Japan has been able to cool down two reactors that were in trouble, leaving four that still could undergo a core meltdown at any minute. When the tsunami hit the mainland, it knocked off the electricity. In the short time it took to turn on their back-up generators, the fuel rods had already been exposed to air, creating an immense amount of heat and boiling away the liquid that normally acts as a coolant.
They are pouring in seawater, but it is boiling off before it gets to the fuel rods, so the reactor core cannot cool down and become stable. Notice the incredibly low-tech approach and solutions they are using, it's as if the nuclear industry has been frozen in time since the late 1940's... This critical condition could happen for a long time, until some 6th grader comes up with an obvious solution, or until all of the water in the ocean becomes contaminated from radiation; then, I guess it doesn't really matter... Unfortunately, temperatures are slowly rising, and it looks like the meltdown scenario will happen. Over the weekend the Japanese government deliberately tried to obscure the issue by giving out contradictory facts, even when the second hydrogen epxlossion occurred until even the anchors on CNN started to complain:
"Japanese reactor operators now have little choice but to periodically release radioactive steam until the radioactive elements in the fuel of the stricken reactors stop generating intense heat, a process that can continue for a year or more even after the fission process has stopped. ... That suggests that the 200,000 people who have been evacuated may not be able to return to their homes for a considerable period and that shifts in the wind could blow radioactive materials toward Japanese cities rather than out to sea."
Welcome to the New World Order... please supersize mine...
Robert Samuelson's opinion piece, linked above, wonders what factor did the price of rising food staples have in the current Middle East protests and upheaval? The answer, of course, is a lot. The threat of starvation, along with no prospects for jobs when over half of the population is under 30, and the oppression and casual torture of just about everyone by the police, private armies, drug smugglers, and petty government officials mixed together into one angry soup. Yes, it tasted bitter.
At least someone other than myself is now complaining about Iraq's Prime Minister and how he is grabbing power like it were the last few items on the buffet cart. He has beaten the crap out of protesters while vowing to not seek a third term. Wow, I'll bet he will declare a state of emergency by then and follow the inspiration of a young Hosni Mubarak, try to stay for another 30 more years... In an editorial, the NY Times claims that: "Mr. Maliki has still not filled all his cabinet positions — most notably, he has not named a defense minister or interior minister. Instead, he is personally overseeing the powerful, and often abusive, army and police forces.
That concentration of clout is corrosive, especially to a fragile, new democracy.
Mr. Maliki needs to quickly appoint competent professionals to run the two institutions and let them do their jobs in a fair, impartial manner. The reported torture and other abuses by security forces must stop now.
Mr. Maliki’s thirst for power doesn’t end there. In January, Iraq’s highest court — which is far too cozy with the prime minister — agreed to let him take control of three formerly independent agencies that run the central bank, conduct elections and investigate corruption. (Last week, the court issued a “clarification,” insisting the agencies would remain independent; we’re eager to see if that proves true.)
Six months earlier, the court — at Mr. Maliki’s request — ruled that only the prime minister or his cabinet, not members of Parliament, could propose legislation. Democracy requires checks and balances. They are fast disappearing in Iraq."