-triggered spree happened Sunday afternoon at the Rodeway Inn on North W.W. White Road, engaging SWAT negotiators in a more than three-hour standoff, according to officials and witnesses.

Che Guevara

Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni Activist, Provides Thorn in Side for Saleh

32-year-old mother of three has faced death threats and prison, but devotion to cause has earned international acclaim

Tawakul Karman
© Yahya Arhab/EPATawakul Karman, the Yemeni human rights activist , has received death threats after refusing a government position.
Tawakul Karman, a 32-year-old mother of three, may seem an unlikely leader of the fight to overthrow the president of Yemen.

But the outspoken journalist and human rights activist has long been a thorn in Ali Abdullah Saleh's side, agitating for press freedoms and staging weekly sit-ins to demand the release of political prisoners from jail - a place she has been several times herself.

Now inspired by the uprising in Tunisia and the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, she finds herself at the head of a popular protest movement which is shaking the Yemeni regime to its core.

"With two civil wars, an al-Qaida presence and 40% unemployment, what else is President Saleh waiting for? He should leave office now," she says, claiming that Yemen, like Tunisia and Egypt, needs an end to a dictatorship in the guise of a presidency.

"This revolution is inevitable, the people have endured dictatorship, corruption, poverty and unemployment for years and now the whole thing is exploding," she says.


Nuclear Crisis in Japan Level 6

A Japanese news report claims the nuclear power plant crisis in Fukushima prefecture is level 6 indicating a serious accident on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale.

Japanese news daily, Asahi Shinbun, reported Friday that the amount of iodine leaked from the power plant has reached almost thirty to 1-hundred-10 thousand tera Becquerel per hour.

The Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 was categorized as level 7, the worst nuclear accident ever in history, while the one occurred on Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979 was recorded as a level 5 incident.