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bananas's Journal
bananas's Journal
October 31, 2014

Sailors Can Sue Tepco in U.S. Over Radiation, Judge Says


Sailors Can Sue Tepco in U.S. Over Radiation, Judge Says
By Jacob Adelman 2014-10-30T08:31:54Z

U.S. Navy personnel who were exposed to radiation from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima plant during earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in 2011 can sue the power station’s operator in California, a court ruled.

U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino in San Diego denied the request by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) to dismiss the class-action lawsuit based on jurisdictional issues and have it heard in Japan instead.


Tepco had argued the U.S. military had contributed to the plaintiffs’ harm, limiting the utility’s liability.


The case is Lindsay R. Cooper v Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc., 12-cv-3032. U.S. District Court, Southern District of California.

October 31, 2014

Completion of nuclear fuel processing plant postponed for 21st time

Source: Asahi Shimbun

Complications in safety screening have led to the 21st postponement of work to complete a key nuclear processing facility in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.

The latest delay, announced Oct. 30 by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., the operator of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, could affect future operations at nuclear plants across the country.


The facility was originally scheduled to be finished in 1997. Just a year ago, Japan Nuclear Fuel announced its 20th postponement.


Even if the electric power companies can restart their nuclear reactors, they could be forced to shut them down if the Rokkasho plant cannot accept additional nuclear fuel and their own storage pools become filled.

Under the planned fuel recycling program, plutonium and uranium in spent fuel will be removed through chemical processing at the Rokkasho plant. Processed high-level radioactive substances will be stored on the site after being encased in glass.

Read more: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410310140

October 31, 2014

CDC Removed Info On Coughing And Sneezing From Ebola Q&A

Source: Huffington Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly removed some Ebola information from its website. The changes follow claims from news outlets and conservative blogs that the agency hasn't been forthcoming about how the virus spreads, but it was not clear on Thursday afternoon whether the removal was related to the reports.


An earlier version of the page is still available in Google's cache. It said that while Ebola is not "airborne" like chickenpox or tuberculosis, it can travel a few feet in the air inside droplets emitted when someone coughs or sneezes.

"A person might also get infected by touching a surface or object that has germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose," the document said.

The CDC has also changed an Ebola Q&A, deleting the below question about coughing and sneezing (which are not typical Ebola symptoms):


The version of the Q&A still online notes that Ebola can survive on doorknobs for several hours. The removed question is available in Google's cache from Oct. 29.

What's strange about removing the coughing-and-sneezing question is that it has been reposted all over the internet, including at news outlets like the Washington Post in early October, on state public health agency websites, and on blogs like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos.

A CDC official said the agency is continually updating its website. "This particular Q&A is being updated to ensure people understand that Ebola is not an airborne virus like the flu and will be reposted soon," the official said in an email.


Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/30/cdc-ebola_n_6078072.html

October 29, 2014

ISIS vs. Ebola - by Hugh Gusterson


ISIS vs. Ebola
Hugh Gusterson
10/23/2014 - 22:29

An anthropologist, Gusterson is a professor of anthropology and sociology at George Mason University. His expertise is in nuclear culture, international security, and the anthropology of science....

Which is the greater threat to the United States and the world: ISIS or Ebola?

ISIS and Ebola hit the news at more or less the same time.


The United States is now planning to send up to 400 military personnel to West Africa and spend $750 million over six months—less than 10 percent of what it is spending on the ISIS campaign.


Until Thomas Eric Duncan travelled from Liberia to Dallas, where he infected two nurses with Ebola before dying of the disease, ISIS and Ebola were framed in US public discourse in contrasting ways. Despite having killed only two Americans in a faraway desert, ISIS was seen as a clear and present danger to the United States that warranted a massive mobilization of financial and military resources. (Incidentally, as University of Arizona instructor Musa al-Gharbi points out, Mexican drug cartels also decapitate many victims, and have killed almost 300 Americans, but are not seen as a threat to the United States in the way ISIS is, presumably because they are not Muslim.) Ebola was, on the other hand, seen as a problem local to West Africa.


We read a lot in the media about Africans’ supposedly irrational beliefs about Ebola. But I am struck by a kind of magical thinking among Americans who cling to the belief that, in a globalized world, they will be immune to eruptions of infectious disease in countries with collapsed public health systems as if they had nothing to do with us. If there is a single lesson about security, it is that it is indivisible. We cannot be truly safe from an epidemic if thousands of others are dying from it, even if they are on a different continent. Viruses cross borders more easily than terrorists.

The number of Ebola cases in Africa is doubling every three weeks. The New York Times reports that unless the West gives massive aid, experts fear a new infection rate of 10,000 cases per month in West Africa, with the total number of dead rising to as many as 1.4 million by early 2015. Remember that, with only 4,500 dead by official counts, Ebola has already made it to Europe and the United States. Now we are anticipating more than three hundred times as many dead, unless strong preventive action is taken. This increases the likelihood that individual cases of Ebola will recurrently appear in the United States, requiring strenuous programs of biocontainment, waste incineration, and epidemiological tracking to stop them from spreading. But even if, unlike SARS and avian flu, Ebola can be kept out of the bloodstream of international tourism, commerce, and refugee movements, think of the human catastrophe that 1.4 million Africans dying painful, lonely deaths represents. When 800,000 Rwandans died in 1994, we called it genocide and wondered how the Clinton administration could have done nothing as the massacre unfolded. Will the Obama administration now stand idly by as twice as many Africans are massacred by a virus that can be stopped not at our borders, but only at the source?

October 29, 2014

AP IMPACT: US Health Care Unprepared for Ebola

Source: Associated Press

The U.S. health care apparatus is so unprepared and short on resources to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that even small clusters of cases could overwhelm parts of the system, according to an Associated Press review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network.

Experts broadly agree that a widespread nationwide outbreak is extremely unlikely, but they also concur that it is impossible to predict with certainty, since previous Ebola epidemics have been confined to remote areas of Africa. And Ebola is not the only possible danger that causes concern; experts say other deadly infectious diseases — ranging from airborne viruses such as SARS, to an unforeseen new strain of the flu, to more exotic plagues like Lassa fever — could crash the health care system.

To assess America's ability to deal with a major outbreak, the AP examined multiple indicators of readiness: training, staffing, funding, emergency room shortcomings, supplies and protection for health care workers. AP reporters also interviewed dozens of top experts in those fields.


Other findings:

— The emergency care system is already overextended, without the extra stress of a new infectious disease. In its 2014 national report card, the American College of Emergency Physicians gives the country a D-plus grade in emergency care, asserting the system is in "near-crisis."


Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/ap-impact-us-health-care-unprepared-ebola-26547127

October 29, 2014

In Federal Court Filing, PG&E and Nuclear Regulator Said to Collude in Secret Decision to Cover up

Source: eNews Park Forest

Friends of the Earth has petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a secret decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to illegally alter the operating license for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant allowing Pacific Gas and Electric to hide the fact that the reactors are vulnerable to earthquakes stronger than it was meant to withstand.

The secret revision of Diablo Canyon’s license was revealed in NRC documents rejecting a dissent by the plant’s former senior resident inspector. The inspector, Dr. Michael Peck, defied his superiors in saying that Diablo Canyon was operating in violation of its license and should be shut down unless and until new seismic information was addressed.

In a July 2013 formal dissent, which the NRC suppressed for more than a year, Dr. Peck argued that newly discovered faults could produce earthquakes far more destructive than the plant was designed, built and licensed to withstand. Last month, in rejecting the dissent, the NRC revealed that in September 2013 it had changed the way the risk of earthquakes at the plant are assessed -- in effect, rewriting history and science to make the threat of more powerful earthquakes go away, without requiring any safety upgrades by PG&E.

The amendment was added in secret, unknown beyond the highest levels of PG&E and the NRC. Today Friends of the Earth petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit to review the amendment, overturn it and order a public license amendment proceeding as required by federal law.


Read more: http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56383-in-federal-court-filing-pg-e-and-nuclear-regulator-said-to-collude-in-secret-decision-to-cover-up-diablo-canyon-s-vulnerability-to-earthquakes.html

October 27, 2014

Nurse plans to sue over Ebola quarantine

Source: Chicago Tribune

The White House told states that have
imposed mandatory quarantines for some
travelers from Ebola-hit West Africa that the
policy could impede the fight against the
disease, while the first health worker isolated
under the rules plans to sue.

Kaci Hickox , a nurse placed in 21-day
quarantine in a New Jersey hospital after
returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra
Leone, will contest her quarantine in court, her
attorney said on Sunday, arguing the order
violates her constitutional rights.


Read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-ebola-outbreak-20141026-story.html

October 26, 2014

Elon Musk warns against unleashing artificial intelligence 'demon'

Source: CNN

Musk, who promises to take humans to new heights with space and battery technologies, was especially grounded in his latest caution on artificial intelligence.

He told an audience at MIT on Friday that "we should be very careful about artificial intelligence," warning it may be "our biggest existential threat."

"With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon," he said.


Musk hasn't embraced artificial intelligence, a field of study at MIT and other schools with significant ethical considerations and business potential. He has previously cautioned it is "potentially more dangerous than nukes."


"I'm increasingly inclined to think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish," Musk said.


Read more: http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/26/technology/elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-demon/

October 25, 2014

UC Medical Centers Declared Priority Hospitals For Ebola Care

Source: CBS San Francisco

Five University of California medical centers, including one at University of California at San Francisco, are now considered priority hospitals to treat confirmed Ebola cases in California, the UC Office of the President announced Friday.


The California Nurses Association (CNA) and National Nurses United (NNU), which represents about 12,000 registered nurses in the major UC medical centers, however, said in a statement released Friday that the UC and California Hospital Association officials are “giving the public a false picture about Ebola readiness in the UC hospitals.”

CNA/NNU executive director Rosa Ann DeMoro said that based on what the UC nurses reported as recently as Friday, the nurses “are unprepared, unprotected and very concerned.”

DeMoro said that over the last two months CNA/NNU has informed the UC officials about standards that nurses say they require to be protected in the event that they need to treat an Ebola patient.


Read more: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/10/25/uc-medical-centers-priority-hospitals-ebola-care/

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