Saturday, January 26, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Wants to Dump Treated Water into the Ocean

From Nippon Television (1/25/2013):


TEPCO says it wants to treat the contaminated water to lower the radioactivity and discharge the treated water into the ocean, if the consent from people in the fishing industry is obtained.


The water contaminated with radioactive materials keeps increasing at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. TEPCO is building more storage tanks to deal with the water.


Yesterday, TEPCO explained to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about their plan to treat the water to lower the level of contamination and discharge the treated water into the ocean.


TEPCO emphasizes that they won't release the water into the ocean unless they can obtain the consent from people in the fishing industry. However, there's a limit to how many storage tanks can be installed in the compound, and there is no final disposal plan for the contaminated water that keeps accumulating.

The last time I heard about this news was, I think, about a year ago. Somehow TEPCO has come up with extra storage since. Way back in June 2011, TEPCO wanted to dump the water in the reactor and turbine buildings at Fukushima II (Daini) after treating the water. That plan went nowhere partly because of strong objection from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who probably worried more about "baseless rumors" than the actual, potential harm to the marine life.

I doubt that fishermen in Tohoku and Kanto would agree. They have already been selling the fish they catch, which are contaminated with radioactive cesium to varying degrees (hopefully below 100 Bq/kg but they only sample test). They certainly do not want to draw attention to the marine contamination by having TEPCO dump the water from the plant, no matter how "clean" it may be.

TEPCO has been counting on Toshiba's ALPS to come online at Fukushima I, which will remove virtually all radionuclides (except for tritium). The ALPS was ready for a "hot" test (using contaminated water) when when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanded that the vessels used in ALPS be sturdy enough to withstand the drop from up to 6 meters high. Now, until TEPCO and Toshiba come up with such vessels, the ALPS cannot even be tested.

So now, the talk is back, of dumping the water into the ocean.

Let's see what else (other than dumping the water) can they do? One of the nuclear researchers that I follow on Twitter has a suggestion:

Build a boiler, use it to evaporate water. What's left is radioactive materials. Use bitumen to immobilize them, put them in containers and store them.

I have no idea if this ever occurred to TEPCO, or if this is a valid method. Maybe it did occur to TEPCO, may it didn't. Just as it didn't occur to them that the highly radioactive water might be leaking, or that they should just violate some peacetime law and regulations and drive on the highway with truckload of batteries.

Washington Post Editorial over Senkaku Islands Row: "Cooler Heads Should Prevail"

Washington Post has a short editorial on the Japan-Sino row over the Senkaku Islands, gently suggesting both sides to cool it so that the Obama administration doesn't need to choose between the two alternatives - defending Japan as per the security treaty between the US and Japan, or a "climb-down".

Well I don't think Prime Minister Abe is counting on the latter...

From Washington Post (1/25/2013; links are original, emphasis is mine):

GIVEN PRESIDENT Obama’s preoccupation with ending what he calls “a decade of war,” it’s hard to believe that the United States could be dragged into a military conflict in the western Pacific over a group of tiny, uninhabited islands claimed by both Japan and China. Probably, it won’t be. Yet thanks to a disturbing confluence of events in those countries and Mr. Obama’s own commitments, the chance that it will happen is rising.

The Senkaku Islands, called the Diaoyu by China, have been under Japanese administration since 1895; for decades, China agreed to leave its claim to them on a back burner. But Japan’s nationalizationin September of three of the islets — undertaken in an attempt to head off an attempt by a nationalist politician to gain hold of them — provided China’s military and Communist leadership with a pretext for rabble-rousing.

In recent weeks Beijing’s provocations have escalated from dispatching surveillance ships to the islands to scrambling warplanes in response to Japan’s. China’s state-controlled media have been whipping up something like war fever, with one paper declaring that a military fight is “more likely” and the country “needs to prepare for the worst.” Disturbingly, this provocative and dangerous campaign has been overseen by the new Communist leadership under Xi Jinping, which has ample motive to divert attention from domestic problems.

The political climate in Tokyo, too, gives cause for concern. The new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is a nationalist who has packed his cabinet with politicians who share his aims of boosting Japanese defense spending and standing up to China. Japan has refused negotiations over the islands, declaring that there is nothing to discuss.

The Obama administration has been trying to defuse the dispute, dispatching a senior State Department official to Tokyo last week to call for “cooler heads to prevail.” But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has also reiterated a position the administration first adopted two years ago: A security treaty binding the United States to defend Japan against attack applies to the islets. That public stance may have been intended to deter China from provoking a crisis, but it also magnifies the stakes for Washington. Should China attempt to seize control of the territory, Mr. Obama could have to choose between backing Japan in a military confrontation and a climb-down that would undermine the “pivot to Asia” he has placed at the center of his foreign policy.

Fortunately, there were signs of a cooling-off this week. Mr. Abe dispatched an emissary to Beijing with a letter for Mr. Xi. The Japanese leader, who has been invited to Washington for a meeting with Mr. Obama next month, should be looking for ways to ease tensions without rewarding Beijing’s belligerence. With U.S. help, it ought to be possible to return the issue of the Senkakus to the back burner, where it belongs.

"Pivot to Asia"? What is that? I've never heard the phrase in the US media but I've seen it mentioned numerous times in the Japanese media and tweets as some kind of a big turning point for the US. From the search results, even the US mainstream media is rather dismissive of Mr. Obama's strategy. Council of Foreign Relations calls it "unnecessary and counterproductive".

Friday, January 25, 2013

Japanese Researchers Found Cesium More Concentrated in Calf Than in Mother Cow in the Former Evacuation Zone in #Fukushima Prefecture

and organ-specific high concentration of radioactive silver and tellurium.

In a research paper on an open-access peer-reviewed magazine, the researchers at Tohoku University studying the cattle abandoned in the former "evacuation zone" (20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant) in Fukushima Prefecture say that calves had 1.5 times as much cesium per kilogram as the mothers.

So far, the popular meme pushed by people like Ms. Kayoko Ikeda (who seemingly started out as a staunch defender of people escaping radiation contamination, and who turned out to be an apologist for the official line) is that there's nothing to worry about radiation contamination because children, with their high metabolism, will expel radioactive materials out of their bodies very quickly.

Now, Tohoku University researchers and the media have timidly started to say, as Kyodo News reports (1/24/2013), that we have have to rethink our premise.

What a surprise. Now what?

From Kyodo News (1/24/2013):

セシウム、母牛より子牛が高濃度 東北大、セシウム調査

Tohoku University's survey reveals that radioactive cesium is more concentrated in calf than in mother


A research group headed by Professor Manabu Fukumoto (pathology) at Tohoku University  has been studying the internal radiation exposure in cows abandoned in part of Minamisoma City and Kawauchi-mura in the 20-kilometer radius evacuation zone because of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The group published the result on an online science magazine in the US called Plos One on January 23 which the researchers found radioactive cesium was more concentrated in calves than in mothers.


Professor Fukumoto says calves did not necessarily ate exactly the same food as the mothers, but says "It has been said that children with high metabolism do not retain radioactive materials long, but maybe we need to take a fresh look." The data will be the basis to understand the mechanism [of cesium accumulation], Professor Fukumoto says.

The researchers also found high concentrations of short half-lived radionuclides like Ag-110m (half-life 250 days) in liver and Te-129m (half-life 34 days) in kidney.

Abstract of the paper "Distribution of Artificial Radionuclides in Abandoned Cattle in the Evacuation Zone of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant", at Plos One (emphasis is mine):

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) accident released large amounts of radioactive substances into the environment. In order to provide basic information for biokinetics of radionuclides and for dose assessment of internal exposure brought by the FNPP accident, we determined the activity concentration of radionuclides in the organs of 79 cattle within a 20-km radius around the FNPP. In all the specimens examined, deposition of Cesium-134 (134Cs, half-life: 2.065 y) and 137Cs (30.07 y) was observed. Furthermore, organ-specific deposition of radionuclides with relatively short half-lives was detected, such as silver-110m (110mAg, 249.8 d) in the liver and tellurium-129m (129mTe, 33.6 d) in the kidney. Regression analysis showed a linear correlation between the radiocesium activity concentration in whole peripheral blood (PB) and that in each organ. The resulting slopes were organ dependent with the maximum value of 21.3 being obtained for skeletal muscles (R2 = 0.83, standard error (SE) = 0.76). Thus, the activity concentration of 134 Cs and 137Cs in an organ can be estimated from that in PB. The level of radioactive cesium in the organs of fetus and infants were 1.19-fold (R2 = 0.62, SE = 0.12), and 1.51-fold (R2 = 0.70, SE = 0.09) higher than that of the corresponding maternal organ, respectively. Furthermore, radiocesium activity concentration in organs was found to be dependent on the feeding conditions and the geographic location of the cattle. This study is the first to reveal the detailed systemic distribution of radionuclides in cattle attributed to the FNPP accident.

According to the paper, the researchers collected 79 cattle, 27 of which were from Minami-soma city located north and 52 from Kawauchi between August 29 and November 15, 2011.

From the Results and Discussion section:

Before the cattle were euthanized, we noticed 3 mother and infant pairs in Plot 2. We confirmed that these infants were born after the FNPP accident and that they were being weaned at the time. As shown in Figure 2B, most of the points lie on the upper side of the dashed equality line (infant side). The regression analysis showed that radiocesium activity concentration was 1.51 times higher in the infant organs than in the corresponding maternal organs (R2 = 0.70, SE = 0.09). Therefore, we concluded that the deposition of 137Cs in infant organs is correlated with that in the corresponding maternal organs but is higher than that in maternal ones. Shorter half-lives of retention are adopted for infants and children than for adults [12]. Inaba et al. mentioned that water and electrolyte metabolism should differ considerably between newborn and adult, and that potassium contents of the feeding might affect the radiocesium activity concentration [13]. We do not have any data regarding the proportion attributed to milk and grass which the infants were taking at the time of the sacrifice.

In our data, the thyroid showed lower 137Cs deposition compared with other visceral organs (Figures 1 and 2B). Bandazhevsky previously reported that the highest accumulation of radiocesium was found in the endocrine glands, in particular, the thyroid, in humans [14]. Although we need to consider the species difference between humans and cattle, radiocesium is suggested to have little impact on thyroid carcinogenesis.

About Ag-110m in liver:

Radioactive 110mAg is not a fission product but is formed by the neutron capture of stable 109Ag. We detected 110mAg in the liver of all of the cattle except for fetuses examined (Table 1 and Figure 3A). The ratio of deposited radioactivity concentration of 110mAg to 137Cs in the soil of Plot 2 and Plot 3 was lower than 0.5% and that in the grass of Plot 3 was lower than 5% (Table S3). The value in the soil was consistent with the distribution map of radiation doses by MEXT (​750/2011/10/1750_1031e_2.pdf) (MEXT Dose Map) as of June 14, 2011. In the current study, 110mAg activity concentration in the liver did not show Plot dependent difference or association with 137Cs activity concentration (Figure 3A). Both the human evidence and the animal studies indicate substantial deposition of silver in the liver but the retention rate is influenced by the route of intake [12]. It is reported that the liver deposition of 110mAg in sheep and its transfer coefficient to the liver was higher than that of 137Cs in the Chernobyl nuclear accident [16]. These data indicate that the transfer coefficient of 110mAg to the liver is higher than that of 137Cs. Furthermore, post-mortem data on the distribution of 110mAg in a patient 195 days after injection showed the highest uptake in the liver (40%) among all organs [17]. There was no relationship between the activity concentration of 110mAg in PB and in the liver (Figure 3B). Danscher et al. reported that silver predominantly accumulates in lysosome-associated tissues, such as lymph nodes, liver, kidneys and the central nervous system after silver administration in rats and mice. Furthermore, they showed the intense accumulation of silver in Kupper cells of the liver [18]. From these cumulative data and this study, we concluded that the liver is the primary target organ for 110mAg deposition.

The entire paper is available free at the link

US Hurricane Sandy Victims Still Without Power, Heat, Water

The US is turning 'Japanese', as some Hurricane Sandy victims have spent nearly three months without power or running water. Other families are still living in hotels, with FEMA picking up the tab which has to be renewed every two weeks.

With the presidential election over, no more photo-op necessary for the power that be.

They still have 17 more months to go until they catch up with the Futaba-machi residents living in an abandoned high school since April 2011, eating bento meals that they are now made to pay for.

From Fox News (1/25/2013):

Sandy victims left out in the cold during arctic blast

The brutal cold snap affecting much of the country is taking a devastating toll on victims of superstorm Sandy, many of whom are camped out in tent cities or living in homes without power, heat or running water.

Those unable to get proper lodging have hunkered down in their homes without the basic necessities of heat, electricity, or running water.

“Many families in Union Beach are using space heaters to warm upstairs,” said Jeanette Van Houten, a resident from the small New Jersey town that was among the hardest-hit communities. “There’s people with no heat, no electric, but they are staying in the house because it’s better than having to deal with FEMA and having to leave hotels every two weeks.

“There are families who have chosen to stay in their homes just to have some sort of normalcy,” she added.

The cold wave has brought single-digit temperatures to the Northeast, some 10 to 15 degrees below normal for the time of year.

Residents of the New Dorp Beach section of Staten Island have taken shelter in tents set up by aid workers with only small propane heaters, sleeping bags and blankets to stave off the bone-chilling cold, according to reports.

In the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, one of the most storm-ravaged areas of the region, residents lined up at the local recovery center this week to pick up donated ceramic space heaters. Many of the suffering residents in the five boroughs of New York City say their homes still are barely habitable, despite the city’s so-called Rapid Repairs program that was supposed to make their homes livable quickly.

According to the city, construction teams for the Rapid Repairs program have restored heat, hot water and power to more than 12,000 city residents, with work still to be completed in another 1,900 buildings.

Some 3,500 families are still living in hotels in New York and New Jersey, with FEMA picking up the tab. But the expense authorizations expire every two weeks and must be renewed, leaving families in a state of anxiety over where they will sleep at night.

(Full article at the link)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boeing 787 Battery Fire: Short Circuit and Thermal Runaway in One of 8 Battery Cells

From Flight Global (1/24/2013; emphasis is mine):

NTSB finds signs of short circuit, thermal runaway in JAL 787 battery failure

The Boeing 787 battery involved in the Japan Airlines incident on 7 January reveal signs of a short-circuit in one cell and thermal runaway that led to a fire, says the US National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB's first press conference 16 days after the JAL battery failure and fire in Boston also revealed that the investigation could still be far from discovering a root cause.

"It is really hard to tell how long the investigation will take," says Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairwoman.

"We have to understand why this battery resulted in a fire when there is so many protections designed into this system," she adds.

The short circuit was found in cell five of the eight-cell, 32V battery that starts the auxiliary power unit and is located in the aft electronic equipment bay in the 787.

But the NTSB has not yet been able to narrow down a set of possible root causes that it is ready to reveal to the public.

"We are seeing symptoms," she says. "We know there is something wrong here. The short circuit, the fire, these are all symptoms that something is wrong."

Hersman says a troubling complication of both the JAL 787 incident and the All Nippon Airways 787 battery event was the timing of the battery failures within 100 flight hours of service by both aircraft.

"We do not expect to see events like what we saw on the 787 in the battery system," Hersman says. "Two battery events in two weeks in the early flights of this aircraft are not what we expect."

The incidents prompted the FAA to order United Airlines to ground all six US-registered 787s on 16 January, an action that triggered a global grounding of the aircraft less than 15 months after it entered service with ANA in October 2011.

So far, the Japan Transport Safety Board and the NTSB have agreed that there is no evidence yet that either battery was over-charged when it failed, but they are continuing to examine the data. Hersman says, for example, that investigators are still considering if it was possible for one of the eight battery cells was over-charged, but not the overall battery.

Another critical part of the investigation is considering the certification process for the 787 batteries.

"These events should not happen as far as design of the airplane," Hersman says. "There are multiple systems to prevent a battery event like this. Those systems did not work. We need to understand why."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

OT: Type "askew" in Google Search...(UPDATED)

Your screen goes askew...

Does anyone know any other word that does something funny in Google search?

(UPDATE) From Twitter follower brentosg, type in "do a barrel roll"...

#Radioactive Japan: Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa of Futaba-machi Resigns

After he decided to fight the resolution of no confidence against him and dissolved the Futaba-machi Assembly, he was holding meetings with his townfolks.

One such meeting was to be held in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture where some of the Futaba residents have been living in the temporary housing. But Mayor Idogawa, 65, fell suddenly ill with dizziness and severe headache, and he was hospitalized on January 20 to have medical tests done.

On January 23, he asked to resign.

If you haven't read Mayor Idogawa's recounting of how he saw the white substance falling from sky like the snow after an explosion (that was Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant) as he tried to evacuate elderly citizens, go to my post from February 11, 2012.

From Jiji Tsushin (1/23/2013):


Futaba-machi, whose official functions have been moved to Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, announced on January 23 that Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa offered to resign. The mayor's resignation will be official as of February 12, and the mayoral election will be held within 50 days after that date. The town assembly unanimously passed the no-confidence resolution against Mayor Idogawa in December last year, and the mayor in turn dissolved the assembly on December 26. The town faces an extraordinary situation where there is no head of the town nor the town assembly.


According to Futaba-machi, Mayor Idogawa gathered senior officials of the town to a meeting on January 23 where he expressed his intention to resign, and submitted the notice to the secretariat of the town assembly. Until the new mayor is installed, Vice Mayor Kazuyoshi Inoue will assume the duties of the mayor.


All residents of Futaba-machi, where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located, have evacuated the town after the nuclear accident. In March last year, the national government requested that Futaba, Okuma, and Naraha to accept intermediate storage facilities to be built in their towns, which would be used to store contaminated soil removed in the process of decontamination. The town assembly became suspicious of the mayor's intentions over the construction of such facilities [two in Futaba-machi] and submitted the resolution of no confidence [against the mayor].

Town assemblymen/women wanted to go ahead with the government plan, which would mean more money for the town. Mayor Idogawa said no, as he wanted the town's people to fully understand the implication of such facilities and decide for themselves.

Jiji article doesn't say why Mayor Idogawa is resigning. Mayor Idogawa has penned his farewell letter which is posted on the Futaba-machi website, but he does not say why he is resigning.

Mayor Idogawa has had hardly any support from anyone in his quest to secure a safe, radiation-free permanent place for the town residents, official or private, except for a few volunteers who occasionally cooked meals for the evacuees who still live in an abandoned high school building in Kazo City, Saitama.

It's been nearly two years after the start of the nuclear accident.

US to Lift Combat Ban on Women

I'm sure the news will be followed by female soldiers declaring they are so ready.

Personally, I don't think this is the way to achieve so-called "gender equality", but that's how it goes under the president who just has had his "second coming", as Newsweek magazine calls it.

From Bloomberg News (1/23/2013):

Combat Ban on Women to Be Lifted, U.S. Defense Official Says

The U.S. Defense Department plans to lift its ban on women serving in direct combat roles, a Defense Department official said today.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the decision to lift the ban on the recommendation of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the official, who asked not to be identified in advance of a planned announcement. The Associated Press reported on the decision earlier today.

(UPDATED) Newly Released TEPCO Teleconference Video: "It Didn't Occur to Us that Water Puddle Would Be Highly Radioactive..."

(UPDATE) TEPCO, under the new Abe administration, will not release any video to the general public this time. Only the reporters who belong to the Japan Press Club can visit TEPCO's headquarter building in Tokyo and view the video. Some openness.


According to Yomiuri Shinbun, TEPCO has just released the third batch of its teleconference videos in the early days of the nuclear accident at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. No video available so far at TEPCO's site for the general public yet.

As Yomiuri reports, the plant manager Masao Yoshida is heard saying to the TEPCO headquarter people that it didn't occur to him that the water in the turbine building for Reactor 3 could be highly radioactive the next day after the radiation level had been checked.

Three workers from TEPCO affiliate companies were exposed to 2 to 6 sieverts of radiation on their feet on March 24, 2011.

From what little Yomiuri reports, it looks like teleconferencing may not be such a good thing to have during an extreme emergency like this. It may serve to fragment the effort, and have too many people without direct knowledge of the situation dictate the effort, as clearly happened between the plant and TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (1/23/2013):


Possibility of highly contaminated water didn't occur to the plant manager Yoshida, video [disclosed by TEPCO] reveals


On January 23, TEPCO made additional teleconference videos of about 2 weeks. [TEPCO] used the teleconference system that connected its headquarters in Tokyo, the plant, and other locations right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident nearly two years ago to deal with the accident.


TEPCO started to make the videos public in August last year, and this is the third installment. Now the videos that cover the one month period (March 11 to April 11, 2011) have been made public.


This time, the videos cover from March 23 to 29, and April 6 to 11. On March 24, three workers from TEPCO's affiliate [subcontracting] companies were exposed to massive amount of radiation from the highly contaminated water in the basement of Reactor 3 turbine building. It happened because no one had thought that the amount of contaminated water might increase when they had done the survey of the work location, and that the work condition might worsen.


Masao Yoshida, then the plant manager, [is heard] saying "It didn't occurred to us that there might be highly contaminated water, and we took it for granted that (the work condition) would remain the same", and "So many jobs are being done in parallel (simultaneously). I have the feeling that if the headquarters people are the ones who tell us what to do, they may not know enough about what's going on at the plant", showing his dissatisfaction with the TEPCO headquarters that directed many jobs without fully understanding the situation at the plant.

So, Mr. Yoshida is saying TEPCO had surveyed the condition of the Reactor 3 turbine building basement, and didn't think it would be full of highly contaminated water the next day when the workers from affiliate companies entered. That doesn't still explain the testimony of one of the affiliate company workers that TEPCO workers also entered the basement the same day, and they withdrew after measuring 400 millisievert/hour radiation in the water.

TEPCO workers could have told the affiliate workers to get the hell out, but that clearly did not occur to them either.

On March 25, 2011, that water "puddle" in the Reactor 3 turbine building basement was:

  • 1.5 meter deep; and

  • had 3.9 million becquerels per cubic centimeter.

From March 20 to March 23, 2011, black smoke was rising from the wreckage of Reactor 3 building. During the same period, elevated levels of radiation were measured in wide areas in Tohoku and Kanto. Some "event" may have been happening in Reactor 3; one researcher, Fumiya Tanabe, speculates that's when the melted core in Reactor 3 Pressure Vessel melted through the RPV down to the Containment Vessel, as the amount of water being injected dropped to 24 tonnes per day (probably due to high pressure inside the RPV) from the previous 300 tonnes per day.

For more on the affiliate worker's allegation and the incident on March 24, 2011, see my November 1, 2012 post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Japan Under Abe's LDP and BOJ: Still Long Way to Recovery for Nikkei Average

From the global stock market top in late 2007 through the deep plunge in the fall of 2008 and the central-bank-induced recovery ever since, Japan's Nikkei Average lags badly. It still hasn't regained the minor peak in April 2010, when the average was above 11,000.

German DAX and US S&P500 are within 10% of all-time high, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Singapore's Strait Times Index are within 20%.

Chart created using's free chart tool (click to enlarge):

Now, the same indices from the global market bottom (except for Shanghai Composite, which bottomed in October 2008) of March 6, 2009. Nikkei's gain is less than 50%, while all the other indices have gained 95% (Hang Seng) to over 115% (S&P500). Strait Times Index and DAX have also gained more than 110%.

Nikkei is down 220 points today, a clear disappointment that unlimited, open-ended quantitative easing doesn't start right away as Japanese yen was bought.

OT: "The BBC Is a Plague on Man"

A nice concise summary of what the BBC is by Travis Holte, from LRC Blog at (1/22/2013):

The BBC Is a Plague on Man

Each year the serfs of the UK are coerced out of billions to fund the British Broadcasting Corporation. What do they get for their money? How about a children's presenter who turns out to be a satanic pedophile? They got about forty years of that guy. They also get an unquestioning government mouthpiece for all its wars, a propaganda arm of the State for pretty much anything the oligarchs want. If you are a Malthusian you can expect a long and illustrious career for the BBC. If it turns out you are not, they'll snuff you out. Need further evidence of their ties to the State? Check out this story on the MI5 vetting their prospective hires.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Japan's Debt Bomb Delayed Somewhat, As BOJ Targets 2% Inflation But Open-Ended Asset Purchase of 13 Trillion Yen (US$145 Billion) Per Month Delayed Till 2014

Financial and fiscal insanity has been the norm since September 2008. Japan is merely a lap or two behind, now frantically trying to catch down with the US Fed and the ECB in cheapening the currency and going full-speed on further fiscal profligacy.

Bank of Japan just announced the result of its two-day deliberation on monetary policy. It will officially target 2% inflation, and unlimited quantitative easing through asset purchase of whopping 13 trillion yen (145 billion US dollars, take that Helicopter Ben!) per month, but the latter won't start until January 2014.

Japan's Nikkei ended slightly down, at 10,709, in mild disappointment that the open-ended QE is not going to start right away.

A token independence of the central bank is gone, as the inflation target will be closely examined by the executive branch of the government every three months.

From Nikkei Shinbun (1/22/2013; part):


Bank of Japan adopted the price stabilization target of 2% after the two-day meeting on monetary policy. A joint communique with the national government is to be drawn up regarding "the joint policy effort between the national government and Bank of Japan to move away from deflation and achieve sustainable economic growth". The target of 2% increase of year-over-year consumer price will be set, and the target will be periodically examined by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy [under the Cabinet Office].


In addition to the introduction of price stabilization target of 2%, BOJ decided to introduce a new open-ended asset purchase program using the asset purchase fund. Under the new program, BOJ will purchase assets at 13 trillion yen [145 billion US dollars] per month for as long as necessary starting in the beginning of 2014. The assets will include 2 trillion yen long-term government bond, 10 trillion yen short-term government bills, and the rest of the assets [REIT, ETF, commercial papers, corporate bonds, etc.] will be purchased to maintain the existing balance. As the result, the balance of the asset purchase fund will grow by 10 trillion yen in 2014, and the balance will be maintained thereafter. BOJ decided on this new program by unanimous vote.

Interestingly, Nikkei English article does not mention monthly asset purchase of 13 trillion yen. Instead, it has a piece of information that is not in the Japanese version - that there were two people who dissented at the BOJ meeting over 2% inflation target:

The bank's policy board voted 7 versus 2 at the end of its two-day meeting to introduce the target, replacing its current 1% price "goal," which Mr. Abe had criticized as being too weak of a commitment by the BOJ.

I wonder who they were.

But to call the 2% inflation target as "price stabilization target", that's pure Newspeak. Japanese people will be lulled by the word "stabilization", without realizing it is the past 2 decades that have had excellent price stability.

Algeria Hostage-Taking Siege: Terrorist Leader's Final Order Was to Kill All Hostages

From Time quoting AP (1/21/2013):

Inside Job, 2 Canadian Militants in Algeria Siege

(ALGIERS, Algeria) — The hostage-taking at a remote Algerian gas plant was carried out by 30 militants from across the northern swath of Africa and two from Canada, authorities said. The militants, who wore military uniforms and knew the layout, included explosives experts who rigged it with bombs and a leader whose final order was to kill all the captives.

The operation also had help with inside knowledge — a former driver at the plant, Algeria’s prime minister said Monday.

In all, 38 workers and 29 militants died, the Algerian prime minister said Monday, offering the government’s first detailed account of four days of chaos that ended with a bloody military raid he defended as the only way possible to end the standoff. Five foreigners are still missing.

“You may have heard the last words of the terrorist chief,” Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters. “He gave the order for all the foreigners to be killed, so there was a mass execution, many hostages were killed by a bullet to the head.”

...All but one of the dead victims — an Algerian security guard — were foreigners. The dead hostages included seven Japanese workers, six Filipinos, three energy workers each from the U.S. and Britain, two from Romania and one worker from France.

The prime minister said three attackers were captured but did not specify their nationalities or their conditions or say where they were being held.

He said the Islamists included a former driver at the complex from Niger and that the militants “knew the facility’s layout by heart.” The vast complex is deep in the Sahara, 800 miles (1,300 miles) south of Algiers, with a network of roads and walkways for the hundreds of workers who keep it running.

The attackers wore military uniforms, according to state television, bolstering similar accounts by former hostages that the attackers didn’t just shoot their way in.

“Our attention was drawn by a car. It was at the gate heading toward the production facility. Four attackers stepped out of a car that had flashing lights on top of it,” one of the former hostages, Liviu Floria, a 45-year-old mechanic from Romania, told The Associated Press.

The militants had said during the standoff that their band included people from Canada, and hostages who had escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.

The Algerian premier said the Canadians were of Arab descent. He further said the militant cell also included men from Egypt, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia, as well as three Algerians. Officials in Canada could not confirm that any of the attackers were from there.

“The announcement of the Algerian prime minister is fine, but we need verification. It could be a forged document. We need to confirm,” said a Canadian official who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

...Moktar Belmoktar, who is believed to have orchestrated the attack, said in a statement over the weekend that the Algerian site was chosen after the country opened its airspace.

Sellal said negotiating was essentially impossible.

“Their goal was to kidnap foreigners,” he said. “They wanted to flee to Mali with the foreigners, but once they were surrounded they started killing the first hostages.”

He said the assault by Algerian special forces on the plant on Saturday that killed the last group of militants and hostages came after the kidnappers attempted to destroy the complex: “They led us into a real labyrinth, in negotiations that became unreasonable.”

(Full article at the link)

So they were negotiating. And it was (ostensibly) the Algerian consent to open its airspace to the French air force to bomb northern Mali that triggered the whole episode.

In Japanese tweets, I saw an astounding tweet by someone who effectively said JGC Corporation, Japanese plant engineering firm whose employees have been killed by the terrorists, deserves it because JGC has done nuclear plant engineering. When others were incensed by his remark, this person offered his excuse that he meant that the poor workers who were killed were like the workers at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, who were forced to work without being told of the danger.

What an insult to all - JGC, JGC workers, and Fuku-I workers.

Extremely High Levels of Radioactive Cesium in Fish Inside #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Harbor

The statement is not really true that the radiation level inside the harbor right at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is no different than those outside, further away from the plant, say 10, 20 kilometer radius, as far as the contamination in fish goes.

The data that TEPCO released on January 18, 2013 shows the fish inside 20 kilometer radius to have radioactive cesium in one to three digits, and the fish inside the harbor in three to six digits.

It is not just the "murasoi" spotbelly rockfish with 254,000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium but also jacopever with 110,000 Bq/kg, greenling with 40,000 Bq/kg of cesium. There was another spotbelly rockfish with 140,000 Bq/kg cesium.

The highest outside the harbor is 480 Bq/kg, and the lowest inside the harbor was 770 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium.

From TEPCO's Handout for the Press, January 18, 2013 (click to enlarge):

(Page 1, with highest number outside the harbor)

(Page 5)

(Inside the F-I harbor, pages 8, 9, 10)

On Japan's Abe's Attempt at Reflation, Telegraph's Evans-Pritchard Refuses to Connect the Dots

I'm not sure if he refuses to connect the dots or he does not see the dots, but either way he does not come to a logical conclusion like Kyle Bass did when he said about money printing and unprecedented accumulation of debt worldwide, " know how this ends right? This ends through war".

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard compares the current Japan under the Abe administration to the one existed right before the start of World War II, and laments that it was just too bad that then-Finance Minister Korekiyo Takahashi couldn't finish off his highly inflationary monetary policy to peaceful conclusion (in Evans-Pritchard's mind, I think) of tightening, because Takahashi was assassinated by the imperial army officers incensed that their budget was being cut under Takahashi's tightening.

Of course the ostensible cause for these army officers was not the budget cut but "restoration of imperial power and direct rule by the emperor to rid Japan of many ills".

That was the failed February-26 coup, in 1936. The Second Sino-Japanese War (though Japanese and Chinese don't use the word "war" but call it an "incident") started the next year in 1937, which ended in 1945 with the unconditional surrender by Japan to the Allied forces.

Evans-Pritchard doesn't go there.

From UK's Telegraph's article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (1/20/2013; emphasis is mine), with my comments in square brakets in blue italic:

Revolutionary Japan is suddenly the centre of world affairs

[Evans-Pritchard starts off his article promisingly enough (that he may have finally got it), mentioning the military tension between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands.]

We all watch with disbelief as China and Japan rattle sabres over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, so like the seemingly minor events that drew Europe's alliance systems into conflict from 1911 onwards.

Both graduated to fighter jets last week: Japan sending in F-15s; China deploying J-10s, and mobilising the East China Sea fleet for live ammo drills.

China's purpose is clear. It is testing the US security umbrella, and Washington's willingness to risk conflict to back Asian allies. There is a minority in Beijing who think America is a busted flush, a mistake made repeatedly by different powers over the last hundred years.

The possibility that the world's three largest economies could come to blows -- as feared by US defense secretary Leon Panetta -- is a sobering thought.

[So, where does he go from here? Evans-Pritchard then draws an interesting parallel to Japan in 1930s, under Finance Minister Korekiyo Takahashi, who inflated, devalued, doing everything that would make Keynes proud - it made Ben Bernanke proud.]

...Premier Shinzo Abe has vowed an all-out assault on deflation, going for broke on multiple fronts with fiscal, monetary, and exchange stimulus.

This is a near copy of the remarkable experiment in the early 1930s under Korekiyo Takahasi, described by Ben Bernanke as the man who "brilliantly rescued" his country from the Great Depression.

Takahasi was the first of his era to tear up rule book completely. He took Japan off gold in December 1931. He ran "Keynesian" budget deficits deliberately, launching a New Deal blitz before Franklin Roosevelt took office.

He compelled the Bank of Japan to monetise debt until the economy was back on its feet. The bonds were later sold to banks to drain liquidity.

He devalued the yen by 60pc against the dollar, and 40pc on a trade-weighted basis. Japan's textile, machinery, and chemical exports swept Asia, ultimately causing the British Empire and India to retaliate with Imperial Preference and all that was to follow -- and there lies the rub, you might say.

Takahasi was assassinated by army officers in 1936 when he tried to tighten by cutting military costs. Policy degenerated. Japan later lurched into hyperinflation.

[So, after talking about increasing military tension between Japan and China, then about centrally-planned highly inflationary policy ended up in a military coup, albeit failed, which triggered a war with China a year later which was practically the start of World War II, where does Evans-Pritchard go from there? That this government-led reflation and further debt accumulation will lead once again to a large-scale war? No. He goes on to praise the scheme, and demands more.]

...Mr Abe has lost patience. This time the Bank of Japan (BoJ) will do what it is told, the first of the big central banks to be stripped of its independence, and probably not the last. As Milton Friedman said -- quoting Clemenceau -- "monetary policy is far too important to be left to central bankers".

Mr Abe said the next governor to take office in April must be a soulmate "with the will and ability to pull the nation out of deflation".

Leaks suggest that the BoJ will set an inflation target of 2pc this week, to be achieved by unlimited bond purchases.

The liquidity effects of this by the world's top external creditor could be large enough to leak into everything from New Zealand bonds, Brazilian equities, and Chelsea property, a sort of `carry trade' on steroids.

...When a large country with its own currency reaches its fiscal limit, growth ends not with a bang but a whimper of declining vitality," he said. Mr Posen advises Japan to rely on monetary policy alone to right the ship.

I broadly agree, though this time the kindling wood of fiscal spending may be what is needed to ignite damp money. If Mr Abe means what he says, this is not just more of the same.

[And he repeats the mantra of Keynesians - deflation is bad.]

Needless to say, printing money has its perils too. The risk is that Japan could escape gentle but stable deflation -- the Devil it knows -- only to see a panic flight from bonds that overwhelms the Bank of Japan.

[Evans-Pritchard fully knows what risks Abe's policy entails. Somehow, he stops by presenting only the economic and monetary consequences.]

...Banks hold JGBs worth 900pc of their Tier 1 capital. Their portfolios would be decimated if long rates punched above 2pc. Japan might then face a banking disaster as well. These are the hard choices that Mr Abe has to make.

Nor can he continue to weaken the yen without irking Washington and jeopardising the alliance on which he depends. His rhetoric alone has already triggered a 12pc fall in the yen against the dollar, and a 20pc fall against the euro. He seems to be eyeing a dollar rate near Y100.

... Huge issues are at play here. The world's trade system is fragile. The wasting disease behind the Long Slump is a record high savings rate of 24pc of global GDP, and too little demand to go around. Everybody wants a weaker a currency. They can't all have it.

Japan's great experiment cuts both ways for the rest of us: the reflation blitz helps lift the global economy out of the doldrums: but yen manipulation snatches market share, incites protectionism, and takes us into the brave new world of "actively managed exchange rates", as Sir Mervyn King put it last month.

We will find out soon enough which is the more powerful effect.

We will find out soon enough. By bullets and missiles flying over our heads, if Kyle Bass is right.

Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi, who was also the 7th governor of Bank of Japan, was a one tough cookie. At the age of 13, he was ordered by his lord to study abroad. However, the American merchant living in Yokohama who was supposed to arrange for his study stole the money and his belongings, and he was duped by the parents of this merchant into signing a contract as indentured servant and was sold to a family in Oakland, California. He was then sold several more times, forced to work in vineyards and herding cattle, until he somehow managed to get back to Japan a year later.

Shinzo "pork-cutlet-curry-rice" Abe does not have a sturdy man who has grown into adult. Like himself, all he has is boys simply grown bigger with more wrinkles. We will found soon enough indeed what these boys will do.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Battery Fire: NTSB Is Testing Each Battery Cell

NTSB's press release (1/20/2013; emphasis is mine):

NTSB Provides Third Investigative Update on Boeing 787 Battery Fire in Boston
January 20

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board today released a third update on its investigation into the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The lithium-ion battery that powered the auxiliary power unit has been examined in the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington. The battery was x-rayed and CT scans were generated of the assembled battery. The investigative team has disassembled the APU battery into its eight individual cells for detailed examination and documentation. Three of the cells were selected for more detailed radiographic examination to view the interior of the cells prior to their disassembly. These cells are in the process now of being disassembled and the cell's internal components are being examined and documented.

Investigators have also examined several other components removed from the airplane, including wire bundles and battery management circuit boards. The team has developed test plans for the various components removed from the aircraft, including the battery management unit (for the APU battery), the APU controller, the battery charger and the start power unit. On Tuesday, the group will convene in Arizona to test and examine the battery charger and download nonvolatile memory from the APU controller. Several other components have been sent for download or examination to Boeing’s facility in Seattle and manufacturer’s facilities in Japan.

Finally, examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B-787 airplane indicate that the APU battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts.

In accordance with international investigative treaties, the Japan Transport Safety Board and French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile have appointed accredited representatives to this investigation. Similarly, the NTSB has assigned an accredited representative to assist with the JTSB’s investigation of the Jan. 15 battery incident involving an All Nippon Airways B-787. Both investigations remain ongoing.

Further investigative updates on the JAL B-787 incident will be issued as events warrant. To be alerted to any updates or developments, please follow the NTSB on Twitter at

NTSB Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
(202) 314-6100
Kelly Nantel

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Battery Fire "No Excess Voltage", Says US NTSB, Probe Widens

The US National Transportation Safety Board's conclusion about the battery on board the JAL-owned Dreamliner seems to be at odds with the statement made by the Japanese official that "excessive electricity may have overheated the battery in the ANA-owned Dreamliner".

NTSB will examine the battery charger (made by UK's Securaplane Technologies Inc) and the auxiliary power unit (by US's United Technologies).

From Reuters (1/20/2013; emphasis is mine):

Dreamliner probe widens after excess battery voltage ruled out

(Reuters) - U.S. safety investigators on Sunday ruled out excess voltage as the cause of a battery fire this month on a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner jet operated by Japan Airlines Co (JAL) and said they were expanding the probe to look at the battery's charger and the jet's auxiliary power unit.

Last week, governments across the world grounded the Dreamliner while Boeing halted deliveries after a problem with a lithium-ion battery on a second 787 plane, flown by All Nippon Airways Co (ANA), forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in western Japan.

A growing number of investigators and Boeing executives are working around the clock to determine what caused the two incidents which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says released flammable chemicals and could have sparked a fire in the plane's electrical compartment.

There are still no clear answers about the root cause of the battery failures, but the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board's statement eliminated one possible answer that had been raised by Japanese investigators.

It also underscored the complexity of investigating a battery system that includes manufacturers across the world, and may point to a design problem with the battery that could take longer to fix than swapping out a faulty batch of batteries.

"Examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B-787 airplane indicates that the APU (auxiliary power unit) battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts," the NTSB said in a statement issued early Sunday.

On Friday, a Japanese safety official had told reporters that excessive electricity may have overheated the battery in the ANA-owned Dreamliner that was forced to make the emergency landing at Japan's Takamatsu airport last week.

"The NTSB wanted to set the record straight," said one source familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly.

U.S. investigators have already examined the lithium-ion battery that powered the APU, where the battery fire started in the JAL plane, as well as several other components removed from the airplane, including wire bundles and battery management circuit boards, the NTSB statement said.

On Tuesday, investigators will convene in Tucson, Arizona to test and examine the charger for the battery, and download non-volatile memory from the APU controller, with similar tests planned at the Phoenix facility where the APUs are built. Other components have been sent for download or examination to Boeing's Seattle facility and manufacturer facilities in Japan.

Securaplane Technologies Inc, a unit of Britain's Meggitt Plc that makes the charger, said it will fully support the U.S. investigation.

Officials with United Technologies Corp, which builds the plane's auxiliary power unit and is the main supplier of electrical systems on the 787, said they would also cooperate with the investigation.

(Full article at the link)

Meanwhile, The Seattle Times reports that the top management at Boeing secretly says the US regulators are overreacting.