Saturday, July 6, 2013

Japanese Upper House Election: Taro Yamamoto Doesn't Need Teleprompter to Appeal to Voters

He knows his stuff forwards and backwards, it seems.

Taro Yamamoto, a 38-year-old actor turned activist turned aspiring politician, is in the race from Tokyo. He lost in the December 2012 Lower House Election against Shintaro Ishihara's son, but he managed to get more than 70,000 votes which was very significant in that particular district in Tokyo.

He relies only on volunteers for his election campaign, and from Day 1 they have been out on the streets. Yamamoto is running as independent. It's a tough race in Tokyo, with 20 candidates vying for 5 slots and LDP expected to win 2.

I think he originally planned to run as a nation-wide candidate in the proportional representation part of the election, but somehow that fell apart. I think it had to do with him not part of an established party.

It will be a blast if Yamamoto wins...

From his website, here are his three simple core policies and election promises:

1. No one will be exposed to radiation.
2. No Transpacific Partnership (TPP)
3. No one will go hungry.

He is about the only one candidate I know who has been speaking about the danger of radiation exposure from contaminated food and contaminated environment, and demanding government action to stop distribution and sales of contaminated food and goods (such as cement mixed with ashes that contain radioactive cesium).

For that alone, he has my support.

His website:
His Twitter: @yamamototaro0
His campaign live cast:

(UPDATED) Asiana's Boeing 777 Crash-Lands in SFO, 2 Dead 61 Injured

(7/7/2013: Additional information and video in the latest post.)

(UPDATE-7) People seen leaving the plane with their luggage, taken by Samsung executive David Eun. I thought the emergency escape instruction was to leave all the luggage. I wonder if Asiana has a different policy. I hope this didn't result in more people suffering injuries which would have been unnecessary.

2 people dead, 181 injured, 5 in critical condition.

(UPDATE-6) From KTVU screen, image of the seawall, with pieces of plane debris floating in the water:

(UPDATE-5) From KTVU live: 75 people injured. Broken bones and burns suffered by 10 critical passengers (6 females, 4 males). KTVU is praising the flight crew for the quick, successful evacuation of the passengers.

Now 15 patients at SF General Hospital. 6 passengers at a SF hospital specializing in burns. The hospital is waiting for another 20, 30 people, according to the KTVU report.

Triage tent at SF General Hospital:

(UPDATE-4) From local radio station KGO, 2 children and 8 adults taken to San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition, the hospital setting up triage tents.

(UPDATE-3) From Japan's NHK, the passengers on Asiana 214 include 77 Koreans, 141 Chinese, 61 Americans, 1 Japanese. Total number of passengers is 291.

(UPDATE-2) The photos from KTVU shows pieces of the tail in the part of the runway where you're not supposed to land. It looks like the pilot landed short, hitting the seawall. According to radio reports, there was no distress call prior to landing.

(UPDATE) Bay Area TV KTVU says at least 2 dead, 61 injured. There is a raw footage of the crashed plane from a helicopter. The tail is completely gone.

According to radio reports, 10 who were brought to a San Francisco hospital were in critical condition.


Asiana Airlines' Flight 214 crashed while landing on runway 28 left at 11:26 PDT.

From USA Today (7/6/2013):

The tail broke off on landing, according to LA Times.

According to radio news reports, the tail of the Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines (Flight 214 from Seoul) hit the piers before the runway.

It is a clear day with hardly any fog at San Francisco Airport, and all the planes before the Asiana flight landed with no problem at all.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Japan Upper House Election Promises from Political Parties on Nuclear Power

The campaign is already in full swing. Half of Japan's Upper House - House of Councilors - will face election, where Liberal Democratic Party is already rumored to take as many as 73 seats of 122 that are being contested. Combined with 50 seats it already has, LDP could hold the majority in the Upper House, even without the coalition partner Komei Party.

With that wonderful prospect, let us turn to what the parties are promising in terms of nuclear power, 2 years and 4 months after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

In these 2 years and 4 months, food contaminated with varying amounts of radioactive materials (now mostly cesium) continue to be grown and sold, people continue to live in the contaminated middle-third of Fukushima Prefecture and people there continue to grow food for the rest of the country, reduction of radiation contamination has been achieved not by decontamination work by the government and municipalities but by natural reduction through weathering.

In other words, not much has changed since the early days of the nuclear accident. The only difference is that reactors are no longer blowing up one after another at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

Liberal Democratic Party (自民党)(Uggghhh the top page is a huge photo of Abe's face, with too much photoshopping....):

(page 5 of PDF)東京電力福島第一原発事故に関し、新しくかつ友好な除染・減容化技術の導入や中間貯蔵施設の整備等、除染の加速化に努めます。また、除染から廃炉までの道筋を明らかにし、国がより前面に立って具体的な事業展開を加速化します。また、風評被害対策にも万全を期します。

About the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, we will try to accelerate decontamination by introducing new and effective decontamination and volume reduction technologies and by preparing the intermediate storage facilities [for contaminated soil, etc]. We will make clear the pathway from decontamination to decommissioning, and have the national government closer to the forefront in accelerating the business [of decontamination and decommissioning, I suppose]. We will do our best in countering baseless rumors.

(Note that it does not say "the national government will be at the forefront". It will be closer to the forefront than where it is now. Note also that they won't decontaminate. They will accelerate the work. Whatever that means.)

(page 9 of PDF) 原子力発電所の安全性については、原子力規制委員会の専門的判断に委ねます。その上で、国が責任を持って、安全と判断された原発の再稼動については、地方自治体の理解が得られるよう最大限の努力をいたします。

We will leave the safety of nuclear power plants to the expert judgment of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. we will make our maximum effort to obtain the understanding (consent) of the restart from the local municipalities once the nuclear power plants are deemed safe, on the national government's responsibility.

(Hmmm. It looks as if the national government's responsibility is not about the safety of the nuke plants but about its max effort to obtain the local consent.)

Democratic Party of Japan:

(Well, beyond the first page with nice calligraphy, the PDF refuses to load on Firefox.)

Komei Party (公明党) (section headlines):


1. Revive Fukushima
2. Create a roadmap toward decommissioning
3. Stricter safety control
4. Accelerate decontamination

(In other words, nothing new. Komei Party doesn't seem to be aware that we already have a roadmap for decommissioning for nearly 2 years now.)

Japan Restoration Party (日本維新の会) (aka Boy-wonder's party on this blog):



"Smarter and stronger" energy supply system

Promote wind, biomass and other renewable energy to create jobs in local economies.
Go beyond the system that rely on nuclear power plants and lead advanced nations.
Fundamentally revise nuclear policy mechanisms and rules and make them stricter.
Set the world number one safety standards, and make operation of nuclear power safer.
Make the path to decommissioning clear.
Make the responsibility of the government and electric power companies clear by revising the laws regarding nuclear accident compensation.
Make decisions soon on spent fuel recycling and final disposal sites.

Japanese Communist Party (日本共産党) (headlines from the long page on nuclear policy):


Japan without nuclear power plant - stop the reckless restart of nuke plants and nuclear exports, make a political decision on "zero nuke plant" immediately

原発事故は「収束」どころか、危機的事態の真っただ中です 政府が再稼働のテコにしようとする「新基準」も、「破たん」しています

[Fukushima] nuclear accident hasn't "ended"; it is still in the middle of crisis. "New standards" that the government wants to use to restart nuke plants are already "broken". [JCP says an interesting thing - that Nuclear Regulatory Authority has stopped using the word "safety standards" and started using the word "regulatory standards", because it cannot guarantee safety.]


"Three proposals from Japanese Communist Party toward nuclear-free Japan"
Japanese Communist Party thinks the most realistic and responsible way is to stop dangerous restart of nuclear power plants and to make a political decision on "zero nuke immediately", and proposes the following:


1. Withdraw "declaration of end of the accident", position ending the accident, decommissioning, decontamination, and compensation as a big national project that combines expertise and knowledge in Japan, and carry them through.
2. Withdraw policy of restarting nuclear power plants, halt nuclear exports.
3. Make a political decision to stop nuke plants immediately, and make a fundamental shift toward rapidly introducing renewable energy. [This includes shutting down Monju fast breeder and Rokkasho fuel recycling plant.]

People's Life Party (生活の党):


Life: Beyond nuclear is the growth strategy
We will rapidly promote latest thermal power generation and new energy such as solar, wind, biomass, methane hydrate.
In the areas that have nuclear power plant, we will promote the growth of local economy and local employment by going beyond nuclear, promoting decommissioning businesses and new energy.

LDP, DPJ, Japan Restoration Party have their campaign promises in PDF files. That's silly.

The sneakiest wording award goes to LDP, and the devoid of meaning award goes to Komei, with Boy-wonder's party close second.

Boy-wonder's party's election promises read like a textbook for elementary school kids. Everything is about making something "smarter and stronger" (their slogan). It sounds just plain silly. And their drivels about nuclear power and energy are, drivels.

I think I like Japanese Communist Party the best, though I personally disagree with decontamination (I don't think decontamination is feasible) and renewable energy.

I don't think much of Ichiro Ozawa's party (People's Life Party)'s policy. Using decommissioning work as economic growth strategy? How can you grow economy and feel good about it by exposing the workers to added radiation from decommissioning nuclear power plants? Decommissioning is what one needs to do, whether that makes money or not.

By the way, One of the reasons why Nuclear Regulatory Authority decided to start implementing the new regulatory safety standards on July 8, instead of later this month as originally planned, is rather obvious. By doing it on July 8, in the middle of the heated campaign, no one will pay attention.

I suppose the Japanese will practice what they preach to others (like secular Egyptians who demonstrated against "democratically elected" President Morsi) and support the overwhelmingly and "democratically elected" government of Liberal Democratic Party and its policies.

Venezuelan President Offers Asylum to Edward Snowden on Venezuela's Independence Day

"I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution"

Earlier, there was a report that Nicaragua was considering granting asylum, too.

From Reuters (7/5/2013; emphasis is mine):

Venezuela's Maduro offers asylum to Snowden

(Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.

"In the name of America's dignity ... I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden," Maduro told a televised military parade marking Venezuela's independence day.

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport.

WikiLeaks said on Friday that Snowden had applied to six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has asked for protection from U.S. espionage charges.

Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a U.S. spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the U.S. "empire."

"He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the U.S. spying on the whole world," Maduro said.

"Who is the guilty one? A young man ... who denounces war plans, or the U.S. government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?"

"Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?"

Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Snowden's stay in Moscow. Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum in that country and needed to choose a place to go.

Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

Zero Hedge seems to have captured the earlier version of the same Reuters article, which had a different wording of what the president of Venezuela said:

"I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,"

Here's Nicaragua's remarks, via RT USA:

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega said on Friday that he had received an asylum request from US NSA-leaker Edward Snowden and could accept the bid "if circumstances permit."

"We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua," Ortega said at a public event.

US Job Numbers in June: Part-Time Job Gain 360,000, Full-Time Job Loss 240,000, Number of Bartenders and Waiters All-Time High

Chart from Zero Hedge on this morning's BLS announcement on June job data:

The US now has the highest number of bartenders and waiters in history...

And low-paying job galore...

Feeling the "recovery" yet? The US stock market are feeling it. Has been for the past 4 years.

Just a reminder. Thanks to the unilateral decision somewhere at the White House, employers are exempt from Obamacare mandate and penalty until 2015, i.e. until after the mid-term election in 2014. Citizens aren't. Major insurance companies are exiting from the California insurance market. Penalty for not having a health insurance will promptly start in 2014 for small people, enforced by IRS.

(UPDATED: Iceland, Germany Reject) Snowden Drops Russia Asylum Bid, As Some European Nations Insist He Apply on Their Soil

(UPDATE-3, 7/6/2013) Bolivia's president Evo Morales says he will offer asylum to Snowden if asked.

(UPDATE-2, 7/5/2013) Nicaragua, then Venezuela offer asylum to Snowden. See my latest post.

(UPDATE 7/5/2013)  Iceland is the latest to say no to Snowden, by the Parliament overwhelmingly voting to not bring the issue to the Parliament.

Earlier, there was a report by Der Spiegel, that Germany "agonized" over the asylum request, but in the end had to reject the request because Mr. Snowden is not on Germany's soil. Sure.

At least Germany's Green Party said this:

But many political leaders, particularly from Germany's Green Party, had demanded that Snowden be allowed to come to Germany on humanitarian grounds. Some Green Party leaders also pointed out that Snowden is an important witness in a significant case of espionage involving German interests and should be brought to Germany as a witness.

"Ame-pochi" nations.


(original post on 7/2/2013)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden must stop leaking the information harmful to the US before his government can consider asylum. (Huh?)

Germany, Norway, Austria, Poland, Finland and Switzerland say he must make his request on their soil, according to the latest from AP.

It looks like the Obama administration's bullying is working.

So, the list of 21 countries...becomes the list of 14 countries one maybe and a handful that haven't made any response, as of Tuesday July 2, 2013 according to The Guardian.

  1. the Republic of Austria,
  2. the Plurinational State of Bolivia,
  3. the Federative Republic of Brazil,
  4. the People’s Republic of China,
  5. the Republic of Cuba,
  6. the Republic of Finland,
  7. the French Republic,
  8. the Federal Republic of Germany,
  9. the Republic of India,
  10. the Italian Republic,
  11. the Republic of Ireland,
  12. the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
  13. the Republic of Nicaragua,
  14. the Kingdom of Norway,
  15. the Republic of Poland,
  16. the Russian Federation,
  17. the Kingdom of Spain,
  18. the Swiss Confederation,
  19. the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,
  20. the Republic of Ecuador and
  21. the Republic of Iceland

#Nuclear Japan: As Many As 14 Reactors at 7 Nuke Plants for Consideration for Restart

There are 60 inspectors in 3 teams that Nuclear Regulatory Authority will send out to these plants, and they will assess whether the reactors and the plants meet the new and improved safety standards set out by NRA within 6 months, or so NRA says it will try.

The new safety standards, which no one outside NRA and the industry seem to know exactly, are scheduled to become effective on Monday July 8, 2013, but NRA doesn't want confusion and media circus on the day. So, it has instructed the plant operators to submit a document today, Friday July 5, indicating their intention to submit the formal application for restart on July 8.

Protocols and formalities first. Always first. Probably the last also.

According to Jiji Tsushin's pictorial (6/19/2013), these 14 reactors at 7 nuclear power plants are:

Tomari Nuclear Power Plant (Hokkaido Electric Power Company)
Reactors 1, 2, 3 (MOX-fuel planned)

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (Tokyo Electric Power Company)
Reactors 6, 7

Takahama Nuclear Power Plant (Kansai Electric Power Company)
Reactors 3 (uses MOX-fuel), 4 (MOX-fuel planned)

Ooi Nuclear Power Plant (Kansai Electric Power Company)
Reactors 3, 4

Ikata Nuclear Power Plant (Shikoku Electric Power Company)
Reactor 3 (uses MOX-fuel)

Genkai Nuclear Power Plant (Kyushu Electric Power Company)
Reactors 3 (uses MOX-fuel), 4

Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Kyushu Electric Power Company)
Reactors 1, 2

In the press conference on July 3, 2013 (the same press conference in which he let everybody know his displeasure toward Governor of Niigata), NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said (according to Jiji Tsushin):


"I do not say the risk is zero, but we now have means to prevent a serious accident. We are requesting [measures] so as not to cause an accident like the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, so we will be OK."

What he doesn't say here is:
  • What about measures if an accident does happen?

  • What if the mode of accident is totally different from what happened in Fukushima?

But those will be "soh teh gai - beyond expectation", again, and we are supposed to say "shikata ga nai - It can't be helped, whatever happens happens", again.

On the first day of the Upper House election campaign, only three heads of the political parties mentioned in length about nuclear power plants: Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party, and Green Wind Party.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

(OT But Still Idio(syncra)tic Japan) "What Do You Think of the Figure Skater Who Gave Birth Without Being Married and Without Disclosing Who the Father Is?"

(UPDATE) Reaction was fast and furious, and Shukan Bunshun had to take down the poll, saying "we ended up giving an impression that we're negative on the childbirth itself, and that we are criticizing [her] for raising the child while working. For that, I am responsible as the chief editor. I apologize to everyone who felt offended by this poll." (出産そのものを否定したり、働きながら子育てをすることを批判しているような印象をあたえてしまいました。その点については、編集長の私の責任です。このアンケートに関して不快な思いを抱かれたすべての方にお詫び申し上げます。)

Well, the person most offended by him and his magazine must be the skater herself.


asks one of the leading weekly magazines in Japan Shukan Bunshun.

The answer should be "It's none of anyone's business", but Shukan Bunshun has set up a webpage to poll readers.

You would think people in Japan will cheer for a birth of a baby, considering the severe decline of the birth rate of the country. But no. Many of them would rather criticize the skater for her "irresponsibility".

25-year-old Miki Ando is one of the top figure skaters in Japan, having won the World Figure Skate Championship in 2007 and 2011.

From Shukan Bunshun (7/4/2013; emphasis is mine):


Urgent poll!
Do you support Miki Ando's having given birth to a baby?


Figure skater Miki Ando disclosed on "Hodo Station" TV on July 1 that she has given birth to a baby girl in April. She also said she is returning to competition, and hoping to participate in Sochi Winter Olympics next year.


Reactions to this sudden confession have been varied. Some congratulate her for the birth, but others are not happy that she is not married and she doesn't disclose who the father is. Yet others criticize that raising the child and being in competition at the same time will do no justice to either. Please let us hear your opinion by answering the questions below.



1) Do you support Miki Ando's having given birth?
2) Are you in favor of her aiming for the Olympics while she raises her child?

Please answer each question, and give us your reasons.

As a reward for expressing the opinion, readers will have a chance to win 10,000 yen gift cards. Shukan Bunshun plans to give out 10 of them.

Congratulations, Ms. Ando. You and your baby have my best wishes. And whoever the father is, he has my best wishes, too.

Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority Is Displeased with Governor of Niigata for His Criticizm of NRA, Calls Him "Unique"

Calling someone "unique" is not a compliment in Japan. It is a severe criticism.

Governor of Niigata Prefecture, Hirohiko Izumida, is a former elite career bureaucrat from the Ministry of Economy. But unlike his peers (there are many among governors and mayors in Japan) he has been quite vocal in opposing the national government when it comes to nuclear power plants (Niigata has TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, for which TEPCO is going to submit an application for restart) and burning disaster debris in municipalities within Niigata Prefecture known for excellent sake and rice because of its pristine water.

Alas, the governor technically has no say in either, according to the existing rules and regulations, no matter how valid his criticisms are. It's solely up to the municipalities to decide whether they want nuclear power plants in their municipalities to restart, or whether they want to burn disaster debris in their municipalities.

Nuclear Regulatory Authority, unfortunately revealing itself to be just another enabler of the central government and the nuclear industry under the LDP administration, is not happy with Izumida's criticism, and the chairman of NRA openly showed his displeasure in a press conference, which is unusual.

From Kyodo News (7/3/2013):

新潟知事の規制委批判に不快感 「個性的」と委員長

Displeased with criticism of NRA by Governor of Niigata, NRA chairman calls him "unique"


During the press conference on July 3, Chairman Shunichi Tanaka of Nuclear Regulatory Authority referred to Governor of Niigata Hirohiko Izumida, who has been criticizing NRA repeatedly over the new regulatory standards for nuclear power plants and the disaster prevention plans, and said, "Most heads of the local governments understand [the position of NRA]. I think his remarks are rather unique", indicating his displeasure with the governor.


Mr. Izumida has criticized NRA, saying "New regulatory standards only focus on hardware", "Evacuation plan effectively ignores the suggestions from the local municipalities". When he visited NRA in April this year and asked to see Mr. Tanaka, he was instead met by the director general of Nuclear Regulatory Agency, which is the secretariat of Nuclear Regulatory Authority, in accordance with the custom. Mr. Izumida was not too happy with this treatment.

When I read the news first at Yomiuri Shinbun, I thought it was some kind of compliment to call someone "unique", as Yomiuri's article had no mention of "displeasure". Clearly, it was self-evident to Yomiuri and its readers that Chairman Tanaka's remark was meant as criticism, and so the paper didn't elaborate.

Yes, I completely forgot this was Japan, still not a very good place for people to be "unique". A twitter reader reminded me that the word "individualism" is equal to "egoism" in Japan, and it is something to be looked down on and discouraged.

As to the governor unable to meet the chairman because it was out of the long-standing protocol, what can I say? That's like Tokugawa era, from about 1600 to 1868. Here I was, thinking it was 21st century even in Japan.

But then it does makes sense, as I read more articles and tweets in Japan criticizing the oust of the elected president of Egypt. Doing something out of established protocols is what most Japanese are very bad at (and therefore they criticize heavily), and that was so apparent during the early days of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident (batteries couldn't be transported over the highway without necessary permits, for example). Seeing that happen, even in a foreign country, must be a horror to them.

So what do they do to deal with the news out of Egypt? Blame the US, of course, for supporting the demonstrators. I don't know where they get that idea, but it doesn't matter. To deal with something horrible as things happening out of order, they have to have some divine or devilish intervention totally out of their control. The US fits the bill.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July, Celebrate "HaPPY SuRVeiLLaNCE DaY 2013!"

From williambanzai7:

More at the link.

Also found at Zero Hedge: The U.S. vs. Edward Snowden: Does the World Not Have the Courage or Decency to Protect Mr. Snowden?

(OT) So France Does Turn Off Lights

In December last year when I posted an article from UK's Daily Mail that the French government would turn off the lights to save money and show 'sobriety', there was a comment doubting the story as coming from a dubious source.

Well it looks like it really happened, as of July 1, 2013.

The news does not necessarily come from a credible news source, but I made my judgment that it is a valid piece of news.

From Huffington Post (7/1/2013):

Paris Illumination Ban: 'City Of Light' Begins Turning Off Its Lights At Night To Save Energy

By Sara Gates

"The City Of Light" is losing some of its brightness.
Under Paris' illumination ban, merchants and non-residential building owners in the French city will be required to turn off their lights at night in order to save energy.

France's energy conservation decree, which was first passed in January, will take effect across the nation Monday night, and Paris is likely to feel the effects of the ban the most. The capital city is known for keeping its streets and monuments twinkling at night.

The illumination ban is expected to save 200 million euros (more than $260 million) and 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. Earlier this year, ministry head Delphine Batho also indicated that the nationwide lighting restriction would cut down negative effects of artificial lighting.

Store and non-residential building owners will be required to turn off all interior lights by 1 a.m. or an hour after the last worker has left the premises, French TV channel TF1 reports. Exterior signs and building facades must also be extinguished between the hours of 1 and 7 a.m.

However, there are a few exceptions to the decree. The Eiffel Tower will continue its nighttime light shows and security-related lighting fixtures will remain lit, as well. Certain areas will also be granted immunity from the ban on holidays and during cultural events.

Each town's mayor will be responsible for enforcing the illumination ban and handing out 750-euro fines (nearly $980) to businesses that fail to turn off lights. Repeat offenders may also face suspension of electricity.

(Full article at the link)

As one of the comments to my December 2012 post pointed out, 78.8% of electricity in France comes from nuclear power, highest in the world. France has the 7th lowest electricity rate in EU, and the lowest CO2 emission per unit of GDP in the world.

Egyptian President Under House Arrest As the US Backs Away from Morsi, Coup Over

Well that was quick.

Politico's piece is titled "Military Ousts Morsi in Egypt", but the original (or former) title can still be seen at the browser bar.

It was "US eases away from Egyptian President Morsi". Exactly.

From Politico (7/3/2013):

Military ousts Morsi in Egypt

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was forced out of office Wednesday by the Egyptian military and opposition leaders, just a couple of hours after the Obama Administration voiced its first public doubts about Morsi's handling of the massive street protests that spread across the country in recent days.

...Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. Government also panned Morsi's speech, saying the address fell short of detailing the reforms the Egyptian leader needed to promise to quell widespread dissatisfaction with his rule.

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. "felt there was an absence of significant, specific steps" in Morsi's Tuesday night speech. "Unfortunately, that was not a part of what he talked about in his speech.....There's more that he needs to do," she added during a daily briefing for reporters.

The comments expressed a greater degree of U.S. dissatisfaction with Morsi than previously acknowledged by U.S. officials. However, Psaki insisted that the criticism did not reflect a U.S. decision to back the opposition or the military.

"We haven’t taken sides and don’t plan to take sides," Psaki said. She acknowledged that she had no criticism to offer of the Egyptian military, despite a warning from military leaders that they would step in if Morsi's government and protesters did not come to an accomodation.

Psaki declined to outline specific steps the U.S. would like Morsi to take, beyond avoiding violence. However, she disputed claims by many protesters that U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson had sided with the government over the opposition.

In a speech two weeks ago, Patterson said she and the U.S. were "deeply skeptical" that protests would bring about positive change in Egypt. But Psaki said the full text of the ambassador's remarks showed she was not expressing a preference for the government. "We continue to support the right of all people to peaceably assemble and express themselves," Psaki said.

Sure. Tell that to the protesters. "Why don't you read the full text of what she said? You're taking things out of context and that's not right!"

Either she or Politico conveniently omits that the protesters' anger was more toward President Obama himself.

If the US now endorses any candidate, that person will likely become the next target of the public anger.


(UPDATE) It is just hilarious to read many tweets and snippets of TV programs in Japan about this "coup" in Egypt. They seem to think it is all done by the US government, to make democratically elected president look bad. It's only handful of citizens protested against the president, and that was at the prompting of the US.

The biggest demonstration in history, as per BBC, is a "handful" according to some Japanese. One of my followers reprimanded me for not feeling sorry for this dictatorial president of Egypt, by sending me a clip of a TV show, in which a gaunt-looking woman said it's all because of the US, only a handful of demonstrators, the president did nothing wrong, etc., etc. I was told that person was an expert on Egypt, because she was born in Egypt. Right.

Ecuador's About-Face on Ed Snowden Brought on By US Vice President Joe Biden

From Bloomberg News (7/2/2013; part):

The effort to repatriate Snowden is being led by Vice President Joseph Biden and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as the situation is being treated as a law-enforcement issue.

Biden’s Message

In a call to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, Biden didn’t just communicate the reasons Snowden should be returned. He also let Correa know that relations would “strongly deteriorate” if Snowden were allowed to come to the country, the Ecuadorean leader said in a June 29 radio address.

Biden’s call to Correa, which was confirmed by U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, sent a message to all countries that might consider granting asylum to Snowden. Psaki wouldn’t specify what other nations the U.S. had contacted or what exactly was said.

Mr. Ben Rhodes is a former speech writer of Mr. Obama.

Bloomberg News also quotes officials in Poland as saying "it didn’t meet the requirements for political refuge", and provides the link to the twitter account of India's official spokesperson for Ministry of External Affairs who tweeted:

If Snowden doesn't meet the requirements for political refuge, I don't know who does.

It's amusing to read news about Snowden in various websites and read comment sections. I see many comments that read strangely alike, accusing him as traitor in capital letters. 50 cents a piece at most, probably.

Talk about amusing, the US State Department apparently spent 630,000 dollars buying Facebook "likes", which boosted the likes from 100,000 in 2011 to 2 million in March 2013.

Between that, and Joe Biden's friendly talks with leaders, everyone "likes" the US, don't they?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bolivian Presidential Plane Rerouted to Austria After France, Italy, Spain and Portugal Denied Use of Airspace for Fear of Snowden on Board

A curious article from AP says Italy, France, Portugal and Spain denied the use of their respective airspace to the plane carrying the Bolivian president Evo Morales on his way back home from a summit meeting in Moscow, on suspicion or baseless rumor that Edward Snowden was on board.

So what if he was on board? What's that to these nations?

Action speaks louder than the vocal protests by these governments over the NSA spying.

Or does it?

From AP (7/3/2013; emphasis is mine):

Bolivian leader's plane rerouted on Snowden fear

VIENNA (AP) — The plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was rerouted to Austria after various European countries refused to let it cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board, Bolivian officials said Tuesday.

Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said that Snowden was not on the plane, which was taking Morales home from a summit in Russia, where he had suggested that his government would be willing to consider granting asylum to the American.

A furious Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said France and Portugal would have to explain why they canceled authorization for the plane, claiming that the decision had put the president's life at risk.

"We don't know who invented this lie" that Snowden was traveling with Morales, Choquehuanca said in La Paz. "We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales."

In a midnight press conference, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia said that not only France and Portugal, but also Italy and Spain were denying the plane permission to fly through their airspace.

He described Morales as being "kidnapped by imperialism" in Europe.

"The ambassador for Spain in Austria has just informed us that there is no authorization to fly over Spanish territory and that at 9 a.m. Wednesday they would be in contact with us again," said Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra, adding that the Spanish government had put as a condition for passage the "revision of the presidential plane."

Earlier, Choquehuanca said that Spain's government allowed Morales' plane to refuel in its territory before flying on to Vienna.

French government officials reached overnight said they could not confirm whether Morales' plane was denied permission to fly over France. Officials at Portugal's Foreign Ministry and National Civil Aviation Authority could not be reached to comment.

(Full article at the link)

The last paragraph has made me wonder if this action of denying the use of airspace was originated from the national governments at all.

But assuming the action was taken by these national governments for now, there is an expression in Japanese that describes a government, a nation, which tries its best to please a master (usually the United States of America) and wouldn't dare asserting its own opinion against the master. The expression is "ame-pochi" - "ame" for America, "pochi" is a name of a dog. If a Japanese hear the word "pochi", he/she invariably identifies it with a dog. Many Japanese sarcastically call their own government and country "ame-pochi".

Japan is not alone in being "ame-pochi" after all.

(UPDATED) Egyptian Army Says It Will Defend Egypt and Its People "Against Any Terrorist, Radical or Fool"


Al Jazeera, one hour ago: Egypt's Health Ministry says 22 dead and at least 200 injured in Cairo from violence that erupted following President Morsi's speech.



A Terrorist, radial or fool or Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi, I suppose.

From Reuters (7/2/2013; emphasis is mine):

Egypt army says ready to die in "final hours"

(Reuters) - Egypt's high command said on Wednesday the army was ready to die to defend Egypt's people against terrorists and fools, in a response to Islamist President Mohamed Mursi that was headlined "The Final Hours".

The post on the official Facebook page of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), headed by armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said: "We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool."

Issued three hours after Mursi appeared on television to reject an ultimatum from Sisi that he share power with his opponents or face a military solution by 10:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), a military source said the statement made clear that the armed forces would not abandon their demands.

A huge crowd in Tahrir Square in Cairo, also from Reuters. It looks even bigger than the ones I used to see in January, February of 2011, if that's possible.

WTI crude oil (August contract) blasts past $100, and Brent is now above $105, according to Bloomberg.

Highly Radioactive Piece Emitting 3,400 Microsieverts/Hour (Beta/Gamma) Surface Radiation Found in Naraha-machi in #Fukushima During Decontamination Work to Return Residents

The town was designated as "no-entry" zone until August 10, 2012. The area where this tiny piece, with surface contamination of more than 100,000 cpm (meaning their survey meter went overscale), according to TEPCO, was found is currently designated as "Area preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order" (i.e. residents can return).

The 3 x 1.5 x 0.5 centimeter piece was found during the decontamination work being carried out by the national government.

Again, true to form for TEPCO/national government, the piece was found on June 20. The Ministry of the Environment asked TEPCO to analyze the piece on June 21. The piece was brought to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant for analysis on July 1. Announcement of the finding was on July 2.

I suppose TEPCO was trying to find a suitable container to carry the piece, for 10 days.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos, 7/2/2013:

(Click to enlarge)

TEPCO's document above says:

The piece was found on the riverbed of Ide River in Naraha-machi at the river mouth, by the Ministry of the Environment on June 20. The decontamination crew was conducting the survey of radiation levels prior to decontamination, and found a hot spot on the riverbed, and collected this piece.

Surface radiation levels:

Gamma: 105 microsieverts/hour
Beta and gamma: 3,400 microsieverts/hour

Radiation levels at 30 centimeters:

gamma: 23 microsieverts/hour
Beta and gamma: 26 microsieverts/hour

Surface contamination: exceeding 100,000 cpm

The river mouth of Ide River is about 15 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Devastation in Naraha-machi, to the Ide River river mouth, video taken on the day the "no-entry" zone designation was lifted on August 10, 2012:

IAEA Ministerial Conference Plays Up Nuclear-Terrorism Threats Citing #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident

What a scary idea (sarc). It looks like the participants in the first ministerial conference by IAEA want to make the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident a poster child for some new, worldwide measures against "nuclear terrorists".

All it takes is to cut off the power supply to a nuclear plant, that's for sure. As if they didn't know it before.

All I can think of is bath salts, baby diapers, shredded newspaper, and TEPCO's managers who couldn't disregard laws and regulations meant for peacetime to bring necessary batteries to the plant.

The biggest threat to a nuclear power plant, as far as Japan is concerned, is indeed human, but not "terrorists".

But no matter. Here's from Bloomberg News (7/1/2013; emphasis is mine):

Fukushima Shows Nuclear-Terrorism Risks at UN Meeting

By Jonathan Tirone - Jul 1, 2013 5:09 AM PT

Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, whose 2011 meltdowns dislocated 160,000 people, may provide a new blueprint for terrorists seeking to inflict mass disruption, security analysts said at a United Nations meeting.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency convened a weeklong meeting of 1,300 diplomats, scientists and security analysts today in Vienna to examine ways to boost protection against nuclear terrorism. It is the IAEA’s first ministerial conference.

“Fukushima sent a message to terrorists that if you manage to cause a nuclear power plant to melt down, that really causes major panic and disruption in a society,” Matthew Bunn, a Harvard University professor and former White House adviser, said at a briefing. “All you need to do to do that is cut off the power for an extended period of time.”

World leaders have pledged to secure the world’s loose nuclear material by 2014 to reduce the likelihood of an atomic attack by terrorists. While national nuclear facilities endeavor to track the millions of pounds of uranium and plutonium that are unaccounted for, some focus has shifted to the threat posed by power plants.

Fukushima “has provided a number of findings and lessons that are also useful for preparations for an incident caused by human hand, such as a terrorist attack at a nuclear power station,” said Shunichi Suzuki, Japan’s envoy to the meeting.

Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency will present steps it’s taken to boost security against terrorism tomorrow in Vienna. The IAEA conference is taking place behind closed doors.

‘Security Problem’

“Fukushima is a nuclear security problem as much as it was a nuclear safety problem,” Kenneth Luongo, who with the U.S. Department of Energy helped secure atomic material in Russia after the Soviet Union disintegrated, said at a briefing.

The IAEA has projected nuclear power is set to expand worldwide even after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns and radiation leaks at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima plant.

A nuclear-armed terrorist attack on the port in San Jose, California, would kill 60,000 people and cost as much as $1 trillion in damage and cleanup, according to a 2006 Rand study commissioned by the U.S Department of Homeland Security.

Even a low-level radiological or dirty-bomb attack on Washington, while causing a limited number of deaths, would lead to damages of $100 billion, according to Igor Khripunov, the former Soviet arms-control envoy to the U.S, who’s now at the Athens, Georgia-based Center for International Trade and Security.

Decommissioned Material

Because a terrorist needs only about 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of highly-enriched uranium or 8 kilograms of plutonium to improvise a bomb, the margin of error for material accounting is small. There are at least 2 million kilograms of stockpiled weapons-grade nuclear material left over from decommissioned bombs and atomic-fuel plants, according to the most recent estimates by the International Panel on Fissile Materials, a nonprofit Princeton, New Jersey, research institute that tracks nuclear material.

That’s enough to make at least 100,000 new nuclear weapons on top of the 20,000 bombs already in state stockpiles.

“The threat of nuclear terrorism is real and serious, and it will endure for the foreseeable future,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz Ernest said today in prepared remarks.

Except... what "major panic"? The Japanese government was about the only entity that panicked in the Fukushima nuclear accident, but even it managed to pretend everything was OK. And that pretense, now a default position, continues today in Japan.

And... "such as a terrorist attack at a nuclear power station"? All you need is a utility company operating a nuclear power plant.

And... I don't think there is a port in San Jose, California, other than the "air" port.

And if IAEA is that concerned about "nuclear terrorism" throughout the world, why has it been actively promoting nuclear power plants, particularly in developing nations, after March 11, 2011?

On June 27, 2013, right before the current conference, IAEA's Director General Yukiya Amano in the opening remarks of the ministerial conference in St. Petersburg, Russia on nuclear power in the 21st Century painted a bright future for the nuclear industry, according to The Hindu (6/27/2013):

The global nuclear industry has learned its lessons from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan in 2011 and can look to the future with “confidence and optimism,” said the United Nations nuclear energy chief.

In an upbeat address to the first international conference on nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster Yukiya Amano, Director General of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said that “valuable lessons” have been learned from the tragedy and “effective steps have been taken to make nuclear power plants safer everywhere.”

Taken these two ministerial conferences together, IAEA and the world powers want to spread nuclear power plants throughout the world so that they can be targets of terrorists.

Does that make sense? It clearly makes sense for them.

Amano's June 27, 2013 St. Petersburg speech can be viewed at IAEA website, here, and July 1, 2013 Vienna speech here.

"Abenomics" at Work: McDonald Japan to Sell 1,000 Yen ($10) Quarter Pounder Burgers for a Limited Time

I said I would be the world number one.

Everybody laughed and said it was impossible.

That's OK. That's even better.

Surprise will be bigger.


Japanese bubble is already here. What will be next? Tiramisu with gold flakes, again?

For those Japanese who were born after the last bubble burst (1990), here's your chance for a taste of bubble. Get it before it bursts, again.

The man in the commercial is Keisuke Honda, a 27-year-old midfielder who plays in the Russian Premier League.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mitsubishi Trading, Japanese and Canadian Pension Funds and Japanese Government Bank to Buy Up Large Infrastructure in the US and Europe

Not the Lincoln Center or Pebble Beach Golf Club this time. The Japanese have learned from these huge loss-incurring vanity investments; this time they will focus on large infrastructure (power plants, railroads, airports, power grids, etc.) in advanced countries in the US and Europe that will provide steady revenue stream (or so they think) in stronger currencies than Japanese yen.

And this time, they have two huge pensions as investors - one Canadian (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, or OMERS, with over 55 billion dollars in assets), one Japanese (Pension Fund Association, with 10.58 trillion yen (106 billion dollars) in assets). Even if they lose on the investment, it's none of their money anyway but the money due workers in the future.

All I can think of, reading this news, is an ad I saw on the back page of the alumni magazine of my school (in the US). I believe it was by Morgan Stanley wealth management group, showing the iconic photograph of the Bixby Bridge in California's Big Sur and urging wealthy alumni to invest with them in the vital infrastructure around the globe.

I think it was a year or so before the spectacular collapse of the world financial system triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

So the Japanese are at least 6 years behind the curve. That's about right, with everything else from so-called "Abenomics" to "QE from another dimension".

Looking at the organizational chart of Global Strategic Investment Alliance (GSIA), for Mitsubishi Trading to say it "joined" is stretching the truth. It looks apparent that Mitsubishi will act as the secretariat of the whole investment alliance, by forming a separate management company with Mizuho Corporate Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (100% funded by the Japanese government).

So the whole scheme is approved and promoted by the Japanese national government.

GSIA's first purchase, according to Nikkei Shinbun (7/2/2013), will be a thermal power plant in the State of Michigan in the US, for 200 billion yen (2 billion US dollars). GSIA will fund the half of the purchase with project financing, and the rest of the purchase will be funded by the investors (i.e. the two pension funds). According to Nikkei, GSIA is expecting 10% return each year through long-term electricity sales agreements with users that will include Dow Chemical.

If the infrastructure investments that have gone terribly wrong in the past 10 years in the US are any guide, there will be US investment banks on the other side, and probably a joint venture between the local municipality and GSIA will be formed which will operate the power plant. The power plant is likely to be beefed up, renovated with costly technologies, beyond the needs of the municipality and its customers, and the utility bill will be increased significantly. Project financing will probably involve interest rate swap agreements with the US investment banks, and sooner or later the swap will turn favorable to the investment bank and against GSIA. The return may not be 10% as they hope, and a much lower return may trigger an event that will require more collateral from the investors.

Have fun, GSIA. Maybe this time will be different. I assume Canada's OMERS knows what it is doing.

US State Department Awards "2013 World Food Prize" to Executive Vice President of Monsanto

With Monsanto's former vice president serving as Obama's Food Safety Czar, what else could you expect?

From the US State Department Press Release on 6/19/2013 (emphasis is mine):

Three Scientists Win 27th Annual World Food Prize

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 19, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the keynote address at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State on June 19, where three distinguished scientists were named winners of the 2013 World Food Prize: Marc Van Montagu, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries, Department of Molecular Genetics at Ghent University, Belgium; Mary-Dell Chilton, Distinguished Science Fellow at Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. in Triangle Park, North Carolina; and Robert T. Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, Missouri.

They were honored for their independent breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern plant biotechnology. Their research has made it possible for farmers to grow crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate such as excessive heat and drought.

(Full press release at the link)

Mark Bittman at New York Times says Dr. Robert T. Fraley is a pioneer in genetic engineering in agriculture, and that Monsanto is actually a sponsor of this Prize.

What a joke.

Some of Mr. Bittman's fuming (emphasis is mine):

If Secretary of State John Kerry’s G.M.O.-boosting speech announcing the World Food Prize at the State Department last week is any indication of his ability to parse complicated issues, he might be better off windsurfing. Because Kerry appears to have bought into the big ag-driven myth that only by relying on genetic engineering will we be able to feed the nine billion citizens of our planet by 2050. And he enthusiastically endorsed granting this mockery of a prize to three biotech engineers, including Robert Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto and a pioneer of genetic engineering in agriculture.

Never mind that Monsanto is a sponsor of the prize (and that the list of other backers reads like a who’s who of big ag and big food), or that we never get to know the names of either the nominees or the nominators. [1] Never mind that we’re not feeding the seven billion now, or that we’re sickening a billion of those with a never-before-seen form of malnourishment. Never mind that we already grow enough food to feed not only everyone on the planet but everyone who’s going to be born in the next 30 or 40 years. And never mind that, despite the hype, there’s scant evidence that the involvement of genetic engineering in agriculture has done much to boost yields, reduce the use of chemicals or improve the food supply.

Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow, July 1, 2013

From Wikileaks (emphasis is mine, but emphasis should actually be on every single sentence):

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden

Monday 1st July 2013